This blog post is an effort to have a frank and honest discussion about the spirit of Revival that is appearing across our land. It is not an attempt to disregard or dishonor the experiences of the hundreds of thousands, [and hopefully, millions] of people who are being touched by God. Instead it is in response to my spirit's desire to be connected to God's heart regarding Revival. I want to know how He defines it and what we should be expecting to see in regenerated lives. So I will be looking at what Revival looks like in the Bible, and how it has been received, cultivated, and then spread throughout our culture. There's much to consider and learn!
Revival is in the air! Across the nation, university campuses are displaying the Presence of God as we see an unprecedented number of young people coming together and experiencing a spiritual awakening, and then sharing their testimonies of encountering God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. And Revival is being declared, as these gatherings are spreading from campus to campus, and drawing in adults, families, and yes, even the curious.
There is talk that this could be the next Great Awakening in America. Yet, even in the midst of this proclamation of spiritual revival, there are the cynics and the naysayers, questioning the authenticity of the outpouring of the Spirit on these events. In an effort to keep an open mind and discern God's voice in all the media coverage, testimonies, and criticisms, I want to be able to see evidence of His transformation in the lives of these amazing young adults experiencing this phenomenon. Not being there in person, I don't feel I can make a judgment as to the veracity of whether everyone is truly experiencing God, but the fact that their voices are ringing out all over our troubled nation, speaking of God, and the power of Revival, is surely something to be rejoicing! And I'm willing to be patient to see what God wants to do!
As my good friend, Steve Harmon, posted on his Facebook page, "[Why can't we] just be happy that people are meeting Jesus for the first time? That people are reconnecting with God's love for the first time in years after falling away? That people are getting free from depression? People are getting healed from years of debilitating disease? That families and friends are reconciling? That hunger for God is now there that wasn't there before? That religious baggage is being shed?... And so much more". I join Steve in asking the question, Why in the world would any Believer not want all this? And I will add to his question, one of my own: Isn't this what we've been praying for? Haven't we been praying for 2 Chronicles 7:14 to become a reality? Aren't we seeing these college campuses praying and seeking God's face, and that He will hear from Heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land? And before you react too quickly ... yes, I know that part of that Scripture requires that they turn from their wicked ways, and yes, we will have to see if that becomes a transparent and lasting consequence of this revival. But for now, can we [at least] celebrate this good news that is so much better than the barrage of ugliness, lawlessness, and evil that has permeated our news cycles in the recent past?
Yes, I am praying that this spirit of revival continues and grows and spreads across this nation and to the farthest corners of the world! I pray that what is happening in the lives of all these people is more than "Emotionalism", as one Christian podcast host expressed, because emotion and feelings come from our soul, and can often be mistaken for a spiritual awakening. But I am also celebrating the testimony of two college students at Cedarville University in Ohio, where revival has broken out. Cedarville is known for its academic excellence, Biblical education, and Christ-centered campus life. So, I applaud one of their College faculty members for cautioning the students not to remain secluded in their worship of God, but to go out and spread the Gospel. That, I believe, is what will be the determining factor of the success of this revival.
And it is what I believe has always been the desire of God's heart from the moment He created man... to spread the Good News of His existence and love for us. And so, I want to begin this two-part blog post by looking at the concept and reality of Revival in Scripture -- both in the Old and New Testament. How does God define Revival and how does Scripture describe what it looks like? And then in Part Two, we'll take a look at how it has been experienced in our culture and take a closer look at what God is doing in this latest picture of Revival.
First of all, I'd like to refer to an excellent paper written by Ervin Budiselic, a Doctor of Theology from Croatia. He is a Biblical scholar and describes himself as being "interested in reading the Bible as one unified story, Jewish roots of Christian faith, and the topic of discipleship". He has written on the concept of Revival in both the Old and New Testaments -- how it can be seen as different, yet in harmony. I will try to summarize his thesis and then give you his examples of the difference. Dr. Budiselic explains that there can be confusion over the meaning of the word "revival", and differences of opinions as to whether "revival" and "awakening" are the same or different. These are just the kinds of semantic arguments that the devil can use to sow disharmony into a movement of God. So I'm going to try to keep it simple, yet accurate, in looking at what the Bible tells us.
