Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? (Psalm 85:6)
‘Revival’ should be a word that excites us all. As we read of revivals, historical or current, our hearts are hopefully stirred with a longing that cries out to God to bring revival here. There has been much debate over whether we should be praying for renewal, revival, or restoration; or whether we have been through one phase and are entering another. The more pragmatic approach simply says that, whatever our nation needs, we want it! We want to see the church come even more alive so that prodigals come home, sinners are saved, and the nation is changed.
One of the best known revival promises comes from when God spoke to Solomon at the temple’s dedication: ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14). While we cannot take this promise and claim it directly as our own (for our nation is not in a covenant relationship with God as Israel was when God gave the promise), there is nevertheless an underlying principle here: revival begins, not with sinners, but with God’s own people. It is as we see our desperate need for God that his Spirit begins to move, first in us, and then in those around us. Repentance, and returning to God’s word and God’s ways, has therefore always been a major feature of any revival.
How very quickly we can need reviving is reflected in the fact that, even by the last decade of the first century, John was having to call churches back to their first love for Jesus – the very heart of revival. He had to challenge them with such words as, ‘You have forsaken your first love’ (Revelation 2:4) and ‘you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead’ (Revelation 3:1). To each of the seven churches the challenge was the same: ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (e.g. Revelation 2:7). That’s how revival begins: through listening to the Spirit, and then doing whatever he says.
O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years. (Habakkuk 3:2, KJV)
Copyright © 2017 Martin Manser and Mike Beaumont
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