The Way to Personal Revival - Genesis 32-35
The Lord allows wrestling matches in our lives. He permits circumstances to develop in our lives that require we work through fears to come to faith, a deeper faith in Him. He uses struggles in our lives to humble us, stretch us, and build our faith. When trials develop we ask “Why? Why is this happening to me? What did I do to bring this on?” Sometimes our struggles have nothing to do with anything we did to bring them on. Other times our struggles are directly related to our sinful selfish fleshy behavior. We can be going along, minding our own business and SMACK! a trial or struggle hits us. We can be ministering and walking in the Spirit and suddenly we feel the thud of a dagger of gossip or knife of false accusation pierce our backs. And it doesn’t stop there because often the one who stabs us is not satisfied with merely inserting the dagger; they then twist it and turn it for maximum painful effect. And to compound the torture even more the culprit often asks with a knowing smile, an expression of hypocritical concern and dastardly deceptive empathy, “Oh, does that hurt? Does that bother you?” Such things happen and are allowed by God. He allows them because it is not yet time to end them (2 Peter 3:4, 9). But He also allows them because He can use them in our lives (1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:19).
There are times when our struggle is with persistent sin, a sin in our lives that takes more time than desired to overcome victoriously. There are times when we seem to lose the peace of God. It is possible to have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2) but lack the peace of God (Philippians 4:6-9). There are times when we are having difficulty allowing the peace of God to rule us (Colossians 3:15). Sometimes we just seem to have lost God’s peace. We struggle through sleepless nights (Psalm 77:1-9). We feel anguish and anxiety and an unsettling isolation.
There is a person in the Old Testament named Jacob that had an epic struggle that we can learn a great deal from. Jacob’s name means heel-catcher. He was a selfish striver, a self-promoting, self-reliant conniver and manipulator. He relied on his own strength, his own wits and worldly wisdom. He got himself in a lot of trouble because of the way he lived. He was the master of the short cut, a man who lived by the ends justifying the means. He cut corners and bent the rules. If someone was an obstacle to getting what he wanted, they and their feelings were expendable. What made this all the more troubling was that Jacob was chosen by God; he was a child of God. And what makes that tragic for us is that when we look at him we unfortunately too often see too much of ourselves.
People who live like Jacob lived, cutting corners, living by worldly dog eat dog standards come to realize there is always a consequence for such living. God’s word tells us we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). If you reap to your flesh, or self effort the result is corruption. If you reap to the Spirit, the result is everlasting life, and I would add, the peace of God (Galatians 6:8). Jacob’s ways left a wake of brokenness and bitterness on the waters of his family. Broken relationships, broken dreams and broken hearts were what Jacob’s ways wrought. All the while he showed no sincere remorse or repentance for the devastation he created. And there was a price to pay for this. In Genesis 32 it all came to a head.
Jacob had cheated his brother Esau first out of his birthright (Genesis 25). Then out of his father’s blessing (Genesis27), and for this Esau hated Jacob (27:41). Jacob had to leave home because of his manipulations. He met God along the way and things began to change for him (Genesis 28). First God allowed him to experience manipulation from the receiving end by way of his uncle Laban (Genesis 29). Jacob grew prosperous, but his prosperity led to adversity with Laban’s servants and again he had to flee (Genesis 30). God defends Jacob and makes a way for him to escape with his family from the pursuit of Laban (Genesis 31). But in chapter 32, with an angry father in law behind him, he discovers that his brother Esau is coming up ahead of him, with four hundred men! (Genesis 32:6). Something had to give. Jacob was blocked from retreat and was totally outnumbered in front.
Jacob’s life had become a wrestling match. But the opponent was not Laban or Esau, it was the LORD! Jacob had been living his life his way and his way had led to quite a mess. Now, in the night, he would struggle with the LORD in a very real way. The struggle was for rulership of his life. The battle was over who would rule, him or the LORD. That is a struggle every person goes through. It is a daily struggle in some ways. But there is a time in a person’s life where things come to a head and they have to make the final decision, they have to wrestle through the question, “Who will rule in my life, me or God?” Who wins that match determines whether or not a person can experience personal revival.
Those who enter the ring are determining by faith that they will yield to God. These are the ones who give their lives to Jesus as Savior and LORD (Romans 10:9-10). But after being saved from sin the believer’s life involves wrestling through the rule and lordship of their hearts and lives by Jesus. Who will rule in the trials and hardships? Who will call the shots in life’s decisions? Who will guide you through life’s unexpected struggles? Who will you rely on in the night, when you fear, when all seems lost? Who will rule, you or God? That is the battle.