As I did my own research on the meaning of revival in the Old Testament, it comes from the Hebrew root word chayah, "to live", or "having life", and connoting the bringing back to life of something that was dead. There are several instances of the national spiritual revival of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. As bibleq.net notes, two of the most important happened in the reigns of King Hezekiah and King Josiah. King Hezekiah came to the throne in Jerusalem at age 25 (2 Chron 29:1) after the disastrous rule of his father Ahaz. On the first day of his reign Hezekiah initiated a reform of the temple building and temple worship. In particular, he called the nation to once again celebrate the Passover (2 Chronicles 30). Scripture tells us, So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel, there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
King Josiah became king when he was eight years old (2 Kings 22:1), and ordered the repair of the temple in Jerusalem when he was 18 (2 Kings 22:3-7). During the repairs, the “book of the law” was discovered (2 Kings 22:8) — probably Deuteronomy — thus causing Josiah to learn of many areas where reform was needed. His reforms are described in 2 Kings 23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35, including a great Passover celebration, surpassing that of Hezekiah. Scripture says, No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 35:18). Both of these instances point to bringing life back to dead commandments from the Lord; making alive again what has become dead and forgotten.
And what I found especially interesting was that a myriad of scholars expounded on the difference between the terms Revival and Awakening. No wonder Christians struggle over the pronouncement of true Revival. The consensus among academic Christians seems to be that "revival" connects to our sovereign God’s activity through the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians, [reviving of their consecrated spirits to the desire and need for God], and the term “awakening” describing God’s activity in the lives of non-Christians, which can be reflected in personal convictions, conversion, and becoming "born again."
But I actually found a different understanding [nearly the opposite] as I studied the meanings of these words in the Bible. While "revive" and "revival" have the Old Testament connotation of bringing to life something that was dead, the word "awake" or "awakening" in the Old Testament is the word uwr in Hebrew, meaning "rousing" someone to action, or awakening out of ordinary sleep. It expresses the idea of "being excited" or "stirred up". In the New Testament Greek, the word for awakening is diakaiosune, and it denotes an attribute of God. It is found in the sayings of the Lord Jesus of whatever is right or just [in itself] that conforms to the revealed will of God; whatever has been appointed by God to be acknowledged and obeyed by man.
So, let's take these definitions as understood in Scripture and see if we can agree on the following explanation ... the concept of revival in the Old Testament [on a purely semantic level] can't align with revival [seen as awakening] in the New Testament because before Jesus, the concept of revival was that Israel was bringing back to life what was dead and lost in YHWH. They were praying for renewal and recovery of His commandments, precepts, and covering.
In the New Testament, Jesus has come, died, and been resurrected and the Christians are praying for laborers in the harvest and for the arrival of Jesus's kingdom and His righteousness. And a very important part of His example for the new Christians was receiving the anointing of the Holy Spirit in order to proclaim the Gospel which is accompanied by signs and wonders. Salvation is theirs by Jesus going to the Cross and their belief in His redemptive gift. An "awakening" is the result of receiving His Spirit [after being born again] and being roused and stirred up to action to spread the Gospel messages of Salvation and Kingdom.
This is a very oversimplified explanation of what and why we should be seeking understanding from God as we continue to see the beautiful sight of people declaring Revival across the nation. I don't really care if it's called a Revival or another Great Awakening. Ultimately, it is my prayer that this movement continues to grow and mature as people move from worshiping and "feeling" the Presence of God to being excited to go out and proclaim and spread the Gospel of Salvation to the Lost and the Gospel of the Kingdom to all who are redeemed and called children of God. We need to have hearts that seek to understand Scripture and God's heart, but we don't need to get hung up on personal theology and doctrine. As my friend Steve Harmon asked so sincerely, "Shouldn't we desire to see Jesus do amazing things in people's lives"? Whether, through these spiritual gatherings, He is bringing a born again life to a new convert, or rousing the spirits of the already redeemed, IT'S ALL GOOD! Let us rejoice that He's moving in the hearts of men! Let us pray for more! And let us see the manifestation of His signs and wonders on the earth!
#revival #greatawakening #revivalinamerica
Psalm 85:6 Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?