A CALLOUS COPOUT
I call passionate prayers for revival a callous cop-out! I guess that shakes you! Let’s start at the beginning.
The ancient Hebrew concept of life was a journey. The children of Israel’s journey from Egypt through the wilderness to the Promised Land was often used in the Bible as a picture of our journey through life. It was a dangerous journey through unknown territory. In order to reach their destination, they had to follow the instructions God gave them – the so-called Ten Commandments which were not commandments but directions for the journey.
Without landmarks to guide them, it was easy for them to wander from the path and get lost, taking them away from the source of food and water God provided to sustain them until they reached their destination. The concept of “righteousness” for the ancient Hebrew was to stay on the path, and “unrighteousness” was to stray from the path, get lost and die in the desert.
The ”landmarks” on the way that would show them that they were on the right track were those opportunities to do the right thing. When they followed God’s instructions regarding their relationship with Him and with one another, they would be on the right path, going in the right direction which would take them to Zion – their final destination. If they disobeyed His instructions – contained in His Torah (the five books of Moses), they were lost, in darkness and needed to “repent” or “return” to the path in order to reach the Promised Land.
Repentance was not an emotional response when their disobedience was exposed but a decision to return to God’s way so that they could follow His path and reach their destination.
What has this got to do with revival? The Bible is, among other things, a “GPS” which shows us the way to the Father. He is our ultimate destination. He sent His Son not only to show us the way but to be the Way by which we come to the Father. Jesus promised that, if we follow Him, we will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
The Bible speaks of God’s Word as light.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path (Psa. 119:105).
When we walk in obedience to God’s Word, we are on the path, walking in the light and following the directions which will take us to our destination.
What has all this got to do with revival? Life is a steady walk on the path towards God, not a series of spectacular emotional and spiritual spurts with periods of cold-heartedness and lethargy in between out of which God has to shake us by sending His Spirit to wake us up and get us going again.
Our attention on and prayers for revival have spawned many erroneous ideas. This is not to say that revival is not of God. It is to say that revival is not God’s “Plan A” for His people. If we follow the path of the great revivals in the Old Testament, they happened when f the fellowship of God’s people with Him was at its lowest ebb, and the effects of revival were short-lived. His people were often more in a state of apostasy than walking in obedience to God and in fellowship with one another because they refused to stay on the path, following the way of the pagans around them rather than God’s way.
Praying for revival is a copout because it transfers responsibility for our spiritual health from ourselves to God. Instead of returning from our disobedient ways to God’s path – following Jesus who is the Way and walking in the light of God’s Word, we continue in our disobedience, praying and waiting for God to do for us what He told us to do – repent, i.e., return to the way of trust and obedience.
God has done everything for us that He will ever do – He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1); He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1); He has given us His Spirit to change our hearts, fill us, lead us and empower us to obey Him. He can and will do nothing more to provide directions for the way and the power to live in fellowship with Him.
Consider these verses:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people. 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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chron. 7;13-14).
Did you notice that I included verse 13 in the quote? How often we interpret hardships in our lives as punishment for sin or God’s indifference to our suffering! Have you ever considered that God is trying to get your attention because He wants you to return to His way? Waiting for Him the “revive” you or to revive your church or your land, is not the answer. God calls you to return.
Nature abhors a vacuum. Air or water fills every empty space and will flow into every space where there is a vacuum. God’s presence is just like that. The Bible declares that He fills heaven and earth. Sin in our lives occupies what belongs to God. When sin is forsaken, He will fill that empty space with Himself with no need for us to beg and plead for His presence.
We do not need revival to heal our hearts, our churches and our land. We need to return to God Word and God’s ways. He always responds to those who make room for Him by getting rid of sin. When we return to Him, He will hear, forgive and heal. Guaranteed!
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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