This week, as you can imagine, my mind has been focused on the subject of revival. For some reason, all of a sudden I began thinking about the number of people that I had seen revived physically. I have watched as CPR has been performed – some survived and some didn’t. I have seen people put on ventilators with heroic measures taken to revive them – some survived and some didn’t. I’ve heard countless stories of people who have been brought back to life after they have died. They were revived. And I began to think, what exactly happened to them? Most of them probably had a greater appreciation for life after such a dramatic episode, but their lives, most likely, kept right on with the same routine as before. And my thought was, “I don’t want that kind of revival.” Then it hit me: spiritual revival – at least the kind found in the Bible — isn’t about restoring life back to the old routines; it’s about bringing new life where there is no life. It’s about God breathing His breath into our spiritual lungs so that we can be the church He created us to be. We look at revival as something scary – or at least so supernatural that we cannot begin to comprehend it – when its purpose is to simply restore us back to normal. But let me make one thing perfectly clear: it is God’s normal and not ours.
So, what exactly should we expect if God chooses, in His Divine Sovereignty, to grant to us the desires of our hearts and send revival? Yes, hearts will be changed, families will be healed, and relationships will be restored, but what does that equate to in the church? What is the “new/old normal” that we will experience? As I compare what took place with the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai when God came down to meet with them and what will take place should God come down to meet with us, I came away with two conclusions: He will reveal the truth to our hearts, and He will transform our character to accomplish His purpose.
From the time that the Jewish people left Egypt up to this point in their history, they perceived God to be some kind of divine vending machine. They were hungry and cried out to God, so He sent them manna. They were thirsty and cried out again, and He gave them water from a rock. They were bored with what God had provided and cried out again, so He gave them quail. Have a need? Pull the lever and God took care of it. Sadly, I fear that the modern-day church has done the same. Commit a sin and need forgiveness? Go to God and ask (which is the right thing to do) but then go back to life as “normal” and do the same thing over again and ask for forgiveness again (which is the wrong thing to do). Have a need regardless of your relationship with Him? Ask Him to take care of it. Pull the lever and watch God provide. No true gratitude. No change of heart. Just keep pulling the lever.
But when God came down to Mt. Sinai, He revealed to the people the truth of Who He is, and He is much more than a divine vending machine. Add to that the fact that when He came down, in spite of their preparations, they realized who they were, and they were terrified to be in His presence. In fact, they told Moses that they wanted to go back to the “old normal” and let Him do all the talking with God. “Just report back to us what He says,” they demanded. Why? Because it’s too hard for many to allow God to change their hearts and lives in the midst of the encounter. Many Christians and other church-going people feel the same way. “Pastor, you meet with God and tell us what He says.” The only problem is that encounters with the pastor are not enough to change our lives – only a face to face meeting with Holy God can accomplish His purposes for us.
And just what is that purpose? Exactly what He told the children of Israel in Exodus 19:5, 6. He wants us to be transformed in such a way that we understand what it means to be His prized possession, a priestly presence, and a purified people. He wants us to understand that in this encounter, He will change our hearts and our lives in such a way that we will truly demonstrate to the world how much God loves us, and we will serve to bring men to God and God to men. Isn’t that what the church needs today?
For a more detailed presentation of this truth, listen to the message from which this blog was taken. You can find it at http://media.drbenhayes.net/?name=2017-05-01_043017am.mp3.