It takes the struggles of life to pin us down and expose our weakness and weaknesses. It takes the consequences of self-efforts to reveal to us our utter unworthiness and lack of strength. It takes the reality of the chaos caused by godless living and the fearful anxiety of decisions gone wrong to show us we need help. It takes the unexpected infiltration of trials into our lives to show us we need to depend on One who is always ready. It takes all of this, all of this struggle, all of this wrestling to drive home the point that we can’t live on our own, we need God and He must be our Lord. It takes all of this to tap our strength dry to show the believer, yes the believer, that the LORD must rule our lives if peace is to be experienced. There are words for this process in life. When the Christian is put down and fatigued by the struggles in life and their spirit drained it is time for refreshing, it is time for personal revival.
The first recorded revival occurs in Genesis 35. But how did that revival come about, what led up to it? Genesis 32-34 shows us the Steps to Personal Revival. Genesis 35 shows us How We Experience Personal Revival. We all need revival form time to time. Our churches need revival from time to time. Our nation needs revival right now. But if our churches and nation is to experience true revival, we as individual Christians need to experience personal revival. The first mention of something always sets the groundwork and lays the foundation. Genesis 32-35 gives us the groundwork and foundation for true personal revival. We need that so let’s pay prayerful close attention as we study this passage.
Wrestling – Genesis 32
In Genesis 32 we have a pivotal point in Jacob’s life. With Laban in the rear and Esau in the front, Jacob was boxed in; he was right where God wanted him. The way God deals with Jacob reveals to us how God can use the struggles, the wrestling matches in our lives to bring about change for the better in us. What do we learn from Jacob’s wrestling match?
Genesis 32:1-6 - So Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When Jacob saw them, he said, “This is God’s camp.” And he called the name of that place Mahanaim. 3 Then Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 And he commanded them, saying, “Speak thus to my lord Esau, ‘Thus your servant Jacob says: “I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.” ’ ” Then the messengers returned to Jacob saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he also is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
Here we see the fleshly selfish, self-reliant nature of Jacob. He knows he can’t retreat because Laban will oppose him. Therefore, his brother Esau is an obstacle he must overcome. How does he go about doing this? In an attempt to appease Esau he sends gifts ahead of him. In other words, Jacob is saying, “How much will it take to make things right?” He attempts to buy off his brother. There are those that think that money can fix anything. But that is not always the case. There are some things money can’t fix. How much will it cost to repair a broken heart, a stolen dream, a severed relationship? Jacob’s gifts couldn’t fix the apparent rift between himself and his brother because even after Jacob’s servant’s had brought the appeasing gift to Esau, they came back with news that he was still coming on, and with four hundred men! This was a situation Jacob couldn’t buy his way out of. In fact, Jacob may have even made things worse by trying to pay off his estranged brother.
Genesis 32:7a - 7 So Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; . . .
Fear and distress were the results of Jacob’s efforts to fix this situation. There’s nothing worse than feeling a sense of fear and distress. He was beginning to recognize the consequences of the way he had been living his life. The consequence of life lived under self-rule was becoming apparent to him and it was scary. It’s scary to come face to face with the consequences of your sinful conduct. All of this was the consequence of Jacob’s relying on his own personal resources, efforts, his fleshly wisdom and ways.
When you rely on your flesh (i.e. limited sinful selfish self oriented reasoning and resources) it always results in problems. What is scary is that you can be walking along in the Spirit and lapse just once to acting in your flesh, and the consequences can be very damaging and cause great hardship and pain to you and those around you. Christian, guard against your flesh and being drawn into reacting or acting in that nature. It will only cause you struggles and strife (James 4:1-10). It only takes one such fleshly lapse to let Satan get his foot in the door of your life to reap havoc (Ephesians 4:25-27).
Genesis 32:7b-8 - . . . ; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies. 8 And he said, “If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the other company which is left will escape.”
Jacob was responding to his situation in a humanly logical way. Notice that his response was that he “divided the people that were with him.” When you rely on your flesh and human wisdom it always leads to division of some kind (1 Corinthians 3:1-4).
Genesis 32:9 - 9 Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’:
Here is the first step in personal revival, turning to God. Here is where Jacob begins to turn the corner toward blessing. He is finally beginning to see that his way is not the right way. He is finally turning to God for help rather than trying to connive and manipulate his way out of trouble. He is beginning to see the mess he’s caused. He’s beginning to turn to God because there is nowhere else to turn. That is the place God brings us; to a place where we are boxed into an alley of struggle and the only way out is to be lifted out by Him. Jacob isn’t perfect and he still has some self to rely on, but he is turning to God. Turning to God is always the first and best step to take in a struggling situation.
