I have always been very uncomfortable with the word revival. It evokes feelings of discomfort and forced salvation prayers and long church services to me. So many Christians contend for revival, and I just….don’t…. I know this might sound ludicrous.
As a follower of Christ, we want the masses to come to Jesus, and we want to see nations transformed by his love. This is our mandate, even if we do not consider ourselves evangelists. Which I do not. Give me relationship. Give me an opportunity to invest in someone’s life and let the introduction to Jesus come naturally, rather than through a “sinner’s prayer.” I believe Jesus is in my heart and I have never really wanted to drive miles and miles to the nearest breakout. Why would we be desperate for what Jesus went to the cross for? Daily, constant interaction with God through Jesus? I don’t need a tent revival, and maybe it’s completely false, but I don’t think that is what the world is hungry for either. They want to see Christians doing what they tell everybody else to do: loving their neighbor, praying for the sick, caring for the orphan and the widow…I personally believe that revival will only come when the church gets serious about orphans..
Anyways, I digress. My distaste for our western concept of revival has recently been on my mind, especially as our prayer group is praying for revival. What even is revival?? Well, it literally means new life. It doesn’t mean an 8 hour church service or a spitting charismatic or even a sinner’s prayer. It means new life. Taking that into perspective, I have been reading Isaiah, which talks a lot about revival, without really using that word. It perfectly described the world we live in, where people are godless and broken and so very separated from God. It describes their sins and transgressions, but it doesn’t prescribe a three night revival as the cure.
This is what gets me. What makes me think about everything differently. Think about this passage as it relates to us today:
The Redeemer of Zion
Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him
That there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no man,
And wondered that there was no intercessor;
Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
And His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,
And was clad with zeal as a cloak.
18 According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay,
Fury to His adversaries,
Recompense to His enemies;
The coastlands He will fully repay.
19 So shall they fear
The name of the Lord from the west,
And His glory from the rising of the sun;
When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.
20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,”
Says the Lord.
21 “As for Me,” says the Lord, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the Lord, “from this time and forevermore.”
Do you see it??? Revival isn’t about a one time emotionally charged decision to ask Jesus into your heart. It’s what happens when God’s own arm works salvation for him and by his grace and unfailing love, he restores us into covenant relationship.
Isaiah goes on to prophecy:
You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem
In the hand of your God.
4 You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,
Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;
But you shall be called Hephzibah,[a] and your land Beulah; (married)
For the Lord delights in you,
And your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin,
So shall your sons marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So shall your God rejoice over you.
All throughout the old testament, the God we deem as angry and violent is so the opposite. He is restoring us, chasing us, and he so desires to be in covenant relationship with us.
Unfortunately, the world has skewed the idea of marriage, but God designed it to be a lasting covenant between two people, a deep, abiding, intimate, unshakable bond that nothing can separate. That is what he wants to have with us, his people.
That’s revival. That’s new life, being united to the life giver. That is something to contend for. I want that for the whole world. I want that for me. I want to be bound and captivated by the Lover of My Soul. Revival isn’t cheap or temporary or emotional. It’s restoration and peace and exactly what I want to happen. It already is happening, as we, the people of God lay down our lives and follow him wherever he says to go and love the unlovable and loose the chains of injustice. We bring revival when we walk into the room not because of who we are, but because of WHO lives in us. That’s revival. That’s something I can get behind.
So, my perspective has altered a little bit. Revival is Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less, and that is what I want to flood the earth. I’m so thankful for people like Reinhard Bonke, pictured above, who have laid down their lives to see nations come know Jesus. We need faithful men like that. we need revivalists who will draw millions, not for the sake of a meeting, but for the sake of the the message, Lord, we need you. We want you. Break our hearts for what breaks yours. Carry us into the streets and the cities and the villages and let us not wait for them to come to us–We Will Go. We will be your hands and feet. We will serve. We will love our neighbor. We will not be silent.
“The church of Jesus Christ is not a pleasure-boat, but a life-boat for saving souls. Every hand is needed on deck. A church that does not reach out for the lost is lost itself.”REINHARD BONNKE