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Revival Lesson 4 - Psalm 85.1-13

REVIVAL LESSON 4 - Psalm 85:1-13 - Revive Us Again

LAST WEEK:  In 1 Sam. 7:2-6, we learned that there are three outcomes of revival:  (1) Unity:  Revival can bring unity not only in a particular church but unity among various churches, regardless of denomination.  When churches in various cities, towns, and localities put aside their differences and begin to unify in purpose and mission, the possibilities are boundless.  This is the kind of unity that overcomes barriers between people like race, ethnicity, language, and culture.  (2) Opposition:  While we enjoy religious freedom in this nation, we aren't immune to opposition and should expect and be prepared for it when God brings revival.  It could even come from other churches or religious organizations that don't agree with what we're doing.  (3) Deliverance:  Although we shouldn't expect OT-style miracles and signs, revival over time can bring a great awakening in the public conscience that will diminish great evils like crime, drug and alcohol addition, pornography, sexual immorality, abortion of unborn babies, greed, corruption, violence, and even wars.               

BACKGROUND:  Today we continue our study of OT revivals as we take up Psalm 85.  Written by the sons of Korah to be sung to music, this psalm is classified as a community lament (= grieving and mourning) in which the psalmist recounts blessings conferred on the people by the Lord (vv. 1-3), pleas for help (vv. 4-7), and expressions of faith that God will revive them (vv. 8-13).  While the exact date of this Psalm is not certain, it's most likely to have been written after the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylonia in 538 B.C.  As you'll recall JR's sermon series from Nehemiah, the 70-year exile was a consequence God's judgment for His peoples' sins.  When the exiles returned to Jerusalem, however, they found the city and the temple in ruins.  And their neighbors were antagonistic, so that their first order of business had to be building walls for protection.  It was anything but the grand homecoming for which they had hoped, and they were severely disappointed, which accounts for the plea for mercy in verses 4-7.  But while their faith had been dealt a severe blow by diminished circumstances, they nevertheless lived in faith that God would revive and restore them, which accounts for the expressions of faith in verses 8-13.

Read Ps. 85:1-3 - A "GOLDEN AGE" HAS GONE

1 O Lord, You showed favor to Your land; You restored the captivity of Jacob.  2 You forgave the iniquity of Your people; You covered all their sin.  3 You withdrew all Your fury; You turned away from Your burning anger.

vv. 1-3: Here, the exiles are talking about their past, their "golden age," if you will. The verbs the psalmist uses in these verses-"favor, restored, forgave, covered, withdrew, turned away from"-are all past tense.  While the Bible tells us that all the earth belongs to God, there is a distinct way in which God regards Israel as His special possession.  Time after time, God was such a great God that He had mercy for His people even in the midst of their sin and wickedness.

  • As we consider our spiritual condition (as 21st Century Christians), like these exiles, we must remember who God is and how He has responded to us-His Church, the body of Christ-in times past. Some of us who have been around here (like me) for a while, can remember a "golden age " in the past history of MHBC (more than one actually). People like to reminisce about those good old days when every seat in the sanctuary was filled.  And we fondly remember when new believers were being baptized nearly every Sunday.  But to bring revival now, we must recognize that those days as past-tense, history, and we need put those days behind us and get over it!   


Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your indignation toward us to cease.  5 Will You be angry with us forever?  Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?  6 Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?  7 Show us Your lovingkindness, O Lord, And grant us Your salvation.

vv. 4-7: Here, the exiles are talking about their present. The place they occupy now is utterly different, a scene of desolation compared to the Israel they remembered in vv. 1-3.  Since it's against God's nature to "be angry forever" (Isa. 57:16), the psalmist prays in the form of questions for God to "restore" and "revive" His people "again" and show them His "lovingkindness."  If you put it all of the elements of the prayer together, the people are, in effect, begging God to restore and renew His covenant with them and make their land fruitful again.  In a word, they are asking God for spiritual revival.  Notice the phrase in v. 6, "Will You not Yourself revive us," shows that these exiles totally understand that God is the source of revival, their only hope.  The term "salvation" in v. 7, in this context, refers to God's deliverance from their oppressors and enemies.        

  • Today, in the year 2020 A.D., the questions of these exiles might be very similar to the questions that God's people-us-might ask today. We live in a much different United States than the one we remember from 50 or 60 years ago. Amen?  We've seen American culture decline from one that was largely based on Christian morals and values to one that is now largely secular human-godless.  We Christians now find ourselves as an unpopular minority.  Yes?   But the answer to our questions-as Christians and Churches-is the same as those asked by the exiles:  (1) God is not angry with us, (2) God is still the source of revival, and (3) God will revive us.  That is our present, where we are today.  

