3. God’s favor.
God granted Israel favor because she repented and sought His forgiveness. Let’s be honest, I haven’t met anyone who likes the direction America is taking; we are divided on far too many fronts: spiritual, financial, racial and political. We live in a country of division and unrest.
For true revival, not like 9-11, which came and was gone in five months, it must start with and in us. We must repent of our sins. Daniel began his prayer in Daniel 9 with the pronoun “we,” but in verse 20 he uses the word “my.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 is clear, “if we repent of our sins.”
Manasseh is one of my favorite “revival stories.” Manasseh was everything his father, Hezekiah, wasn't. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and God’s people time and time again, but they paid no attention. In his captivity, however, he repents and the LORD gives him the longest reign of any king is Judah’s or Israel’s history.
God's judgment is inevitable, but the church can influence what day it comes – our study in Revelation made that more than clear. When we are at our breaking point, that's when God can break out and break through.
Let’s look at two types of revival in the Bible: City Wide and Individual:
City Wide Revival - The woman at the well repented of her sin, entered into God’s forgiveness and virtually brought her entire town to Christ.
Individual Revival - The Prodigal Son, while estranged from his father and living a debaucherous life style, came to his senses, repented, went back home to his dad and entered into his father’s forgiveness. In response, the father granted him favor and threw a huge party. That's revival!
Jesus, like the Prodigal’s dad, waits for us to come home. Look at the picture: we repent, enter into God's forgiveness, and in heaven God throws a party like nothing we have ever seen on earth.
In contrast, the Older Brother, stewed in his self-righteousness and judgment and missed out. If we think we're better than everyone, we'll miss out on the party God has planned for us.
The first message Jesus ever preached was, "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17) There's no revival without repentance. Interestingly enough, Jesus' last message was “repent and enter into God's forgiveness.” (Luke 24:44-47)
Revival is two fold: Repentance - our doing, and Forgiveness - God's doing. We don't see revival today because we want forgiveness without repentance – there is no effort to put away sin. Revival is always marked by an effort to put away sin. When we do, God will meet us in our effort. The repentant sinner will find victory and receive eternal life. Jesus will meet you right where you are if you cry out to Him. Jesus longs for you to come with a repentant heart .
Why do we know He will hear our cry? (Wolf illustration from Dakota Wolf Preserve, Columbia, NJ.) If God takes that kind of interest in a wolf, how much more will God give to us, who are created in His image, forgiveness if we’ll come with a repentant heart, and revival, if we ask? Will you come?