PSALM 74:22-23: “Arise, God, and plead Your own cause; Remember how the foolish person taunts You all day long. Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries, The uproar of those who rise against You, which ascends continually.” NASB
OBSERVATION: What is revival? I have been drawn to the thought of revival continually over the past few weeks. I have felt like the disciples who were praying for Peter’s release from prison and then had a hard time believing when young Rhoda told them that Peter was free and standing at the door! (Read Acts 12:6-19).
For the last 20 years, I have been lamenting the condition of our nation and our world. I have been praying for revival to once again come to our churches and turn hearts back to Jesus Christ, to His Word, and to the call of fulfilling the Great Commission. There have been prayer meetings, conferences, and just my time alone with the Lord pouring over His Word and crying out for the Holy Spirit to move upon my heart and the hearts of His people.
Now, I believe revival is knocking at the door. While we are still huddled together inside the four walls of our churches a young generation is coming to us and saying – “Revival is at the door!” And, to many, the response is what the disciples said to young Rhoda…
- “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “We need to just wait and see. This could just be an emotional response of a group of impressionable youth!” (An adaptive paraphrase of Acts 12:15 for emphasis)
The disciples, like many of us, were praying for something – but they really did not know what to expect. I think this is true of revival. When we are praying for it we only have the examples of past revivals to look to and understand how God moved in His people. Yet, we cannot put God in a box. This revival will not be led by hippies coming out of San Francisco, but I do believe it will be God profoundly working through our youth.
Psalm 74 seemed like an unlikely place to be drawn to contemplate revival. This Psalm was written by Asaph, one of the Levite Temple musicians, or more probably by one of his descendants during the time of the Babylonian captivity. It references the desolation of God’s people and the defiling of the Temple.
- “Step toward the irreparable ruins; The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. Your adversaries have roared in the midst of Your meeting place; They have set up their own signs as signs.” Psalms 74:3-4 NASB
Isn’t that the way so many have been feeling about the church, our nation, and the world in which we live? Irreparable ruins! It seems that the enemy has been winning and the church has been merely holding shrinking ground. Seekers are no longer crossing the doors of our churches. The Bible, although still the best-selling book of all time, is rarely read, and even more, is completely misunderstood. And, so the Psalmist cries…
- “How long, God, will the enemy taunt You? Shall the enemy treat Your name disrespectfully forever? Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? Extend it from Your chest and destroy them!” Psalms 74:10-11 NASB
Let’s be honest. I am speaking to pastors and leaders for the moment. We have entered our pulpits with smiling faces and the resolve to hold the fort. It is our job to make sure God’s people don’t lose heart. Yet, we have battled disappointment as we see the world crumble around us. We know that God is faithful, that He is still on the throne, but we have longed to see Him move in power – not just a sprinkling of power, but an outpouring of power from on high that changes the hearts of man!
Then, from this unsuspecting Psalm, when I read the last verses, my heart was filled with both hope and understanding!
- “Arise, God, and plead Your own cause; Remember how the foolish person taunts You all day long. Do not forget the voice of Your adversaries, The uproar of those who rise against You, which ascends continually.”
REVIVAL IS…God stepping into the scene to plead His own cause!
Yes, it is the answer to our prayers, but it is more than that. It is God doing for Himself what we could not do. It is Jesus Christ stepping into the affairs of mankind with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit that accomplishes transformation in the hearts and minds of men and women that all of our combined efforts and programs never could accomplish.
It is God knocking at the door in answer to our prayers!
Just yesterday a colleague of mine shared a story with me that could only be explained by this new move of God’s Spirit in our midst. I am an Evangelical Christian – but this story came from the setting of a Roman Catholic School. (Note: Many evangelicals would already have dismissed any account based on this fact.). My colleague’s daughter is a peer minister in high school. At a retreat, to prepare for confirmation, one girl was both angry and agitated. She said – “I don’t want to be here! I don’t believe in God and my parents made me come!”
This wonderful young girl simply asked her if they could pray for her. She agreed and a group of young girls gathered around and prayed a simple prayer. The girl then left and went to another part of the room. Later this young peer minister heard that this girl had come to faith because when she laid her hands on the angry girl’s shoulder and prayed, in the words of the rebellious youth –
“I felt the hand of God!”
When the winds of revival come they do not come with distinction based on the denomination or Christian labels and expectatons. God’s Spirit moves in hungry hearts. He moves in any heart that calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! The Spirit breaks down walls and barriers and returns us to our first love and passion – Jesus Christ our Lord! It becomes all about Jesus and less about everything else.
I believe God is arising to plead His own cause. We can answer the door of His knocking with doubt and skepticism, or we can open the door and invite Him in! Lord, help me, help us – make the right choice!
- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. The one who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:20-22 NASB
Come Holy Spirit!
In Jesus’ Name!