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Weekly Word

Entries in Revival (1)

Tuesday
Jul032012

O, Say Can You See?

This week we have much to celebrate and great reason to be thankful.  First, we recognize the many men and women who have served this country by volunteering to defend it and the debt that is owed to them by society.  Further we recognize that those who serve as police officers and fire-fighters also serve us in ways that should cause us to give thanks.

Among Christians there is a concern for America because, more and more, we find ourselves surrounded by a culture that wants nothings to do with the righteousness of God.  This concern generally leads to a call for the Church in America to repent and pray from the Scripture in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

I do want to affirm this message.  The churches and Christians of this land do need to repent of following our own thinking, turn back to God, and pray for our nation.  However, when you look closer at this passage, you find that the challenge goes deeper than just Christians getting their act together.  Let’s look at 2 Chronicles 7:12-22.

Repentance Is For The Nation As A Whole

The context of this passage is the completion of the Temple in Jerusalem by Solomon.  The whole nation had turned out to celebrate and had now gone home.  God appears to Solomon with a promise and a warning for Israel and its leaders.

In verse 13 God warns of future punishments or disciplines that will come upon the nation.  There is no “if” in the verse.  Just as Moses did in Deuteronomy, God lets Solomon know that discipline “will” come upon Israel in the form of extreme weather, crop damage, and pestilence.  Pestilence is a general term that means destruction and death.  Generally it referred to a plague of some sorts, but could be used generally to refer to raiders or foreign armies.  It is easy to day to be afraid to recognize that these things could be God’s discipline.  But throughout the Bible we are taught to see God’s discipline in all calamities that come upon us.

Now in verse 14 the phrase “My people” is not a reference to a select group of people within Israel, but rather to the nation as a whole.  I am not saying every person in Israel was a true believer.  But God himself had made the nation of Israel, and had given them his name (Israel means prince with God).  He is not calling for the repentance of true believers or any select group of Israel.  He is calling for a wholesale national repentance.  I am not saying that means 100%, but it is more than just a part of Israel.  In fact wouldn’t you agree that the prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel, all repented and turned towards God in prayer?  However this did not save their nation.

Here it is.  Even if Christians repented and turned towards God in prayer, this and this alone will not save America.  It is a foundational step, but this passage is not saying that all God wants is for Christians to live for him.  God is incrementally holding America more and more accountable for casting Him off in all we do.  This will not change until there is a greater awakening than just Christians.  The nation as a whole needs to repent and pray.

In verse 19 God tells Solomon that if he turns away it will have an impact on the nation.  Leadership is critical and does have an impact on a nation.  In fact, God raises up the leadership that our actions as a people deserve.  So the Leadership of America needs to repent and pray in a public way.  We used to have leaders who would do such a thing.  One of the most famous is the declaration of Abraham Lincoln that stated the pride and arrogance of America and how we needed to repent and pray for God’s help.  You see, the ultimate problem is stated in verse 22 of 2 Chronicles 7; we have forsaken the God of heaven and his Son Jesus.  This is the same God who has raised us up.  This is the same God who has blessed us greatly as a nation.

We are in the middle of great calamity economically, politically, socially, and with many natural disasters and weather extremes all over the place.  God is trying to get our attention.  Can you hear?  Can you see?

Our History of Awakening

Though historians don’t always agree, most state that there have been at least 3 great awakenings or revivals in America.  The first was roughly from 1730 to 1750.  This move was mainly within churches and had an emphasis on a personal relationship over the top of ritual and tradition.  Personal salvation was the focus.  Names like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield are associated with this awakening.  Many point to the importance of this event (240 years after people started coming from Europe) in preparing for the societal ideals that would arise during the Revolutionary War.

The 2nd Great Awakening was from 1800 to 1830.  This had an emphasis that anyone could be saved, even the worst of sinners.  This began an explosion of people coming into the Church and the number of denominations.  Alongside this was the social change groups that surfaced from within churches: temperance groups, abolition of slavery groups, and women’s rights.  Names that are connected with this are Alexander and Thomas Campbell and Charles Finney.

The 3rd Great Awakening was from 1857 to 1910.  There was an emphasis on the life of the believer after salvation.  Within this period was the rise of the Holiness groups and the Pentecostal groups.  Dwight Moody was associated with this period along with others. 

Although some would argue others, none seem to have impacted society as a whole like these three did.  It is clear that we need revival in America.  But it cannot be a revival of Christians having a good time in church.  It must be a revival that breaks out into the non believing population and impacts society.

So what should Christians do?  First we must make sure we have repented of any wicked ways (as the Bible defines it) and pray for God’s mercy.  Second we must focus less on saving institutions and society and more on saving individuals.  Sure, perform your social duty with passion, but society only changes as people’s hearts are changed.  Thirdly, we must live a life that trusts God’s Word instead of giving lip service to it.  This world needs people who are truly willing to die to themselves in order to love it.  But better than that, the people around you who don’t know Jesus need Christians who are truly willing to pick up their cross and follow Jesus.  Will you be the one?