By Karin McBride-Chenoweth (first published by The Christian Examiner, Nov 2018)
Why do some Christians believe revival is important?
Firstly, let’s look at the definition of revival.
Revival refers to a spiritual awakening, from a state of inactivity or ‘sleep’. This means that if the church or individual Christian are in this state, they are not being very effective. The good news is that they can become active at some point in the future!
Thinking about the subject, I asked myself, why do a lot of sermons or services deal with the revival?
The Bible refers quite a few times to ‘those who sleep,’ and it is in the scriptures we also find a warning. 1 Corinthians 15:18 tells us,
‘Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.’
Could revival be driven by fear perhaps? After all, inertia is not supposed to be a state of being. Neither does anyone want to be ‘lost’ or doomed. However, according to the definition, revival is not just a ‘feel good’ emotion either. It is rather an experience and one that precipitates a spiritual continuum – a good one, leading to growth.
True and False Revival
The late great Billy Graham once spoke about a ‘heaven-sent revival.’ One that would give us guidance, stability, strength, faith, integrity and righteousness. We could receive this not just as individuals but as a nation. A revival that could only be brought about by God and one that would bring about real lasting permanent change.
Reverend Graham’s comments bring to life that old axiom ‘men must change before kingdoms can.’ Therefore, it’s safe to deduct that with revival would come true peace. People giving up their selfish ways and putting others first.
I’ve always believed that if something is real to a person, then it is true. In recent years the church has been plagued by ‘heightened emotions.’ Too many times this has been misinterpreted as revival. I have been to many meetings over the years, where the battle-cry of ‘this is the start of revival – tonight!’ occurs only to be disappointed. The powerful collective of ‘let’s take on the world’ declaration didn’t last. So, what happened? Were expectations too high?
I don’t believe that the hope was ‘too high,’ but I do believe that revival when it comes, must be heaven-sent. I also believe there is a difference between feeling something and experiencing it. Revival is the experience that precipitates a change. Jesus Christ is the key that unlocks the door to that change. Sean Michael Lucas states in ‘True Revival and False Revival,’
‘A church filled with men and women who are delighting in God and His holiness, who are humble before God and others, and who are living out that holy delight in obedience to God’s Word—that is a church that is experiencing genuine revival.’
As I was writing this piece, I decided to research the word revival to see if it was in the bible. It did not turn up. However, in the Orthodox Jewish Bible it did! In the book of Isaiah 58:2 – also known in Hebrew as Yeshayah – the following appears,
‘…they ask of Me the mishpeteitzedek; they seem eager for kirvat Elohim (getting close to G-d, revival).’
In English – ‘They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.’
Lukas (Luke) 2:34
‘And Shimon said a bracha over them and said to Miryam his Em, Hinei this one is destined for the michshol (stumbling) and tekumah of RABBIM [YESHAYAH 53:11-12]’
In the latter we see the Hebrew word tekumah used. Translated this word means revival or resurrection. Simon therefore is blessing Jesus and prophesying over Him.
As we read this translation suddenly the Word becomes less obscure. Revival is much more than a feeling or indeed even a national movement. It is a resurrection – a gift from God.