Let God Arise! Biblical Revival Blog #11
Renew the Work of the Lord: Revival under Zerubbabel (Haggai 1, Zechariah 1:1-6)
The people of Israel renew the work of God
Hag. 1.7-15  “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.  Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord.  You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.  Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce.  And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
 Then Zerubbabel the son of She-altiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.  Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.”  And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God,  on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
See also the following:
Return to the Lord and he will return to us Zech. 1.1-6
The essence of revival is a voluntary and wholehearted return to God Jer. 4.1-4
The Lord commands us to think upon our ways so he can instruct us Ps. 119.59-60, Lam. 3.39-41, Isa. 28.10
The return to God must be both personal and corporate Jer. 25.5
Our return to God must be accompanied by both words and actions Hos. 14.1-2
God promises to act on our behalf if we come back to him Deut. 30.1-10
Our return to God must be wholehearted and uncoerced Deut. 6.5, Deut. 13.3, 1 Chron. 29.9, 1 Chron. 29.17, Ps. 119.80, Jer. 3.10, Jer. 29.13, Eph. 6.24
The restoration of God will surely come upon every one who returns to the Lord Hos. 6.1-3
We must humble ourselves before the Lord to be exalted James 4.8-10
True repentance will be met with God’s one gracious reception Luke 15.18-20
God remembers his covenant for those who repent before him Lev. 26.40-45
Today God commands all people to repent and receive his grace in Christ Acts 26.16-20
There is a season by which we are to seek God (i.e., the one where we can find him) Isa. 55.6-7
“ARE YOU willing to return to God–or will you continue to offer excuses, empty alibis for missed opportunities and unjustified neglect?”
This was Haggai’s and Zerubbabel’s word to the children of Israel after 16 years of neglect and distraction from the work of God.
After Josiah’s revival, the people of God ignored his pleadings through the prophets and resumed their disobedience, which unfortunately climaxed in the Babylonian captivity of 70 years. Exposed to the horrible persecutions of a foreign land and people, Israel would learn through its experience of judgment and adversity what it meant to disobey God, to turn their backs on his constant pleading and prophesying, and reap the fruit of their own rebellion. The God of Abraham, even in this, did not abandon his people, but moved on the heart of Cyrus to allow the people of the remnant to return to their own land and establish again their place in Jerusalem (Isa. 44.28). In the 6th century B.C.E. a decree was signed and a rag-tag group of some 50,000 people set out again for their homeland, Jerusalem.
While scholars debate the spiritual condition of this tiny group of people, it is plain that the wear of captivity likely got to them. Although they began laying the foundation of the Temple upon first arriving into the land, it is clear that psychologically they were deeply affected, became disillusioned and distracted, and the work of the Temple was neglected for more domestic and (in their minds perhaps) more pressing matters of their own livelihood and survival. By most accounts, another 16 years would pass without any further work being done by the group to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. Kaiser suggests that the time from the last revival to the one which would come under Haggai and Zechariah was a full 101 years (Kaiser, The Quest for Renewal, p. 126)! What a long period to lie fallow, to be discouraged and unclear! Such is the tragic state of those who refuse to be animated and reanimated through the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Word of God.
In a very real sense, the message of Haggai was a prophetic call to action after neglect, to honesty after self-deception, and to commitment after compromise. Kaiser outlines the first chapter of Haggai in conditional terms, i.e., what God would do for his dear people if they would only admit their neglect and return to him with action and acknowledgment:
1. Refuse to blame the providence of God (vv. 1-2).
- Set priorities for the work of God (vv. 3-6).
- Get involved in the work of God (vv. 7-12).
- Receive the enablement of God (vv. 13-15).
Refuse to blame God, set new priorities, get involved in the work, and receive God’s enablement. A simple message for sickened hearts and soured spirits.
In many ways today, we as Evangelicals are distracted and longing for the presence of God in a new way. Drawn into the side ditches of moralism, showmanship, and the quest for power in society, we easily can neglect the most important work of all, what Tozer called the “missing jewel” in the evangelical church. What is that jewel? Worship and honor to God alone, unmixed, undiluted, unshared. Not for the sake of family, or influence in society, or celebrating our positions of power. Simply the true worship of God in our lives as our Creator, our Redeemer, and our King.
What gets lost so often in revival is the simplicity of the message and manner by which we can beckon the presence of God back into our midst. Haggai merely called the people back to the work, the true work of God. He called them back to the Lord God, who was asking his people to return to him, to fall in love with him again, not for his gifts and benefits, not for their security and well-being. Although he promised them many good blessings, his desire above all else was for his people to return to him, to be transformed again in his presence, to love the Giver more than the gifts, to love the Lord of the Temple more than the temple. Is not this a message that could be preached wholeheartedly in our churches and organizations today?
Dear friend, nothing occurred in the midst of God’s people until their propensity for excuse making and deception was overcome. The Lord is more than willing to wash, to cleanse, to renew, and to restore. He wants his people to experience his love and power in new ways, and desires to fill us with the Holy Spirit for power and service. But he is not mocked; we cannot delude ourselves into thinking that we can “pull a fast one” on the Lord. He knows our hearts. He desires mercy, not sacrifice. He wants a broken heart; he delights in a contrite spirit.
Can you admit that you need him? Can you without reservation or hesitation fall before him and ask him for renewal, for restoration, for a new manifestation of grace and his presence? Can you admit that you are empty so he can fill you? Can you declare that you are weak so he can be your strength?
The revival that took place under Haggai and Zerubbabel was a revival ignited by a dramatic and massive admission of neglect of God’s will, and weakness within the people. It burned brightly through the genuine repentance that comes from no longer offering empty and tired excuses for the neglect of God and his worship, of his word and his witness. This is the kind of revival flame that, once ignited, is not quickly extinguished.
Let us, therefore, begin where we should have started already many times before. Where is that?
We must start today where all biblical revivals have started: humbling ourselves before the Lord, acknowledging him and him alone as our source and life. Only then can the Father be released to reveal himself afresh to us. Only then can we be radically repositioned to experience his leading and filling. Only then can we experience what this tired and discouraged group of God’s people received when they came to him afresh–an extraordinary influx of God’s presence and power.
“Are you willing to return to God–or will you continue to offer excuses, empty alibis for missed opportunities and unjustified neglect?”
Let him or her who has ears to hear, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church today. Return today to the Lord, and he will return to you.
Example of returning to the Lord: The remnant under Zerubbabel Haggai 1:13-15
Biblical Principle: Revival is always a form of the renewal of the work of God, one that begins with an honest and wholehearted acknowledgment that we as his people have neglected his work to concentrate on our own selfish ambition. Revival begins when we refuse to protest our innocence any longer, and, being found naked before him, we readily and willingly confess our weakness and need for the Lord. This results in a commitment to resume his work, right where we are, without excuse or delay. Revival is grounded in wholehearted candor, a determination to admit our wrong connected to a desire to give the Lord his due, without alibi and with the whole heart.
See also, James 4.8, Isa. 50.10, Jude 1.20-21
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TAGS: Revival, Reformation, Spiritual awakening, seek, empower, repentance, return, work, Zerubbabel, Haggai