“And it shall be said ‘Build up, build up, remove every obstacle from my people’s way…For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite’.” (Isaiah 57:14-15)
As we progress in our earthly pilgrimage, there are times when the heart is cold; there seem to be a want of God’s love, it’s almost as if there’s spiritual deadness. We drag ourselves to church meetings, our prayers are dry and our bible studies are quick and shallow (without any touch of divine insight). Some believers, aware of their spiritual condition wallow in pride and unbelief and indulge in hypocritical religion. While the wise believers know it is time to cry to the Lord for revival. But then, what is true revival?
The word “revival” connotes different things in the minds of people. For activity-oriented Christians, it’s some crusade or program that will involve the gathering of a sea of people, where there will be violent wriggling and shakings accompanied with Pentecostal outpourings; some also see revival as a spiritual event that will initiate the restoration of ‘the years that the cankerworm, the caterpillars and the palmerworm have destroyed’. But diligent study of the bible shows us that the very essence of revival from God’s perspective is the change that is effected in the life of men and not merely a reversion of external circumstances as is commonly heralded among a great many professing Christians.
True revival is not some activity that is fired up by self-will but starts with the Lord melting our stony hearts, shattering the bulwarks of pride, unbelief and rebellion, “remove every obstacle from my people’s way”. There cannot be true revival if our hearts are not broken or contrite, “to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” It is true, therefore, that repentance must precede revival. And repentance is not about making promises to God to live a changed life; it is essentially turning to God for the impartation of His own life.
From the text above, we see that the Lord promises to impart life into the heart of the contrite ones (those who draw near to Him with a pure heart). Hence if this life is imparted in the heart by the grace of the Holy Spirit, there must be evidence. One such evidence is love: love towards God and towards men. Compassion for souls, hunger for the word, persistence in prayer, etc. are all outflows of the imparted love of Christ in the heart of the believer and a sign that the Lord has begun His work of revival in us.
How is it with you?