|Ask any church leader why
America--or the churches in general
or a denomination in particular or all Christians--does not (do not)
have revival and the answers will usually come out to something like: "We're not praying," or "We're not praying hard enough," or
"This takes prayer and fasting."
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Revival..... another definition would be to recover, repair or restore.
Hosea 10:12 says: "Sow to yourself in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord till He come and reign righteousness upon you." What is fallow ground? Fallow ground is ground that has been fruitful, and then it has been plowed over, and no seed has been sown in it, and therefore it has become unproductive.
Notice, there is a human emphasis here -- it says that we are to break up -- you break up your fallow ground.
Now take another aspect of it here in Psalm 85:6 - "Would Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee." So, there is an absence of joy, of vitality -- there is an absence of ecstasy. The very word "revive" presupposes life. You can only revive what has already had vitality -- life that has become sick, weak, or apathetic. I think the nearest analogy I can give you is a recent case of a man who apparently drowned. He had been under the water for an incredible amount of time. Then somebody pulled him out and worked and worked on him, and eventually life came again. This is actually what it means to revive,
It means to revitalize.
It means to restore lost power.
It means to recover lost energy.
In the Acts of the Apostles 3:19 we read, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."
Whatever else we say about revival we have to recognize this, that revival is an act of mercy in the sovereignty of God. There is a vast difference between revival and evangelism. When we speak of revival in America we think of church advertising, "Our revival will begin next Sunday night at a certain time and it is going to finish the next Sunday night at a certain time."
Obviously this is something purely mechanical, it is something which men have engineered. I think that one of the offenses of revival, in the historic sense, is that it cannot be organized.
As Doctor Tozer said, "When revival comes it changes the moral climate of a community." You can have revival that covers a church - Spurgeon had that. You can have a revival that covers a city. You can have a revival that covers the whole nation -- and I am thinking in this context more than in the other contexts (though sometimes revival spreads from here to there -- like fire spreads.) Revival cannot be organized -- evangelism can be organized. Revival cannot be subsidized --evangelism can and usually it must be. Revival cannot be advertised --evangelism can.
It may cost millions of dollars, as it often does, to have one of our huge, modern, so called revivals. You have to pay vast sums of money for time on TV, for example -- perhaps a million dollars a night. That's incredible, that's unthinkable to me in the context of Biblical revival, or even historical revival. Why doesn't revival need to be advertised? For the simple reason, that fire is the most self advertising thing that there is, whether it is a physical fire or a revival fire. It draws people like a magnet. To bring this down to modern technology -- revival cannot be computerized. There is information thatyou can put in computer and presto, you get the answer predicting an outcome according to the facts that were put in. But you cannot computerize or predict revival.
There are periods in which one thing predominates.
Sometimes revival is totally taken over by sorrow.
Sometimes revival is totally taken over by joy, ecstasy 'till
you don't know whether you are in the flesh or whether you've
gone out of the earth. Sometimes revival is taken over by
There are times when you go to a prayer meeting and the power of God is there. There is stillness and you feel it is creative. You feel, "Now something is building up around here, somebody is going to come out shortly with a heart bursting... with some agonizing prayer..." Revival cannot be rationalized. Again, one of the offensive things about revival is you can't put your finger on the spot, usually, as to how or why or where it began. It is supremely an act of God.
You find a man would go with a series of messages to a community and before long that community is alive, it's throbbing. He goes to another town with exactly the same group of men, the same type of prayer is poured out, the same sweat and soul travail and there is no response. You can't predict and you can't organize revival.
Why? Because you can't organize where the wind is coming from.
The Spirit, the wind, bloweth where it listeth. If you say it's going to come this way, it comes that way. If you say God's going to use that man, very often He doesn't even bother with that man. Revival so often comes through unknown characters.
I don't think the world has ever been in a greater sense of turmoil than it is in this moment. I don't think our nation has. Whatever we shall say about revival we have to recognize this: There are three things about natural life: conception, gestation, and birth. You can't alter the program. There has never been revival, that I can trace, that has not been preceded by agonizing prayer. You might say, "I haven't got to that stage yet of agonizing prayer. How does is come?" Well, it comes through VISION. If we are really going to get a concept of revival we have to get a vision of God's sorrow over sin. We have to get a concept of how, day by day, we offend God.
As a nation we offend God in millions of ways.
When I was praying in the Bahamas one day, I saw a great column of smoke, which happened to be coming from tires that were being burned. It was as black as could be, and over there I saw a wisp of smoke going up from the ground. I didn't think much of it until about a year after, I was praying and the Lord said, "That volume of black, thick smoke is like the volume of sin that goes up every day." All the blasphemy, all the unbelief, all the dirty stories, all the lying, all the deception, all sex- perversion, all drunkenness-- this tremendous column of iniquity goes up in the sight of God. And here you have a little wisp -- of what? That is the praise that God gets out of His people. If we are going to realize how much we need revival we need to recognize the dimension of sin. We have to recognize that sin offends God.
Psalm 85:4 says, "Turn us, O God of our salvation and cause Thine anger towards us to cease. Wilt Thou be angry with us forever?" Psalm 80 verse 3, "Turn us again, O God, and cause Thy face to shine." Notice, it's repeated again in verse 7 and in verse 19, "...cause Thy face to shine"..."cause Thy face to shine."
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