Revival: Revival begins

Table of Contents

Revival begins

Revival always starts quietly, slowly, and increases in intensity over a period of time. Let us quote Ezra 1:1–3, noting how God announces a coming revival.

  • Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with him! Let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel; He is the God who is in Jerusalem.’” (Ezra 1:1–3 NASB)

Do you see how quietly the Lord made the revival announcement? God’s call to revival is really a “proclamation” to come and work. Indeed, it almost sounds like it mocks revival. For the king said, “May his God be with him!” The people know, however, they entered captivity because God hid His face from them. A response to this kind of call for revival will take a genuine response to the Spirit of God. Advertising or promoting revival provokes Him to stop it. When this happens, the church usually tries to fill the void with their emotions. As you read through the New Testament, notice how Jesus often said, “Don’t tell anyone about this miracle.” Indeed, the only time Jesus told someone to “go and tell” is to the people who didn’t want Him around.

  • See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them. (Mark 1:44 NASB)

Hype did not motivate the people to come to a revival in order to be blessed. Jesus never hyped the people. Peter learned this lesson well. Notice in the following passage how Peter sent everyone out of the room when he raised someone from the dead. Jesus had done the same thing and so would he. This would not turn into a circus or miracle revival meeting. How wicked the church is today, for it invites everyone into the room, promoting revival with all the pomp self can muster.

  • Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. (Acts 9:39–40)

In Ezra 1:1–3, the king’s summons humiliated the people. It reminded them of Jerusalem’s condition, that the temple lay in ruins, and the kind of God who disciplined them. The call to revival by God increasingly crushes our pride and self-righteousness. If a godly preacher calls the people to revival, they will at first shrink back knowing that true revival exposes more of their sin.

The call in Ezra did not entertain the people in the name of the Lord. Not a single aspect of this call promised the people anything. The priest made no promises of healing or miracles. They posted no announcements of special speakers and never preached a “persuasive” word. Instead, this revival called the people to work, to sacrifice and to labor at repentance. Since the Israelites’ sin had destroyed the temple, only their repentance could rebuild it. The only joy at this point was the grand privilege to once again be allowed to build the church. Their joy did not result from obtaining anything from God, but in the supreme freedom to once again “serve Him without fear.”

  • …to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:74–75, emphasis added)

Since revival calls people to serve, rather than to be served by God, it begins with sacrifice. The “survivor” of God’s discipline will hear the call to come with sacrifices. This, of course, included a “freewill offering,” for in the past they served God in order to receive His blessings. Like those who followed Jesus only for what they could get from Him, they wanted to repent of such attitudes. Wanting something from God caused them to fall into need of revival in the first place.

  • …every survivor, at whatever place he may live, let the men of that place support him with silver and gold, with goods and cattle, together with a freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:4)

Therefore, revival begins with the sacrificing of our most precious things—gold, silver, cattle and goods—along with freewill offerings. In other words, revival returns the people to the words of Jesus, who said that we must give up everything and freely pick up a cross and follow Him. You cannot begin to hope for revival until you willingly return to the very basics of what it means to be a Christian—the surrender of everything.

True revival from God would be announced like this, “Come, everyone, give more of your money, goods, and self to the Lord.” Not, “Come be blessed and gain your promise from the Lord.” The latter reveals Satanic selfishness, while the other results from the joy that only the cross of Christ brings.

God’s Timing

When revival happened to the Israelites, the heads of the households of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, along with everyone whom the Spirit of God stirred up, to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. And everyone encouraged them by giving articles of silver, gold, cattle, and other valuables, in addition to a freewill offering.

God can “stir” only a remnant to “rebuild” the Christianity that we’ve lost. Revival always starts this way—at the calling of God and not in the timing of man. Anyone who can schedule a revival on a certain date does not speak by the Spirit of God. In the first place, revival does not happen in one day, but takes years to accomplish. Secondly, God does the stirring in the hearts of the people and does not use human effort and the programs of man.
Revival is marked by the absence of programs to gain money and numbers for the church. Believers in the first church gave all without outward prompting and therefore everyone felt “encouraged” in the Lord. We will see, however, that Ananias and Sapphira mocked the things of the Lord but did not fully give up all of self. In Ezra 1:6 we read they encouraged the work, likewise in Acts 4:36 we read that Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.”

  • Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means, Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36–37 NASB)

  • Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. (Acts 5:1–5)

The first church did not encourage the people to come to a revival with advertising hype and gimmicks to get something from God. The first church did not sell revival trinkets, nor were they interested in a numbers game. Instead, true revival came with a call to sacrifice all. Each person did not say to God, “Bless me,” but rather, “Here God, we bless you.” A people in whom God can stir up self-sacrifice and hatred10 of their own lives, will once again find the treasures of the Lord they lost. They are ready for revival because they feel weary of self and all of their selfish ways. Therefore, they respond to God’s Spirit to sacrifice with joy. They consider it no cost to them, for the cost brought them untold joy.

Treasures Found Again

The first rewards of revival start after the people begin to surrender all, so God allows them to discover some of His treasures again. The people in such revival taste a small sample of His joy and peace that is to come. The blessings, safely hidden away until their hearts softened again, are now brought out in the open. Although this revival represents a small sample of what is to come, it is rich by man’s estimation. God’s poverty more than equals all the riches of man. These first blessings are brought out to bless the Lord’s house, not the people. God will always honor those who seek Him with this kind of selfless love, for their personal blessing is not to be blessed, but to bless the Lord.

  • Also King Cyrus brought out the articles of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and put in the house of his gods; and Cyrus, king of Persia, had them brought out by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and he counted them out to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. Now this was their number: 30 gold dishes, 1,000 silver dishes, 29 duplicates; 30 gold bowls, 410 silver bowls of a second kind, and 1,000 other articles. All the articles of gold and silver numbered 5,400. Sheshbazzar brought them all up with the exiles who went up from Babylon to Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:7–11 NASB)

What a treasure even the small things of God are—30 gold dishes, 1,000 silver dishes, and more. When revival begins in your life, don’t rest with the small things the Lord begins to restore. Sacrifice and surrender daily, and richer treasures will be yours. Keep in “step with the Spirit” and you will have more of the Lord than you can begin to imagine.

Revival doesn’t have to be advertised. Everyone can see and feel it. When treasures are brought out, there is no need to tell everyone, “I am having a revival in my life.” They will quickly see the treasures themselves. In fact, if you have to convince anyone you are having a revival in your life, then you are not truly having one. For this reason, Scripture says we should not love with “words,” but in “action” and “truth.” If I had a dime for every Christian that said, “I love you. I will stand with you in the Lord,” I would be a very wealthy man indeed! No one can hide a life radically changed and enriched by God’s treasures.

How sad that those who need revival the most cling to their little acts of righteousness and thus forfeit these treasures. For them the words of Jesus will come true. Even what they think they have will be taken from them. For all their boasting that they “need God” is nothing more than false humility. A false humility that tries to regain the first love they once had in the Lord, but on their terms. I know many who still wait to see if God will change the conditions of His gospel. They keep checking back in with me to see if something has changed.
God, however, will never bless false humility nor half confessions of sin. Such individuals who refuse to admit their hopelessness, specifically confessing their sins, will never experience revival. They will forever forfeit the treasures hidden in God’s house because they want to come back to God on their terms.

Those Returning

Revival by the power of the Spirit brings confession of failure and acknowledges disobedience to Scripture. True revival admits dryness and a desperation for renewal in the Lord. People who admit their desperate need to repent, stand ready for revival. God will remember those who make the steps to return to a new calling of the Lord. Let us read the following verse with reverence and awe. This is not some dry genealogical list of families, but the remnant willing to repent again. These families declared that they would return to the Lord with sacrifice. Let us read the list as if our own names were written down because we returned to the Lord.

