FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 16, number 45, November 9, 2017
“If . . . My people who are called by My name will humble themselves…” -2 Chronicles 7:14
Humbling Ourselves, Necessary for Revival
The prophet Daniel was around fourteen years old when, along with some 10,000 of his countrymen, he was sent away into exile to Babylon, or modern day Iraq. While in Babylon, we see (in Daniel 9) that he was reading the prophet Jeremiah and discovered that Yahweh had prophesied a return from the exile after seventy years had expired. Perhaps half way through this exile, Daniel became very burdened and longed to see this promised return. He surveyed the spiritual condition of God’s people in exile and realized they were guilty of heinous sin. Daniel 9 is a profound prayer, recorded and preserved by the Holy Spirit, for our edification. Daniel confesses his own sin and that of God’s covenant people. Note the tone and language of this prayer in a few excerpts below:
. . . we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Thy commandments and ordinances. . . Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee. To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him, nor have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets . . . O Lord, in accordance with all Thy righteous acts, let now Thine anger and Thy wrath turn away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain, for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people have become a reproach to all those around us . . . O Lord, Hear! O Lord, Forgive! O Lord, listen and take action! For Thine own sake, O my God, do not delay, because Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name.”
We must have revival, and because our God is compassionate and gracious, He is willing to bring it under one condition—we must be willing to pay the price for it. And what is that price? In the 2 Chronicles passage noted above we have the marvelous promise of renewal, revitalization, and revival, couched in a four-fold conditional context. God is addressing His covenant people during the reign of Solomon, just after the Temple has been dedicated and the Spirit of God has fallen on the people, filling the Temple with the glory of the Lord. A huge sacrificial offering was given to the Lord and the people rejoiced. Afterward Yahweh appears to Solomon in the night, saying that He has heard his prayer, saying that if He shuts up the heavens so that there is no more rain, or if He sends pestilence and as a result His people humble themselves and pray, if they seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, then He promises to hear from heaven, forgive them, and heal their land.
You will note that Yahweh is addressing His covenant people. He says, “and My people who are called by My name.” God does not need to hear the fruitless prayers of pagan America to act. He only needs the prayers of His blood bought people, those in covenant with Him, those who have bowed the knee to Jesus, confessing Him alone to be Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9,10).
And what are these four conditions for the restoration of God’s favor? First, if God is to heal the land of His people, then we must humble ourselves before Him. God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Thus we must humble ourselves under His mighty hand (1 Peter 5:5,6). Isaiah says that God looks to those who are humble and contrite in spirit, who tremble at His word (Isaiah 66:2). He also says that Yahweh dwells in two places, a high and holy place and with the lowly and contrite of heart to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite (Isaiah 57:15). If God is to move upon us and heal our land, then we, His people, must humble ourselves before Him and our fellow man. O dear people, where shall we begin! We have debased God and exalted ourselves. We have stripped God of His sovereignty by embracing our self-actualization. We have denied the divine authority of His word by exalting our intellect. We have foolishly rejected all He teaches pertaining to life and godliness in favor of the latest fad coming out of secular universities, main stream media, and Hollywood. We have worshipped the mammon of wealth, trusting it to bring comfort, while rejecting the sufficiency of the Savior who loves us and gave Himself for us. We have grumbled under His frowning providence, forgetting all the while that His trials always flow from love, that He works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. We, like the church at Thyatira, have tolerated evil in the church and world, failing to confront the wickedness of church and state concerning the sanctity of all human life, sexual perversion in the form of heterosexual and homosexual sin. In cowardice we have listened to the intimidating threats of the world which calls us intolerant for holding these views.
We, like the early church in Jerusalem, have failed to remember that the middle wall of partition has been broken down between Jew and Gentile, that we are guilty of showing personal favoritism to those like us, and rejecting those unlike us ethnically or sociologically. We have failed to deny ourselves in all the relationships on which any culture is founded—state, family, church, and business. When in a place of prominence or power, we have not sacrificed, choosing instead to abuse our position by paying ourselves more than we deserve while denying those under us a fair salary. When in a place of submission, we have judged our superiors, assuming they are cheating us, begrudging them their position and income, being guilty of instigating class envy. We have failed to work diligently, robbing our employer while all the while demanding entitlements from him. We have failed to love our wives and children sacrificially, instead choosing to bow the knee to the god of money, position, power, and fame, sacrificing their spiritual and emotional well being for the mammon we thought would satisfy them. We have worshipped our children, coddled them, failed to demand obedience and hard work from them, being so concerned about their self-esteem that we have crippled them.
We have robbed Christ of His eternal glory by failing to challenge those who mindlessly claim that Jesus is one of many ways to God, that His death and resurrection either did not happen at all or is inconsequential. We have presumed on God, glibly thinking that our programs, personalities, plans, and persuasive powers are sufficient to bring reformation to our culture and church. We have made big ministry plans while forgetting that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. We have failed to preach Christ crucified, instead offering a psychotherapeutic Jesus who lacks saving and transforming power.
Until we humble ourselves, until we see that we are guilty of heinous sin, until we are profoundly and deeply grieved over our sin, until we see something of the depth of indwelling pride, then we shall not see revival. God resists the proud.