Click here to read the latest prophetic words, encouraging writings, and news.
A Message From God: Does The Bible Teach About Revival?
Posted: 2014-12-03 14:01:32 by: David Nelson
A Message From God:
Does The Bible Teach About Revival? By David Nelson 11-25-14
What is revival? Is the idea of revival mentioned or taught in the Bible? It seems to be an old, worn out word, revival. Some churches have one week of revival meetings each year. Other churches may be seeking for a “move of God,” that people will notice and say, “Look, God is doing something at their church, they must be having ‘revival!’” There were many well-known and well documented revivals in Church history after the completion of the Bible. But were there any revivals in the Bible or does the Bible teach about revival? Will God just send a revival when He decides or do we have any part in seeking for a revival? According to the Bible what will it look like if it comes?
First let me lay a little ground work for what I believe are characteristics of a true revival and then we will go to specific verses and passages of the Bible to see how they fit.
When God sees that His people (either Israel or the Church) have drifted away from Him, have backslidden, are not close to Him as they once were, are doing things against His will or are neglecting to do the things He wants, then God may allow troubles to plague us, or allow us to experience a spiritual leanness. God may then warn us or raise up a Judge, a King, a Prophet or other spiritual leaders to call us back to Himself.
Before a revival begins there will be a new and growing desire to seek the Lord more, and a desire to experience more of God. We will want God to return to us, and for us to return to Him. He may be calling us to repent and restore what we had in times past, when we had a closer walk with Him. We will be deeply convicted that we have fallen away from Him.
When a revival begins it will be characterized by God coming closer to His people, He will reveal His will and Himself more, revelational truth may come forth more, prophetic words, there may be heightened worship, praise, rejoicing, singing, perhaps some miracles or extra-ordinary happenings from the Lord, and the presence of the Lord will be much more intense than at leaner times of the past.
Now, let us look at some verses and passages of the Bible. In Acts 3:19 it says this, “Repent and turn again that your sins may be blotted out so that there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” Should we not want a season of refreshing from the Lord? Yes, I want more of God’s presence, I want to be closer to the Lord, I want God to send His refreshing upon me. But this is not yet a corporate revival. In the book of Judges there were five Judges who were raised up by God to bring His people back to the right path. The children of Israel were overcome by foreign powers and the “children of Israel cried out unto the Lord in their distress and the Lord sent them a deliverer.” (For instance, the Midianites or Philistines were oppressing them and God raised up the Judges Gideon and Jephthah to deliver them). “We have sinned, we have served Baal, we will put away the strange gods and return to the Lord our God.” (A very excellent book written many years ago by a man named Ernest Baker entitled “Revivals of the Bible” has been a great source of encouragement to me, and from time to time I will quote from this book). In I Samuel 7:3 the prophet Samuel says to the people, “If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods…, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord and serve Him only, and He will deliver you out of the hands of the Philistines.” Eli (the high priest) and his disobedient sons were serving as priests, “and the correct service of God was being neglected and was in disrepute.” “The people began to look for the Lord, they became conscience of his absence, there was a power and blessing that they once enjoyed that was now missing.” (Chapter 3 in “Revivals of the Bible”).
There were five cycles in the book of Judges, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” then the people together realized they needed the Lord again and usually some spiritual leader would gather the people together and speak to them (convene an assembly). An example from I Samuel would be, “Samuel gathered all Israel to Mizpah.” There are times when God wants to speak to all the people together.
My first example of a taste of revival in the Bible was a one-day visitation of God to a corporate gathering of His people. God wants to be in the midst of His people, He wants to be close to them, He wants to speak to them. He loves the least of us to the greatest and He wants to come near to us and dwell with us all, leaving no one out. In Exodus 19:4 God said, “I have carried you from Egypt on Eagle’s wings unto Myself.” I want to meet with you all, I want you to hear Me and see more of Me. I will come to you at Mt. Sinai and speak to you but you must be ready to come near to Me. If you are not ready you may die in my presence. Just like someone who might come into the Holy of Holies with an irreverent attitude might die in the presence of God’s holiness. Not because God is mean but because He wants our hearts to be ready to meet with Him. He is awesome, great, and holy! So God said to the people to prepare their hearts for 3 days, wash their clothes, husbands and wives were to abstain from each other for 3 days and be ready to come near to God. Do not go past the border of the mountain lest you come too close and die. So we must want to meet with God, we must be excited and prepare ourselves. Later the people were so afraid when God came that they said to Moses, from now on Moses, you talk to God and we will hear but we don’t want God face to face. God wanted to come close to meet with them, it was His idea, it was the way He wanted to do it, but the people said we would rather do it our way. We want a buffer between us and God, we want a human King rather than have God be our King. God said to Samuel, “They want a King? Don’t be sad Samuel, it is not you whom they reject but it is Me that they reject from being King over them.” (I Samuel 8:7)
So, what does God do? There is always a remnant that wants more of God. Who will come up on the mountain, who wants to be with Me, says the Lord? In Exodus 24:1 God said to Moses “Come up to the Lord,” you and certain others I will name (plus 70 elders), come up on the mountain. These were willing to go up, they wanted more of God (whatever the cost), these went up to meet with God. They saw the God of Israel upon a pavement of transparent sapphire. These saw God and they ate and drank with God. (I Samuel 24:10,11) Do you think you would ever forget that day as long as you live? Would Peter and James and John ever forget their time upon the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus? God wants us to see more of Him, He wants to draw near to us and for us to draw near to Him. He wants to be seen and heard and show us so much. Who will go up to be with God? When God comes down to us and we go up to Him this is the beginning and a taste of revival.
Where else do we see the beginnings of revival in the Scriptures? Remember how we said in the beginning “ ground work” section, when God sees that we need to get closer to Him He raises up a spiritual leader or leaders to speak through to wake us up. The Laodicean church in the book of Revelation was luke-warm, they had lost their first love (perhaps like the Ephesus church), they were backslidden but thought they were doing great and needed nothing. They were naked and dirty, they needed to repent and turn back to God for healing, they were like a sickness in Jesus’ stomach to be soon spewed out if they didn’t come back to God.
Now let us look at some revivals in the Bible that lasted for weeks with their afterglow lasting much longer. We will be looking at five Kings in I and II Chronicles, David, Solomon, Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah who all experienced revivals.
In I Chronicles 13:1-5 David called out to all the people of Israel to gather together to carry the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. When they all came together they played music with all their might with singing and many kinds of musical instruments. In I Chronicles 15 music groups were established that eventually played 24 hours a day, music and prophetic songs. (I Chronicles 16:37-43 and 25:1-31) When they carried the Ark to David’s tent it was with joy, with shouting, and with David whirling around and playing music (I Chronicles 15:25-29). II Samuel 6:14-16 adds this, “Then David danced before the Lord with all his might (he was leaping and twirling about before the Lord). Those (like Michal, Saul’s daughter) who hate revival or who despise the “new things,” will find fault or try to stop the work of God, but there will be a remnant who have been seeking God and whose hearts are ready and prepared, they will accept the move of God (like the maidservants of verse 22 who David says, will honor what God is doing). It was under the anointing of God and before the Lord that these “out of the ordinary” things took place, and David said, even more undignified things will come to pass as the Lord brings them forth (verses 21 and 22). And those who hate or despise the revival of God will be spiritually barren and blind to God unless they too repent. (As Michal was blind spiritually and barren physically till her death (II Samuel 6:23). This was the gathering (revival) to bring forth the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. There was much spiritual revelation, prophetic insights (from prophets David, Gad and Nathan), music, singing, joy and extra-ordinary things took place.
When Solomon built the house of the Lord (the Temple) he also brought the Ark of the Covenant from David’s tent to the Temple. There was singing and musical instruments (II Chronicles 5:12-14), and when they came to the point where they worshipped as one then the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud of glory so that the priests could not stand to minister, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. Then Solomon prayed to dedicate the Temple and when he finished, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices and the glory of the Lord filled the Temple (again). And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. And all the people bowed down and worshipped when they saw the fire and the glory. (II Chronicles 6:1-42 and 7:1-3)
About 50 years after these events (three kings after Solomon) King Asa began to reign. About 10 years into his reign the prophet Azariah came to Asa and all Judah saying, for a long time you have been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law. (II Chronicles 15:1-3) So Asa got rid of the idols and he gathered all Judah and some other territories together, and he entered into a covenant that they should seek the Lord with all their heart and soul (II Chronicles 15:8-15). And they all took the oath with shouting and trumpets, rejoicing at their oath to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul, and the Lord was found by them. Just like the people of Asa’s day “do we have to be brought a good deal lower before any great blessings of the Lord can come? Do we need a long spell of disastrous events because the spirit of the people is not yet in deep enough humility before the Lord?” “If there is no great turning to the Lord we will probably see more troubles. But there is nothing on God’s side that necessitates chastisement, it is only human perversity that makes trouble a preliminary to blessing.” (Chapter 4 in “Revivals of the Bible”) My belief is that God is ready to be sought and found when we make our hearts ready and we are hungry for more of Him.
Well over 100 years after Asa, King Hezekiah reigned. In the 1st year of his reign Hezekiah opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them and he commanded that the rubbish be carried out of the Lord’s house. He realized that the Lord’s curses were on them because they were not serving the Lord correctly. Hezekiah said, it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord. (II Chronicles 29:3-11) Then Hezekiah reinstituted the Tabernacle of David revelations by the prophets of David’s day (singing, music and instrument ministry) (II Chronicles 29:25-27). Some of the Levites were more diligent in consecrating themselves than the regular priests (as is usually the case, that a remnant has been kept and prepared by the Lord for revival while the regular leaders were not ready for it). (II Chronicles 29:34,36) And there was rejoicing, because God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly. (God was moving upon the people to create this event) Letters were sent out to invite all to the revival but many laughed at the couriers and mocked them, but some (a remnant) humbled themselves and came. (II Chronicles 30:1-12) The hand of the Lord was on the people of Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the King and the leaders at the word of the Lord to come to Jerusalem. This was a two week plus revival with the afterglow lasting for some time.
Who will prepare their heart to seek the Lord, these broke forth with great gladness praising the Lord every day, singing, with loud instruments. (II Chronicles 30:18-21) And instead of one week for the Passover feast (as is normal) they agreed to keep the feast another 7 days with gladness. They did not want to stop the great flow of refreshing coming from the Lord’s presence. So there was great joy in Jerusalem, there had been nothing like it since the time of Solomon. Their worship and prayers ascended to heaven, and I might say heaven and the Lord came down to be in their midst. (II Chronicles 30:26,27)
King Josiah’s revival took place about 100 years after Hezekiah’s. The high priest Hilkiah found the “dusty” book of the Law (it had not been read, I’m sure, for some time) and it was brought to King Josiah and read to him. Josiah was struck to the heart concerning what God required and all the wrong they had done. Curses and troubles were to be upon those who disobeyed God. So Josiah said, we must inquire of the Lord, go find a prophetic voice to tell us what we should do to be forgiven and please the Lord again. They found Huldah the prophetess. She said to King Josiah, much trouble will come but you Oh King, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself when you heard the words of the Law, you also tore your clothes and wept, you will be blessed and not see these calamities during your reign (your lifetime). (II Chronicles 34:8-28) Then Josiah made a covenant before the Lord to follow the Lord and keep His commandments. And he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin stand with him in this covenant. And Josiah commanded them to keep the Passover in Jerusalem and he reinstituted the Tabernacle of David music revelations. (II Chronicles 35:1-4,15) Again there was no Passover celebration as great or like this one, since the days of Samuel, none of the Kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept (it was greater than Hezekiah’s because Hezekiah’s was as great as Solomon’s, but you had to go back before Solomon to Samuel to find one as great as Josiah’s).
Are these revivals? Was Pentecost at the birth of the Church a revival? Pentecost had extra-ordinary happenings, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and tongues of fire. The saints of the Church had great joy, met together every day, were of one heart, were dedicated to prayer, and miracles took place regularly. They were a very happy bunch and very close to the Lord for quite some time.
Well it is time to wrap this up. Yes, there were other revivals in the Bible, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel (in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah). One of them was even called a revival. (Ezra 9:8) In all of these people were returning to the Lord, people were willing to meet every day for many days. Are we willing to hear the Word of God for 4 hours, then worship for 4 hours, and even stand out in the cold rain for hours weeping and worshipping? (Nehemiah 8:3, 9:3, and Ezra 10:9) These things came from a hungry people, a people seeking more of God, a people who pushed to get closer to God. God will miraculously and powerfully come to us if we return to Him. But do we want it? How bad do we want it? Do we think that we don’t need it like the Laodicean church, do we hear anyone calling for it? God is waiting, He doesn’t have to punish us to get us to revival, He has always wanted it, He wants it now unless we feel we have enough of God and we don’t want any more. Oh Lord, please create in us a hunger for you, draw us to Yourself, do not leave us in our mediocre leanness, we will come up, You are calling us up, and You will come down and be with us and stay with us and dwell with us. Here is a good quote from “Revivals of the Bible,” “What place does God’s work (revival) take in our hearts and minds? How much strength do we devote to forwarding God’s work? Does it occupy our thoughts to any great extent? If these questions are answered honestly we shall soon discover why we have not yet seen a revival. We expect God to work hard but we don’t work hard (or give much effort). Have we wearied ourselves at all working for revival, then maybe God will notice and will work too.” (Chapter 10 in “Revivals of the Bible”)
I am so thankful that God has given truth and revelations about revival for our day and for this hour in the Church. May Your Word, Lord, change us. May we make our hearts ready to welcome You. It does not matter what you call it, a revival, a reformation, an awakening, a return to the Lord, a move of God, repentance, it has happened many times in the Bible and many times in Church history. And it can happen again where a remnant chooses to return to greater and better days with the Lord.