  • Now these are the people of the province who came up out of the captivity of the exiles whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and returned to Jerusalem and Judah, each to his city. These came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, and Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Isreal: the sons of Parosh, 2,172; the sons of Shephatiah, 372; the sons of Arah, 775; the sons of Pahath-moab of the sons of Jeshua and Joab, 2,812; the sons of Elam, 1,254; the sons of Zattu, 945; the sons of Zaccai, 760; the sons of Bani, 642; the sons of Bebai, 623; the sons of Azgad, 1,222; the sons of Adonikam, 666; the sons of Bigvai, 2,056; the sons of Adin, 454; the sons of Ater of Hezekiah, 98; the sons of Bezai, 323; the sons of Jorah, 112; the sons of Hashum, 223; the sons of Gibbar, 95; the men of Bethlehem, 123; the men of Netophah, 56; the men of Anathoth, 128; the sons of Azmaveth, 42; the sons of Kiriath-arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, 743; the sons of Ramah and Geba, 621; the men of Michmas, 122; the men of Bethel and Ai, 223; the sons of Nebo, 52; the sons of Magbish, 156; the sons of the other Elam, 1,254; the sons of Harim, 320; the sons of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, 725; the men of Jericho, 345; the sons of Senaah, 3,630. The priests: the sons of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, 973; the sons of Immer, 1,052; the sons of Pashhur, 1,247; the sons of Harim, 1,017. The Levites: the sons of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the sons of Hodaviah, 74. The singers: the sons of Asaph, 128. The sons of the gatekeepers: the sons of Shallum, the sons of Ater, the sons of Talmon, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hatita, the sons of Shobai, in all 139. The temple servants: the sons of Ziha, the sons of Hasupha, the sons of Tabbaoth, the sons of Keros, the sons of Siaha, the sons of Padon, the sons of Lebanah, the sons of Hagabah, the sons of Akkub, the sons of Hagab, the sons of Shalmai, the sons of Hanan, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Gahar, the sons of Reaiah, the sons of Rezin, the sons of Nekoda, the sons of Gazzam, the sons of Uzza, the sons of Paseah, the sons of Besai, the sons of Asnah, the sons of Meunim, the sons of Nephisim, the sons of Bakbuk, the sons of Hakupha, the sons of Harhur, the sons of Bazluth, the sons of Mehida, the sons of Harsha, the sons of Barkos, the sons of Sisera, the sons of Temah, the sons of Neziah, the sons of Hatipha. The sons of Solomon’s servants: the sons of Sotai, the sons of Hassophereth, the sons of Peruda, the sons of Jaalah, the sons of Darkon, the sons of Giddel, the sons of Shephatiah, the sons of Hattil, the sons of Pochereth-hazzebaim, the sons of Ami. All the temple servants, and the sons of Solomon’s servants, were 392. Now these are those who came up from Tel-melah, Tel-harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer, but they were not able to give evidence of their fathers’ households, and their descendants, whether they were of Israel: the sons of Delaiah, the sons of Tobiah, the sons of Nekoda, 652. (Ezra 2:1–60)

  • Ezra shows us the good news of revival. There is no shortage of workers in this revival. Where once multitudes of workers labored for the Lord in hypocrisy, a few returned to the work in purity. Now there are workers, singers, builders, and laborers, when in the past it would have been hard to find volunteers. How many churches remain spiritually corrupted even now? The fact that they can’t even find volunteers dead to self demonstrates the corruption in such churches. In fact, most volunteers must have their flesh stroked or they will not work.
    Yes, let us read their names with tears flowing down our checks. They returned to the Lord without any thought of self-justification or getting anything from God; ready to be broken.

No Evidence

Before we press on, did you notice the end of the passage: “…but they were not able to give evidence of their father’s households, and their descendants, whether they were of Israel…”? As revival begins, some of the remnant will not even be allowed to repent. Such people have passed the point of no return and lost their salvation. There is no evidence of the Spirit left and no tiny flicker that any amount of salvation is theirs in Christ. They had so little regard for the Lord and the blood that once sanctified them, that God will not let them return. Those in the Spirit can discern those who cannot give proof that they are “descendants” of Jesus. Without proof of their ancestry, these people remain doomed forever and are not allowed to experience revival. John declared that we cannot pray for such people. They are the sons and daughters of Hebrews for whom it is “impossible” to come back to God. How sad that I already know some people in this position. This type of person, no matter how many tears they shed in a revival, cannot receive the blessing of reconciliation with God.

  • It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Hebrews 6:4–6)

Removed

Revival certainly marks the regaining of what we lost, but it also denotes the losing of what we thought we possessed. The good we thought we did in the Lord is thrown out. We will hate and abhor the self-motivated worship and service to Jesus, because we cannot verify that it comes from God. Not to mention that we had sown good seed among weeds and so all our works were defiled. We “muddied” the waters for others who tried to drink of the Lord’s water and hindered others from worshipping the Lord in purity.

A true revival “searches” to see what things, persons, and actions do not come by the power of God. We put on hold those things that we cannot discern are of Him until He makes clear His will. Because of our hardness of heart and separation from God, we must wait for deeper revelations to bring to light the right and wrong in the Lord on certain matters.

