Revive Us, O Lord
“Study the history of revival,” states, Dr. Adrian P. Rogers (1931-2005), pastor emeritus, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tennessee, who continues, “God has always sent revival in the darkest days. Oh for a mighty sweeping revival today!”
Rev. Ron Dunn (1936-2001), author of Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something, observes, “If you study the history of revival, you will discover this undeniable fact: In the recorded history of the church there has never been a mighty outpouring of the Spirit in Revival which did not begin in the persistent, prevailing prayer of a desperate people. Revival has never come because men ‘planned’ it and put it on the calendar.”
“The membership of 80% of U.S. churches is either stagnant or dying,” according to David Bryant, in his book titled CHRIST IS ALL! A Joyful Manifesto on the Supremacy of God’s Son. Bryant adds, “Tens of thousands of congregations are wrestling with a leveling off of financial giving, or growing shortfall of laborers and an atmosphere of apathy toward evangelism, compassion ministries, and the global mission of Christ’s kingdom that seems endemic.”
We find the following message in a song titled “Revive Us, O Lord”, by Steven J. Camp: “We have turned from Your ways, Lord Your fruit we cease to bear / We lack the power we once knew in our prayers / The gentle voice of heaven, / we cease to hear and know / The fact that He has risen no longer stirs our souls / Revive us, O Lord, revive us, O Lord / And cleanse us from our impurities and make us holy / Hear our cry and revive us, O Lord / Though we've been unfaithful we have never been disowned / The Spirit that raised Christ from the dead compels us to His throne / ...Hear our cry and revive us, O Lord”.
Dr. John Ross McDuff (1818-1895), Scottish pastor, author and hymn writer, explains, “The nation had lapsed into unblushing idolatry. They had made surrender of their traditional creed, and specifically of its fundamental article—the personality and unity of Jehovah; degrading it with the abominations of the Phoenician and Assyrian mythologies. In addition to altars to Baal, crowning the high places, statues of Astarte were erected amid the groves of Terebinth. This latter goddess seemed to have been adopted by Ahaz as his tutelary deity; an awful and debasing counterfeit truly of the Supreme sitting on a lion, holding a thunderbolt and scepter in either hand, and her head surrounded with a crescent moon. No king, before or since, so defiled and desecrated the holy temple. Isaiah himself, amid this awful deterioration, this widespread atheism, might well be apt to give way to despair. His faith at times could hardly fail to be clouded. But the God he served calmed his fears and allayed his apprehensions by a special proclamation of His glory and goodness, ‘I am the alone High and Lofty One.’” Dr. McDuff also shares the following comment on the phrase, “Whose name is Holy”, “The worst characteristic of these heathen deities was their unholiness. Dr. Duff further explains about “His Two Palaces”, 1. “The palace of eternity. ‘ That inhabiteth eternity.’ In nothing do we feel how puny we are, as when we attempt to scan the marvels and glories of this Divine dwelling—place, with its illimitable corridors of space and time. 2. What a transition, from the halls and corridors of eternity, to the human bosom! There is a twofold description of the human heart. (1) It is contrite. (2) After contrition, or as the sequel and complement of it; comes humility.”
From Isaiah 57:14-21 we read, “And one shall say, / ‘Heap it up! Heap it up!
William MacDonald (1917-2007) former president of Emmaus Bible College, explains, “To the faithful ones in exile, God promises that a highway will be constructed for their return, and every obstruction will be removed. For the God who dwells in the high and holy place also dwells in the humble and contrite heart. He will not contend forever with the souls that He has made, otherwise they would perish under His anger. God did send forth His wrath against His covetous, backsliding people, but His anger has a limit. He will restore those who turn from their idolatry, causing them to bring Him the fruit of their lips.”
In this message we will zero in on verses 15 and 16, which records, “For thus says the High and Lofty One / Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, / With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, / To revive the spirit of the humble, / And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. For I will not contend forever, / Nor will I always be angry; / For the spirit would fail before Me, / And the souls which I have made.” Our Lord is in plain view in this passage and herein we discover three tremendous truths about Him.
