Revival Lesson 2 - Ex. 4:21-31 - GOD CAN REVIVE
INTRODUCTION: A study of Biblical revivals can tell us much about what kind of revival God is ready to give to us, both as individual Christians and as a body of believers in this church. It can also give us needed direction for developing effective prayer and other efforts in that direction-very simply God's Word should be our "how-to" book. Last week, in Gen. 35:1-7, we studied the revival of Jacob and his family after the appalling murders and pillage committed by two of his sons in a town named Shechem. The main application point we learned was that like Jacob, before we can to experience spiritual revival, both individually and in our families, we need to get rid of all the idols that contaminate our relationship with God and return God to the center of our lives. This week we move into the story of the call of Moses, his return to Egypt, and the gathering of the children of Israel as reported in the Book of Exodus.
BACKGROUND: Most of us are familiar with the story of Moses: How, after Pharaoh ordered all firstborn male Hebrew babies to be killed, he was left as a baby in a basket on the Nile River, adopted by a daughter of Pharaoh, and subsequently became a prince of Egypt during his first 40 years. We know that that at some point, he killed an Egyptian he saw beating a Hebrew and was forced to flee for his life to Midian (near the SW coast of modern Iran today), where he became a shepherd for the next 40 years. Ex. 2:1-21. At this juncture, Moses was content with his life as a shepherd and had married the daughter of Jethro, one of the local leaders (who later became a follower of the one true God, see Ex. 18:11). Then while Moses was with the sheep on the west side of the Sinai Peninsula at a place called Horeb, God appeared to him at the burning bush (Ex. 3, generally) where he informs Moses that He is the same God of his father and of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and tells him that He is being called to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt to a destination that would later be known as the Promised Land. For the balance of the chapter and on into Chapter 4, Moses replied with a litany of reasons why he wasn't up to this job, but God responded by showing him miracles and demonstrated how Moses would be empowered to perform signs and miracles with his shepherd's staff. In Ex. 4, when Moses expressed doubts about his abilities as a speaker, God told him that his brother Aaron, an eloquent speaker, would meet with him and serve with him on God's behalf. In all of this, God convinced Moses He would be with him the whole way and ultimately, Moses finally gathered the courage and strength to take on this enormous mission.
Read Ex. 4:21-23 - WHEN YOU GO BACK TO EGYPT
21 The LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD , "Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I said to you, 'Let My son go that he may serve Me'; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn."
vv. 21-23: What we must stop and fully recognize from the verses we've heard so far is that God is the reviver-that a revival is a divine thing; it is God visiting His people. The history of revivals is the story of God stepping-in to save faith and righteousness from extinction. In this case of the children of Israel here, God had heard their cry of distress and was moved with compassion for them. In other words, God had heard the prayers of His people. God also remembered the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob which promised to make them a great nation and give them the land of Canaan. Although over 400 years had passed, the centuries had not made God's promises obsolete-God is faithful and never breaks His promises. Because His Word awaited fulfillment, He would bring Israel, whom He names "My son, My firstborn," (v. 22) out of Egypt. It was God who called Moses, persuaded him, commissioned him, and equipped him for the task.
• We should also see from this that having revival in our spiritual lives and church isn't about money, commercial efforts, or trying to organize fancy programs. It's all about God, and God can and will bring revival to His people-us-If we cry out (by that, I mean pray) and look to Him and the outpouring of His Spirit to make it happen.
• And like the Israelites in Moses' day, the promises of God's Word still stand. While preaching in one of the outer courts of the Temple in Jerusalem shortly after the Pentecost, Peter said, "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19). This underscores the fact that God is always willing to fulfill His Word, and if we listen and look to Him, we can expect revival to come to this church, this community, and even this nation. But it takes real faith-lots of it.
Read Ex. 4:27-30 - GATHERING THE PEOPLE TO HEAR GOD'S WORD
27 Now the LORD said to Aaron, "Go to meet Moses in the wilderness." So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; 30 and Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people.
vv. 27-29: It's apparent from these verses that Moses and Aaron are the revivalists. And most significant, Moses and Aaron gathered the people. In the church context, they are our like our pastors and leaders. The text goes on to explain that Moses and Aaron commissioned the elders to help organize and assemble all these people, which are estimated to have numbered over two million. In the modern church context, they could be elders or deacons or both, depending on the form of organization.
• As God's church, the effort required in the gathering of people is our united work, involving as many people possible who are willing to participate. There are people-by that I mean saved Christians-to be gathered, and they need to be gathered in order to hear the Word of God. It is up to us to gather and invite people-friends, neighbors, co-workers, extended family members-any Christian who really who needs to hear from God. There are many Christians out there who simply need to rededicate their lives to God's work. For our part of the process, we simply need to get them to the place where their spiritual lives can receive help, and God will take care of the reviving.
