Recently, our congregation spent time in the Spirit-inspired prayer for revival known as Psalm 85. One of my study resources for this sermon was Revive Us Again: Biblical Principles for Revival Today by Walter Kaiser. In the Introduction to this volume, Kaiser points out nine characteristics of the revivals we find recorded in the Old Testament, which were originally listed by Wilbur Smith.
- Most revivals were preceded by a time of deep spiritual decline and despair. For example, offering children as burnt offerings of the altar of Molech prior to the revival under King Hezekiah (2 Chron. 29-31).
- Each of these revivals began in the heart of one of God’s servants, who then became the instrument in God’s hands to stir up the sleeping consciences of God’s people. For example, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Haggai, Josiah, Nehemiah, and others.
- Every revival in the Old Testament rested solidly on a new and powerful proclamation of the Word of God. The most obvious example is the revival under King Josiah (2 Chron. 34).
- Each revival was marked by a return to the genuine worship of Yahweh. “Wholehearted, genuine worship of the living God became the chief delight and one of the foremost desires of each person who was truly restored to spiritual vitality.
- Revival resulted in a destruction of every idol that blocked the rightful acknowledgement of Yahweh as the only true and living God. “This is true of every revival except the last two, which occurred after the exile, when no idols were left in Judah.”
- There was a deep sense of sin and an overpowering desire to separate themselves from it and from all its sponsoring causes. The work of revival is uniquely the work of the Holy Spirit.
- In every revival in the Old Testament there was likewise a return to the offering of blood sacrifices. “Given such a heavy sense of sin, there must be as great a remedy, and that can only be met by the one and only sufficient sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb of God.”
- Old Testament revival resulted in the experience of a new sense of unbounded joy and exuberant gladness. “Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in that postexilic scene with Nehemiah and Ezra.”
- Each revival was followed by a time of great productivity and prosperity. “This is not the health, wealth, happiness, and success message that some are offering today. Rather it is the observation that the fortunes of the soil are intimately tied up with men and women and their spiritual success and failure.”
Watch or listen to this sermon on Psalm 85: Revive Us Again!
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[*This article was originally posted March 29, 2020]