Notice too that Jacob refers to God as, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac . . .” Jacob is remembering better times. In a crisis we sometimes dream of better bygone days when all was well and we weren’t in the fix we are in at that moment. We close our eyes and dream of peaceful times. But we have to wake up at some point, and dreaming doesn’t do away with reality. This is why the sinner turns to drugs. Drugs and mind altering substances won’t heal or deal with problems; it will only make them worse because as a person is in their stupor and fails to act, things decline further. But the one who turns to God in prayer, that person God will bring through to victory.
Genesis 32:10 - 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies.
The first step in personal revival is turning to God. The second step is realizing your own personal unworthiness before God. This is the major revelation that God is bringing Jacob to, his unworthiness. Jacob sees his unworthiness. He sees how merciful God has been to this point, even though he didn’t really appreciate it before. The “truth” Jacob refers to here is the truth of his unworthiness and the truth of the consequence of his fleshly ways. God is really turning the light on in his head. God is really speaking to Jacob’s heart. This is a sincere admission, a humble admission. And such humility is always the beginning of a personal revival. God oppose the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). God must bring us to a point of humility before He can exalt us (1 Peter 5:6). That humility is the point where we cast all our cares on Him because we realize they are too much for us and that God cares for us and is the One we need to turn to (1 Peter 5:7). This expression of unworthiness is evidence of what God is doing on the inside of this fleshly man. Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities and God is seizing the day.
In Jacob’s previous meeting with God he had demonstrated pride. Jacob was met by God in a dream where God revealed Himself to Jacob and told him of the great blessing and purpose He had for him (Genesis 28:10-17). Jacob was initially afraid in God’s presence, but when he awoke from his dream, he responded to God’s revelation buy putting conditions on God (Genesis 28:18-22). That is not the way you should respond to God. We don’t’ deal with God on our terms, but on His terms. People often try to manipulate God by saying, “God, if you give me that, I’ll follow You.” Or they say, “Lord, if you answer my prayer this way, I’ll follow You.” We act as though we are some great prize catch for the Lord. Rubbish! God is the prize not us. We do Him no favor by following Him. We are unworthy! He could vaporize us and make another human far better than us. But because of His love and patience He chooses to work with us, to work in us, and for that we are unworthy and should be forever grateful (e.g. Luke 17:10; 18:9-14). Jacob was turning the corner because now he was not responding to God in pride, but in humility. He was calling to God not with conditions, but in desperation and a clear understanding that without God, he was nothing.
When we come to God we should not come with proud conditions, by a humble heart (Psalm 51:17). We shouldn’t come to God only because of what we can get out of Him. We don’t come to God because of who we are but because of who we are not. We are not God, He is, and so we come to Him.
Genesis 32:11-12 - 11 Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. 12 For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ ”
Jacob’s heart is changing. He did split up his resources into two groups, a last ditch effort of his flesh to escape the consequences of his sinful conduct. But he does now see that God is His Deliverer. Only God can make things right. Jacob is coming to God and he is coming to God on the basis of what “You said,” or on the basis of God’s word. That is always the best way to come to God. God is faithful to His word, always. Jacob knows his faithless ways have failed. Now he goes to God on the basis of His faithfulness to His word and that will always lead from failure to victory.
Genesis 32:13-23 - 13 So he lodged there that same night, and took what came to his hand as a present for Esau his brother: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels with their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals. 16 Then he delivered them to the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass over before me, and put some distance between successive droves.” 17 And he commanded the first one, saying, “When Esau my brother meets you and asks you, saying, ‘To whom do you belong, and where are you going? Whose are these in front of you?’ 18 then you shall say, ‘They are your servant Jacob’s. It is a present sent to my lord Esau; and behold, he also is behind us.’ ” 19 So he commanded the second, the third, and all who followed the droves, saying, “In this manner you shall speak to Esau when you find him; 20 and also say, ‘Behold, your servant Jacob is behind us.’ ” For he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21 So the present went on over before him, but he himself lodged that night in the camp. 22 And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had.
Sometimes there are some last traces of the flesh that show themselves and this is what we see here with Jacob. Sometimes our actions lag behind our words. Our hearts are deceitful above all things and we don’t’ understand it, but God does (Jeremiah 17:9-10). We rationalize our situation and get our hands in it where we have no business being.
