"Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?"
IT IS INTERESTING to notice the time when this prayer was offered. It was a time of mercy. "Lord thou hast been favourable unto thy land". It was a time when God had led many to the knowledge of Christ, and covered many sins. "thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people." It was now they began to feel their need of another visit of mercy -- "Wilt thou not revive us again?"
The Thing Prayer For "Revive us again," or literally, return and make us live anew. It is the prayer of those who have received some life, but feel their need of more. They had been made alive by the Holy Spirit. They felt the sweetness and excellence of this new, hidden, divine life. They pant for more -- "Wilt thou not revive us again?"
The Argument Presented "That thy people may rejoice in thee." They plead with God to do this for the sake of His people, that their joy may be full; and that it may be in the Lord -- in the Lord of their Righteousness -- in the Lord their Strength.
When is the Prayer needed: In A Time of Backsliding. There are many times when, like Ephesus, many of God's children lose their first love. Iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold. Believers lose their close and near communion with God. They go out of the holiest, and pray at a distance with a curtain between. They lose their fervency, sweetness, and fullness in secret prayer. They do not pour out their hearts to God.
They have lost their clear discovery of Christ. They see Him but dimly. They have lost the sight of His beauty -- the savour of His good ointment -- the hold of His garment. They seek him, but find Him not. They cannot stir up the heart to lay hold on Christ. The Spirit dwells scantily in their soul. The living water seems almost dried up within them. The soul is dry and barren. Corruptions are strong: grace is very weak.
Love to the brethren fades. United prayer is forsaken. The little assembly no more appears beautiful. Compassion for the unconverted is low and cold. Sin is un-rebuked, though committed under their eye. Christ is not confessed before men. Perhaps the soul falls into sin, and is afraid to return; it stays far off from God, and lodges in the wilderness.
Ah! This is the case, I fear with many. It is a fearfully dangerous time. Nothing but a visit of the Holy Spirit to your soul can persuade you to return. It is not a time this prayer -- "Wilt thou not revive us again?" The soul of a believer needs grace every moment. "By the grace of God I am what I am." But there are times when he needs more grace that at other times. Just as the body continually needs food, and there are times when it needs food more than at others -- times of great bodily exertion, when all powers are to be put forth.
Sometimes the soul of a believer is exposed to hot persecution. Reproach breaks the heart; or it beats like a scorching sun upon the head. "For my love they are my adversaries." Sometimes they are God's children who reproach us, and this is still harder to bear. The soul is ready to rest or sink under it. Sometimes it is flattery that tempts the soul. The world speaks well of us, and we are tempted to pride and vanity. This is still worse to bear.
Sometimes Satan strives within us, by stirring up fearful corruptions, till there is a tempest within. Oh, is there a tempted soul that reads these words? Jesus prays for thee. You need more peace. Nothing but the oil of the Spirit will feed the fire of grace when Satan is casting water on it. Send up this cry, "Wilt thou not revive us again?" In A Time Of Concern, "Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time if the latter rain." When God begins a time of concern in a place -- when the dew is beginning to fall -- then is the time to pray, Lord, stay not thine hand -- give us a full shower -- leave not one dry. "Wilt thou not revive us again?" Who needs this revival?
Ministers are naturally hard-hearted and unbelieving as other men (Mark 6:14), so that Christ has often to un-braid them. Their faith is all from above. They must receive from God all that they give. In order to speak the truth with power, they need a personal grasp of it. It is impossible to speak with power from mere head knowledge, or even from past experience. If we would speak with energy, it must be from present feeling of the truth as it is in Jesus.
