Everything began with God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God is Life and gave life to the world He created. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” However, with the gift of life came the potential for death.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. Genesis 2:16-17
Satan called God a liar – “Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.” The woman ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and gave the forbidden fruit to her husband. Death became a human reality at that moment.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:7-8
The need for revival began at that moment. People needed “to live again.”
Biblical Revivals and Awakenings
So far in our series we’ve looked at five examples of revival in the Bible:
We move next to one of the greatest revivals of all time – Moses and the children of Israel.
And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. Exodus 1:6-7
The result of Joseph’s revival was fruitfulness to the glory of God. However, as often happens with revivals, the enemy finds a way to spoil it.
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor. Exodus 1:8-14
The Pharaoh’s fear of the Jews rose to the point that he tried to have every Hebrew male killed as they were being born. However, the Hebrew midwives feared God more than Pharaoh and saved the male children alive. Pharaoh commanded all his people to cast every Hebrew male child into the river to drown them. What would God do? What God always does – He accomplishes His purposes according to His will.
A Hebrew boy was born to a Levite couple. They were not able to hide the boy for long, so his mother placed him in “an ark of bulrushes,” and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. The boy’s sister stood “afar off, to know what would be done to him.” One of Pharaoh’s daughters came down to bathe at the river and found the ark among the reeds. She had compassion on the boy realizing he was “one of the Hebrews’ children.” The boy’s sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter if she could find a Hebrew woman to nurse the child for her. Pharaoh’s daughter agreed and the boy’s mother became his nurse.
The time came for the boy’s mother to bring him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. Pharaoh’s daughter called him Moses “Because I drew him out of the water.” Moses grew up as a prince of Egypt and “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).
However, Moses became the enemy of Pharaoh after killing an Egyptian who had beaten a Hebrew slave. Moses was forty years old when he “fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian” (Exodus 2:15). Moses spent the next forty years of his life as a shepherd. He married the daughter of a Midian priest and fathered a son.
So, how is that the story of a revival? Watch and see what God did. He had chosen Moses for a particular purpose and a specific time to bring life to His people again.
Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them. Exodus 2:23-25
Notice that important wording – “God remembered His covenant.” Revival occurs as God remembers the covenants He has made with His people. Exodus 3 tells us the story of the Angel of the Lord appearing to Moses in a flame of fire “from the midst of a bush.” God then revealed His plan to Moses for the revival of the children of Israel.
And the Lord said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt. Exodus 3:7-10
God used Moses to free His people from slavery in Egypt. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy tells us the story of God’s great reviving of his people. Read the story slowly and often because it contains amazing insights into how God works in restoring His people. Notice the importance of the proclamation of God’s Word and obedience to it. That is central to God reviving His people.
Joshua was Moses’ right-hand man. He was faithful and loyal to Moses and God. When God did not allow Moses to enter the promised land because of his disobedience, the Lord chose Joshua to finish the work.
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. Joshua 1:1-7
God’s direction to Joshua was clear – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Notice again the centrality of both knowing and obeying of God’s Word. That knowledge begins with the proclamation of the Word.
Joshua is another excellent Bible book to read through to see how God brings life to His people again. However, as wonderful as the story of Joshua and Israel is, we find the enemy waiting to spoil the revival.
So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died when he was one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. Judges 2:7-12
Revivals of the Judges
The story of the Judges of Israel is of a continuous cycle of disobedience (apostasy), judgment, discipline, repentance, and only brief revival. This cycle continued for about three hundred years.
Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do so. And when the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them. They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way. Judges 2:16-19
I highly recommend that every Christian interested in revival read the Book of Judges. Why? Because it deals with the reality we face in the battle “to live again.” God wants to bless, but His people often want their own way. We find that in revivals throughout history. You will find many important insights in Judges into what God demands for revival and how the fleshly desires of people fight against His will for their lives. The results of disobeying God are devastating. The results of obeying God are life-giving.
You might think that God would give up on Israel, but He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the next part of our series, we will see how God used women during the time of the Judges to bring about His planned revival for Israel.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© Faith and Self Defense, 2023