  • And of the sons of the priests: the sons of Habaiah, the sons of Hakkoz, the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife from the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and he was called by their name. These searched among their ancestral registration, but they could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood. And the governor said to them that they should not eat from the most holy things until a priest stood up with Urim and Thummim. (Ezra 2:61–63 NASB)

Even the governor noticed that some people could not prove their spirituality and approval by God to do the work they once had done. Although they could be counted as worshippers, they would never be permitted to eat of the “holy things” of God. They were counted as unclean, and not allowed to serve in the priesthood, unless God made things clear at a later time by way of “Urim and Thummim,” the sacred stone that revealed God’s will. There are some who, though still in the Lord, will never be permitted to do the work they once performed in the Lord. They will never be allowed to fulfill the high calling, the first call of God in their life. To the praise of God, though He shows them mercy, a dark cloud will hang over their lives, for they realize that the work of God is hindered since they cannot serve the Lord in that way again. Although saved by mercy, their stubbornness causes them to forfeit some blessings of God. Let them not take such discipline lightly, or they might lose something of greater value than work.

This forfeiture came from their lack of regard for Jesus.24 They did not keep track of their ancestral registration. When they went into captivity or the desert, they tossed aside the precious thing God gave them. They did not guard their post when the king was angry. Nor did they continue in the work the Lord had given them. They thought they were being disciplined, so why bother. They acted like spoiled children who, if they can’t have their way, will do very little required of them.

Very often those experiencing revival in the Lord feel that they all at once stand on firm ground. As a result, they instantly voice their thoughts and opinions about God and right and wrong. Let them be warned that they will have to wait until they find a priest to stand with the “Urim and Thummim.” This is the way revival should happen—only if God says yes or no. If the priest pulled out the Urim stone, the answer to a question was no, and if he pulled Thummim the answer was yes. But we never even stop to ask God if it’s time for a revival.

God sent the Israelites into captivity because they would not listen to their teachers, leaders, and prophets. The same is true today, most will not listen to any correction from teachers and gather around them teachers who will say what they want to hear. Many have the attitude that they don’t need teachers. Even though they flatter their teachers, they actually believe they don’t need them. They refuse the “gifts” God sends and seek to find their own gifts. Check at the end of a revival if the people still listen to their teachers.

Until the things that reveal God’s will are present in your life, you must be silent. In the deepest of humility, remember that you have fallen into a state where you need revival. So shut up and listen to God. Do not be “hasty” to say anything about God, Scripture, or right and wrong, until the cross puts some things to death in your life. “Guard your steps” carefully.

  • Guard your steps as you go to the house of God, and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:1–2)

“Impulsive” is the only way to describe those sent into captivity and those returning from captivity. They immediately sanction any religious impulse as being “of the Lord.” Often people heading into captivity will speak excessively in the name of the Lord. Since they justify every whim of the flesh, they act and speak as if the Lord told them to react upon the impulse. Therefore, Jeremiah told the people, as God prepared to send them into captivity, that they must not say, “The Lord told me.” Just before captivity, the people in Jeremiah’s day seemed so eager to know God’s will. They came to the prophet and asked, “What is the Lord’s answer to you?” and “What has the Lord spoken?” God said that because of this duplicity, He would “cast you out of my presence… forget you, and bring upon you everlasting disgrace—everlasting shame.”

  • This is what each of you keeps on saying to his friend or relative: “What is the Lord’s answer?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” But you must not mention “the oracle of the Lord” again, because every man’s own word becomes his oracle and so you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God. This is what you keep saying to a prophet: “What is the Lord’s answer to you?” or “What has the Lord spoken?” Although you claim, “This is the oracle of the Lord,” this is what the Lord says: You used the words, “This is the oracle of the Lord,” even though I told you that you must not claim, “This is the oracle of the Lord.” Therefore, I will surely forget you and cast you out of my presence along with the city I gave to you and your fathers. I will bring upon you everlasting disgrace—everlasting shame that will not be forgotten. (Jeremiah 23:35–40)

Those on the verge of captivity continually chat about the Lord. Phrases sputter from their lips like: “What did the Lord show you?”… “What do you feel God has told you?”… “The Lord has shown me this.”… “The Lord is really working!”… “What has God shown you about the Scripture?”