Jacob had gone to God seeking deliverance, but just in case he is taking some further steps to help God along. That’s what we do too isn’t it. We tell God, “God, I’ll wait on You to deliver me, to answer me.” Then we say, “Lord, I waited an hour and you didn’t act, so let me help You along a bit,” and we resort to our fleshly ways again. We say, “Lord, I waited a day and You didn’t act, so let me help You a long a bit.” We say, “Lord, I waited a week . . . Lord, I waited a month . . . Lord, I waited a year . . . Lord, I waited . . .” and then we try to help God out and it never works. Abraham and Sarah waited for God’s promised child until they exhausted their fleshly attempts to help God (Genesis 16) and until they were beyond childbearing years (Romans 4; Galatians 4) and then and only then did God bless them with the promised child Isaac (Genesis 21). How long does God make us wait? Until we are totally surrendered and dependent upon Him. God will allow us to exhaust our fleshly attempts to help Him before He acts in our lives. He does this to show unmistakably that the work is from Him not us. He does this to humble us and get us to learn to depend on Him. He does this to build our faith and establish His lordship in our hearts and lives.
Jacob had gone to God and invited Him into the situation. God had started to work in Jacob’s heart and He would keep going until the work had been firmly established. Fear and the drive for personal preservation are powerful drives in us and these drives had moved Jacob to his last ditch fleshly effort to protect himself. But when we invite God into our life circumstances, what He does is not always what we expect or want, but He knows what is best and we would be wise to surrender to His will.
Genesis 32:24a - 24 Then Jacob was left alone; . . .
“Alone” is where God does some of His best work. Ever been alone or felt alone? You can be in a crowd and still be alone. Unmarried people do not have the exclusive rights to loneliness. You can be married and still alone. Sometimes no one else can understand us but God alone. We are at times alone in the sense that only we, and God, can understand what we’re feeling and going through. God allows such loneliness, because He desires to be alone with us. He wants personal private time with us.
When was the last time you spent time alone with God? Maybe you don’t think you have anything to say to God. Maybe you think He has nothing to say to you. But you’re wrong, you need to get alone with God and pour out your heart before Him. You need to get alone to God and listen (Psalm 46). When we are alone with God distractions are at a minimum and the environment is conducive to hearing what He has to say to us in and through His word or by way of impressions on our heart (remember: He will never contradict His word with such impressions). When was the last time you spent an a day, an hour, half and hour, fifteen minutes alone with God? Jacob was alone because God wanted it that way. Loneliness is not necessarily a bad thing.
Genesis 32:24b - . . . ; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day.
Who was this “man” who wrestled Jacob? In verse thirty Jacob tells us, “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” This was Jesus, a pre-incarnate manifestation of the Lord referred to as a Christophany or Theophany. There are numerous places where Jesus appears in the Old Testament (e.g. Genesis 18; Joshua 5). This is because Jesus is eternal and unchanging and at work even in the Old Testament.
Jacob and Jesus wrestled throughout the night. This wrestling match would end in exhaustion.
Genesis 32:25 - 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him.
If Jesus is eternal, is he omnipotent? If He couldn’t prevail against Jacob, does that show He was not omnipotent? The point to be taken here is not that Jesus did not physically prevail against Jacob at first, but it was that Jacob was strong physically and would not give up relying on his physical strength. Therefore Jesus helped him along by putting his hip out of joint. Your hip is vital to walking or running. Jesus is in control of this wrestling match throughout its duration. It wasn’t like Jesus was in danger of being beaten by Jacob. Jacob is merely hanging on for dear life. It’s as though Jacob is in a match where he is simply outclassed by his opponent. He had no business in the same ring with Jesus. Jesus could snap His fingers and poof! Jacob would be smoked. But Jesus arranged this match and had a purpose for it.
Genesis 32:26 - 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
There is a discipline of desperation. Jesus feigns leaving much the same as He had done with the disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24), Jesus wanted to bring Jacob to a point of right priorities and even spiritual desperation. Jesus said, “Let Me go . . .” only because he wanted to bring Jacob to a point where he would say, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” That’s where Jesus wanted Jacob and that’s where He wants us to be. We need to be willing to hang on until the blessing comes. Are you interested enough, are you serious enough, are you willing enough to say, “Jesus, I will not leave, I will not let You go until You bless me, until You bring me through.”
Too often we pray little anemic prayers. This is not to say our prayers must be long. Our prayers are not effective based on their length or wordiness (see Matthew 6). But there is something to be said for prevailing in prayer. Jesus taught persistence in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). E.M Bounds, a great minister of prayer, once wrote:
“To say prayers in a decent, delicate way is not heavy work. But to pray really, to pray till hell feels the ponderous stroke, to pray till the iron gates of difficulty are opened, till the mountains of obstacles are removed, till the mists are exhaled and the clouds are lifted, and the sunshine of cloudless day brightens – this is hard work, but it is God’s work and man’s best labor.” 
