We must humble ourselves. Do you know why it’s important to humble ourselves? Because the psalmist said, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” James said, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Peter said, “ Humble yourselves….”
In the Old Testament, there are two words used to describe humility. First is the word “anah” and it is used when God is doing the humbling. When God humbles us, He afflicts force; He oppresses; we are bowed down. It literally means that we are humiliated. The other word is “kanah” and it is used when we are doing the humbling. They are similar, but different. To “kanah” is to humble, subdue, or bring low. It means that we bring ourselves into subjection so that in due time, He will exalt us.
The word that God used in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is the latter because we are to humble ourselves. However, there is a common thread that runs through both words, and that is one of dominion and subjection. Exactly half of the uses of kanah refer to military subjection where nations have oppressed or threatened to oppress Israel. The other half relate to spiritual submission, and 15 of these relate to the actions of kings in submitting themselves to God. There is an Arabic word that is related. It means “to fold (the wings of a bird).” The idea is that the bird can fly, but it chooses not to. The emphasis in both cases is that of a proud and independent spirit abasing itself. The point is this: as long as a person or a church or a nation is arrogant and self-sufficient, God can do nothing for them.
So what does it mean to humble oneself? It means to recognize our sinfulness before a Holy God. Look at Isaiah 6:5. Do you know what Isaiah is saying? First, he says, “Woe is me…” Do you know what that means? “I am lost.” Second, he says “I am lost because I have sinned.” Then he says, “I have sinned because I am by nature a sinner.” That’s what it means when he says I live among a people of unclean lips. Isaiah recognized that his guilt was genuine. He recognized that he was guilty not only because he was unclean, but because his people were unclean as well. Isaiah’s response was one of confession. The word “confess” literally means to say the same thing. It is an agreement with God. When we confess we are saying the same thing about ourselves that God says. So let me ask you this morning, are you saying the same thing about yourself that God is saying? Because if you aren’t, you aren’t ready for revival.
But to humble oneself also means to obey God. Look at Deuteronomy 8:2 (NKJV).
2 And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
Do you know what I think God is saying? We can demonstrate humility in all kinds of ways. We can always look down. We can never speak up for ourselves. We can even humiliate ourselves through acts of physical abuse to our own bodies. But what God wants more than acts of penance, more than acts of sacrifice, more than physical actions of any kind is a broken and contrite heart that is evidenced by absolute obedience and submission to God.
So the question is this: will you humble yourself before God or wait for Him to humble you. That means are you willing to submit to Him in obedience or are you waiting for the Sovereign of the Universe to force you, His child, into submission. He can do that, and it isn’t pretty, but if we want revival – true revival – we must humble ourselves before Him.