The desire for revival is widespread among the churches and also among those who are believers outside of institutional structures. But before revival comes, there must first be a cleansing of the hierarchy and people. Once the cleansing is complete, rededication to a relationship with God is necessary. Once rededication is complete, then revival can take place.
Cleansing always begins with the House of God. However, a great many of those in the church are looking outwards, for a cleansing of evil from the world, instead of inwards, for a cleansing of the heart and body of Christ. More often than not, people praying for revival are praying for greater numbers to fill their pews, to fill the vacant spots for missionaries, or for the hearts of the young to be converted to fill their youth programs. Rare is the prayer for revival directed first to the cleansing of their hearts and bodies, and hierarchal structure. However, if cleansing events do take place in a congregation, it is the rarest of all events to witness an actual cleansing of those who clearly shouldn’t be in leadership roles. There are many priests, pastors, brothers, elders, deacons, wardens (in all Christian institutions), who hold a place of authority over the people but whose hearts are cold, whose service is stale and a burden, or whose personal behaviour is a shame before God and man but that which congregations continue to tolerate or cover up, thus polluting the rest of the body. God is not mocked. If revival is truly desired, cleansing and rededication are necessary.
Nehemiah has good examples of what is involved in cleansing, rededication and revival:
1. Confession (Nehemiah 1:5-7)
2. Remembering God’s word and promises (Nehemiah 1:8)
3. Petition (Nehemiah 1:10-11)
4. Examination of the Lord’s house (Nehemiah 2:11-17)
5. Reporting the state of the Lord’s house to those in charge (Nehemiah 2:17-18)
6. Denying the nay-sayers and giving credit for success to God (Nehemiah 2:19-20)
7. Being responsible to help rebuild the Lords’ house (Nehemiah 3:1-32)
8. Prayer in the face of external insults and opposition (Nehemiah 4:1-23)
9. Internal confrontation of usury practiced by authorities (Nehemiah 5:1-11)
10. Commitment of authorities to return what they have taken (Nehemiah 5:12)
11. Praising the Lord for the authorities response (Nehemiah 5:13)
12. New leadership shares all at their disposal with the people (Nehemiah 5:14-19)
13. Prayer in the face of external schemes, threats and lies (Nehemiah 6:1-9)
14. Prayer in the face of intimidation by internal false prophets (Nehemiah 6:10-14)
15. Assembling and recognizing the new leadership, and the people (Nehemiah 7:1-3)
16. Assembling the people for the reading of the Book of the Law (Nehemiah 8:1-7)
17. Praising and worshipping God before the reading of the Law (Nehemiah 8:5-6)
18. Instructors read the Law and make clear its meaning (Nehemiah 8:7-8)
19. People weep and mourn as they listen to the Law (Nehemiah 8:9)
20. Injunction for all to remember the sacredness of the day in celebration and joy (Nehemiah 8:10-12)
21. Celebrating the Feast of Booths as written in the Law (Nehemiah 8:13-18)
22. Corporate confession of sins and corporate worship of the Lord God (Nehemiah 9:1-3)
23. Prayer of confession and petition for rescue by the leadership (Nehemiah 9:-37)
24. A rededication agreement to follow the Law and serve God only (Nehemiah 9:38-10:39)
25. Purification of the leadership, the city, and the people (Nehemiah 12:30)
26. Rededication praise and thanksgiving with song and instruments (Nehemiah 12:27-29, 31-39)
27. Everyone sings and rejoices in the house of God (Nehemiah 12:40-43)
28. New leadership appointed to take care of the storerooms in the Lord’s house for contributions, firstfruits, and tithes (Nehemiah 12:44-47)
29. Those who curse Israel excluded from the community (Nehemiah 13:1-3)
30. Neglect of the house of God after rededication (Nehemiah 13:4-11)
31. Untrustworthy leadership of the storerooms in the Lord’s house replaced immediately with new leadership (Nehemiah 13:12-13)
32. Transgressors of the Sabbath warned that the price of transgression is calamity and wrath (Nehemiah 13:15-22)
33. Warning against foreign influences that turn people from God (Nehemiah 13:23-28)
34. Purging of all things foreign from the leadership (Nehemiah 13:29-31)
Perhaps one of the most fascinating, and saddest, things that occurs in Nehemiah is how quickly the leadership falls away even after confession, rededication and revival. And as the leadership went, so to the people, who had, again, been short-changed by the leadership (Nehemiah 13:10).
The roots of complacency, dishonesty, and masquerade can run deep in a congregation, so those who are praying for revival fight a battle on two fronts – in the spiritual realm, and in their own house. The modern church may argue about what constitutes the parts of cleansing, rededication and revival but what they can’t argue about is the necessity for them to take place. However, today, the waters have been muddied so much that the church no longer knows its own mandate but rather allows secular public opinion to dictate and legislate what its mandate must be, even when it clearly contravenes the law of God. Many have been swayed or intimidated by foreign influences (that turn people from God) so much so that that which is foreign in the service and worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is now commonplace, and that which was previously established by God is now anathema. Really, very little appears to have changed since the days of Nehemiah.
The church appears to be a dying ember in a firestorm of deception and destruction of the truth that rages across the world. What happened to the simplicity of our walk with the Lord and our joyous worship of the Lord God? Is our ‘lampstand’ (Rev 2:1-7) being removed from its place? Do we sin and entice others to sin (Rev 2:14)? Do we teach things contrary to the law of God (Rev 2:14-15)? Do we follow the corrupt teachings and practices of false prophets within the church (Rev 2:20-23)? Are we those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk (Rev 3:1-3)? Do we lie to other believers and say that God loves us more than them (Rev 3:9)? Are we prosperous and complacent believers (Rev 3:14-18)? If these questions are looked at honestly, it is possible to point fingers at all denominations as being guilty of at least one or more of the infractions of relationship and worship addressed by the Lord.
One of the truly wonderful things about God is His mercy – whenever an infraction is pointed out – a solution to the problem is provided. So, while the future of the church looks bleak, there are ways to revive our relationship with God:
• Repent and do the things you did at first (Rev 1:5)
• Be faithful, even to the point of death (Rev 2:10c)
• Repent [from teaching others to sin or things contrary to the law of God] (Rev 2:16)
• Repent [from the ways of the false prophets] (Rev 2:22)
• Hold on to what you have [to those who don’t follow the ways of the false prophets] (Rev 2:25)
• Wake up! Strengthen what remains . . . . Remember what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent [from talking the talk but not walking the walk] (Rev 3:2-3)
• Buy [from God] gold refined in the fire to become rich; and white clothes to wear to cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. … So be earnest, and repent [from thinking you are prosperous, and from complacency] (Rev 3:18-19)
If the Western Church doesn’t want to enter a new ‘dark age’, it must ‘revive’ itself – through cleansing and rededication. Only then will true ‘revival’ take place. God, in His mercy, has said that even though the threat of darkness and destruction is at hand, it is possible to “overcome” (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).
There is a great battle at hand. Take up your armour. Pray for true revival.
The Lord is coming!
We have come to a turning point in the road. If we turn to the right mayhap our children and our children’s children will go that way; but if we turn to the left, generations yet unborn will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to His Word. ~ Charles Spurgeon