Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Lessons We Can Learn From The World's First Revival - The Conditions Necessary For Revival
Genesis 4:25 "To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord."
Douglas Porter and Elmer Towns define the word, "revival" in their book: "The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever" as follows:
"An evangelical revival is an extraordinary work of God in which Christians repent of their sins as they become intensely aware of His presence in their midst, and they manifest a positive response to God in renewed obedience to the known will of God."
Porter and Towns then note the following results that flow from revival:
"(R)esulting in both a deepening of their individual and corporate experience of God, and an increased concern to win others to Christ."
In today's post, I want to briefly consider the world's first-ever revival as recorded in Genesis 4:25. In order to rightly understand what took place, we ought to consider the conditions that were present to prompt men to call upon the name of the Lord. If for anything else, revival has arrived when people - both inside and outside the church - are calling upon the Lord for increased closeness and sanctification (as believers ought to do) and for salvation (as unbelievers need to do).
In other words, what conditions are found necessary for there to be revival?
1. God-shaped vacuum in the culture. Genesis 4:16-22
Cain, after receiving his sentence from God for the killing of his brother Abel, flee from God's presence to build a mighty city. The so-called "city of man" has often been referred to in the history of Christianity as representing culture and society veering more and more away from God. The 17th century Christian thinker Blaise Pascal spoke of a God-shaped hole or vacuum in the human heart that can only be filled by God. Here we see in the text a God-shaped vacuum in the culture that must be filled by God.
All other influences will attempt to rush in to fill that vacuum: secularism, spiritualism, humanism and all sorts of "isms". The absence of God's name in the family line of Cain is telling. Whenever we find the wider culture at the brink of moral and spiritual collapse, and the signs of desperation increase, it is a sign that a God-shaped vacuum is in the culture.
2. Growing decline of morality, spiritual vitality and the family. Genesis 4:23-24
I put these three together because that is what we see in the life of Lamech. He is the originator of polygamy and thus wages the first historic war against God-ordained marriage. He brags to his two wives for killing a young man in cold-blood and treats God's curse on Cain as a light thing. Lamech's family is unlike what God's original design had been for the home in Genesis 2.
Sadly today, we not only find these three areas at a low-point in the culture, but the churches of the United States are more and more mirroring the culture. This second observation really speaks more to what we find inside the walls of the church than what lies on the outside. In Revelation 3 we find Jesus addressing the worldly church of Laodicea. Indeed, times are ripe for revival when we see declines in the moral, spiritual and family fronts, as well as a deepening God-shaped vacuum. Now notice thirdly....
3. Great desperation for God. Genesis 4:25-26
Here we find Adam and Eve giving birth to a son to replace murdered Abel: namely "Seth". Eve named the boy "Seth" due to what she saw as God's appointment to her of another to replace her dead son. As Seth would later on have his own son "Enosh", that even leads to men calling on the name of the Lord. Desperation for God had reached its boiling point. Death had hung over humanity like a thick fog. Darkness was setting into the human race. One lone-torch burned in the darkness. The man Seth would pass onto his son what he had learned from Adam and Eve. God's redemptive work, received by faith, paid for by blood, would constitute the Gospel. Hope in God came up in the souls of men. We're not told how many, nor are we given names. All we know is that revival hit, and men began to call upon the Lord.