Two Key Thoughts on Revival
TWO KEY THOUGHTS ON REVIVAL
In this brief article I will list two key thoughts regarding revival. Each thought will be summarized with bullet points for added clarity.
THOUGHT #1 – NATIONAL REVIVALS CAN HAPPEN
Biblically and historically there have been times when God has turned a whole nation back to Himself. Examples would include Judah under Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah, Nineveh under Jonah, and the three great awakenings of America. All these revivals typically follow a pattern. They occur at times of great spiritual darkness in which godliness and interest in the things of God are fading or lost. A remnant becomes burdened; they cry out to God; then God suddenly comes down and gloriously turns the nation back to Himself. In the revival of 1858 approximately 1,000,000 Americans out of a population of 30,000,000 were saved in two years time. I personally witnessed the effects of a revival in Kenya in 1990 in which 30,000 people turned to Christ during a two week period. These examples reveal that a national revival is possible, but in order for that to happen we must recapture a foundational understanding about God, without which nothing else will be set into motion.
The Bottom Line:
• Revival can come to any people that turns to God, regardless of their present condition.
THOUGHT #2 – OUR NUMBER ONE HINDRANCE IS THE LOSS OF THE FEAR OF GOD
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God gave four conditions that must be met before He heals a land, “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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” In response to the need of the hour, many denominations and parachurch organizations over the last 20 years have marshalled prayer for God to “heal our land.” To date God has not only failed to grant our cry, but has turned the nation over to increasing perversity and godlessness. That ought to make us stop dead in our tracks. If our greatest need is a massive outpouring of God’s Spirit in revival and awakening, and a significant number have been crying out for that very thing, yet God has stayed His hand, might that not indicate that there’s something we’re failing to grasp?
The problem stems from ignoring the preceding verse. Second Chronicles 7:13 reads, “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people…” The promise to send revival in verse 14 is set in the context of a God inflicting drought, crop devastation and plague on His own people. This picture paints God behaving in a way that the majority of professing Christians either no longer believe He does, or they’ve never thought about. However, the whole promise of healing the land first requires recognition of the disciplinary action of God. If a people has no sense of a relational problem with the Almighty, then they can never realize their need to turn. Instead they will end up praying for a move of God like those in Isaiah 58:3 “‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’” – yet without result.
Recognizing the activity of God’s discipline in the earth requires a fundamental assumption about God’s character – that He can and will exercise painful disciplinary actions when He is seeking to turn an ignorant or unresponsive people back to Himself. This assumption is so little addressed in our pulpits today that God’s people do not know how to recognize or respond to God when these things happen. In fact, in many circles Christians are taught that a loving God, a God of grace could never behave this way at all. However, our modern understanding of God does not reflect the dominant opinion held by Americans for the majority of our history. For example, on March 30, 1863 at the height of the Civil War, the United States Senate drafted a resolution calling for a national day of prayer. Notice their interpretation of the War from the excerpt that follows:
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?
For most of American history, national catastrophes and wars were times when people examined themselves to see if they were under the disciplinary action of God. In our day, however, we no longer fear God. Could you imagine what would have happened to President Bush if he had raised the possibility that 9/11 might have been a wake up call from God? Yet, in 1863 the U.S. Senate and President Lincoln attributed the Civil War, in which 600,000 Americans lost their lives, as a probable judgment of God on the nation for our sins. Their fear of God led them to recognize they were under the judgment of God and return to Him. Today neither the majority of God’s people nor the nation fear God. Until we return to a biblical theology like our forefathers, we cannot have revival.
The Bottom Line:
• Revival cannot come to a people who are unaware that they have a problem with God.
• Our number one hindrance to revival is the loss of the fear of God. The fear of God is not merely respect; it recognizes God as an authority figure who requires accountability.
• When people quit paying attention to other means of correction, God will inflict judgments to communicate a problem exists.
• We must repent of our flawed understanding of God, not sinful behaviors only.
National revivals can happen. Indeed God wants to send revival, for He Himself has declared He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. However, until our theology of God once again returns to a biblical understanding that God judges sin, we will not fear Him and repent. If we do not turn, we will be destroyed. If we do turn, God will have mercy on us and we will live. The people of God and the nation must hear this message today if there is any hope of us being awakened to God. Once awakened spiritual leaders must guide us to follow the prescription found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. Then we will experience a mighty move of God healing our land.
©2012 John Franklin. Used by permission.