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Revival Lesson 6 - 2 Chron. 7.11-15

REVIVAL LESSON 6 - 2 Chronicles 7:11-14 - If My People Who Are Called

INTRODUCTION:  Last week in Hab. 3:1-2, we noted the main characteristics that were evident in the prophet's prayer for spiritual revival:  (1) With deeply-felt emotion, Habakkuk began his prayer by expressing his reverence and respect toward God.  (2) With utter certainty, Habakkuk openly declared that true revival can come only from God and cannot work upward (i.e., organized with human efforts) but must prayed downward (i.e., coming by God's Spirit working through His people).  (3) With true humility and repentance, Habakkuk lowered himself before God's presence by openly confessing his own sins and the sins of his people and admitted that they were absolutely helpless to bring revival.  (4) With faith in God's sovereign and infinite power, Habakkuk asked God to make His "work" (i.e., His majesty, glory, and holiness) known to them by using His Spirit to reveal His presence among them.  (5) And finally, with full confidence in God's nature, Habakkuk asked God to show His mercy towards His people despite their sinful condition.  The main relevance of this ancient lesson to us as 21st Century Christians is that the truth of this prayer about seeking true revival hasn't changed in the in the 2,600+-year interval since Habakkuk prayed it and should be a model for us today.

            A couple of weeks we ago in Psalm 85, we heard the psalmist talk about the "golden age" of Israel (from 1010 to 931 B.C.) from the perspective of the remnant who had returned to a devastated and ruined Jerusalem following their release from Babylonian exile.   Today's lesson text, from 2 Chron. 7 (thought to have been written by the priest Ezra after the return of the remnant from the exile in 538 B.C) describes Israel from the context of the time when it was reaching the pinnacle of its "golden age" during the reign of Solomon in approximately 950 B.C.

Read 2 Chron. 7:11-13 - A WARNING ABOUT THE FUTURE         

11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king's house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,"

vv. 11-13: These three verses speak in context of Israel during the high point of Solomon's reign. The building and completion of the Temple had marked the successful end of a 20-year process.  After the dedication of the Temple, God appeared to Solomon to assure him that He had heard his prayer and approved of this Temple as a place of worship, but at the same time, gave him a stern warning that He might also send judgment from time to time in the form of droughts, locusts, or pestilence (deadly diseases).  In saying this, God was telling Solomon that he'd come to the most dangerous period of his life:  a time after he had received great blessings from God and had achieved great things in life.  As a Biblical truth in the modern NT context, what this says to you and me is that as Christians, both individually and corporately as a church, that the blessings we received and all the good the things we accomplished for God yesterday are not a guarantee of continued blessings and success in the future. 

Read 2 Chron. 7:14a - IF MY PEOPLE PRAY

14a if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, 

Comment:  Probably no other verse in Scripture has been used more often to exhort people to ask God for revival than this one.   The first thing we should notice about this verse is that it begins with the conditional conjunction "if.  This informs us at the beginning that this verse isn't a simple recipe   for revival but sets forth four non-optional conditions that God demands from us before true revival can even become possible.  We also need to understand that because God's timing may not match our timing, that simply meeting these demands isn't a guarantee of revival.  The second thing we should notice is to whom this verse is addressed:  "my people who are called by my name."  In the immediate context it is addressed to the people of ancient Israel thousands of years ago-God's "chosen people"-but in the broader context, applies to born-gain Christians today-us-and the churches we represent as God's "chosen people" (as opposed to the U.S.A.).  Now that we understand the context of this verse as it applies to us today, let's look at the four demands:

1. "If my people humble themselves": In Biblical Hebrew the word for "humble" (ânâv ah-nahv) means to lower or rank yourself under someone else, in this case, God. By doing this, we confess and accept God's headship in our lives and admit our own weakness and powerlessness in relation to God's authority and sovereign control over all things.  By virtue of our human free will, humbling ourselves before god is a voluntary action in which we give up control of our life to God and say, in effect, that "I can't Lord but You can."  The flip side of the coin is that if we refuse to humble ourselves, there will come a day when God will do it for us, and it won't be pleasant!

