Jubilee Weekly December 26, 2017
“Have We Gone Too Far?”
I think many of us are crying out to God for revival. We believe that is the only hope for our nation. But – have we drifted too far? We have many examples in the Bible of God disciplining His people for backsliding and idolatry.
As we read Psalm 85, it seems to me that the writer may have felt his nation had gone too far. He saw his people living in sin. In verse 6, we hear him crying out to God for revival. “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”
Do we believe that God wants to revive us?
Do we believe God will revive us?
Do we want to be revived?
I think the answer to these questions is found in 1 John 5: 14-15, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and if we know He hears us, whatever we ask – we know that we have what we have asked of Him.”
I believe God wants to revive us – but there are requirements. In 2 Chron. 7: 14, we read, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
We feel that Psalm 85 was written soon after the Jews had returned home from their Babylonian captivity. On the one hand, there was the miracle of the restoration and on the other hand, were the mounds of rubble. In Psalm 85: 1-7, we have:
I. The Request of the Writer.
A. He begins with Praise for God’s forgiveness. (85: 1-3) The Psalm is actually a song and the writer is deeply grateful for all that God has done. He focuses on several things.
December 26, 2017
1. The favor of God – (85:1) “LORD, you have been favorable unto your land. You brought back the captivity of Jacob.” Now that the people were back in their land, it was like life from the dead. God ha been gracious to them. He had shown them favor and now everything was possible. Not all the Jews had returned. Many of them were born in Babylon and had become very successful.
They preferred the riches of Babylon to the ruin of Jerusalem. In may ways, it was a feeble remnant that returned, but God was with them. The future looked bright. The writer also focuses on –
2. The forgiveness of God. (85:2) “You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sin.” We dare not pass lightly over what we just read. The word “iniquity” signifies “perverseness”. God’s chosen people prior to their captivity, had become involved in the most gross forms of idolatry. You would hardly have known they were “God’s chosen people.” That’s why God allowed them to be conquered and carried away into captivity.
(As we view what is happening in our nation today, it is hard to believe that this country was founded on Judeo Christian values. We are getting further and further from being one nation under God. An even greater concern is that more and more churches are re-interpreting scripture so that it gives people the freedom to do what is right in their own eyes, rather than seeing Christ as their Head of His church.)
So, we see the writer acknowledges that God had cleared away the failures of His people and He covered their sins. (85:2). At the same time that the writer thanks God for His mercies, he remembers another aspect of God’s nature or character.
3. He remembers the fury of God. (85:3). “You set aside all your wrath and turned from Your fierce anger.” God is righteous and He is holy and that means His anger is holy and righteous. The people had provoked Him, spurned His messengers and wallowed in their filth. The Psalmist knew that God could be provoked and His fierce anger unleashed. That’s why they had been carried away into captivity. Now a remnant has returned. God has turned from His wrath and fierce anger, so the psalm begins with praise for God’s forgiveness.
B. Now we see a change in the focus of the psalm. The writer began with praise for God’s forgiveness. Now he prays for God’s fullness. (85: 4-7) He began the psalm saying, “You have.” Now he begins with a series of questions.
“Will you be angry with us forever?”
“Will you prolong Your anger?”
“Will You not revive us again?”
“Restore us again, O God our Savior.”
“Show us Your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us Your salvation.”
Folks – these are the cries and concerns of my heart, for America and Christ’s church. I believe our LORD:
• Wants to restore this nation.
• Wants to revive His church.
• What will it take?
1. A nation-wide repentance is needed. (85: 4-5) The psalmist saw very little hope for their future without repentance. “Restore us again, O God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong Your anger through all generations?” So, we not only need a national repentance, but –
2. We need a national revival. (85: 6-7), “Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you? Show is your unfailing love, O LORD, and grant us Your salvation.”
I love what Dr. John Phillips says about revival. “Revival is that mighty work of the Holy Spirit, wrought in the soul of a nation on a massive scale, which brings thousands of people into an experience of salvation. This in turn affects every phase of national life. Reformation only changes the outward; revival changes the inward.”
Wouldn’t you like to see that move of the Holy Spirit in our nation and around the world? England experienced that kind of revival in the days of John and Charles Wesley. Wales also experienced a national revival in the days of Evan Roberts. God can do it again – but will He?
II. God’s reply to their Cry for Revival. (85: 8-13)
A. We must listen to what God has to say. (8a)
B. We determine not to return to our foolishness. (8b)
C. Recognize that God is near to those who reverence Him. (9a)
D. We long to view God’s glory throughout the land. (9b)
E. Recognize the nature of God’s salvation. (10), “Love and faithfulness meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
F. Realize that God wants to renew us and restore us to a right relationship with Him and each other. “ Faithfulness springs from the earth, and, righteousness looks down from heaven. (11)
1. He is faithful
2. He is righteous and always does what is right.
3. He will give us what is good. (12a)
4. He will cause our land to flourish. (12b)
5. His righteousness prepares the way for revival.
Do you personally feel the need for revival? Would you like to see the entire nation get right with God? Please meditate on 2 Chronicles 6: 30, and invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you. “Then (you will) hear from heaven your dwelling place, and (you will) forgive and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men).”
• God stands ready to hear us.
• He is ready to forgive our sins.
• He is ready to restore our relationship with Him.
• He is waiting and listening for our confession of guilt and commitment to obey Him.
Are we ready to come to Him and humble ourselves before Him so that He may revive us?
Oh God, please revive us!