They do this for two reasons. First, they feel guilt about their position in the Lord and seek to buy time by appearing obedient. Secondly, their own desires have replaced the Lord’s voice, and they feel that the Lord is in what they want.

We find the cause of this in Jeremiah 23:36. They took their own thoughts, impulses, and desires and tacked on the name of the Lord—“because every man’s own word becomes his oracle and so you distort the words of the living God.” They transformed their thoughts into the will of God. Such people reject the cross that would have crucified those impulses. They have no discernment left as to God’s will because they will not let the cross do its testing work.The mix between their lies and God’s truth becomes so polluted that discernment as to His will is impossible.
If God calls you back by way of revival, then know this: He will powerfully seek to shut you up. Every thought, every action, every understanding of Scripture, every work, every prayer, every sharing of the gospel, and every religious impulse must be tested by the cross of Christ. If revival happens, then sit down and close your mouth. If this is God’s advice to the young in the Lord, how much more should those starting over listen? Do as the following passage says: “sit alone and be silent.”

  • It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and be silent since He has laid it on him. Let him put his mouth in the dust; perhaps there is hope. Let him give his cheek to the smiter; let him be filled with reproach. For the Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. (Lamentations 3:27–32 NASB)

Therefore, go and obey this passage. Put “dust” in your mouth and see how much talking you can do. People returning from discipline talk so much because they remain unsettled in their spirits. They desperately want to be right with the Lord, to hear His voice again, and to feel the Holy Spirit’s presence. But as we have seen, revival takes time. Advise them to go sit down in the dust, and invite rebukes from God’s Word and godly men while they meditate on the abundant lovingkindness of God, for His kindness often comes out in rebukes. Indeed, if you return to the Lord, it is a privilege that God would rebuke you again. If your church is in revival, then it is a great kindness that God would take the time to rebuke you.

Advise those returning, to be filled with reproach and let God deal with the sin that sent them into captivity in the first place. If they do this, they will find that God does not reject forever, and they will find the “compassion” they so long for. If those returning to the Lord are unwilling to do this, then they are unworthy of your time or the Lord’s revival.

Whatever you believe about this, know for certain one thing. Whenever someone who is around you talks excessively, or has story after story, sin is present in his life.

  • When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)

Pause

Scripture pauses again to note those who sacrifice unto the Lord, and so shall we pause. We repeat many matters in this book because God repeats them. If the Lord desires to point something out again in Scripture, then let us break the rules of writing and repeat it.

  • Some of the heads of fathers’ households, when they arrived at the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem, offered willingly for the house of God to restore it on its foundation. According to their ability they gave to the treasury for the work 61,000 gold drachmas, and 5,000 silver minas, and 100 priestly garments. (Ezra 2:68–69 NASB)

God pauses to remind us of this one thing. Sacrifice begins ­revival, flames revival, and sustains revival. So many wait and pray for revival when God has already tried to answer those prayers. But they put out the flames because they, and the people they pray for, refuse to sacrifice self and doctrines. As the passage above shows, sacrifice lays the “foundation” of revival. A sacrifice “willingly” motivated, without prompting from men in any way, opens the way for true revival. We are talking about sacrifice of self, not just money. How many people will stand before God and say, “But we prayed for revival,” only to hear Him say, “But I did try to answer; you just refused to respond”?

  • The truly repentant will not sacrifice to get something from God. That is the beginning of idol worship, where you lay your gift at the altar to be blessed and to ward off evil. However, God warns Christians…
    Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14 NASB)

How sad that most church services in the name of Jesus are actually idolatry. They just try to get something from Jesus and will not let Him crucify them. This is why rebellion is like witchcraft or divination. Those in rebellion think that if they get the doctrine correct and the words just right, it will cause God to move in their favor. Just as a witch believes that if she gets the words correct, the spirits will obey her.
Those who love God, however, give up all pretense to their righteousness. They no longer say, “I am thankful God doesn’t show me all of my sin at once.” They now see that they must let God come to them in any way He sees fit, in His timing. In fact, they “hunger and thirst for righteousness” so much that they wish God would show all their sins at once. This is how Isaiah, Job, and others were blessed, and it is the only way we too will be blessed.

  • My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:5–6)

Unity

Seven months later, in the book of Ezra, the people gather to continue God’s revival. A halting of worship activity occurs between each pause of revival. They had to halt at certain points and not move further into worship because the Holy Spirit stopped them. As each person did his part, the group was limited in the depth to which they could go into worship. God had to prepare certain things and ready their hearts for the next step into revival. He prepared them for Himself—the goal of revival. The same remains true for those who experience revival today. God takes away our worship and songs that we might worship in Spirit and Truth.

  • Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. (Amos 5:23 NASB)

God’s Spirit moves the people into worship and work but must stop until everything is ready for the next stage. Just as a woman’s body prepares itself with labor pains, so does the pause prepare for revival. The stopping and starting of labor pains allows the body to adjust and the baby to get into a better position for birth. In the same way, pausing in revival allows God to cleanse more sin, to instruct us in the Word, to place more of His Spirit in us, and to prepare us for the next step ­toward God’s holy mountain. If the labor went on constantly, it would kill the baby and the mother. Likewise, God pauses to allow us to adjust to the pains of revival.

Don’t be surprised if your church experiences revival, that God stops all activity, or at least slows things way down for months at a time. You must be taught to wait upon God and not do as you did in the past, when you acted for and on behalf of God rather than letting His Spirit do the work in you. Remember Saul and how he did not wait for the Lord!

God must also work unity between you and Him and between you and your brothers and sisters for revival to finish its work. Revival without this goal is a revival of selfishness that makes you twice as fit for hell.

While those questionable things in the Lord must wait for the “Urim,” the Lord works real unity by the Spirit. This is not a man-made compromise where everyone “agrees to disagree,” but a unity where everyone begins to think the same thoughts because the cross crucifies their minds and gives them the mind of Christ. The Israelites grew weary and were willing to die to their thoughts, motives, church doctrines, and wisdom. This allowed the Spirit to work a little more of His thoughts into each and every person. At each stage of revival, we see the creation of “one man” in the Lord.

  • Now when the seventh month came, and the sons of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered together as one man to Jerusalem. (Ezra 3:1 NASB)

This verse emphasizes “as one man.” As each man hates his own thoughts, he gladly accepts God’s thoughts, and this brings men into unity. Is this not what the New Testament is all about? Is this not what we are commanded to be in Christ?

  • Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 NASB)

Do you see what this passage states? It says that “you be made complete” in Christ. How are we made complete? By allowing God to do His work of unity in us. Look at the first church after the revival started on the day of Pentecost. The Bible says they “were of one heart and soul.” Is it little wonder that the apostles could testify about the Lord with “great power” and that “abundant grace was upon them all”? They stood in unity.

And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:32–33 NASB)
Again, we see the sacrifice of worldly goods (“all things were common property”) and the unity of thought (“of one heart and soul”) that accompanies revival. If a church claims revival and you do not see these two simple things, they live a lie. Unless you see this perfect unity and sacrifice in your church, revival is not happening.

A Foundation of Sacrifice

  • Then Jeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices. Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day. After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed ­sacred feasts of the Lord, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the Lord. (Ezra 3:2–5, emphasis added)

As we move through the chapters of Ezra, we see the revival winds gathering force. Revival began to work the traditional and daily acts of worship in the people. At this point, the people began to do the things “required” of them. However, this was not yet deep fellowship with the Lord. How sad that many count daily sacrifice as their supreme offerings and work in the Lord. Such individuals are not true lovers of God, but try to manipulate Him into giving them salvation. They expect to do the things required of everyone and be rewarded a prophet’s ­reward. These individuals always have an exaggerated opinion of their walk with God.

The required things of Jesus consist of what any child knows should be done in the Lord. They include the simple things that we know the Lord will help us accomplish. God expects anyone who claims to be a Christian to understand and fulfill the “daily” acts of obedience. The Israelite people had stopped obeying, just as many have stopped doing the simple things required from Jesus—the prayer times, holding our tongues, despising money, loving people, keeping Sunday holy, being disciplined with the TV, radio, music (even Christian), computer, sports and more.
The Israelites grew spiritually to the point that they performed the daily “required number” of righteous things again. In fact, the people had even grown a little beyond that point and obeyed the Lord in deeper affairs. Remember that “freewill offerings” and sacrifices permeated all the people’s obedience. They served the Lord with joy. They willingly denied themselves in any way they could so that the Holy Spirit could come along with some really important matters of denying self. In short, if you had “judged” yourself, you would not have fallen under “judgment.” If you had “beaten” your body to make it “your slave,” you would not have been sent into captivity. If you had obeyed the rules of the race, you would not have been removed from the race. Christians must obey these simple basic things. The Jews obeyed without being told to and began to put their lives in order.