2. "If my people...pray": Prayer is an absolutely essential ingredient in the mystery of revival. The Hebrew word for "pray," (tsela tsel-aw) literally means to speak and give thanks while bowed down in an attitude of submission.  It is the right attitude-humility in action-with which we approach God that reflects who He is and who we are not.  For revival, we come before Him to seek the help that only He can provide, for both ourselves, individually, and for our church, corporately.   

3. "If my my face": The Hebrew word "seek" (baqash bä·kash') literally means to yearn or desire something seriously and the expression "my face" (panim p'neh) literally means to come into someone's presence face-to-face. This is like being reunited with a loved one you long to see and be with.  When we approach God this way, we are giving Him our number one priority-that nothing or no one is more important to us than Him.

4. "If my people... and turn from their wicked ways": The word for "wicked" (Heb. rasha raw-shaw') literally means to be guilty of crimes, in this case wrongdoing committed against God and to "turn from" (Heb. chamaq khaw-mak') literally pictures going the opposite direction away from something.  Taken together, the words add up to repentance, turning from sin and toward God.  This is anything in our lives that is displeasing to God or doesn't line up with the standards expressed in the Bible.  If you'll remember our study in 1 Sam. 7:3 true and honest repentance means a lot more than simply being sorry you sinned:  First, it involves conviction -knowing what is right before you can know what is wrong, which requires being grounded in God's Word.  Second, contrition, which means you're not just ashamed of your sin (i.e., ashamed of being caught) but are truly sorry for grieving God.  You must agree with God-that He is right and you are wrong.  Third, change-turning away the sin with a change of attitude, character, and behavior.  Are you willing to do this?   


14b  then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.


Comment:  If we meet the four demands specified above-humble ourselves, come to God in prayer, seek God's face, and repent of our sins-we can expect God to respond in the following ways:


1. "I will hear from heaven": When we seek God's face and pray in all humility, unhindered by unconfessed sin, our prayers flow directly to God's throne to be heard by Him. When we pray like this, we are following Jesus' teachings (see Luke 2:4-6) to honor God's name and ask for His will in heaven to be done by and through us here on earth.  This is effective prayer at its best and shows the way we should pray for revival, personally and corporately.

2. "I...will forgive their sin": In our NT Christian context, "forgive" doesn't mean the path to salvation, because we are already saved, but refers to restored fellowship with God.  With restored fellowship we can effectively pray for personal revival and revival in families and in our church.      

3. "I...will heal their land": In our NT Christian context, the phrase "heal their land" could variously refer to "deliverance" for us individually, our families, and our churches, but not to the United States as a nation, insofar as the U.S. Govt. is not a party to our NT covenant with God.  Even so, our nation could benefit greatly from a widespread revival in the churches across our land.   As we learned in our study of 1 Sam.7, revival can bring unity not only unity in a particular church but unity among various churches, regardless of denomination, and when churches in various cities, towns, and localities put aside their differences and begin to unify in purpose and mission, the possibilities are boundless.  A nationwide revival over time can bring a great awakening in the public conscience that would  diminish great evils like crime, drug and alcohol addition, pornography, sexual immorality, abortion of unborn babies, greed, corruption, violence, and even wars.  If a majority of the voters in this nation were revived Christians, do you think it might change what we see happening in our country today?

APPLICATION:  The key word of application in today's lesson is "If":  (1) If you will humble yourself; (2) if you will pray for revival; (3) if you will seek God's face; and (4) if you will honestly repent of your sins.  To achieve personal spiritual revival, God demands this unconditionally and there are no exceptions.  Is God speaking to your heart about this today?  Are you ready to do your part in bringing revival?  To yourself, to your family, to this church, and even beyond it?   Let's pray together.  

PRAYER:  Lord God, heavenly Father and Creator, I pray that anyone watching this video today will stop right now and join me in this prayer to you.  Father, we come to You this morning and seek Your face with all humility.  We confess that we are all sinners and admit our own helpless condition.  At the same time, we confess that You are the one sovereign God who controls all things, and only You can bring revival to us as individual Christian believers and as a church.  I pray, Lord, that You will use Your perfect Word and Your Spirit this morning to convict every one of us of our sins and our need for repentance.  Help us and move us, God, to have a right relationship with You and others, both in our church and our families.  Lord, we call on Your name this morning with the hope that You will hear our prayer and that we will hear from heaven.  I ask for all of these things in the name of our Blessed Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, AMEN.