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What Does Revival Look Like? By Dave Butts
Many Christians are praying for revival without understanding what the end result might be if their prayers are truly answered. What might revival look like? We sometimes look to revivals in the past to catch a glimpse; however, the great revivals of history demonstrated unique characteristics that were often determined by the culture of their day. What God does in the future might look completely different.
There is a place, however, where we might find unchanging principles that will characterize revivals of both the past and the future. Gods Word speaks much of revival and spiritual awakening. Sometimes the Bible tells of the difficult situations that prompt Gods people to cry out for revival. At other times, it helps us understand the type of praying and passion that prepares the way for a fresh move of God. In Isaiah 35, the entire chapter gives us a wonderful picture of the hope toward which we are praying.
As you read the text below, please ask the Lord to point out to you these characteristics of revival: new life, the presence of God, strength, healing, outpouring of the Spirit, a lifestyle marked by holiness, and resulting joy:
"The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.
"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong, do not fear; ...He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.
"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.
"Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
"And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away" (Isaiah 35).
One of the first signs of revival is new life. Whether it is an individual or a church, when revival begins, there is evidence of life and growth. The very word, "revive," means to bring back to life. Isaiah draws a picture of a dry desert that appears to be lacking in life. But when it begins to rain, the buried seed bursts into the glorious color of life.
This new life is marked by a fresh vision of God: "they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God." What older writers have often called, "the manifest presence of God" is spoken of here. The presence of Gods Spirit in the life of a believer is a Biblical fact. The great need for revival, however, is indicated by the failure of most believers to walk in an awareness of His presence. In times of revival, Gods presence is manifested in such a way that believers are often overwhelmed by the experience.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon