Summary: First in the series, "Revival in the Land: Rekindling the Hearts of Kings and Kingdoms." Looks at God’s promise to restore His people.
In our New testament Text we read about what could be called the first Christian Revival, on the Day of Pentecost after Peter had preached to the assembled crowd, 3,000 put their trust in Christ and were baptized.
Perhaps you’ve heard also about the Great Awakening, the Revival that began here in Germany in 1734 in a small Christian Community called Herrnhut, which sent out over 300 radical missionaries spreading revival like wildfire to England and then to the United States, resulting in thousands of souls turning to Christ.
Although revivals took place throughout the civil war, it was during the late Fall of 1863 through the Spring and Summer of 1864 that what was subsequently called the "Great Revival" occurred. Although this event is best documented for Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, it actually took place in both northern and southern armies in both the Virginia and the Tennessee theaters of the war.
According to Confederate Chaplain J. William Jones, virtually every Confederate brigade was affected--and approximately ten percent of the soldiers in the Army of Northern Virginia accepted Christ. Night after night troops participated in worship & prayer meetings. Virtually every gathering ended with soldiers coming forward to accept Christ or receive prayer. When a pond or river was nearby, the soldiers would frequently step forward for baptisms--regardless of how cold the weather was.
U. S. Christian Commission records show that similar events were happening in the North’s principle eastern army, the Army of the Potomac, at the same time. Brigade chapels were so full that many men were frequently turned away.
It is estimated that over 100,000 Confederate and somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 Union troops accepted Christ during the Civil War--roughly ten percent of the men engaged. There are many accounts of the change that took place in the men, both during the war and afterwards, as a result of the many revivals and movement of the Holy Spirit.
In 1904 perhaps the greatest of the modern revivals began in Wales, where over 100,000 were radically converted, transforming society and literally shaking the world with shock waves of revival.
Even today we hear of God’s Spirit moving in revival power, in South America, in Cuba and even in China, literally millions of souls are being won for Christ every year
I love to hear stories like that. I love to hear how God’s Spirit has moved and is moving, transforming lives and transforming society. Yet, while it is thrilling to hear about revival, my soul has begun to grow impatient with tales of revival at some other time, in some other place, for some other people, and I am growing anxious for a revival here and now a revival that will rock the world that you and I live in every day.(Adapted from John Bueno, Signs & Wonders Conference, Springield, MO 1994)
And I believe it is possible. And I believe God’s Word contains the key to revival. While I don’t believe there is some formula that we can follow like a magic trick to summon revival, I believe that there are patterns which we can examine to help us understand how to prepare ourselves for revival, to open our hearts and our lives in such a way that God is able to pour out revival at this time and in this place on these people, because I believe that’s exactly what God wants to do.
And so for the next couple of months I would like for us to look at revival in the Bible, at the stories of some Old Testament Kings--some stories of revival--which will give us some examples to follow, some positive, some not so positive. But before we go to those stories I wanted to look at the passage we read from Deuteronomy 30 this morning. In this passage, the Lord speaks to Israel as they are coming into the land of promise, and he sees a time which Israel will turn away from Him and seeing that time of rebellion God makes a promise of Revival.
Proposition: He promises that in that time when his people are far away from Him, He will still be willing to draw them near, under certain conditions.
Transition: I’d like to look at that promise with you this morning as we begin this quest to find a biblical pattern for revival. The promise begins with...
I. The Lord’s Requirements
v. 1 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations,
That phrase "take them to heart" is more literally translated "call them to mind" or remember. What is the Lord saying here? Well in the previous chapter he has laid out all of the bad things that will happen to Israel if they choose to turn their backs on Him, not as punishment, but simply as natural consequences of their actions. Wars, pestilence, disease, exile from their homeland. Now he is saying, when all those things happen, I want you to remember what I’m saying to you now. I want it to be a wake up call, I want you to say to yourself, "this is exactly what the Lord said would happen."