Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Send revival start with me?

"We're looking to Your promise of old
That if we pray and humble ourselves
You will come and heal our land"

I love the 'spirit' of this Matt Redman song. It's desire for God's people to be revived - as expressed in it's chorus is wonderful. The chorus borrows from Isaiah 6 and the story of Isaiah being confronted with his sin in the presence of God, humbling seeking atonement. I just wonder if we ought first to consider what this meant to them, before we try to apply it to ourselves:

"We're looking to Your promise of old
That if they prayed and humbled themselves
You would come and heal their land"

My query is whether we can just claim a promise to them, for us. The people of God live by the promises of God so getting them right is very important. This promise is part of an answer to Solomon's prayers for God to regard the temple as the people's meeting place with their God.

The promise for healed land on the condition of repentance is in the specific context of the land being blighted with famine and drought by God. Land is a key theme in God's word, and indeed when Israel are sent into exile it is partly so that the land can have 70 years of rest from its cursed people.

God's promises to Solomon for Israel guarenteed that they could be come and find forgiveness. As God continued to speak to Solomon he also warned that if they persisted in unrepentance they would be kicked out of the land and made a byword among the nations.

What did the promise of 7v14 mean for them then?

God's people should have committed themselves to being repentant because of God's promise. But, the unfolding story of 2 Chronicles says that with only a few exceptions they wandered away from the Lord. They persistently did evil in the sight of the Lord. Scoffing at his promises and scorning his word. It's a tragic tale. And I can certainly relate to their falling.

What does this mean in Christ?

God's people gathered by the cross are a scattered people. We have no 'land'. That immediately alerts us that this promise is tricky to apply. We also no longer have the temple to come and humble ourselves at. God's people today are scattered among all nations not in one particular land. Jesus is the temple, and indeed the priest and sacrifice that makes humble repentance possible... and the land we seek is eternal rest.

Their story stands as a great warning to us not to take God's promises for granted. It's a sober word for us to prize God's promises and adopt a persistent posture of repentance forcussed on Christ. We would do well to borrow Isaiah's confession:

"Lord, send revival, start with me
For I am one of unclean lips"

And we make our confession not by introspection. We make it because we know the King. Our King has died for our sin. Our King secured our forgiveness. God promises that his word revives the soul. The word of the gospel calling us to repentance and the promise of eternity with the King. We would do well to seek it, but, like marriage, not to enter into it lightly.

A church marked by repentance will love the rebuke and correction of God's word. We would seek that. Repentance wants the preacher to speak against sin, though it will be fueled all the more by talk of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The repentant church is full of people who will openly confess our error without excuse making (the sinful heart resists with creative protest and extenuating circumstances). Repentance is prepared to let the Spirit examine our hearts like a careful surgeon to root out the rot. Repentance is the Spirit-filled life.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks Dave for that insight - I must admit I find it a constant frustration when promises are claimed simply because they're in the Bible. That's why I'm so grateful for the ministry of beginningwithmoses because you guys are slowly going about the task of showing Christians that the Bible has a context, an unfolding history of salvation - and individual parts must be seen in light of the whole.

    I really think this is so important. Pastorally there is nothing more tragic then seeing someone hold onto a promise that is 'in the Bible' but not actually made to them - that same person then gets despondent when God doesn't keep that 'promise' - but the reality is that he never made it in the first place.

    Thanks again.
    BTW I've moved from Spooh's 4 Thought to ...daylight

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  2. I did have a whole paper on 2 Chron 7 but never quite got it ready to publish. The blog series developed from that. I'm also writing a series of five small group studies on 2 Chronicles.

    I spotted your new blog yesterday!
    Duly linked.

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