The very word revival stirs up a variety of thoughts, feelings and sentiments when raised in the context of church culture. I suspect most of us have at some pointed prayer or longed for one, ideally both. Whether or not we have ever read about or experienced one I want to look at how we view them. I believe there are two primary ways of thinking about revival. We can view revival as an event or an outcome.
This may present as a strange way of considering the subject but I think it highlights something very important. I remember decades ago reading a comment by Dr. Larry Crabb in one of his counselling books. He raised the idea of working toward our goals and praying for our desires. I think there is wisdom in that idea. I can easily apply it to my arthritic knees, particularly my left one. I pray for healing, my desire, while at the same time working toward my goal of maintaining the function of my knees by specific and regular exercises.
In applying that to revival, as with my knees, there is a twofold process to consider. We have revival as an event and when I hear people speak of it that is how others often seem to perceive it. Yet if we dig and little deeper and excavate some of the rubble, I think we will see it as an outcome, an event as the result of something. Clear examples of that are major revivals we see in scripture. We will begin with Josiah.
2 Kings 22:8–13 (NKJV)
8 Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9 So Shaphan the scribe went to the king, bringing the king word, saying, “Your servants have gathered the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of those who do the work, who oversee the house of the Lord.” 10 Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.
11 Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Michaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
Here the book of the Law was found and was read to Josiah. He began to reign at age 8 and was now 26. In hearing the book of the Law read Josiah was moved to initiate a major revival in Israel. The event we see is a revival, major change in Israel. However, this event is the outcome of something that took place 8 years earlier.
2 Chronicles 34:3 (NKJV)
3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images.
The groundwork for the major revival and reforms of Josiah was his pursuing of Yahweh years earlier.
The most important revival most of us in the church know of began on the day of Pentecost after Jesus crucifixion and resurrection. We find it in Acts and the event in response to Peter’s first sermon was 3,000 people being saved (Acts 2:1-42). This was only the beginning of powerful revival, healings and miracles. In Acts 1 we have evidence that the event on the day of Pentecost was the outcome of a 10 day prayer meeting. Yet a deeper look shows that all of this was preceded by a larger plan.
Revelation 13:8 (NKJV)
8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Jesus crucifixion and resurrection were planned from the beginning of the world. So, back to my knee example. Let us desire revival in our lifetime, an event that transforms our communities and the lives of many. In concert with our desiring revival let us continue in the place of prayer trusting that our Father is planning on bringing it about as an outcome of our praying and a furthering of His purpose.