I. Our Lord and His Eternal Majesty (Isaiah 57:15a)
“For thus says the High and Lofty One / Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy. . .” (Isaiah 57:15a). The phrase “whose name is Holy” speaks of the essential element of the character of God. Job responds to his miserable comforters, “Then I would still have comfort; Though in anguish I would exult, He will not spare; / For I have not concealed the words of the Holy One” (Job 6:10). From the Song of Mary we read, “My soul magnifies the Lord, / And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; / For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, / And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him / From generation to generation” (Luke 1:49).
We read in Isaiah 66:1-2, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, / And all those things exist.’ Says the LORD. ‘But on this one I will look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, / And who trembles at My word.” The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates the second part of verse 2 in this way, "I will look favorably on this kind of person: one who is humble, submissive in spirit, and who trembles at My word" (Isaiah 66:2b HCSB).
II. Our Lord and His Earthly Ministry (Isaiah 57:15b)
“I dwell in the high and holy place, / With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, / To revive the spirit of the humble, / And to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15b).
We note the following cross-references to phrases found in this verse: “I dwell in the high and holy place” (Psalm 68:35; Zechariah 2:13); “With him who has a contrite and humble spirit” (Psalm 34:18, 51:17; Isaiah 66:2) and “To revive the spirit of the humble” (Psalm 147:3; Isaiah 61:1-3).
Our Lord Jesus says in John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
Dr. James Oswald Dykes (1835-1912), Scottish pastor, author and educator, explains, “The word ‘contrition’ in the text is a very strong word. It literally means a pounded state, as of a stone which by blow on blow of heavy hammers, or the grinding of wagon wheels, has been crushed into dust. By this vigorous metaphor it strives to make vivid to us the moral carriage has been broken down through the sense of guilt and moral weakness; one who by repeated trials of his own instability, and blow after blow of discouraging rebuke from God, feels himself left in the path of evil a heart-broken man, over whom the trampling feet of innumerable masterful sins, with all their evil followers, seem to find free passage; a man beaten down and crushed out of spirit by vain struggle against sin and inescapable poundings from the violated laws of God. Now this moral condition, though it looks hopeless, is really a hopeful one. It is the only hopeful one. And the hopefulness of it lies here, that no man is ever so crushed in heart by sin unless he hates sin.”
III. Our Lord and His Enduring Mercy (Isaiah 57:16)
“For I will not contend forever, / Nor will I always be angry; / For the spirit would fail before Me, / And the souls which I have made” (Isaiah 57:16).
The following cross-references are given in relation to these phrases: “For I will not contend forever” (Psalm 85:5, 103:9; Micah 7:18); “Which I have made” (Numbers 16:22; Job 34:14; Hebrews 12:9).
Throughout the Scripture we read of God’s mercy. For example in 1 Chronicles 16:34, 41b we read, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. . . . give thanks to the LORD, because His mercy endures forever.”
When the Levites brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple they praised the Lord and said, “For He is good, / For His mercy endures forever” (2 Chronicles 5:13). At the dedication of the Temple, we read in 2 Chronicles 7:3, “When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying: ‘For He is good, / For His mercy endures forever.’” Under the leadership of Jehoshaphat the Israelites said, “Praise the LORD, / For His mercy endures forever” (2 Chronicles 20:21b). At the restoration of the Temple, we read in Ezra 3:11, “When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests stood in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the LORD, according to the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: ‘For He is good, / For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.’” In Jeremiah 33:10-11 we read, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Again there shall be heard in this place—of which you say, ‘It is desolate, without man and without beast”—in the cities of Judah, in the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man and without inhabitant and without beast, the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say: ‘Praise the LORD of hosts, / For the LORD is good, / For His mercy endures forever’— and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. For I will cause the captives of the land to return as at the first,’ says the LORD.” Also Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 3:22-23, “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, / Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; / Great is Your faithfulness.”
Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909-2002) shares, “God comes down to many in mercy and grace, in order to comfort and revive those who are contrite and ‘humble’ in spirit. God never loses His exalted position but reaches down to lift man up through the Mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).”
Monte Shaffer shares, “Noah Webster (1758-1843), the Father of American Christian education, wrote the first American dictionary and established a system of rules to govern spelling, grammar, and reading. This master linguist understood the power of words, their definitions, and the need for precise word usage in communication to maintain independence. Webster used the Bible as the foundation for his definitions.” In his 1828 edition, titled, The American Dictionary of the English Language, Webster defines the word "revive" as a:
“1. Return, recall or recovery to life from death or apparent death; as the revival of a drowned person.
2. Return or recall to activity from a state of languor; as the revival of spirits.
3. Recall, return or recovery from a state of neglect, oblivion, obscurity or depression; as the revival of letters or learning.
4. Renewed and more active attention to religion; an awakening of men to their spiritual concerns.”
Rev. James Burns (1865-1948), writing in 1909 in his book titled, Revivals, Their Laws and Leaders, indicated what revival means in the church when he wrote: "To the church a revival means humiliation, a bitter knowledge of unworthiness, and an open and humiliating confession of sin on the part of her ministers and people. It is not the easy and glowing thing many think it to be, who imagine that it fills the pews, and reinstates the church in power and authority. It comes to scorch before it heals; it comes to condemn ministers and people for their unfaithful witness, for their selfish living, for their neglect of the cross, and to call them to daily renunciation, to an evangelical poverty, and to a deep and daily consecration.”
"This is why," Burns continues, "a revival has ever been unpopular with large numbers within the church. Because it says nothing to them of power such as they have learned to love, or of ease, or of success; it accuses them of sin, it tells them that they are dead, it calls them to awake, to renounce the world, and to follow Christ."
Dr. Tom Phillips, president and CEO of International Students, Inc., Colorado Springs, Colorado, and former Senior Crusade Director with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, cites the following from Rev. James Burns in The Laws of Revival, “The appearance of revivals owes nothing to chance; they are a witness to God’s sovereignty...We are able to see a regularity in their appearance and, within certain limits, to anticipate their coming...First of all, we perceive that they come when preparations have been made, when the times are ripe. Next, their appearance is signaled by certain infallible signs one of which is a growing discontent in individuals’ hearts with corruption and backsliding. With this comes an intense craving for something better. A growing spirit of expectation that change is coming soon develops.
At last, when contributing streams converge at a definite point there suddenly appears the messenger who speaks for God, and whose voice people instantly recognize and obey.
Another similarity is what occurs when the revival movement is set in motion. When the voice of the leader is heard, vast forces, which seem to have been lying dormant, are awakened. The revival spreads like fire, and huge numbers of people are affected. Wherever it goes, and into whatever heart it enters, it creates an overwhelming realization of sin—then confession. With the forgiveness of sin comes a joy that expresses itself in song. The main effect of the revival is felt in the inner life. It awakens new spiritual emotions. It sharpens lives into subjection to the will of God. It brings the church back to simplicity, sincerity, and a renewed spiritual vitality. . . .
No revival can come from below. All attempts to create a revival fail. Nor can we bring a revival down, since prayer is not the cause of revival but the human preparation for one. By prayer we prepare the soil. Is there a disposition to pray for revival? Are devout men and women everywhere becoming alarmed, not for the success of the church, but for the glory of Christ?”