“The men who have done mighty things for God have always been mighty in prayer, have well understood the possibilities of prayer, and made most of these possibilities . . . . It is the effectual, fervent prayer that influences God. . . . When prayer fails, the world prevails. When prayer fails the Church loses its Divine characteristics, its Divine power; the Church is swallowed up by a proud ecclesiasticism, and the world scoffs at its obvious impotence.” 
Are you willing to spend time with God, enough time for Him to bless you? By asking this I do not intend to reduce prayer to a work that secures the blessing of God. Too often we misinterpret God’s grace to mean we need put no effort into following Him. Paul said he was who he was by God’s grace, but he also added, “I labor all the more” (1 Corinthians 15:10). The depth and length of our prayer is not to coax or manipulate God into blessing us. God has a deep desire to bless us and He sent His only Son Jesus to die for us to prove it (Romans 5:8; 8:31-32). But our brief prayers that only skim the surface of the waters of God need to slow down and sink in to the depths of God. We need the length of prayers to get our heart right with God. It’s not God who needs us to pray long and hard, it is us. We need to pray fervently with all our heart so that His work can be done in us. We are the ones who cause the delay, not God.
Jesus said to “Abide in Me” and if we do we would bear lasting fruit (John 15). We are too much in a hurry. We rush around and miss the blessing God desires to give. It’s as though we are running in a race and God is standing on the side of the road wanting to give us something to refresh us, to quench our spiritual thirst. But we are too busy running to take what He sis offering. And what He is offering is necessary to complete the race. Without God’s drink, we’ll cramp up and find ourselves crumpled on the side of the road unable to finish well. We need to prayerfully study His word until we can hear what He is saying to us. We need to decide to stay with God until what we are seeking Him about is dealt with. We need to hang on in prayer until that sinful habit is defeated. We need to hang on in prayer until that aspect of our sinful nature is defeated. We need to hang on in prayer until our heart is cleansed and healed of those sinful thoughts or attitudes. We need to hang on in prayer until Gold helps us with our fears. We need to hang on in prayer until God changes our hearts. We miss the blessing of God because we only snack at His table when we should be feasting and fellowshipping with Him. We miss the blessing because we settle for a commercial rather than watch the entire program He is showing. Christian, we need to hang on in prayer in committed faith that says, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
Genesis 32:27-29 - 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
Jesus didn’t ask Jacob his name because He didn’t know it; He asked him his name so that Jacob would be confronted with it. This was the point of change. Jacob was brought face to face with himself, his sinful nature. Names in the Bible are connected to the nature of those they represent. God’s names point to an aspect of His holy nature. The names of people point to an aspect of their nature too. Jacob was a heel catcher, a manipulator. Jesus changed Jacob and changed his name to “Israel.” “Israel” means governed by God, God rules. Jacob had struggled with men and God and God had brought him through a changed man. God in Christ had brought personal revival to Israel. God has established Himself as the Lord of Jacob.
Jacob would now live with God as his master. You obey a master, you don’t disregard a master. Jacob would now experience a new life of obedience to God. He would not be perfect, but he would be more trusting and dedicated to God. Jacob would become a worshipper of God (Genesis 33:17-20).
Why did Jacob ask for the name of the One who he wrestled with? Maybe there was a trace of uncertainty in his heart about who it was he had wrestled with. Jesus said to Philip in the New Testament, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; . . . .” (John 14:9). Maybe Jacob just wanted to hear it from the mouth of Jesus. For whatever reason, Jesus did not disclose His name at that point. But Jesus says the same thing to us. “Have I answered so many of your prayers, helped you in so many situations in life, solved your problems and answered your questions, and you still do not know Me?” We need to take notice of what God has done in our lives and be built up in our faith in Him.
Genesis 32:30-32 - 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.
That Jacob had a good idea of Who it was he had wrestled with is seen in the name he gave to that place, “Peniel” the face of God. Jacob knew he had encountered God. Jesus is God in the flesh and He showed Himself Peniel (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1).
And Jacob left that place with a lasting reminder of his human weakness, a dislocated hip joint. No longer would he rely on his own ability to run from trouble or manipulate or buy his way out of sticky situations. Now, limping away, he knew He would have to depend on God. That is exactly the revelation and truth God wants to communicate to us and that leads to personal revival.