  • I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:23–27)

Do you want to share in the blessings of the gospel? Then you must begin to “run in such a way as to get the prize,” go into strict training; do not run aimlessly, do not beat the air, rather make your body obey you. Sit down right now and make a list of the goals you know the Lord has for you that will cause you to deny self. Then write down the “rules” that you must apply to yourself to achieve it. Lay the foundation of sacrifice and God will meet you there to guide and direct. Lay the foundation for denial of self and hating your life, and put your life in order. Become empowered with the basic things in Christ and you shall be led to drink deeper of the cup of crucifixion. Good news? Only to those who love God.

Above all, revival returns to sacrifice. The revival in the book of Ezra moved the people to sacrifice more to the Lord. They had remained obedient to the Lord with purity of heart at the beginning stirrings of the Holy Spirit and now were permitted to lay the foundation for daily sacrifice.

  • Many who have fallen into sin fail at this point. They see their need for revival, and as God begins to blow His revival winds, they sacrifice for a while and then stop. The little bit of peace and freedom they gained satisfies them. Like little pigs, they selfishly get what they want from the Lord and sit back to wallow in the mud.
    Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled.” (John 6:26 NASB)

How many people show up at meetings only to get their blessing? Indeed, false revivals advertise blessings. Not true for these Israelites. Since those in Ezra’s day fell in love with God again, the Lord permitted them to lay the foundation for daily sacrifice. They resolved never again to be found lacking in sacrificing to the Lord. Never again would they need revival, because they would always joyfully and daily carry their crosses.

  • Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

These people were renewed in giving everything to God, every hour of every day. They sacrificed “each day’s” requirements along with “burnt offerings” and a “continual burnt offering.” They sacrificed to God every thought, every act, and everything about themselves. When they got up, what they read, whom they talked to, when they ate lunch—was all given over to the Lord.

This is our assurance of salvation, the continual growing sacrifice of ourselves. The people of Israel did this by celebrating the “Feast of Booths.” Each family built a booth and sacrificed at their homes in the wilderness. Revival began with each household realizing they are not of this world and setting their families in order. A revival that does not start quietly at home and move toward the church as a whole is not of the Lord. This explains why large gatherings of people for revival never last. God’s revival begins in each heart and moves out among the people. Anything else demonstrates nothing more than the hype you see at a sports event. One creates man’s revival, while the other responds to the Spirit’s call.

Ezra 3:6 tells us that sacrifice began before the temple was built. This teaches that revival is not the taking up of a church building fund. Revival is not the paving of the church parking lot.

  • From the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the Lord, but the foundation of the temple of the Lord had not been laid. (Ezra 3:6 NASB)

The reason for this is crystal clear. Any congregation building a structure for worship gains a certain amount of natural unity and revival. Even the world finds this to be true. This is nothing more than a natural revival that results from human effort and zeal devoted to a project, even with the repentance that may result from it.

Many ministries fall prey to this kind of revival, since churches easily unite for a cause. Then, when the building is finished, the church begins to have troubles again. In fact, this is why pastors are taught to keep going from one new project to another. Otherwise, boredom sets in, the flock grumbles and the pastor might lose his job. Why do you think churches always advertise that they have “exciting” worship services? They know how easily people become bored and that this will pull away members from other churches. This is why song leaders always tell the congregation, “We feel the presence of God.” They must keep the sheep content and entertained.

God must pause when bringing revival because it is too easy for men to worship the revival more than He who causes the revival. Each man is tested by how he responds to these interludes of boredom. Does he need the excitement of the world—the business of the world, miracles, revival fires—or is God enough?

Such causes give a false sense of purpose, work, and love for God. We think that because we become involved in a good cause, God must love us, and we feel close to Him. This is the great temptation for those who work in frontline ministries and causes. If you have that kind of position, remember well that you could be “disqualified for the prize” no matter how noble the ministry.

But anyone who labors for God without a foundation of sacrificing pride, self-will, self-centeredness, and self-determination is not moved by God. Oh, they might be used by God, but they are not truly in God. The sacrifice of the self that lives in our hearts must begin first before we ever lay the foundation for the temple. Lay self on the altar fire before we ever participate in a work men can see outwardly; let the aroma of death to self be what everyone smells first. Let no man join your work or church until this foundation has been laid. Not to do so shows God that you love your works more than His righteousness and have no real love for those who labor with you.

