The Promise of Revival
The Promise of Revival Deuteronomy 30:1-10
In our New testament Text we read about what could be called the first Christian Revival, on the Day of Pentecost after Peter had preached to the assembled crowd, 3,000 put their trust in Christ and were baptized.
Perhaps you’ve heard also about the Great Awakening, the Revival that began here in Germany in 1734 in a small Christian Community called Herrnhut, which sent out over 300 radical missionaries spreading revival like wildfire to England and then to the United States, resulting in thousands of souls turning to Christ.
Although revivals took place throughout the civil war, it was during the late Fall of 1863 through the Spring and Summer of 1864 that what was subsequently called the "Great Revival" occurred. Although this event is best documented for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, it actually took place in both northern and southern armies in both the Virginia and the Tennessee theaters of the war.
According to Confederate Chaplain J. William Jones, virtually every Confederate brigade was affected--and approximately ten percent of the soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia accepted Christ. Night after night troops participated in worship & prayer meetings. Virtually every gathering ended with soldiers coming forward to accept Christ or receive prayer. When a pond or river was nearby, the soldiers would frequently step forward for baptisms--regardless of how cold the weather was.
U. S. Christian Commission records show that similar events were happening in the North’s principle eastern army, the Army of the Potomac, at the same time. Brigade chapels were so full that many men were frequently turned away.
It is estimated that over 100,000 Confederate and somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 Union troops accepted Christ during the Civil War--roughly ten percent of the men engaged. There are many accounts of the change that took place in the men, both during the war and afterwards, as a result of the many revivals and movement of the Holy Spirit.
In 1904 perhaps the greatest of the modern revivals began in Wales, where over 100,000 were radically converted, transforming society and literally shaking the world with shock waves of revival.
Even today we hear of God’s Spirit moving in revival power, in South America, in Cuba and even in China, literally millions of souls are being won for Christ every year
I love to hear stories like that. I love to hear how God’s Spirit has moved and is moving, transforming lives and transforming society. Yet, while it is thrilling to hear about revival, my soul has begun to grow impatient with tales of revival at some other time, in some other place, for some other people, and I am growing anxious for a revival here and now a revival that will rock the world that you and I live in every day.(Adapted from John Bueno, Signs & Wonders Conference, Springield, MO 1994)
And I believe it is possible. And I believe God’s Word contains the key to revival. While I don’t believe there is some formula that we can follow like a magic trick to summon revival, I believe that there are patterns which we can examine to help us understand how to prepare ourselves for revival, to open our hearts and our lives in such a way that God is able to pour out revival at this time and in this place on these people, because I believe that’s exactly what God wants to do.
I would like for us to look at revival in the Bible, at the stories of some Old Testament Kings--some stories of revival--which will give us some examples to follow, some positive, some not so positive. I want to look at the passage from Deuteronomy 30:1-10 this evening.
Read Scripture Passage – Prayer
In this passage, the Lord speaks to Israel as they are coming into the land of promise, and he sees a time which Israel will turn away from Him and seeing that time of rebellion God makes a promise of Revival.
He promises that in that time when his people are far away from Him, He will still be willing to draw them near, under certain conditions.
I’d like to look at that promise with you this evening as we begin this quest to find a biblical pattern for revival. The promise begins with...
I. The Lord’s Requirements
v. 1 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations,
That phrase "take them to heart" is more literally translated "call them to mind" or remember. What is the Lord saying here? Well in the previous chapter he has laid out all of the bad things that will happen to Israel if they choose to turn their backs on Him, not as punishment, but simply as natural consequences of their actions. Wars, pestilence, disease, exile from their homeland. Now he is saying, when all those things happen, I want you to remember what I’m saying to you now. I want it to be a wake up call, I want you to say to yourself, "this is exactly what the Lord said would happen."
He’s saying, I want to make things right again, I want to be close to you again, I want revival more than you do but first I need you to Remember.
It’s still true for us today. Perhaps in your life you’ve wandered far from the Lord, maybe you’ve never had a relationship with Him at all. You look at your life and it’s a shambles, maybe those around you know it and maybe they don’t, maybe the circumstances of your life are still holding together and maybe they’re falling apart, but inside you’re empty. It’s time to Remember God’s Promise.
Perhaps as a people we have a need to look around at our society, at Wall street in meltdown because of systematic dishonesty, at an entertainment industry that pumps out sewage for our unthinking, uncaring consumption, at daily interactions among people that have lost in many cases even the semblance of civility. Perhaps it’s time to say, hey we don’t have to live this way, the Lord said we didn’t, Perhaps it’s time to remember.
Perhaps even as a church, as a local congregation it’s time for us to take a hard look at ourselves. Are we satisfied with where we’re at? Are we making a difference in the mission field the Lord has put us in? Are we serving the Lord with all of our heart, soul and mind? Is our gathering on Sunday morning a social ritual or are we committed to making it a Spirit filled celebration and expression of the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, Perhaps It’s time to Remember God’s Promise of Revival.
Having remembered, there is a second requirement. God’s people must...
v. 2 and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today,
Notice that while obedience to God’s Word is expected--a theme we’ll see repeated throughout the scriptures dealing with revival-- it is not merely an external obedience to the Lord which is required--the emphasis is internal--with all your heart and with all your soul.
The Lord is saying, when you’ve come to your senses, turn your heart toward home. Like the Prodigal son, who finally came to his senses in the pig pen, start the journey home, and he’s willing to meet us on the road.
When you read verses 6 &8 it’s clear that part of the promise is God’s power to enable us to obey His commands, We don’t finish the task in our own power but he asks us to start the journey home--the theological word here is repentance--turning from the old way of life. This change of attitude is always at the heart of revival.
In the Welsh Revival of 1904 this transformation of people was the talk of the nation and the world. It was reported that the draft horses of Wales were terribly confused because their drivers would no longer curse and beat them, and the horses simply didn’t know what to do!
So having Remembered the Lord’s Promise, We are required to Return to the Lord’s Commands. Which Brings us to the second half--
II. The Lord’s Response
vv. 3-5 then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. 4Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. 5He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.
The first thing the Lord does is restore. What had been lost because of sin is restored. The Lord said through the Prophet Joel "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— (Joel 2:25)"
Sometimes restoration is simply the natural consequence of our repentance. When we as individuals and as communities begin to live life according to God’s plan, things simply begin to work better, and beyond that I believe that God begins to shower his blessings in natural and supernatural ways when we come to him in humility.
Secondly the Lord responds with...
v. 6 The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.
Here the emphasis is internal, and notice how the circle is completed here, in verse 2 God calls on us to return to Him with all our hearts, here he promises when we do that he will increase the capacity of our hearts to love Him. It is not merely an external return that the Lord is looking for, nor is it merely an external reward of land and riches that he is offering, he is offering the incomparable riches of divine heart surgery, enabling us to love him and serve him.
You say, "well, that’s mighty self serving on His part." No, you see God understands better than anyone that loving and serving him are the reason we were created and so our greatest fulfillment is in the enjoyment of Him.
And when we return to him He sets our hearts free. He renews us for that purpose which we were intended for.
And the last response of the Lord is...
v. 9 Then the LORD your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers,
Here is what’s really cool, did you hear it? The rejoicing isn’t our rejoicing, IT’S GOD’S!
He rejoices over us, This is why I’m confident that the desire for revival is in sync with God’s plan, God Rejoices over our return to Him. He’s high-fiving the angels. Doing the dance of Divine delight.
I’m convinced that a lot of the manifestations that accompany many revivals are simply the overflow of God’s rejoicing, some of God’s joy just spills over onto the objects of his excitement.
Are you like me? Are you ready to stop hearing stories of revival and start living them? Have you looked around at the state of your life, the state of your community, the state of your culture, the state of your chapel and said to yourself, "there must be more"?
Then it’s time to Remember the Promise of Revival and to Return to the Way of the Lord.
The Lord is ready to Restore your life, to Renew your Heart and He longs to Rejoice at your return.