Let the Revival Begin With Me
God complained to Israel: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me…” (Jeremiah 2:2). Like in a marriage over time love begins to fade. Some Christians act like they are in an arranged, loveless marriage to God. Many Christians are like the members of the church at Ephesus. Jesus warned the church, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev. 2:4). In marriages where the man and woman feel they no longer love each other the answer is not divorce but to revive the spark of romance and true lasting love. Many Christians need a revival of their love for God.
In 2 Chronicles 7:12-18 God speaks to Solomon about a need for revival:
12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually 17 As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, 18 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.’
This vision of the Lord to Solomon comes after the Temple dedication and his prayer. The Glory of God had filled the Temple. An offering of 22,000 bulls and 120,000 rams had been made. There had been a seven day feast. Why is God encouraging a revival?
Notice the conditional word “if.” This tiny two letter word has a huge effect upon the blessings given to a child of God who obeys His will. When “if” statements are used, they are generally followed by “then” statements which denote a cause and effect. “If you obey, you will be blessed.”
Before exploring this cause and effect relationship between God’s blessings and man’s obedience, it is good to note this passage is not a promise to the United States or any nation today. It was given to King Solomon as he was reigning over the nation of Israel. This does not negate the fact that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.(Prov. 14:34). Nor does this mean a Christian cannot study and learn from this passage.
Man’s Duty to Obey
• Be a Child of God
The promise made in the text were to God’s chosen: the children of Israel. Today,” as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). We need to know we are Christians, followers of Christ. By obeying the gospel the sinner becomes a child of God and thus receives the blessings found in Christ (Eph. 1:13).
• Humble Themselves
God requires those who come to Him to “humble themselves.” The word “humble” carries the idea of being bowed down. An awareness of our sinfulness in contrast to God’s Holiness will bring us low. The most wicked king of Judah, Manasseh, was punished by God because of his wicked pride. The Babylonians came and literally put a hook in his nose and drug him to Babylon. But look what happened to this man. The deposed king was humbled. “Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God” (2 Chronicles 33:12-13).
Humility is important because without it, a man will not listen to God’s instructions. Naaman the chief commander of Syria was sent to Elisha to be healed. But he was not about to humble himself and bathe seven times in the muddy Jordan, even if it meant becoming clean of the deadly disease of leprosy. After all, he is the mighty warrior, the great commander. Instead of obeying God’s instructions through the prophet Elisha, “Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage” (2 Kings 5:11-12). Later, he humbly submitted to the immersion and was saved from his leprosy.
Another reason for the humility being essential to obedience is the need for one to empty themselves of their own will, so they can from the heart obey the will of God. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was cursed by God to live like a beast until he was humbled. Later this pagan monarch said, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Dan. 4:37). God cannot fill a human vessel that is full of themselves.
Next, God requires one to pray. Repentance of sin is essential for God to hear the prayer. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18). When Simon, the former sorcerer, sought to purchase the office of an apostles, Peter rebuked him, “repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me” (Acts 8:22-24).
• Seek My Face
God encourages a relationship with man. Man must desire to seek God’s face. Twice it is said of the Kingdom of Judah, “and all Judah rejoiced at the oath, for they had sworn with all their heart and sought Him with all their soul; and He was found by them, and the Lord gave them rest all around” (2 Chronicles 15:15; 16:11). Far to many do not want to seek and find God, because they do not desire a close relationship with one so Holy. God requires all who seek Him to be holy as He is holy. Many cannot find God in the same way they cannot find a policeman. They want to avoid Him, because they are guilty.
• Turn from Their Wicked Ways
Obviously, God requires of man in a revival of his faith and love to Him is not listed in a chronological order. After all, He final commands them to “turn from their wicked ways.” The Hebrew equivalent to the Greek word “metanoeo” which means repent. Probably the best way to define it is with the word “abandon.” To pray and seek God demands one is to abandon his pursuit of his own way. Without repentance there will be perishing (Luke 13:3). Perhaps, the best definition of revival from the Bible in is Acts 3:19 where Peter says, “Repent then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out and that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
After man meets the conditions of obedience (“if”), “then” God will send the blessings. First, he will hear those who humbly pray seeking Him from a penitent heart. John reminds us as Christians: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14,15).
The next Divine blessing is God’s forgiveness. Today, this forgiveness comes to the Christian as he confesses his sins to God. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
Finally, God promises to restore us He will restore our relationship with Him. “Return to Me and I will return to you” (Mal. 3:7). Isaiah wrote, “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Is. 57:15).
Divine Consequences of Disobedience
Those who will not humble themselves by penitently praying and seeking God will suffer His judgments. God warned ancient Israel of drought, “locusts” and “pestilence” for their failure. It is possible for the saint to fall for grace and turn away from God today. Failure to repent and revive one’s love for God will result in rejection and consequences greater than when they were still just alien sinners. Peter warned, “for if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire”(2 Peter 2:20-22).
Whether or not this nation needs to turn back to God, or the church needs to return to its first love, or your family needs to start serving God again, one thing is most needful: personal revival. Let the revival begin with me.
– Daniel R. Vess