This post will probably cause many people to disagree with me because it runs against the grain of what people want. They think they’re in line with God’s purposes; they use Scripture to justify their position; they pray intently. Yet, their desired result continues to slip away.
What is this unpopular position I hold that’s seemingly contrary to a wide swath of Christianity? – I’m taking a deep breath, so here goes . . .
How many people do you know who pray 2 Chronicles 7:14?
. . . if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Why do they pray it? They do so seeking revival. In fact, revival is one of the biggest prayer requests I hear in a corporate setting. People petition the Lord for a turning back of the darkness—the wickedness and evil—that has consumed the land, this United States we call home.
I get that; I really do. The hatred and terrible acts of violence that appear to have no end are a pox on the soul. To not be affected, I know that every day I have to give my frustration and anger back to God. I’d be a walking-talking-blubbering mess otherwise.
There are a couple places I want to go with this. First, let’s finish with the above verse. One of the things that folks neglect when praying this is what comes before. 2 Chronicles 7:13 says the following:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,
From this we see there are very specific conditions in verse 13 in order for the praying of verse 14.
God says that when there’s drought, or a locust invasion, or plague—all of which He causes—then when his people humbly come to Him and seek relief He will answer.
Question: What was it that caused God to send these conditions upon the Israelites? Answer: When they turned away from Yahweh and worshiped other gods.
Another question: Do we typically seek revival from God that is linked to such judgments similar to what Israel experienced?
Lately, with the Wuhan virus, we’ve probably asked because of the plague connotation, but truthfully, have we seen an answer to our prayers that indicate God is relenting?
I personally don’t see it. So, number one, we may be praying Scripture that has no connection with our situation because it was never intended to be used like we do. We pray 2 Chronicles 7:14 in the hopes of revival, but God intended its use as a means to reverse his judgment that came in very specific ways for the Israelites. Maybe, just maybe, God is allowing this virus to continue because of how it’s shaping us just as intended.
Perhaps the general population has to become subservient to government and seek a savior from the secular world. Perhaps people need to be conditioned to accept what the authorities give, e.g. a vaccine now and another particular mark later. Perhaps the hearts of many have to grow exceedingly cold and hard.
Here’s my second point, which surely isn’t a popular position. Why do we pray for revival when God has told us the world is going to experience something very different than that, namely the Tribulation encompassing God’s wrath and punishment?
Scripture couldn’t be clearer. God has told us the world is going down. The sin and depravity will continue to get worse. Not only will secular mankind tell God it doesn’t need Him, but so will the church. So it is. We see in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 that there must be a falling away in the church:
Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
Apostasy is the Greek word apostasia. It variously means “defection, forsaking, revolt, falling away” in the Biblical sense from true religion. Christ’s Body, the church of God, turns its back on Him. We see it. It’s happening before our very eyes, and has been for some time. We are reaching a remnant state. Churches that still faithfully follow God are becoming Philadelphia churches with little power (Revelation 3:8).
Yet we still pray for revival.
You know what that tells me? That we want the world more than we want to see God’s kingdom in His actual presence.
“But, Gary, we pray for revival because we want the world to come to Christ!”
Really? Or are we doing so because we really want to see our kids graduate, marry, and bring us grandchildren? Are we so much desiring others to come to the Lord, or are we so invested in the world that the thought of losing it is painful? Why do so many people gravitate toward New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) thinking that prophesies revival and a great and glorious future for the church where we take dominion in all cultural spheres? Why don’t we believe the Bible when it says that God effectively gets to the point of no return in this Church Age, just like He did with Israel and their apostasy?
If we believed the Bible, we would trust that God has made a determination to finally pour out His wrath on this unbelieving world. If we believed the Bible, we would let go of the notion of revival. We’d let go of the world.
Instead of seeking revival, we’d do everything we could to strengthen what is left of the church. We’d pour ourselves into discipling others and studying God’s Word.
Within our four walls and with other true churches we would work to bring unity among us, knowing how much that pleases God. I’m not speaking of ecumenical unity. That focuses on the lowest common denominator and inevitably strays from Biblical truth. I’m talking about unity that lifts up and glorifies God because Christ’s Body is working together—each member with the other—in prayer and service to the Lord, following a Biblical path toward righteousness.
Last, but surely not least, we would as a church take God’s admonition seriously for us to be a light to the world. Darkness is not an affirmative force; light is. Jesus is the light of the world, and we are to reflect that light into as many dark corners as possible while there is still time. In our doing this, would pockets of revival break out before Jesus comes to snatch us away in the Rapture? Perhaps. That would be an amazing side benefit of these three tasks.
Do you see the difference? If we pray for revival, we’re essentially trying to convince God the plan He has laid out in His Word needs alteration or our approval. If we pray to truly be the church that He called us to be, then the revival might happen, but more importantly, we’re being obedient to God’s plans for His Body.
I’ll tell you my prayer: “Lord, thy will be done. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”