Paul prayed three times for a thorn to be removed, but God kept it there. Why? Because when he was weakened, then he would have to rely on Jesus and that would make him strong in the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). It is only through our weaknesses that we can learn the sufficiency of God’s grace. Our weaknesses are not necessarily a bad thing. Physical disabilities and the numerous types of impairments we encounter in life can serve to move us closer to God and that is the good God brings from them (Romans 8:28). Jacob walked away a changed man because he had been made a limping man. That puts an entirely different perspective on our human frailties doesn’t it? In light of that, maybe we should be thanking God for whatever part of us is “out of joint” for it is through such things that we learn to go to God, lean on Him and experience personal revival. Personal revival is learning not to run in our own strength and learning to appreciate the limps in our lives that cause us to be governed by God.
Reconciliation – Genesis 33
Revival involves a reckoning that results in reconciliation with others. That is exactly what we see in Genesis 33. Jacob, in his newfound humility, humbles himself before his brother Esau. Jacob has dealt with the plank in his own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). He knows things have to be made right with his brother and he is going to do whatever it takes to reconcile.
Why does revival involve a reckoning that results in reconciliation with others? Because bitterness and strife are sins and if we regard such iniquities in our heart it hinders our communication with God (Psalm 66:18). Our relationship with God and His forgiveness of us is closely linked to our forgiveness of others (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25-26). Bitterness is like a cancer that spreads, it causes a lot of pain and harm relationally. The path of revival pursues peace with others (Hebrews 12:14-15). When the LORD is working a revival in your heart the prospect of the loving presence of God is so sweet that it moves you to obey God’s command to be reconciled with people. The beauty of revival holiness is so alluring that you will seek to rid yourself of any and all obstacles that hinder your full experience of it (Psalm 96:9). Reconciliation is a prerequisite for experiencing personal revival (Matthew 5:23-24). And that is why we see Jacob reconciling with Esau.
Jacob is now Israel; he is governed by God. Because of his contact with God Jacob knows in his heart that things need to be made right between him and his brother. He has come to a point of reckoning where reconciliation needs to get done if he is to be right with God. This reconciliation is an act of faith in obedience to God. Let’s look at what we see in Jacob’s reconciliation with his brother.
Jacob humbled himself in order to reconcile. The passage states:
Genesis 33:1-3 - Now Jacob lifted his eyes and looked, and there, Esau was coming, and with him were four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants. 2 And he put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children behind, and Rachel and Joseph last. 3 Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
The situation was coming to a head. Jacob crossed the point of no return and bowed himself seven times to his brother. The idea is that as Jacob came toward his brother he was intermittently bowing in a sign of humble surrender. Right away Esau knew not only that he was in a position of military superiority, but that his brother was humbling himself before him. Esau could look in the mirror to see who was to blame for his past losses, but Jacob was culpable for fleshly tactics too.
Jacob’s pride was being put under. He wasn’t concerned with blaming his brother or pointing out his faults. Jacob was gesturing in a way that admitted and acknowledged his part in the division and was putting all he had on the line for the sake of reconciling with Esau. Are you willing to put your pride down and do whatever it takes to be reconciled with someone? This is a major step in the path to personal revival. You can cling to the idea you did nothing wrong or It’s not my fault or It’s not fare or some other explanation. If you want to experience personal revival you have to take the initiative and be reconciled. If you want personal revival and to be right with God, you have to lay down your weapons and humble submit to whatever God is directing you to do to be reconciled. Being purified from pride can be painful, but it is a necessary step in the path to experiencing personal revival.
God is working hearts to bring reconciliation. Look at Esau’s response to Jacob:
Genesis 33:4-11 - 4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. 5 And he lifted his eyes and saw the women and children, and said, “Who are these with you?” So he said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 6 Then the maidservants came near, they and their children, and bowed down. 7 And Leah also came near with her children, and they bowed down. Afterward Joseph and Rachel came near, and they bowed down. 8 Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?” And he said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9 But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.” 10 And Jacob said, “No, please, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present from my hand, inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me. 11 Please, take my blessing that is brought to you, because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” So he urged him, and he took it.
Esau ran to embrace Jacob! (33:4). Jacob had manipulated Esau out of his birthright and cheated him out of his family blessing and yet Esau runs to Jacob! Esau could have remained standoffish. He could have taken a superior position and lorded his power over Jacob. But instead he runs to Jacob, hugs, kisses and weeps over him. How is this possible? It’s all possible because God has been working in Esau’s heart.
Esau’s heart has been softened by the LORD. Even though Jacob has not seen his brother for a long time, God has been at work to bring about this reconciliation. Esau’s actions are evidence of the fruit of God’s labor (Psalm 33:13-15). And we can take solace in that too. Divisions and differences can appear irreconcilable at times, but God has a way of working the heart of people. Reconciliation is not all up to us, we merely have to cooperate and obey in God’s plan to bring it about. That is what we see in Genesis 33.
