Anecdotes, illustrations and symbols of revival – Part 5
The Bible is filled with anecdotes, symbols, and imageries that illustrate and explain what revival is. Much as prophecy is an inspiration to pray for and hope for revival, the Scriptures are our greatest motivation for revival.
There are several Scriptural references that either symbolise or allude to revival. In the Psalms, the writer prayed, “Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your anger toward us to cease. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? Will you not revive us again, That your people may rejoice in you? Show us your mercy, LORD, and grant us Your salvation” (Psalms 85:4-7).
In Zechariah 10:1, the prophet encouraged Israel to ask for the rain in the season of the latter rain. In chapter 9:17, we find a promised blessing, and then in 10:1 the prophet encouraged the people to request for these blessings from the Lord. But the promise here extends to spiritual blessings earlier promised in Hos. 6:1–3. The “latter rain” of spiritual grace and goodness from God will bring refreshment to people’s souls (cf. Is. 44:3).In Acts 3:19-21, Peter says that repentance must precede times of refreshing. People experience times of refreshing when the Holy Spirit is poured out on them as it happened at Pentecost.
Joel is known as a prophet of restoration. In chapter 2:18-27, he prophesied that God would send life-giving rain. Then, in verse 28, he said that in future, God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Peter confirmed that the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost day was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.
Ezekiel wrote about God sending abundant showers of blessings, which in a sense symbolises spiritual blessing, but adds that this will be preceded by a covenant of peace, “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing” (Ezekiel 34:25-26 NKJV).
Perhaps, no passage best illustrates revival in the Old Testament than Ezekiel 37. The story of the valley of dry bones describes the hopeless condition of the children of Israel before it was revived by the Spirit of God.Wilbur Smith has listed seven revivals recorded in the Old Testament. These are: Jacob’s household (Gen.35:1-15); Asa (2 Chron.15:1-15); Joash (2 Kgs 18:1-8, 2 Chron.23-24); Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18:1-8, 2 Chron. 29-31); Josiah (2 Kgs. 22-23, 2 Chron.34-35); Haggai and Zachariah and Zerubbabel (Ezra 5-6); Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah.9:1-6; 12:44-47). These revivals have some common characteristics, namely: “They occurred in times of moral darkness and national depression; each began in the heart of a consecrated servant of God who became the energising power behind it; Each revival rested on the word of God, and most were the result of proclaiming God’s word with power; 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 law; There was a restoration of great joy and gladness; Each revival was followed by a period of national prosperity”
These revivals in the Old Testament occurred against the backdrop of very gloomy circumstances of the society at that time. The peculiar circumstances under which these revivals occurred offers hope of a present and future revival.
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