We cannot speak of the hidden manna unless we have the taste of it on our mouth. We cannot speak of the living water unless it be springing up within us. Like John the Baptist, we must see Jesus coming, and say; "Behold the Lamb of God." We must speak with Christ in our eye, as Stephen did. "I see Jesus standing on the right hand of God." We must speak from a present sense of pardon and access to God, or our words will be cold and lifeless. But how can we do this if we are not quickened from above. Ministers are far more exposed to be cast down than other men; they are standard bearers, and Satan loves when a standard-bearer fainted. Oh, what need of full supplies out of Christ's fullness! Pray, beloved, that it may be so. "Wilt thou not revive us again?"
God's Children Need It, The divine life is all from above. They have no life till they come to Christ. "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you." Now this life is maintained by union to Christ, and by getting fresh supplies every moment out of His fullness. "He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells in me, and I in Him."
In some believers this life is maintained by a constant inflowing of the Holy Spirit -- "I will water it ever moment" -- like the constant supply which the branch receives from the vine. These are the happiest and most even Christians. Others have flood-tides of the Spirit carrying them higher and higher. Sometimes they get more in a day than for months before. In the one of these, grace is like a river; in the other, it is like a shower coming down in its season. Still, in both there is need of revival. The natural heart is all prone to wither.
Like a garden in summer, it dries up unless watered. The soul grows faint and weary in well-doing. Grace is not natural to the heart. The old heart is always for drying and fading. So the child of God needs to be continually looking out, like Elijah's servant, for the little cloud over the sea. You need to be constantly pressing near the Fountain of living waters; yea, lying down at the well-head of salvation, and drinking the living water. "Wilt thou not revive us again?"
Those Formerly Awakened Need It
A drop fell from heaven upon their hearts. They trembled, wept, prayed. But the showers passed by, and the rocky heart ceased to tremble. The eye again closed in slumber; the lips forgot to pray. Ah, how common and sad is this case! The King of Zion lifted up His voice in this place and cried. Some that were in their graves heard His voice, and began to live. But this passed by, and now they sink back again into the grace of a dead soul. Ah! This is a fearful state! To go back to death, to love death, and wrong your soul. What can save such a one, but another call from Jesus? "Awake, thou that sleeps, and arise from the dead and Christ shall give you light." For your sake most of all I pray, "Wilt thou not revive us again?"
Barren Fig Trees Need It, Some of you have been planted in this vineyard. You have enjoyed sun and shower. You have passed through all this time of awakening without being moved. You are still dead, barren, unconverted, and fruitless. Ah! There is for you no hope but in this prayer. Ordinary times will not move you. Your heart is harder than that of other men. What need have you to pray for a deep, pure, effectual work of God, and that you may not be passed by. Many of you would stand the shock much better now. Many of you have grown experienced in resisting God, and quenching the Spirit. Oh, pray for a time that will remove mountains. None but the Almighty Spirit can touch your hard heart. "Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shall become a plain." "Wilt thou not revive us again?"
For whom revival comes: It is God who must revive us again. It is not human work. It is all divine. If you look to men to do it, you will only get that curse in Jeremiah 17. "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and makes flesh his arm."
The Lord has all the men’s in His hands. The Son of Man holds the seven stars in His right hand. The stars are His ministers. He lifts them up, or lets them down, at His sovereign will. He gives them all their light, or He takes it away. He holds them up and lets them shine clearly, or He holds them in the hollow of His hand, as it seemed good in His sight. Sometimes He lets them shine on one district of a country, sometimes another. They only shine to lead to Him. The star that leads away from Him is a wandering star, and Christ will cast it into the blackness forever. We should pray to Christ to make His ministers shine on us.
The Lord had the fullness of the Spirit to Him. The Father has entrusted the whole work of redemption into the hands of Jesus, and so the spirit is given to Him. "As the Father hath life in himself, and quickened whom he will, so hath he given the son to have life in himself, and to quicken whom he will."
It is He who keeps all His own children alive from day to day. He is the Fountain of living waters, and His children lie beside the still waters, and drink every moment eternal life from Him.
It is He that pours down the Spirit in His sovereignty on those that never knew Him. "I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications." Truly, the whole work from the beginning to end is His.