Notice too that this reconciliation is pure; it is not based on personal profit (33:5-9). Esau refuses Jacob’s gifts. Being reconciled, seeing Jacob and his family and getting back together was enough for him. There were no ulterior motives for their family intimacy like there were with conniving uncle Laban.
Then note Jacob’s words, “. . . inasmuch as I have seen your face as though I had seen the face of God, and you were pleased with me” (33:10). Jacob was making the close connection between his wrestling match with God in Genesis 32 and seeing Esau. It was as though Jacob was saying my reconciliation with my brother is not only God’s blessing, but an offering of obedience to the LORD to show that I mean business in my walk with Him. This circumstance of reconciliation was a test of Jacob’s sincerity. This was an opportunity to prove he was indeed a different man, a man governed by God. The proof was in the prostration.
Lastly Jacob’s testimony to his brother was, “God has dealt graciously with me” (33:11). Jacob doesn’t puff out his chest and brag about his possessions or family, he credits God for his prosperity. That is a testimony and evidence of the new faith Jacob has in the LORD.
Jacob advanced in faith and worshipped the LORD thankfully. The chapter concludes:
Genesis 33:12-20 - 12 Then Esau said, “Let us take our journey; let us go, and I will go before you.” 13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and herds which are nursing are with me. And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die. 14 Please let my lord go on ahead before his servant. I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock that go before me, and the children, are able to endure, until I come to my lord in Seir.” 15 And Esau said, “Now let me leave with you some of the people who are with me.” But he said, “What need is there? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” 16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, built himself a house, and made booths for his livestock. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. 18 Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city. 19 And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. 20 Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel.
Esau offered to help Jacob but Jacob refused, why? Perhaps Jacob wanted to communicate to his brother that this reconciliation had no ulterior motives. In the past Jacob’s dealing with Esau were manipulative and self serving. Jacob wanted to make sure Esau knew this reconciliation was genuine and pure (33:12-16).
As soon as Jacob got to Succoth and then settled down in Shechem it says, “Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel or literally God, the God of Israel (33:20). Jacob is becoming more like his grandfather, the man of faith Abraham. That is a good sign on the path to personal revival.
Resistance – Genesis 34
Revival involves dealing with resistance. Revival doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly, far from it. There will always be resistance to revival. That resistance will come from outside as well as inside our ranks. That is what we see in Genesis 34.
Revival is resisted by outside forces. The passage states:
Genesis 34:1-7 - Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her and lay with her, and violated her. 3 His soul was strongly attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young woman and spoke kindly to the young woman. 4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young woman as a wife.”
5 And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter. Now his sons were with his livestock in the field; so Jacob held his peace until they came. 6 Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. 7 And the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved and very angry, because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, a thing which ought not to be done.
There are few things more repulsive and sinful than the violation of a rape. That is what Shechem did to Dinah. Shechem was from the world and his violation of Dinah may have been rationalized by him with the thought that he “loved” her. He even wanted to take Dinah as his wife. But what he did was still reprehensible and sinful. No amount of kindly speaking to her could cover up his initial violation. And no amount of talking could make a marriage of this unbeliever with a believer acceptable.
This was a ruthless attack from without the camp of Jacob. He nor his sons were present when Dinah was taken advantage of by Shechem. There can be little doubt that there was an unseen enemy behind the actions of Shechem and his name is the devil. That’s when the enemy usually attacks, when we are absent or not looking. That’s when he throws a blindside hit that catches us off guard. How we respond to such a blindside hit will determine whether or not we remain on the road to personal revival.
Revival is resisted by forces from within. The passage continues:
Genesis 34:8-29 - 8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. 9 And make marriages with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters to yourselves. 10 So you shall dwell with us, and the land shall be before you. Dwell and trade in it, and acquire possessions for yourselves in it.”
11 Then Shechem said to her father and her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you say to me I will give. 12 Ask me ever so much dowry and gift, and I will give according to what you say to me; but give me the young woman as a wife.”
13 But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister. 14 And they said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a reproach to us. 15 But on this condition we will consent to you: If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised, 16 then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. 17 But if you will not heed us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone.”
18 And their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son. 19 So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter. He was more honorable than all the household of his father.
20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate of their city, and spoke with the men of their city, saying: 21 “These men are at peace with us. Therefore let them dwell in the land and trade in it. For indeed the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us as wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22 Only on this condition will the men consent to dwell with us, to be one people: if every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised. 23 Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.” 24 And all who went out of the gate of his city heeded Hamor and Shechem his son; every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.
