WHAT IS REVIVAL?
Isaiah 61:9 (ANIV) “Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed."
Isaiah 61 is the main prophetic Scripture for our ministry. The latter section of this chapter describes the fruit of a restored people. But what is revival? My best description is simply when God comes to stay with continuing revelation of His glory. That, of course, has many effects upon the people present and those who will also come seeking His favour. Where there is a revival presence of God there is a work of the Holy Spirit far beyond the experience of God through a usual church service as most of us are accustomed to. There is an acceleration of the Spirit’s work to refine and sanctify in individuals. The Lord is creating quality of Christian character in the lives of many people which is the first intention. Secondly, there is a direct effect to produce quantity, in terms of converts, as people are then better equipped and in closer relationship to the Lord so it will be Him more than them. Truly, the Lord is taking the initiative in many parts of the world to bring about revival so that the end-time “harvest” is brought in before Jesus returns again.
Nothing satisfies our hearts like the Presence of God. There is no blessing like the blessing which is imparted in revival. Isaiah mentions a “double blessing” and “everlasting joy” to show the extra grace given. There will be miracles but these are not the focus. What God does is to create better godly order in our spiritual being so we can grow into our full spiritual potential. That in itself will be an incredible and complicated work of the Holy Spirit performed in a remarkably short space of time for some people. When we are so changed we have a greater capacity for the Holy Spirit within us. Our relationship with the Lord can thus go deeper and deeper. As I quoted in verse 9 at the beginning this change cannot be hidden. The light of Christ shines ever more brightly out of us and affect “all who see them”.Such blessed people can make unbelievers very uncomfortable, yet many will want what we have got. The good thing is that many will get it! This was the case in the early church as we read in Acts 5:13,14 :-
“No-one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.”
So what is a transformed person really like? Holiness is the real explanation. Holiness is beautiful; it is not religious unreality and extreme behaviour. It is God’s reward for those who will seek Him. It is the place where we are blessed, not for a day but continually. We come to abide in the knowledge of God all the time. We learn how to trust God better; obey God better; appreciate God better. It leads us to a place of humility and thus to be more like Jesus. We say “goodbye” to worldly treasures and pleasures as they lose their previous significance. We become content with what we have and uncomplaining about our circumstances because Jesus is Lord of both of these. We learn to give willingly and in humility to receive also. Our faith gets stretched out as God will stretch it out through trials and tests. That is for our good also. Love emerges as never before. Love becomes a powerful motivation both before the Presence of God and in our relationships. Marriages get better. The love which covers a multitude of sins grows within us. Through Christ we can love our enemies even when we are persecuted. Yes, persecutions will come also. Whenever the Presence of God is attracted so will the activity of the devil. We will keep casting him out but he never gives up! Despite this trouble God will still make it to work for our good so long as we trust Him.
When the Holy Spirit came empowering the first church, the season could be described as “the year of the Lord’s favour” (verse 2). The history of the church started this way and the Lord has shown it is His prophetic purpose to bring back the same degree of favour in the last days before Jesus returns. Let’s consider some verses from the prophet Joel:-
Joel 2:18 (ANIV) "Then the LORD will be jealous for his land and take pity on his people."
Joel 2:28-29 (ANIV) "And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days."
An “outpouring” of the Spirit of God begins revival as we have described.
Let me say a little more about character. Verse 10 describes clearly the dignity God has given us. The Lord sees the image of Himself in us when He made us. The Lord wants us to see this for ourselves too and realise that this is what He wants to achieve as He restores us. We are to be so much like Christ, our King and High Priest. We have to learn how we should exercise dominion on the earth which is ours by God-given right. Sin took it away but Christ got it back again for us. We should have a prayer life which is a blessing to the Lord through worship and thanksgiving, and an intercessory side which changes the spiritual realm for others as we pray. Yes, we should be seen to have dignity without pride but love working through humility. When that develops from God transforming us, God can turn the world upside down using us.
Revival is for all. It is God’s best.