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Revivals in the Bible

Old Testament Revivals

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Many times in the long history of Israel, the Spirit of the Lord moved upon that nation. The best known Bible verse on revival is God’s promise to answer the prayers of His repentant people. It comes in the chapter that tells how the glory of the Lord filled the temple. God gave that promise at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem: “If My people who are called by My name will 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” (2 Chron. 7:14 NKJ).

He kept His promise, and He still does. The history of Israel gives many examples.

Wilbur Smith’s 7 O.T Revivals

Wilbur Smith listed seven revivals in the Old Testament in addition to the one under Jonah. These revivals involved:

  1. Jacob’s household (see Gen. 35:1–15). 2. Asa (see 2 Chron. 15:1–15).
  1. Asa (see 2 Chron. 15:1–15).
  2. Joash (see 2 Kings 11–12; 2 Chron. 23–24).
  1. Hezekiah (see 2 Kings 18:1–8; 2 Chron. 29– 31).
  1. Josiah (see 2 Kings 22–23; 2 Chron. 34–35).

6.Haggai and Zechariah with Zerubbabel (see Ezra 5–6).

  1. Ezra with Nehemiah (see Neh. 9:1–6; 12:44– 47).
Nine characteristics of these revivals:

They occurred in times of moral darkness and national depression.

Each began in the heart of a consecrated servant of God who became the energizing power behind it.

Each revival rested on the Word of God, and most were the result of proclaiming God’s Word with power.

All resulted in a return to the worship of God.

Each witnessed the destruction of idols where they existed.

In each revival, there was a recorded separation from sin.

In every revival, the people returned to obeying God’s laws.

There was a restoration of great joy and gladness.

Each revival was followed by a period of national prosperity (Pratney 1994, 13).

Those characteristics of revival have continued through the history of God’s people. They still happen in revivals all over the world.

Revival in the New Testament

Jesus emphasized these same principles of obeying God and living under God’s reign. He called people to repentance and wholehearted commitment to God in the power of the Holy Spirit. He announced and demonstrated the kingdom of God in everything, not just in religious activities.

The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jesus at His baptism. He then ministered in the power of the Spirit. That kind of ministry is typical of outpourings of the Spirit in the Church. Jesus ushered in the new era of the new covenant written in His blood. Through the cross and the resurrection, Jesus conquered evil. So, every revival stems from the cross and demonstrates the power of the risen Lord in those who give their lives to Him.

The early Church lived in continuous revival. It saw rapid growth of the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit from the initial outburst at Pentecost, which saved 3,000 people. Multitudes joined the Church, amid turmoil and persecution.

Those early Christians lived in the power of the Spirit. They were not faultless, but they were on fire. Observers described them as people who “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

The Book of Acts tells the amazing story of the rapid growth of the early Church. Here’s a brief summary of the events recorded in Acts:

At Pentecost about 3,000 were added to them (see Acts 2:41).

Later, many who heard the word believed, about 5,000 (see Acts 4:4).

More believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women (see Acts 5:14).

The number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith (see Acts 6:7).

The Church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers (see Acts 9:31).

The Lord’s hand was on them at Antioch and a great number became believers (see Acts 11:21).

Many people were brought to the Lord through Barnabas (see Acts 11:24).

The word of the Lord continued to advance and multiply (see Acts 12:24).

The churches increased in numbers daily (see Acts 16:5).

The Lord did that through His Spirit in His people. It’s an astounding account. Imagine it happening in your area! That is exactly what is happening now in many places around the world.

Principles of revival

As with Pentecost, revivals are often unexpected, sudden, and revolutionary, and they impact large numbers of people, bringing them to repentance and faith in Jesus the Lord. The day of Pentecost demonstrated these vital principles of revival:

  1. God’s Sovereignty: When the day of Pentecost was fully come” (Acts 2:1). God chose the time, the day, the place, and the people. His Spirit came suddenly at the Pentecost festival in Jerusalem upon a praying group, and people were overwhelmed. Revival is often like that.
  2. Prayer: Constantly in prayer, in one place” (see Acts 1:14; 2:1). The believers gathered together to pray and wait on God. Those followers of Jesus had been praying earnestly for over a month after Jesus’ arrest, torture, execution, and then His miraculous reappearance. All revivals are born and flourish among praying people.
  3. Unity: With one accord” (Acts 2:1). They met in unity with love and humility. Every revival sweeps across our barriers and differences. Revival brings amazing unity among God’s people.
  4. Obedience to the Spirit: The Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Filled with the Spirit, they began using gifts of the Spirit. In all revivals the Spirit of God moves upon the people just as in the early Church. People rediscover the empowering Presence of the Spirit and are sometimes surprised at the gifts the Holy Spirit gives them.
  5. Preaching: Heed my words” (Acts 2:14 NKJ). Peter preached with anointed boldness. So have thousands of God’s servants ever since, especially in revival—in churches, in halls, in the open fields, in underground house churches, or in vast crusades. Anointed preaching is happening today more than ever.
  6. Repentance: What shall we do? …Repent… ” (Acts 2:37– 38). Large numbers repented. The Holy Spirit convicts people, especially through powerful preaching and praying; we realize how far we have fallen from what we should be. Revival produces repentance on a massive scale.
  7. Evangelism:

Three thousand souls were added to them”

(Acts 2:41 NKJ). As the believers witnessed through the power of the Spirit, thousands were saved. In the early Church this happened daily (see Acts 2:47). Revivals produce that kind of zeal in witnessing about the great things God has done.

© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.