Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Are We Promised Revival

Are we promised that if we just do the right thing, God will bring revival? The most common verse used to prove this is 2 Chronicles 7:14. But we need to look at the context. Solomon had just dedicated the Jewish temple. He then prayed a prayer that if the people of Israel should sin and God sent a calamity upon them for this, when they repented and prayed toward the temple, God would take the calamity away. The calamities listed closely follow the curses God had promised would come upon Israel if they sinned (Leviticus 26:14-43; Deuteronomy 28:15-68). There is a general principle here. If a group or an individual sins against God and they repent, God will relent and have mercy on them. But this seems to be a general rule of thumb, not an absolute promise. King David repented of His sin, but while punishment was turned away, there were still consequences (2 Samuel 12:7-14). Though King Josiah repented, it only delayed the judgment brought on Israel by his grandfather Manasseh (2 Kings 22:8-20). But the repentance of Ahab and the Ninevites, even though probably superficial, nonetheless had an effect (1 Kings 21:27-29; Jonah 3:5-10). But this repentance seems to be the result of revival, not the cause of it.

Part of the confusion here comes from the question of who the people called by God's name are. The reference in the context is to the nation of Israel. There does not seem to be any reference to the righteous remnant in Israel, just to Israel. If Israel sinned and Israel repented and prayed, then Israel would be cured of the calamity God had brought upon them. There is no implication that if the believing part of Israel repented, it would cause the rest of Israel to believe. Nor is there any implication in Scripture that if we repent and follow God, those around us will believe. Rather, it can have quite the opposite effect (John 15:18-21; 16:1-4; 2 Timothy 3:12).

Now I do not in any way want to discourage appropriate prayer and work for revival. But I do think that we should be prepared to trust  God and follow Him whatever happens (Proverbs 3:5,6; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 18; John 16:33). Also, the idea that we are promised revival becomes a breeding ground for all manner of quick fixes to make us spiritual and therefore bring revival. And when no revival materializes, these can become more and more extreme. Also, this can prevent us from dealing with the greatest barrier to revival. We want revival so that we can be comfortable and not have our faith challenged. Therefore, while I do not promise anything, as Scripture does not promise us anything, I believe the most likely path to revival is for us to be willing to trust God whatever  happens. It is only when we give up our own self-centered desires for revival that God in His providence may perhaps give us the real thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment