Returning for Renewal
In 1904 a young ministerial student named Evan Roberts, began to believe that God was getting ready to pour out a mighty spirit of revival on Wales, which is now a part of Great Britain.
Roberts went to the pastor of his home church and asked if he could preach a message of revival to the congregation, but his pastor was reluctant to allow him to speak since Roberts was not ordained. In a compromise, the pastor announced that Roberts would be speaking following the regular prayer meeting and any who wished to stay were welcome. Only 17 people stayed to hear Evan speak and most of them were teenagers and young adults.
When Roberts was finished speaking all 17 young people were at the altar on their knees crying out to God. They prayed until 2:00 a.m. that night and it was the beginning of one of the greatest movements of God in all history. By the end of the week, over 60 people were won to Christ and over the course of the next year and a half revival swept through the nation of Wales. In the first six months, over 100,000 people were led to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Within one year 150,000 had come to Christ.
The London Time reported on the Revival saying: "The whole population had been suddenly stirred by a common impulse. Religion had become the absorbing interest of their lives.” The revival spread through England, Ireland and Scotland, and by the time it had run its course 1,000,000 people had come to faith in Christ.
The revival was so great that the national culture changed dramatically.
- A rage of bankruptcies took place—Virtually every tavern and liquor store in the country of Wales went out of business
- Work at the coal mines came to a near standstill—The mules who pulled the coal carts were so accustomed to hearing foul language from the Teamsters that after the men were saved the mules no longer recognized their voices or commands.
- The entire police force was dismissed for almost 18 months due to a complete lack of crime
- One of the few court cases that was actually brought before a judge was unusual. The defendant came into the court and admitted his guilt, the judge led the man to faith in Christ and the jury closed the case by singing a hymn.
The church in America has fallen on desperate times, but not because of lack of attendance, or lack of money or lack of involvement, but like Israel we have a lack of love for and knowledge of God. We are in desperate times because we desperately need a movement of God almighty and no one seems to realize it!
This morning I want to look at what happens when God’s people turn back to Him. If you have your Bibles open them to Hosea 6:1-3
I. AN INVITATION TO RETURN
- “Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” (Hosea 6:1, NIV84)
- Hosea opens this message with an open invitation to all of the people of Israel
- Hosea ministered during a spiritually turbulent time in the nation of Israel
- the kingdom of David was divided into two separate nations: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah
- Hosea was a prophet to the northern kingdom
- the northern kingdom had turned it back on the True and Living God
- Hosea’s invitation was to return to the Lord and live in the ways of God
- it was an invitation to come back to the ways that the people knew were right
A. THE CALL TO RETURN
- when Hosea uses the words “let us”, he speaks in clear terms here to communicate that those who needed to return to the LORD were not alone
- Hosea includes himself in this call to return to God
- it’s always easy to look at someone else and see their spiritual short-comings
- it’s hard to see our own
- Hosea’s message is that both Prophet and People are in need of renewal
- we all have room to grow spiritually and to be refreshed by the power and presence of God
- this spiritual refreshment does not happen until God’s people return to the LORD
- idolatry had become a standard practice in Israel and the people were worshiping idols instead of God
- the people had left their convictions and beliefs in the one true God behind
- how many times have you given up a conviction for convenience?
- how many times have you changed what you believe to gain some sort of benefit?
- ILLUS. Many of you know the name Isaac Watts because he was a prolific hymn-writer, and no less than 14 of his hymns can be found in our Hymnal. He was born in troubled times. His parents were Dissenters—Christians who refused to conform to the established Church of England. Dissenters were not only denied access to the universities and suitable employment; they were also liable to prosecution and punishment for no greater "crime" than persistently worshiping God according to their conscience. Watts was plainly precocious. He had learned Latin by age four, Greek by at nine, French at eleven, and Hebrew at thirteen. The family’s physician recognized the teenager's intellectual gifts and offered to finance his education at either Oxford or Cambridge. Regardless of his brilliance Watts would be admitted to either university only if he were willing to renounce his religious convictions. He refused to surrender his convictions to expediency. As a result he was unable to attend either of England’s greatest universities.
- the result for Israel’s idiolatry was national calamity
- God will allow the nation of Israel to be torn
- the word is used to describe what a lion does to its prey—it’s a graphic description of being disarticulated and devoured!
- Hosea is not saying that God Himself is the cause of their torn lives
- our turning away from God is the cause
- this does not mean that God was being malicious or hateful
- what Hosea is saying is that sin and disbelief has its consequences—the people brought their situation upon themselves
- “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5–11, NIV84)
- God will use any means necessary to draw you back to Him—including distress
- sometimes this means that He takes people to the bottom before they will look up to Him
- the people had brought disaster upon themselves because they walked away from God
B. HE WILL HEAL OUR TORN LIVES
- how often have we been torn up by the messes that we get ourselves into?
- God will allow us to make our own choices, He never forces us to do anything we don’t want to do
- in allowing us to make those choices, God often gives us the proverbial “enough rope to hang ourselves”
- He allows this not because He takes pleasure in our distress or rejoices in disciplining us when we are disobedient, but because He desires that we return to Him
- when we do return to Him, the promise is that He will heal us
- this healing does not mean we won’t bear the scars of sin’s wounds, because sin always has a destructive impact
- it does mean that we will be forgiven and restored to His fellowship and to useful service
C. HE WILL BIND OUR WOUNDED HEARTS
- my guess is that each one of us has been injured in the course of life
- literally what Hosea is talking about is to be beaten up
- we have all felt like we have been beaten up by life
- the result is that many believers walk through life with open emotional and spiritual wounds
- the promise that Hosea reminds the people of Israel here is that God will both heal the hurting and bring wholeness to the wounded
II. AN INITIATION OF RESTORATION
- “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” (Hosea 6:2, NIV84)
- Hosea continues his description of what God promises to do for those who will return to Him
- after two days indicates a brief period of time
- when God’s people repent, confess and plead for restoration God doesn’t ponder over the issue
- in a short period of time, God will bring about ...