Four things must be present to know God’s will, and your workers must give themselves to them. For those returning from captivity or the desert, these things represent the “Urim and Thumimim.” These things must be worked in them before they can talk of God’s will. The four things are found in the passage below. They are:

  1. View God’s Mercy.
  2. Offer Your Body.
  3. Do Not Conform.
  4. Be Transformed.
  • Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1–2)

(1) The humility must be present; (2) they must offer up all of self unto the Lord in very specific ways; (3) they reject the way of the world; (4) they let the Holy Spirit remold their minds. When all of this is present in large measures, then and only then can they “test” and “approve” God’s will. How many think they can hear God’s voice when not even half these things are present!

Read, and then read again Ezra 3:2–5. The priests became the example of self-sacrifice. They returned to obeying God’s word and began to worship again in the way the Lord had told all men to worship Him. If we follow their example, we would have no more women preachers, no more begging for money, no more uncovered women, no more divorce and remarriage, no singles groups, no greed, and more. In short, hypocrisy from the pulpit would come to an end. Such men would be called “legalistic” in today’s hostile spiritual climate of the church.

Strength to Strength

Do you see the stages of true revival so far? First the quiet call to sacrifice again to the Lord begins. Then a pause in worship while each person rebuilds the things God reveals in his life. Then, when God designates the appropriate time, the foundation for daily sacrifice is laid. At each stage, the people deal with a little more sin and they experience a little more repentance and joy. This should be true for God’s people throughout their whole Christian life, but in revival times it intensifies.

They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. (Psalm 84:7)
When a Christian stops going from “strength to strength,” only revival can restore him to God.

Permission

God gave permission, through the king of Persia, for revival to begin. Let us also take double warning.
Most individuals and churches do not wait for “permission” from God for ­revival. Like the noisy crowd of sinners, they lay claim to revival as if it were their right. They advertise revival, claim God gives it to them, and refuse to wait upon God to move others to revival. Instead, they invite whomever they want to come to their church ­revival. They worship numbers and think that high attendance denotes revival. Such churches motivate people with all manner of schemes and programs to attend their revival meetings. But the people in Ezra’s day knew that revival should only happen by God’s permission, not of their desire. They dare not sin by supporting the work of revival if God had not granted them permission. So many falsely believe that they can return to God whenever they choose. It is never a question of whether they want to return to God, but whether He will accept them back or not.

  • Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and to the Tyrians, to bring cedar wood from Lebanon to the sea at Joppa, according to the permission they had from Cyrus king of Persia. (Ezra 3:7 NASB)

They had “permission” by the “king of Persia” for this revival. This revival began in God’s timing and in God’s way. There was no hype involved, only the quiet moving of the Holy Spirit. These people stayed solemn in spirit because they felt extremely fortunate that God had moved the heart of the king to give permission for revival. These people did not presumptuously march in to take the promised land. No worldly revival preachers who advertised themselves stood among the group.1 They did not apply the principles of revival to their lives or read the foolish how-to books on revival. These people were holy, waiting in quietness for God to act. These individuals waited upon Him with fear and trembling before doing anything. After all, revival returns the people to doing God’s will. Such a people resolve not to miss God’s true revival.


  1. Revival: The Whisper Revival
  2. Revival: The Cross
  3. Revival: Receiving a Revival
  4. Revival: A Shameful Thing
  5. Revival: Revival begins
  6. Revival: In the Midst of Revival
  7. Revival: The Revival Cry
  8. Revival: Wanting to Help: The Opposition
  9. Revival: Revival Resumed
  10. Revival: The Acid Test
  11. Revival: The Whole Camp
  12. Revival: Words of Comfort
  13. Revival: The One Thing
  14. Revival: Discipleship: To Begin

Revival: Everything Said

Revival: Endnotes

Disclaimer

The Consider Podcast attempts to express opinions through God’s holiness. Nothing concerning justice or injustice should be taken as legal advice or a call to action. There is no political agenda. There is no individual moral life advice. Indeed, each person is solely responsible before God and man for their actions or inactions. The Consider Podcast is narrowly focused on one thing, and only one thing – the need for all to surrender to a life of repentance according to the whole gospel.

The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, folly and madness with the whole gospel.
www.consider.info

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