June 8, 2021
"Look down from Heaven and see from Your lofty home – holy and beautiful. Where is Your zeal and Your might?"
“Look down from Heaven and see from Your lofty home – holy and beautiful. Where is Your zeal and Your might? Your yearning and compassion are withheld from me. You are our Father, even though Abraham does not know us and Israel doesn’t recognize us. You, Lord, are our Father; from ancient times, Your name is our Redeemer.” Isaiah 63:15-16
At the heart of Isaiah’s prayer is Israel’s need for revival. But what is revival? Today’s chapter brings out some important aspects of it.
First, the Lord makes His presence and power known, suddenly and dramatically. All revivals are marked by a mysterious, irresistible sense that God is near. His power is felt in an awesome way – like the way He had shown Himself at the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. Someone who witnessed a revival in the 1800s said, “It was so evidently the work of God that not a dog dared move his tongue!”
Secondly, revivals have a sense of holy fear. When God comes down, the nations tremble. Pride and arrogance are humbled. Unbelievers are convicted of their sins; believers are humbled and worship the majesty of God. During the Great Awakening in the eighteenth century (in Britain and New England), entire nations were affected; leaders were raised up, laws were changed, life patterns were altered, and places of sin were abandoned. When God moves, everything is affected by it.
Thirdly, Revival is a display of God’s righteous rule. The “impotence” of the Church at large necessitates the cry for God’s coming. Revival is the sovereign work of God. By that, I mean that unless God comes and comes powerfully, there can be no revival. George Whitefield made thirteen trips to America in his lifetime, but only on one occasion (1740-1742) did revival break out. On the other hand, William Charles Burns, after a period of unparalleled blessing in his preaching in Scotland, went to China and labored faithfully for twenty-one years with little fruit. That is why we must pray for revival, as opposed to solely laboring toward it.
Fourthly, revival is a display of God’s mercy. God had withdrawn from Israel but only for a season. He was angry and He stood outside the door of the Temple, so to speak. The people’s hearts were hardened, and they had grown insensitive to the demands of the Lord. Things had reached the point where it was hard to distinguish Israel from the other nations. Can the same be said of us believers today? You see, when we act like the nations, we are rebuked as the nations. Were it not for God’s mercy (not giving the fullness of the punishment deserved), we would be utterly destroyed in His presence!
Lastly, during Revival, there is a sudden conversion of sinners in great numbers. Most recently, the “Jesus Movement” of the 1960s-70s is a good example if such a rush of new believers. Could it be that the Lord is leading us to read His Word daily (literally, thousands of people are reading the Bible w/us, daily) because He is sowing into us the seeds of readiness for such a coming revival?