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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV)
We used this verse recently as a direction to pray for our church at 7:14 daily. I have just read the verse again in a small book by Duncan Campbell entitled ‘The Lewis Awakening: The Nature of a God Sent Revival.’ Rev. Campbell was writing about a small island in the Hebrides called Berneray where just 500 people lived at the time. Duncan Campbell was elsewhere when he heard God speaking to him and telling him to go to Berneray. It was quite a journey by air, car and then sea, but he was expected. Not because of any human message, but because God had spoken to a lone elder, the parish postman, who had spent a day praying in a barn.
What happened on Berneray next did not happen because Duncan Campbell had arrived. Perhaps the only reason for Duncan Campbell being there was to faithfully record what happened? What happened did not take place in a church building but on the hillside after people had left the church at 11:00pm. It continued in the open air and in homes in Berneray until 04:00 as the Spirit of God fell powerfully all around the island.
In Psalm 85:6 the writer questions God: ‘Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you?’ The previous verse asked God: ‘Will you be angry with us always? Will you prolong your wrath in distant generations?’
We are a distant generation in more ways than one. Is God angry with us? Have we done anything to deserve otherwise? We know that our salvation lies through faith in Jesus Christ, not in anything we do, but has this knowledge brought us to a place of complacency, a place of distance from God?
I read Isaiah 1:2-20 this morning. It could almost be a word for the church today. Perhaps it needs to be a word for the church today? Perhaps the church needs to stop everything and come to God on its knees for as long as it takes for the Holy Spirit to fall in such a way that it is not just the people who are on their knees who are changed, but entire communities around them? Because I don’t see that happening where I live I have to question how I approach God, and everything that happens in the church I am part of. The fact that it is not happening suggests that we may not have read 2 Chronicles 7:14 properly.
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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
There was a quote in the Duncan Campbell book that really made me sit up:
‘The kingdom of God is not going to advance by our churches becoming filled with men, but by men in our churches becoming filled with God.’ (Howard Spring)
Do we really seek revival? Are we truly concerned about the harvest that needs gathering? What are we going to do about it? Pray for God to send more workers, or pray that God will begin by working through the workers He already has? That means us changing and completely surrendering our lives to Him. If we hold anything back, then we are no better than Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5).
If Jesus is the Bread of Life then perhaps the church has been on a diet?