Study 3 THE PROMISE OF NATIONAL AND SPIRITUAL REVIVAL
GREAT PROMISES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: 2 Chronicles 7:14)
The promise here of national revival for God’s ancient people is also a promise of spiritual revival for our day. The greatest thing that could happen would be a heaven-sent Holy Spirit awakening resulting in a purified Church and a great ingathering of souls. This would result in God hearing and answering prayer, forgiving the sin of His people and pouring out His healing mercy. When this promise was given to King Solomon there was the possibility of three great needs arising in the land, mentioned in verses 12-13, the two verses which introduce our key verse. Notice in verse 13 that there was the danger of drought – implied in the reference to God shutting up heaven so that there would be no rain; the danger of devastation – this is implied in the reference to locusts devouring the land; and the danger of disease, of sickness among God’s people. This description reminds us of the desperate spiritual condition which exists in the Church today and of our urgent need for revival; and in verse 14 God gives us His recipe. We learn that revival is His work for He says, “then will I…” It is not man’s work, something that is worked up or promoted in the energy of the flesh, but God’s work, by the Holy Spirit, in and through the hearts of His people. Compare Zechariah 4:6; John 7:38-39; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 13:20-21. Now notice seven truths incorporated in our key verse:-
1. These words show that God is willing, waiting and longing to send revival
He is longing to hear our prayer, to forgive our sin and to give healing for our spiritual diseases. He is always more willing to send revival than we are that it should be sent. Sub-revival conditions, which are subnormal conditions according to God’s purpose, are dishonouring to Him. Therefore He longs to revive us (Psalm 85:6); to revive His work (Habakkuk 3:2 KJV); and to revive each one of us individually, “me” – Psalm 138:7.
2. These words show that revival is conditional
It is very important to notice the words “if…” and “then…” Here we learn of the condition of revival and its result. God says that if certain conditions are complied with on the one hand then certain results will follow. We are reminded here that although God is sovereign in the matter of revival there is a sense in which revival is not a miracle; it is simply God’s response to conditions and laws which He has laid down and which have been met and obeyed by His people.
3. Revival is conditional upon God’s people
Read the story of any revival that has ever taken place and you will soon discover that the work started with one, or some, of God’s people. This is a solemn truth but one that is emphasised repeatedly in the Bible. God’s problem today is with His own people – look up Psalm 81:13-16; Isaiah 6:1-8; 48:17-22. We are quite wrong when we blame the ungodly for their indifference to spiritual things if we ourselves are indifferent to God’s demands.
4. God’s people must humble themselves
This means that we must recognise and confess our need, put down our pride and our selfishness, and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:5-6). How easy it is to become proud and self-satisfied when all the time we are so empty and barren! – look up Revelation 3:15-17 and compare Ezra 9:5-15; Nehemiah 1:3-4; 9:1-3; Daniel 9:3-19. True humility involves a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).
5. God’s people must pray
Perhaps the word here really means ‘plead’ because it has in it the idea of intensity and urgency, and speaks of a man who appreciates the importance of the ministry of intercession. Every revival in the history of the Church, from Pentecost to the present time, has been born and cradled in prayer; and what promises we have to encourage us to pray! – Jeremiah 33:3; Ezekiel 36:36-38; Matthew 6:6; 18:19; John 14:13; Acts 1:13-14; 4:31. Revival is possible now if only we will pray – nothing need prevent a personal revival or a local revival!
6. God’s people must seek His face
This means that we must seek His glory – look up Exodus 33:18; Psalm 27:8; 105:4; Jeremiah 29:13; we must seek His favour (Psalm 63:1-2); we must earnestly seek His will (Ephesians 5:17; Hebrews 11:6). We must look to Him alone for spiritual blessing, realising He is the source, the sufficiency and the supplier of revival.
7. God’s people must turn from and renounce all known sin
Sin is the one great obstacle to revival: sin in the heart and life, sin that is unjudged, unconfessed and therefore unforgiven – look up and compare Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 55:6-8; 59:1-2; Lamentations 3:40; 1 John 1:7. Sin is the one great barrier to revival – read through Joshua chapters 7 and 8 for an illustration of this.
So God says to us, “IF My people…THEN will I…” If we will clear the way then God will do the work. If we will purify ourselves (2 Chronicles 29:16; 2 Corinthians 7:1) and remove the rubbish (Nehemiah 4:2 and 10); if we will make a bonfire (look up Acts 19:18-20) then God will hear, forgive and heal.