What does revival look like?
Psalm 85:6 (ESV) Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Some believe this Psalm was written shortly after Israel’s return from exile. They had been commissioned to rebuild Jerusalem and their Temple but the process was hard and they met several obstacles along the way. One of which was their walls being burned shortly after having rebuilt them.
The task seemed impossible. How could they once again be the glorious nation of the past if they couldn’t build a wall?
The answer was prayer.
When we think about the Church in America, the task seems impossible. To stop the secularization of our nation and bring Christianity to bear in the public square once more seems like an improbability. More churches close per year than open and thousands of Pastors leave vocational ministry every month.
Will you not revive us again?
What is revival? Revival is three things:
1. When God’s Word is preached with absolute conviction.
Every move of God in the Bible and in the history of the Church started when God’s word was found, proclaimed and heard. From Hilkiah finding the record of Moses in the Temple under Josiah’s reign to Paul’s reasoning every Sabbath in the Synagogue to the Great Awakening preaching of Edwards, Whitfield and Wesley, you do not see God move without God’s Word proclaimed.
Social agendas are wonderful, let’s help the poor, but God’s WORD preached is the pathway to Revival.
2. When Sleepy Christians wake up.
Revival happens when people who though they were Christians because they went to church actually realize they aren’t Christians and come to faith! It sounds strange, but most times, this is how Revival happens. God’s people hear God’s voice and awake to their lost condition, repent and turn wholeheartedly to Him.
The Psalmist wrote:
Psalm 85:8 (ESV) Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.
3. When those newborn Christians live out their faith and the world takes notice and wonders why.
This is revival’s greatest blessing. The pagans start seeing the good works of Christians now captured by the heart of God and turn to inquire why and what happened.
We need revival.
But it’s not going to happen without confident courageous preaching, new birth experiences from those within the Church, and transformed lives out side of it.
Will you not revive us again?
God’s house is a place for the worthless and the restless.
Psalm 83 reminds us that enemies of God’s people always abound. The opening verses mention 10 nations gathered around Israel to attack and destory them. These are their enemies.
Child of God, we will always have enemies…
1 John 3:13 (ESV) Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
The world throughout history has hated this ancient family of the Jews. God’s chosen people have been the rejected ones in society down through the ages, from Egypt to Nazi Germany. Yet God’s blessing has been upon them to this day.
For Christians it will be no different. Men will hate us. Yet we are to regard this as blessing!
Luke 6:22–23 (ESV) “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
I grew up in the Charismatic Church. We were really into worship. It was everything. And by worship, we meant the singing and emotional feel of the service before the preaching. In fact, on some occasions, if we “felt the Spirit” just right, the preaching would be sidelined for more singing and emotion. It was very feeling oriented. And I read Psalm 81 thinking about how often the feeling of worship and the form of worship can be a shady cover for hearts that aren’t actually listening to God or doing what He says.
The Psalmist opens:
Psalm 81:1–3 (ESV) 1 Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! 2 Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 3 Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.
The idea in the first three verses is that of orderly, well structured, planned and perfected worship. Everything is going just as the Levitical prescription is laid out in the Pentateuch. But when the Word of the Lord comes, it is a strong word of warning.
Psalm 81:8–10 (ESV) Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! 9 There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. 10 I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.