Many believers perceive the necessity of a revival. Many people in our time are defined by spiritual emptiness. Even among believers, self-centeredness, shallowness, love of worldly pleasures, and indifference towards God’s expectations seem to be creeping in. And for this reason, the question arises concerning the need for a cleansing. We believe that this question can be answered. When, however, does this revival begin?
We conclude that the biblical accounts and even historical events may be explanatory to this end.
Many ages ago, Daniel lived in a similar time of crisis. Seventy years had come to pass, just as they were prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah, and now Daniel sought the face of God to ask for the revival of his people. This revival was necessary in order to re-establish the territory and the place where God’s plan for them could be manifested.
Daniel knew how necessary this revival was. Let us examine his personal behavior during this time.
“Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, ‘O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments…And now, O Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and made Yourself a name, as it is this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly!’” (Daniel 9:3-15)
And what was the answer to this humble prayer? “Yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, ‘O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision’” (Daniel 9:21-23).
Gabriel then explained the mystery of the seventy weeks (in reality, years) that were to be fulfilled with the coming of the Messiah. This Messiah would establish His kingdom, which no earthly might or power could destroy. The heavenly messenger further announced the defeat of the Persian and the Greek empires. Daniel was used by God to awaken His people for the preparation of these revolutionary, life-altering events.
What can we learn from this account? For one thing, we can determine that revival begins with an honest confession of our own shortcomings. Daniel, who lived a life pleasing to God, turned to Him with fasting, prayer, and confession. We, as God’s children today, have, for the most part, the notion that such confessions are only for sinners. Daniel believed otherwise. Throughout the ages, sincere believers acknowledged the necessity of personal admission of neglect, problems, and mistakes, and expressed them. All of these people experienced that after their humble submission to the mighty hand of God, they were newly cleansed, restored, and equipped for service.
In his time, the prophet Isaiah sensed the need of a revival for the people of Israel and therefore called out: “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns” (Isaiah 62:1). Humble admission of an inadequacy must precede every revival. If we only try to purify the weaknesses of some of the children of God, we are not doing the congregation a good service. We just cannot assume that God might be generous and overlook pride, vanity, love of the world, etc.
Furthermore, we can glean from this account that revival not only occurs as a result of a personal realization of its necessity but also of a corporate, unified conviction. Daniel prayed three times: “We have sinned.” Daniel also bore the burdens along with his people. He shouldered the burden of their sins as his own, having been their spiritual leader. Today, we seem to be quite reluctant to admit that perhaps some of the weaknesses we see in others are partly due to an inadequacy on our part. Dear Reader, could it be that our own children have not yet sought the Lord due to our own disengaged attitude towards God’s kingdom? Is it possible that you have even repeatedly criticized your brethren in the presence of your children? Has your Christianity become a formality or ritual? If so, then you have heaped sin upon yourself for the shortcomings of your neighbor. Daniel’s fervent prayer originated out of zeal and the burden that he carried for his people. Perhaps it applies to us, as someone once said: “We need more fire in our prayers!” I don’t mean an outward expenditure of voices. I speak of an inner enthusiasm of the heart.
We might ask: how long has it been since we have felt a true burden for men, women, and children whom God has not saved yet? How long has it been since our hearts have earnestly yearned and desired a revival? When was the last time you fasted because you were seriously concerned about the salvation of your neighbor? Are you only a Christian by name? What do you do for Christ and the church? Do you just barely participate? Are you only interested in controversial religious issues? We find millions of people today who profess to believe in the living God but in reality are ashamed to profess Him, if it comes right down to it. The Christian faith suffers more damage by lukewarm professors of faith than by outright enemies and opponents. Profanity or blasphemy in the worst extent is not only godlessness but also a mere lip service.
Isn’t it time that you and I, all of us, like Daniel, seek the Lord our God with prayer and fasting so that He might grant us a revival so greatly needed by His people, along with the whole world? Revival can begin when individuals or larger groups of God’s children bow down before Him and genuinely ask: “Lord, revive Your people, and start with me!”