Summary: Revival means “to recover or return from a state of neglect.” Lord knows we were the city of neglect: Our streets have been neglected. Our sewer and water system had been neglected. Our educational system had been neglected. Our poor had been neglected. T
John Hyde went to India as a missionary a little over a 100 years ago. He felt a strong calling to the nation of India and began to spend hours learning the local language. In 1892 he boarded a steamer in New York bound for India. In route, John received a telegram from a close family friend. He opened it hurriedly on the deck of the ship. The only words of the telegram were, "John Hyde, are you filled with the Holy Spirit?" John’s response was one of heated anger. He crumpled the paper, put it into his pocket and went to bed. Unable to sleep, he tossed and turned all night. He woke in the early morning hours, took the piece of paper and read it again. He thought, “The audacity of somebody to ask me that question, ‘Am I filled with the Holy Spirit?’ Here I am a missionary, sincere, dedicated, leaving my home and going to another country. How dare they ask me if I am filled with the Holy Spirit?” Wasn’t he equipped for his call? After all he had received a B.A. degree, studied the language, was even on the way and was determined to pursue his destiny. Yes, he was on his way, but Hyde was challenged by the note. After much soul searching, he fell to his knees before the Father. “O God,” he cried out, “the audacity of me thinking that I could pray or preach or witness or live or serve or do anything in my own strength and power. Fill me with your strength. Fill me with Your power.” And as a result, John Hyde became one of the great missionaries of all time.
If you were with us in our messages on Chapter 8, you will remember that the Jews upon hearing the Law of Moses read were convicted in their heart. Yet they were told to stop mourning and start rejoicing. They celebrated the Festival of Booths and each built their booths which served as a reminder of God’s deliverance from slavery out of Egypt. This was the first time they celebrated the festival as such. The Israelites had come home after their long captivity in Babylon, had rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem but now they wanted to feel and experience the presence of God in the lives and their nation once again. For they knew they could do nothing which lay ahead of them without the presence of God in their midst. And so they were determined to do whatever it took to make that happen.
Though the Festival of Booths was over; revival was just beginning. Today’s message can be summarized like this: if we are ever going to rebuild New Orleans, if we are ever going to rise above what we once were and if we are ever going to reclaim this city for God, then it’s going to take revival. What we see in our Scripture today is the steps to revival of the nation of Israel and the revival of Gods people. Revival means “to recover or return from a state of neglect.” Lord knows we were the city of neglect: Our streets have been neglected. Our sewer and water system had been neglected. Our educational system had been neglected. Our poor had been neglected. The integrity of our public officials had been neglected.
And if we’re honest, our spiritual life had been neglected. We need revival when families and spouses are not praying together. We need revival when we have to beg people to participate to serve. We need revival when we only know truth in our heads but are not practicing it in our lives. We need revival when we would rather make money than give money. We need revival when our concerns are only about ourselves and making us happy and not the millions that are dying without Jesus. We need revival when our lives are like the walls that were around Jerusalem in Nehemiah, they lie in ruins. We need to be renewed and to be more active in our faith and relationship with Jesus and our work to bring His kingdom here on earth. You and I need revival too. James Packer in his book, “Your Father Loves You” writes “Revival is the visitation of God which brings to life Christians who have been sleeping and restores a deep sense of God’s near presence and holiness. Thence springs a vivid sense of sin and a profound exercise of heart in repentance, praise, and love, with an evangelistic outflow.”
So what did Israel have to do to see and experience God in their midst once more? First, I want to go back to chapter 8 and mention one key we learned. Revival started with the Word of God. When you have a desire for God and seek him in His word, it has the power to convict but also to redeem. It helps us claim our identity and purpose as servants and followers of Jesus and moves us to doing the work of Jesus in establishing the kingdom of God. It was the pursuit of God through His word which started the revival in the hearts and minds of the Israelites. Revival never comes apart from the Word of God.