A. REVIVAL AND RESTORATION
- Hosea says the God will revive us and that He will restore us in order that we may live in his presence
- the word revive means to give life but not just in the sense of saving it
- this is more than just rekindling life within a person like paramedics may do—what we call resuscitation
- it is the giving of physical life with the promise of divine blessings upon that life
- the idea is that we are given a life that not only holds the promise of spiritual health but also the promise of abundant living
- the New Testament has a similar concept—we call it resurrection!
- Hosea also says that He will restore us
- God promises not just to give us life by raising us up, but He will also restore that which has been lost, to prove His faithfulness
- when God brings restoration to us, it is to make our lives as they were meant to be
- it is to give us back that which we lost and to ensure us a bold and wonderful life
- in both instances, God is the one who does the reviving and the restoring
- these are not spiritual traits we can manufacture on our own
- our involvement is to confess and to repent
B. LIVING IN HIS PRESENCE
- the meaning of the Hebrew word here for presence is to see someone face to face
- the promise is that we will be able to have the restoration of a personal relationship with God
- here in Hosea’s prophecy we have a glimpse of the believer’s great expectation—the hope of the resurrection
- so how do we get there? —how do we experience spiritual renewal and awakening?
III. AN INSTRUCTION FOR RENEWAL
- “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3, NIV84)
- the want of “knowledge of God” is almost always the source of all evil and sin in the lives of God’s people
- “Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land;” (Hosea 4:1, ESV)
- similarly, knowledge of Him will bring life and blessings
- “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3, ESV)
- a return to the Scriptures and a return to prayer and a return to biblical preaching always precedes an out-pouring of God’s presence in the lives of His people
A. WE MUST ACKNOWLEDGE & PURSUE
- to walk with the Lord by faith means that we continually strive to know Him
- to know His character, to know His will, to understand His ways
- the word acknowledge in this passage refers to having a deep and intimate relationship with someone
- this is what Hosea means when he says we are to acknowledge the Lord—you can’t love someone, and be devoted to that person with all your heart, and mind, and strength if you don’t know them!
- the goal of the Christian is to be striving toward Christlikeness
- but you can’t be more like Jesus, if you’re not learning more about his character and his will
- “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29, ESV)
- Hosea says in v. 3 let us press on or let us follow on (KJV)
- few English translations do justice to the Hebrew word used here
- press on is a military term and means to pursue something ardently until you over-take it
- ILLUS. It’s Jacob wrestling with the stranger and refusing to let him go until he receives a blessing.
- if we do, God promises to come along side us
B. HE WILL APPEAR
- the promise is that God will come to us when we actively seek Him out
- this means that whenever we are genuine in desiring God, He will reveal Himself to us
- that doesn’t mean that we will necessarily experience a Theophany—which refers to the appearance of a deity to a human
- we see any number of these experiences among the Patriarchs of the Old Testament
- the Pillar of Fire that led and protected the Hebrews during their wilderness wanderings was a form of Theophany
- the Shekinah Glory that descended upon Solomon’s Temple at it’s dedication to the Lord was a form of Theophany
- Jesus—God incarnate—was the ultimate Theophany
- there are many ways to experience the presence of God
- through prayer
- through the presence of the Holy Spirit
- through the lives of other believers
- but most significantly, through the pages of the Scriptures
- but most significantly, through the indwelling Christ
- “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? ... ” (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)
- look at how Hosea affirms this promise: as surely as the sun rises God will keep this promise
- this is a fixed fact of life
- it is something that we can count on just like the rising of the sun
C. WE WILL ABOUND
- He Will Come to Us like the Winter Rains
- the winter rains played a vital role in Israel’s agricultural economy
- the winter rains washed away the remnants of the previous season
- for example, the rains would wash away the chaff from wheat left in the harvesting areas
- they served as a way to clear the fields of anything left over from the harvest season and then prepared the fields for planting.
- so how does this affect us?
- before we do anything for God we must first be in a right position with Him
- this means that there must be a cleansing in our lives
- God does this in two distinct ways
- the first is through the work of Jesus on the cross giving us the opportunity for salvation
- salvation cleanses us from the effects of sin—just as the winter rains cleansed the fields of harvest
- the second is through the work of the Holy Spirit indwelling us giving us the opportunity for sanctification
- sanctification cleanses us of the effects of the sinful nature
- He Will Come to Us like the Spring Rains
- the spring rains played a different role in Israel’s agriculture
- the spring rains watered the ground for the planting season
- this made the springs rains vital for the coming of new life
- these rains were the renewing of the land for a new season of life
- spring rains made it possible for the seeds to take on a new cycle of life and brought growth to the new plants
- without a good season of rain in the spring there would not be a good harvest
- the Apostle Paul speaks of this same spiritual truth in 2 Corinthians 5:17
- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV84)
- Jesus is God’s lifeline to a dying world
- He brings a new beginning to those who will accept Him
- Jesus brings to us the promise of new life and abundant life
You have been issued an invitation this morning. It is an invitation to turn around and come back to Him.
Do you feel like you have been beat up by the world around you? Are you hurting today because of choices you have made? God is calling and He will bring healing and wholeness to your life.
Maybe today your life feels dry and lifeless. Maybe today you are in need of a downpour of the Holy Spirit on your life. Today God still promises to send the cleansing winter rains to wash away the old life. God still promises to send the life giving spring rains.
This morning you have a choice to make, no one else can make it for you. You are only as close to God as you choose to be.