Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book. 32Moreover, he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to standwith him.So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.
– 2 Chronicles 34:31-32
Certain songs don’t always resonate with me for various reasons. Most of the reason are just personal preference and not because of anything “wrong” with the song. Others have strange theological nuances that miscommunicate some concept in a bit of a skewed manner.
Song about revival are fine but often leave me pausing. They are not “bad” songs by any means or anything like that but they often communicates some conflicting truths. Revival is described as an experience when the Spirit of God brings significant conviction upon people’s lives that humbles them instantly before the Lord. These periods of time appear random, often proceeded by concentrated prayer and often can transform people at the slightest exposure to the gospel or God’s people. The Great Awakening in the early 19thcentury where there were about three or four significant waves of “increased religious enthusiasm” that was literally contagious. It is often described as a profound sense of conviction and redemption on the part of those affected, often results in increased in evangelical membership and even new movements are inaugurated.
Of course the term revival in the Scriptures may not always fit our historical perspective.
But now for a brief moment favor has been shown by the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant and to give us a secure hold2within his holy place, that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery. For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection3in Judea and Jerusalem (Ezra 9:8-9).
Reviving here means to “make alive”. The text is interesting here – that God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery. Of course we have more familiar verses like the following texts:
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple – Psalm 19:7
When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive(live) – Psalm 69:32
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? – Psalm 85:6
So what is the concern? Revival is clearly a legitimate request in the Psalms but clearly the revival here has both the idea of receivingsomething from God’s intervention and it is a normal responsibilitywhen rightly His people genuinely seek God or His Word. Humility is the clear foundation for such an experience. The question of course is what comes first, the revival from God or the responsibility to humbly seek and value God and His Word? One might simple say, “yes”.
Four things to note about revival and commitment:
- Revival can be a regular common experience. We often look at revival (being made alive) as a very rare occurrence that comes once in generation or two. The reality is that every time we genuinely sit down and truly lay our lives before the Lord or His Word we can experience revival. We could make the argument that the weight of a broken world and the distaste of sinfulness that saturates our culture and seeps into our pathway on a daily basis requires a sense of daily revival so that we might be energized by the Spirit of God so our commitment to Christ does not turn to sludge.
- Revival is primarily for God’s people.We all want to see the firestorm of revival that is fueled by the Spirit of God rampaging through hordes of broken, sinful hearts and restoring people through the gospel. But the primary focus of revival in the Scriptures is giving fresh life and energy to God’s people so they will recommit or commit in new ways to walking with their God. People in the world need the transforming power of the gospel to bring life to what is dead – this might be called revival but this is different that revival or times of refreshing that God’s people often need as they struggle through the week.
- Revival often comes through humility and repentance(Psalm 69:32). We tend to want God to do all the work. Part of that isn’t a bad thing because we know if we manufacture revival it will flame-out before we can take our next breath. I have often seen this in camp meetings (which is a whole different topic) where youth get away from the clutter of life and they are much more open for God to speak into their lives; they are open for revival as they give full concentration to exploring their relationship with God. The pitfall is when they get back to “real life” the emotional energy wains and they slide back into apathy and indifference and nothing from that experience is sustained. We can question that camp experience or we can question how toxic our real life really is and how it can disintegrate a genuine work of the Spirit.
- Revival that sustains centers on God. We can get pretty excited and energized over a lot of things in life. Graduation, a new job, new phase in life like marriage or starting a family. These are great experiences and can make life very exciting and fulfilling. But, as Jesus mentioned to His disciples, “For what is a man / woman profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25). I am persuaded that God brings revival, not for our sake as much as for His glory. We often want revival to replace the hard work of seeking after Him, humbling ourselves in His presence, diligently praying without ceasing and setting aside any and all things that do not contribute to that ultimate end of knowing Him.
The key to ongoing revival and commitment to Christ is humility before God. For those who seek Him and search for His wisdom in His holy Word there is plenty of opportunity for revival, day in and day out, as we truly see our lives in the presence of His glory.
In His grace,