By Ryne Brewer
Revival is such a strange word. Growing up, anytime I heard the word revival, I had images of a special guest speaker at the old church my grandparents attended. He would yell about punishment, fire, and wrath. Many adults and sometimes children would respond to these strong calls out of fear of the negative things the speaker proclaimed. When I witnessed these events, I didn’t have the slightest clue what was going on. It was like the people saw the volcano erupting in the distance and, without hesitation, dropped everything and fled the punishment, fire, and wrath.
Revival, by definition, means the state of being revived. Those people I witnessed growing up responding to the guest speaker always seemed different after the response. Was it because they fled wrath or because they found the one to fill their need?
Lent is a practice less about giving up something and more about reviving our need for God. So entering the book of 2 Chronicles, I’ve begun to see that revival is more than just fleeing but rediscovering. In 2 Chronicles 13, two rulers are at odds, Abijah and Jeroboam. Jeroboam was self-reliant, needing nothing at all from God. He gave up what was timeless, proven, and life-giving for golden calves (idols), his own mediation (priests), and what was right in his own eyes (2 Chronicles 13:8–9).
Here it would be easy for me to draw an application for us of all the wrong things Jeroboam did. He’s a self-sufficient and mighty king with no need for help. We, too, can often be self-sufficient and our own little, mighty kings, prancing around portraying strength. However, revival comes through remembering our need—this ancient truth of our need for God. As we continue reading through 2 Chronicles 14, we see King Asa continuing in the ways of the timeless, ancient truths of needing the one true God (2 Chronicles14:2–7).
The kingdom of Judah was small and weak in comparison to other kingdoms. And as the walls of the Cushite army closed in on Judah, they were out strengthened and outnumbered. But instead of relying on golden calves, his own mediation, and what was right in his eyes for salvation like Jeroboam earlier in the story, Asa cries out to the God of his fathers. When the world was surrounding him, Asa embraced his need and crying out, “LORD, there is no one besides you to help the mighty and those without strength” (v.11). Revival happens when we cry to the one who helps the mighty and the weak.
Jesus is in the business of revival. He is the mighty King, full of the wisdom of God. We, too, can experience revival this Lent if we don’t just flee the negative but embrace our heart’s need for Jesus and His ways. He promises to “reveal himself” to those who love Him (John 14:21).
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