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Paul J. Bucknell
We will look at this from two perspectives. Firstly, we will see how revival itself is rooted in prayer. The promise for revival for a dead and backward people of God actually comes from God answering a worshipper's prayer for this promise. We can find this story in 2 Chronicles 6 and 7.
Secondly, we will see how prayer and several other things are prerequisites to revival. When we speak of revival, we are not talking about annual evangelistic meetings but grand movements of God among His people that greatly affect the church and the world. These movements are orchestrated by God to do amazing amount of His holy work in a short period of time.
Most people are not conscious of breathing. Usually only when a person loses his breath or has held his breath does he become alert to the breathing process. The same is true with revival. Most Christians are not conscious of their spiritual lives. However, when God brings revival to His people then tremendous attention is given to Christian living and all of its ramifications.
Most Christians have heard of 2 Chronicles 7:14 when things with the church start to go very bad. There is an outbreak of evil throughout the nation. Or perhaps someone declares a simple observation about the churches that everyone is thoroughly convicted of. This might be with the lack of prayer, immorality among God's people, widespred worldliness, etc. Days before the situation was the same but now somehow, God's people are convicted. In such cases, we desperately search through the scriptures for some insight about our certain needs, and usually somehow end up at 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Many people are ignorant where this promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 actually came from. We would like to take you on a study through 2 Chonicles 6 and 7 that highlight why people end up at these words in this obscure book. We will be astonished to see the origin of this promise. Such great care and insight was at the formation of this promise by God. Some noble action of a certain man brought God to issue forth a promise that would shape the way He would respond to a people who acted on these words.
A promise of God is when God Himself vows to do something because of what a man has done in faith according to His words. Magic is when man through tricks and mechanical words manipulate the surrounding world into conformity to his wishes. The promises of God are the opposite. This is when God makes Himself available to help men if they would in faith avail themselves to God according to the specific requirements of His Word.
The source of this promise stemmed back to a famous king who greatly cared for the people. This king had two very important night revelations (2 Chronicles 1:7; 7:12). Each of these special times of revelation of Yahweh occured after the king had made significant steps of consecration shown through an enormous number of sacrifices. Let's look at these two nightly visions.
Most people remember the first night's revelation. God asked Solomon for anything that he desired.
In that night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, "Ask what I shall give you." (2 Chronicles 1:7).
This took place at the beginning of Solomon's reign. King David was his father. Instead of asking for the expected riches, long life, or revenge, that one would expect a person to ask, King Solomon asked for wisdom and understanding so that he might rule the people well. Solomon knew the secret of prioritizing the care of others. He no doubt learned this from his father, David. David loved both God and others.
"Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can rule this great people of Thine?" And God said to Solomon, "Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth, or honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge, that you may rule My people, over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed, nor those who will come after you." (2 Chronicles 1:10-12).
This is not the last time that we see Solmon's great love for God and His people. Another special dedication emboldened King Solmon to ask for two special items.
Here in this second revelation of God, we discover the same pattern is repeated. In both cases God appeared to Solomon after he offered a great number of sacrifices. In this case even after God had consumed the massive burnt offerings by fire, Solomon still offered up many more thousands of sacrifices. He was not a man of medocrity. What he did, he did with style and effort.
Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. (2 Chronicles 7:1).
Then the king and all the people offered sacrifice before the LORD. And King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 oxen, and 120,000 sheep. Thus the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. (2 Chronicles 7:4,5).
Dedication is the key to knowing God. Apart from proving our great love for God, we will not be able to know God well. Consecration and sacrifice leads us to God's presence and promises.
The famous 2 Chronicles 7:14 promise of revival is a result of Solomon's unselfish prayer found in 2 Chronicles 13. Solomon believed in God and thus made such dramatic animal sacrifices before God at the dedication of His temple. We aren't sure whether he was looking for another appearance of Yahweh, but Yahweh did again appear to him.
What was Solomon's prayer that resulted in God's answer in 2 Chronicles 7:12-22? The long and unselfish prayer is quoted in 2 Chronicles 6:14-42. The prayer is very long; we will summarize the essential elements below. The chart on the left summarizes these two chapters.
Solomon asked for two things.
Solomon made specific petitions for a number of different predicaments God's people might find themselves in if they disobey God. Solomon asked God to listen His people's prayers. He knew that God's people would sin and as part of God's discipline terrible things would happen to them and the country. He outlined a number of specific cases in which God would hear His people's prayers after they had truly repented. Solomon wasn't thinking about his own welfare or kingdom but again was thinking of the need of God's people for God's promises. He was thinking many years into the future to when his people might not serve God.But he did a very unusual thing that can be more complete form. This resulted in a general promise of God to hear those prayers upon certain conditions as we see in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Solmon mentions seven separate sections of prayer in 2 Chronicles 6 each characterized by one of God's chastisements. This is more clearly elaborated in another place.
|1) Sin against a neighbor (6:22-23)|
|2) Defeated before an enemy because of sin (6:24-25)|
|3) No rain because of sin (6:26-27)|
|4) Famine, pestilence, blight, mildew, locust, grasshopper, enemies, whatever plague or sickness (6:28-31)|
|5) For God-fearing foreigner who pray (6:32-33)|
|6) Wage war against enemy (6:34-35)|
|7) When they sin and taken captive (6:36-39)|
As long as we seek our own welfare, we simply have not understood how much God distastes our unholiness. We are not grieved about God's people leaving God and running after their own pleasures. God knew the true heart condition of His people. Solomon amazingly understood this too. This is why God was willing to pledge to His people that on certain conditions His people can always seek and find Him.
As we look down to the New Testament, we see it is here that Solomon's request are permanently answered in one act when King Jesus offered up His life so that His people might find grace to help in time of need.
The conditions are the same, but now it is clear as to how God can fulfill His promise without compromising His own holy character.
Things will get so bad, so despairing in fact, that even God's people will think that God has given up hope for them. He will faithfully send His prophets who will tell God's people, "Didn't God say that when things get so bad, that there is still hope?!" Then they will speak on 2 Chronicles 7:14, "Revival, in the Midst of Despair."
Having participated in many revival prayer meetings, it seems that many times we think that we are really seeking Him. We are humbled. We seem to be broken. We pray. We even might pray for long regular times. But then after awhile, this person is busy. That person moved. And the prayer ceases. What seemed so urgent at one time, later seems rather irrelevant. Down deep from past experience, we know it is important to pray, and yet we lack that all-driving motivation to get us up to attend those early morning prayer meetings.
Some people, for example, might be familiar with the great men's movement called Promise Keepers where tens of thousands of men were dedicating themselves on the sport fields before God. God seemed to be doing great things there and then it suddenly stopped. What happened? Some say it was a bad financial decision not to charge people. Hardly. Something greater was behind it.
I believe these men, though grieving over their sins, were still too consumed with getting a better life for themselves. They couldn't break through and make that complete step forward to God's throne where genuine repentance could be found. They went back to their sins - their normal lives. Many were broken before God, but not deep enough to bring that long lasting change. They still clung to their individual lives. If they really would have changed, the whole nation would have been greatly impacted, but we failed. My guess is that many of those men who went back to their sins now are the same ones getting a divorce.
The prophets spoke of our sins, but we just weren't moved enough to change. If God's Words don't change us, then a series of calamities will arise. At this point we need to move a bit slower. Some hearts are not prepared to receive the words right before verse 7:14. Many Christians do not have a proper understanding of God. They don't think He would bring disaster or have His hand in tragedies. Some go a bit further and say that God would tolerate it but not do it. Let's try to work this out a bit clearer. Next
BFF Studies on Revival
Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted:
(C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988
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