Read Psalm 85:8-9 - WAITNG ON GOD

I will hear what God the LORD will say; For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; But let them not turn back to folly.  9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land.

vv. 8-9: Here, we see the exiles still stuck in the present but thinking about their future. Notice that the psalm has shifted from the plural "people /us" to the singular "I," indicating that they are making this pledge to patiently wait as individuals. While they are confident that God will speak to them, they don't presume upon His timing (i.e., that He will respond to their prayers automatically).  The three phrases "He will speak peace to...His godly ones; But let them not turn back to folly... near to those who fear Him," indicates sincere faith that God's will answer those individuals who seek Him with honest repentance.

  • Like these exiles, we 21st Century Christians are stuck in the present but are hopeful about the future and are faithful that God can and will bring revival. Like the exiles in vv. 8-9, we must wait on God's timing, and also like them, we must act as individuals, each of us seeking God's presence for a personal spiritual revival. This requires us to humble ourselves before God in prayer with sincere confession and honest repentance of our sins and ask Him to use His Spirit to move in us.  With faith and hope, we must pray, pray, and pray more.             

 Read Psalm 85:10-13 - THE RESULTS OF REVIVAL

10 Lovingkindness and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other. 11 Truth springs from the earth, And righteousness looks down from heaven.  12 Indeed, the LORD will give what is good, And our land will yield its produce.  13 Righteousness will go before Him And will make His footsteps into a way.

vv. 10-13: Here, we see the exiles looking to their future. In these verses, the psalmist joyously describes the salvation/deliverance that God can bring to His people.  It gives a sense of confident expectation that God will hear their prayer and grant what they request.   If we earnestly seek God on His terms-(1) let go of the past and focus on the future; (2) look only to God as the source of restoration and revival; (3) fervently pray to God with faith and hope, humbling ourselves in submission before God with transparent confession and true repentance of our sins (conviction, contrition, and change), asking Him to use His Spirit to move in us; and (4) having the patience to wait on God's timing.  Is revival important enough for us to obediently follow these steps?     

Three results of revival that come from the application of Ps. 95:10-13:

QUESTION:  Should we have expectations about revival?  Yes!  Absolutely!

  1. People start living right: The key word in these verses, repeated three times, is "righteousness."  The term signifies a right relationship with God and with others.  In other words, when people start living "right," they see their sin, repent of their sin, confess their sin, and live according to God's ways.  *When you see this happening around you, it's a sign that God is bringing revival.  And you-If you aren't-need to be part of this process.  Amen?  Whatever you do, don't miss this blessing-be a part of it!
  2. The Church will experience unity: These verses join four of the major characteris-tics of God in pairs:  lovingkindness (or mercy) and truth and righteousness and peace.  The idea here is that when you see people at peace with one another, when you see love being shared, and you see truth being lived out, then you will see unity between people-people in churches and between churches.  As we learned last week, unity is one of the major outcomes of revival.  This level of revival can be contagious-spreading from church to church and from community to community all the way to what we call an "awakening."      
  3. The church will see an increase: In the modern church context, the phrase "our land will yield its produce" can be seen as a metaphor for church growth, both in terms of existing churches and the untold number of new churches that could spring from a great awakening.  These are revived churches that have become missional, reaching out to lost people in the community and growing exponentially.  Would you like to see this happen in Mountain Home, Arkansas, where over half of our population is not affiliated with any type of church?  We-I mean MHBC-can't expect to seriously begin fulfilling the great commission-making disciples who make more disciples--until God brings revival to me, you, and our church.  Are you ready to do this, pray for this, today?      

PRAYER:  Lord God, I pray that anyone watching this video today will stop right now and think about what they need to do to experience personal spiritual revival and take action to do it.  If we simply do what the people-these exiles in the Psalm-were prepared to do: (1) let go of our past and focus on the future; (2) look only to you, Lord, as the source of revival; (3) fervently pray to You, O God, with faith and hope, humbling ourselves in confession and repentance, and asking You to move Your Spirit in us; and (4) in doing this, we are willing to patiently wait on Your timing.  Lord, I call on Your name, this morning not only convict all of us of our need for revival, but to give us hope that You will hear our prayer and bring revival to us personally and to our church as a body of believers.  I believe, Dear God, that You can and will do this if Your people will humble themselves and call on Your name.  I ask all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the perfecter and finisher of our faith, AMEN.