Dr. Charles G. Finney (1792-1875), former pastor of New York City’s Broadway Tabernacle, tells in his book titled, Revivals of Religion or Lectures on Revival, “Take a fact which was related, in my hearing, by a minister. He said, that in a certain town there had been no revival for many years; the Church was nearly extinct, the youth were all unconverted, and desolation reigned unbroken. There lived in a retired part of town, an aged man, a blacksmith by trade, and of so stammering a tongue that it was painful to hear him speak. On one Friday, as he was at work in his shop, alone, his mind became greatly exercised about the state of the Church and of the impenitent. His agony became so great that he was induced to lay by his work, lock the shop door, and spend the afternoon in prayer.
He prevailed, and on the Sabbath called on the minister and desired him to appoint a ‘conference meeting.’ After some hesitation, the minister consented; observing however, that he feared but few would attend. He appointed it the same evening at a large private house. When evening came, more assembled than could be accommodated in the house. All were silent for a time, until one sinner broke out in tears, and said, if any one could pray, would he pray for him? Another followed and another, and still another, until it was found that persons from every quarter of the town were under deep conviction. And what was remarkable was, that they all dated their conviction at the hour that the old man was praying in his shop. A powerful revival followed. Thus this old stammering man prevailed, and as a prince had power with God.”
Dr. Paul S. Rees (1900-1991) reminds us that "revival and evangelism, although closely linked, are not to be confounded. Revival is an experience in the church; evangelism is an expression of the church." In similar way, John Bonar noted during the nineteenth century, “Viewed with respect to the church, a time of revival is a time of newness of life. Viewed with respect to the world, whether professing or openly careless, it is a time of multiplied conversions.”
David Bryant, founder of PROCLAIM HOPE!, writes, “Satan fears nothing more than a coalition of determined people who have anchored themselves in the promises of God for revival, set their sights on that and nothing less, and prepared accordingly. The enemy knows that when revival comes, the darkness will be pushed back further, his usurpations will be exposed, and multitudes of captives will be set free. So, determined people, expect retaliation!”
Our Lord says to the church in Laodicea, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). This church and all others like it, desperately needed revival.
David Bryant shares, “Olaf Hallesby [1879-1961] in his classic book Prayer concludes that all intercession is simply a matter of ‘opening the door and inviting Jesus to come in. This is true, he says, whether we pray for our own lives, our churches, our city, or for world revival. Our prayers open the door to receive the entrance of the Lord to do his full work among us. So when we pray extraordinary prayers, we need to expect to receive extraordinary answers.” Revive us, O Lord.
David Bryant, “Jesus: Mascot or Monarch?” Revive: A Publication of Life Action Ministries, Volume 40, Issue 4 (Buchanan, MI: Life Action Ministries, 2009), p. 9
Steven J. Camp, “Revive Us, O Lord” Licciardello © 1985 Birdwing Music (ASCAP) / Some-O-Dat Music (admin. by Dayspring Music, a div. of Word, Inc.) (BMI) Available from: http://www.christianguitar.org/csong521/Steve-Camp-Revive-Us,-O-Lord Accessed:
The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, Isaiah Volume III(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, n.d. ), p. 287
William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, ed. Art Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), p. 983
The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, Isaiah Volume III(Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, n. d. ), p. 289
The Believer’s Study Bible, ed. W. A. Criswell (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991), p. 993
Monte Shaffer, Available from: http://1828.mshaffer.com/ Accessed: 11/14/09
James Burns, Revivals, Their Laws and Leaders (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1909)
Tom Phillips, Ignite Your Passion for God: A Daily Guide for Personal Revival (Minneapolis, MN: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1992), p. 33
Burns, The Laws of Revival, p. 34
Burns, The Laws of Revival, pp. 49-50
Charles G. Finney, Revivals of Religion or Lectures on Revival (New York: Leavitt, Lord & Co. / Boston: Crocker & Brewster, 1835), pp. 61-62
John Bonar, Ministers of the Church of Scotland: Lectures on the Revival of Religion (1840), p. 9 [correct page number?]
David Bryant, The Hope at Hand: National and World Revival for the Twenty-First Century (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, A Division of Baker Book House Company, 1996), p. 153
Bryant, The Hope at Hand, p. 155