• Notice that when the Israelite people were gathered, Aaron preached the Word. All revivals must be accompanied by the preaching of God's Word, because God's Holy Spirit works through His Word.
• Notice too that Aaron performed "signs in the sight of the people." Is that relevant today? "Yes," in a manner of speaking, because God is still in the miracle-working business. God can and does act today through the power of prayer rather than signs. At the same time, we might say that seeing the power of the Holy Spirit working in a revived church may be seen as a sure a "sign" of God's presence. Amen?
Read Ex. 4:31 - THEY ALL BOWED LOW AND WORSHIPED
31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.
v. 31: The children of Israel-all two million+ of them-were the revived. At this point of their history, they were a backslidden people. When they had entered Egypt centuries earlier, they were a chastened, faithful, and God-fearing people (see, Gen. Chap. 50 generally), but over the course of many years, they had slowly but surely sunk to the level of sinful depravity around them. But when they heard the Word of God preached to them, what happened? The text tells us "they bowed and worshipped." They repented of their sins, submitted to their leaders, and praised God. It was a great picture of God's Spirit moving an entire people-what real revival looks like.
• Where are we in America today as individual Christian believers and as a church? Membership in churches across this land has plummeted over the last century and thousands of churches have closed their doors. We see this taking place everywhere, even where we live in the so-called "Bible Belt." Political polls taken in the most recent national elections reflect that over half of American voters don't consider themselves to be affiliated with any type of "religious" belief. So I ask, are we a backslidden nation, a backslidden church, a backslidden people? Are we broken? Do we need revival-personal-family-church-community-nation? Is our God big enough for this job? Do we believe that God can bring revival?
• So, where do we start? First, if revival is to come, it must start with me and you, as individual Christian believers. We must seek God's presence as individuals. Each one of us needs to experience personal spiritual revival by humbling ourselves before God in sincere confession and honest repentance of our sins and ask Him to use His Spirit to move in us. He is the reviver-we can do nothing without Him. If we sincerely seek Him, His Holy Spirit will us convict and show us the way. Are you ready to be awakened as a Christian, as a church? Are you prepared to be obedient to your call? Are you ready, willing, and able to devote your time and resources to do whatever it takes?
APPLICATION-GOD'S TEMPLATE FOR REVIVAL TODAY:
1. God, and only Him, is the Reviver today. In order for bring revival, we have to fully understand that revival is a divine working-its God's visiting His people. The history of revivals down through ages-from OT times all the way up to today-is a story of God stepping-in to save faith and righteousness from extinction. We must see from this that revival isn't about raising money and organizing fancy programs but is all about God. God can and will bring revival to His people if we cry out to him in prayer.
2. Like Moses and Aaron, our pastors and church leaders are our Revivalists. In the lesson text, one of the primary roles of Moses, Aaron, and the elders was gathering the people so that the Word of God could be preached (and taught) to them, because God's Holy Spirit works through His Word. This was true in Moses' day and applies equally to modern Christians in present age. For our part in this process as a church, we simply need to get Christian believers to the place where their spiritual lives can receive help. We all need the help that only God can provide.
3. In this day and time, believing Christians are the revived. That means you and me as members of this church. Revival isn't about evangelizing the lost but about God's Spirit empowering Christians to do His work. And the starting place is me and you as individual believers. Each one of us needs to experience personal spiritual revival by humbling ourselves before God in sincere confession and honest repentance of our sins and ask Him to use His Spirit to move in us. If we do this, His Holy Spirit will us convict and show us the way. Are you ready for this?
PRAYER: OUR FATHER, Creator and Master of all things, we come before Your everlasting throne today to thank and praise You for the love, mercy, and undeserved grace Your constantly show us. We thank and praise You for the countless blessings You give us every single day, and we thank You most of all that You loved us enough to send Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross for us so that we may be forgiven of our sins and spend eternity in heaven with You. We also thank You for this good church and the body of believers who worship here. I pray, Lord, that you will protect every one of us from infection by this Coronavirus and guard the health of those who are unable to attend in person. I pray, Dear God, that all of those who watch this Facebook video program will be strengthened, encouraged, and convicted by hearing the power and truth of Your Word. As we continue our study of revival, Lord, I ask that You will open our hearts and minds to fully comprehend the reality of how You can bring revival to us as individuals and as a church. I pray God, that all of us will know that You, and only You are the reviver. I pray, Dear Father, that You will empower and inspire Brother JR as He preaches the Word to us. I pray, Lord, that all of the deacons will gather their respective flocks to hear Your Word preached. I pray, Father, that my teaching today and in the following weeks will add force to Bro. JR's preaching. Finally Lord, I pray that through these things that the members of this church will humble themselves in prayer and seek Your Face in honest repentance of their sins, and that You will revive us-as individuals and as a church-with the power of Your Spirit. And I ask all these things in the name of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ, AMEN.