A Cry to God for Revival
A couple of weeks ago, God gripped my heart anew with the themes of Psalm 85. Titled “Revive Us Again”, the Psalm is likely a snapshot of Israel’s spiritual decline many years after they had returned to the Promised Land following their 70-year captivity in Babylon. As typically happens, they had regressed to a place of spiritual apathy. Perhaps, at the time of this Psalm, they had become like the generation described in Judges 2:10 “who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done.” Perhaps we, too, resemble that generation.
The Psalm provides some vital perspectives about our need for and approach to revival. I think you will find them helpful and relevant.
Looking Backward – The psalmist begins by reflecting on God’s past works that provide a reassuring confidence in His unchanging character. He extols the Lord’s past favor, restoration, forgiveness, and mercy (vv. 1-3). How has the Lord lavished you with His favor? How has He restored your life? How much has He forgiven? How have you received His mercy? Beyond your personal experience, think of how He has shown these blessings in abundance to His church. Can we not trust Him to manifest His character in these ways again? Of course we can.
Looking Upward – Like the writer, we must then cry out in faith to God, “Will you not revive us again?” (v. 9). To revive means to bring back to life. The writer emphasizes that only God can accomplish this. In this revival section of the Psalm (vv. 4-9) the psalmist pleads for another work of restoration (v.4), new mercies (vv. 4-5), and a fresh experience of steadfast love and salvation. He expresses the longing to hear the Lord speak and receive a new encounter of God’s peace as the people turn from folly to fear the Lord (vv. 8-9). Oh how we need these same passions to overwhelm our hearts.
Looking Forward – Penning with strong assurance, the psalmist then anticipates what God could do in response to this cry. He expresses trust for a powerful manifestation of God’s steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness (mentioned three times), peace, goodness, and blessing (vv. 10-13). This is the great need of our nation – more than any particular political, social, financial, educational, or even medical advancements. We need God to move powerfully to manifest His character to, in, and through the church. We need this kind of revival.
When I was a young boy, “revival” was a week of evangelistic meetings advertised with our annually-displayed orange florescent banner in the front of the church. Some today confuse revival with a big media event attracting large crowds and featuring celebrity platform personalities. I love the definition of revival given by Stephen Olford: “Revival is ultimately Christ Himself, seen, felt, heard, living, active, moving in and through His body on earth.” Dr. Ed Hindson notes, “The only eras of church history that are really worth studying with satisfaction are those periods when the church was in revival. The highlights of the Christian church are its revival movements.”
May Christ work powerfully in the fullness of His character, power, and purpose in and through His church as we embrace the cry of Psalm 85. This is the only real hope of our nation today.
Looking Beyond – Before we leave Psalm 85, we must ask the imperative question. What is the purpose of revival? Two times in Psalm 85, the writer is inspired to state the goals of revival. We see this indicated by the word “that” – which provides a purpose clause. Notice what is said:
- “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”
- “…that glory may dwell in our land.”
God sends revival so that He alone will be our joy and satisfaction. This requires a repudiation of our idols. Anything that brings us joy more than Christ is an idol. Anything that captures our delight and satisfaction above Him is a false god. Revival banishes idolatry and captures Christ’s people with effusive, singular pleasure in Him.
Secondly, God grants revival that His glory is paramount in, among, and through His people. “In” them so that the life and character of Jesus is manifested by their Spirit-dominated character and Christ-honoring relationships. “Among” them so that every gathering is powerful, word-centered, Spirit-led, and Christ-exalting with the ultimate, stunning impact that leaves believers and unbelievers alike declaring, “God is truly among you” (1 Corinthians 14:25). “Through” us because a true revival sends us out in Holy Spirit power declaring the gospel because we “cannot help but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).
A United Cry
It has been noted many times that every revival in history has been rooted in movements of extraordinary united prayer. So it is no surprise that the opening description of Psalm 85 notes it as being written by the Sons of Korah and for the “Choirmaster.” This cry for revival was provided by the worship leaders of the day and intended to be a united, corporate cry – probably put to music. This focus was to take a central, public place in the united worship of God’s people
May the day arrive soon when this passion to seek God for revival becomes a prominent, persevering, and passionate captivation of every church and the focus of our public gatherings . . . SO THAT we may repent of our many idolatries and find unbridled delight in Jesus. May His glory again become the dominant experience of the church as Christ works in, among, and through us for the sake of a supernatural advancement of the gospel. Oh Lord, revive us again.
Copyright © 2016 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.
SPECIAL NOTE: The sermon by Daniel Henderson from Psalm 85 titled “A Cry for Revival” is featured on our home page at www.strategicrenewal.com and can be downloaded for your encouragement.