A week or so ago I woke up hearing the old hymn “Revive Us Again” being sung by a church congregation in my mind. I had not heard it sung or even thought about it in many, many years. And so I went to the computer and looked it up on YouTube. Memories came trickling, then flooding back.
In the late 1950’s and early 60’s, I played for several small tent revivals in my area of South Carolina. The man who owned the tent invited various pastors and evangelists to come for a few days or a week or so and preach. Posters would go up around town, and when the meetings began the tent was usually full.
Although I didn’t play regularly for church as I did in later years, simply because I could play the piano and already knew most of the old hymns, I was asked to play for those services.
It was a little nerve-wracking and exciting, but I did it.
I don’t remember the people, the speakers or the sermons, but I remember the music. Those wonderful old hymns! “Revive Us Again” was certainly one of them.
This past month several “revivals” have sprung up at colleges in the United States, with thousands of people driving many long hours to attend. They are nothing like those tent revivals, however. These are not orchestrated by a man with a tent – although I see nothing wrong with that if the Lord has inspired it, and I believe he did and still does – these seem to have been orchestrated by God alone. Do an online search for Asbury 2023 and you’ll see what I mean. Here’s one report: Asbury 2023
The reports in the media have been met with enthusiasm by many, and criticism by many others. Are they real? Really real? Personally I believe they are.
While the English word “revival” (and the common concept that word brings to mind) doesn’t appear in the KJV of the Bible, the English word “revive” does. The Hebrew and Greek definitions are simple; basically to restore life.
The events of the past several hundred years (and longer) that various people term “revivals” or “outpourings” of God’s presence, certainly do that. Life — mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically also — has been restored. Many miracles have accompanied revival events over the years, and still do.
Here are several Bible verses to consider:
- Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? (Psalm 85:6 KJV)
- Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. (Psalm 138:7)
- For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name [is] Holy; I dwell in the high and holy [place], with him also [that is] of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (Isaiah 57:15)
- O LORD, I have heard thy speech, [and] was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)
Father God has answered those prayers on multiple occasions, as Christian history attests. While teaching on the Principles of Intercessory Prayer several years ago, I did hours of research on historical revivals. I soon discovered, no two have been alike.
Every time such an occurrence takes place, the cultural circumstances beforehand including the condition of the world at large, and the appearance of the events as they happened, have been quite different.
But the results for many of those affected have been remarkable, long-lasting and permanent, whether the people were already Christians or became new believers.
Those people who have appointed themselves to judge the authenticity of 2023 current events should judge the long-term fruit, if they can. Revitalized lives, proven over time.
To read certain online comments these days, you’d wonder if the commenter believes that God himself is uninvolved in the process of these “revivals.” Perhaps He is ignorant and unaware, or maybe he’s just uninterested. How sad.
I believe their concept of the goodness, the bigness, the mercy, grace and forgiveness, the very person of God himself, needs re-thinking.