25 Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males. 26 And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. 28 They took their sheep, their oxen, and their donkeys, what was in the city and what was in the field, 29 and all their wealth. All their little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even all that was in the houses.
Hamor, father of Shechem tries to broker a deal to get Dinah as a wife for his son (34:8). Hamor even tries to offer that the family of Jacob intermarry with his people (34:9). Shechem tells Jacob and his sons that money is no issue here; he’ll do whatever they want in order to get Dinah as his wife (34:10-12).
But all of this did not sit well with Dinah’s brothers and they concocted a plan to get even with Shechem and his people. Their plan involved deceit (34:13). Whenever deceit is used you step into the devil’s playground (John 8:44). The brothers used the holy rite of circumcision to ply their plan of revenge. They told the Shechemites they would all have to be circumcised if any intermarrying and in particular the marriage of their sister to Shechem was to take place (34:14-17).
The prospect of being circumcised “pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son” (34:18). I don’t know how the word “pleased” can be used in the same sentence with being circumcised but it was used here. Hamor and Shechem were desperate for this union to take place. They thought they could just absorb Jacob’s family into theirs and therefore profit from all of this (34:20-24). Shechem was the most honorable of his household which doesn’t say much if a rapist was the most honorable person in your family (34:19).
But as dishonorable as Shechem and his people were it does not excuse the actions of Dinah’s brothers. When the Shechemites were in pain recovering from their circumcisions Simeon and Levi came upon the Shechemites in their city and cruelly killed them all and took Dinah back with them as well as plundered the city (34: 25-29).
How would Jacob respond to the sinful actions of his sons?
Jacob rebuked his son’s sinful actions. The chapter concludes:
Genesis 34:30-31 - 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I.” 31 But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a harlot?”
Was the response by Dinah’s brothers sinful? Weren’t they justified in their actions? The passage states, “they were grieved and very angry” (34:7). Wasn’t this a case of righteous indignation, righteous anger? Anger is the active response of our entire being to a perceived injustice. Dinah’s brothers certainly acted in an angry way, and there is such a thing as holy or non-sinful anger. But when we examine what the Bible says about anger it becomes pretty clear that their behavior was anything but holy or righteous.
Anger is not always sinful. God gets angry (Deuteronomy 32:41; Psalm 2:4-5; 7:11; 18:7-8, 15; John 3:36; Romans 1:18; 2:5-9, 16; Ephesians 4:26). The vast majority of references to anger in the Bible involve the anger of God. God is holy and righteous and therefore He exhibits that anger, as an attribute of God, can be holy and righteous. Jesus got angry (e.g. Mark 3:1-6; 10:13-16; John 2:13-17). Human anger is righteous in as much as it imitates God’s anger. Moses is an example of human righteous anger (Exodus 32:19-20 compared with God’s anger in 32:9-10, 33-35). Human anger becomes sinful when it is self-centered (James 1:13-15l 3:13-4:12). When humans and anger are mentioned together the vast proportion of those references show human anger to be sinful. Humans and anger don’t mix well. Examples of unrighteous human anger are: Cain – Genesis 4:5; Esau – Genesis 27; Jacob – Genesis 30:1-2; Moses – Numbers 20:7-13; King Saul – 1 Samuel 18:5-9; David – 2 Samuel 6:1-8; King Herod – Matthew 1:16; Jewish leaders – Matthew 21:15; and the disciples – Matthew 20:24.
Our heart is deceitful and rationalizes our unrighteous anger in a way that justifies our sinful actions. We say, “I was angry, but I had a right to be angry.” When is anger righteous? Anger is righteous when it is Christlike. In his book Uprooting Anger Robert D. Jones gives a very thorough Biblical explanation of anger. In his book he shows that anger is righteous when it meets three criteria:
1. Righteous Anger Reacts against Actual Sin – Righteous anger arises from an accurate perception of true evil, from sin as defined biblically, i.e., as a violation of God’s Word (Romans 3:23; 1 John 3:4), any “want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” Righteous anger does not result from merely being inconvenienced or from violations of personal preferences or human tradition. It responds to sin as objectively defined by God’s Word, including violations of both of our Lord’s great commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).
2. Righteous Anger Focuses on God and His Kingdom, Rights, and Concerns, Not on Me and My Kingdom, Rights and Concerns – In Scripture, God-centered motives, not self-centered motives, drive righteous anger. Righteous anger focuses on how people offend God and his name, not me and my name. It terminates on God more than me. In other words, accurately viewing something as offensive is not enough. We must view it primarily as offending God. Righteous anger throbs with Kingdom concerns.
3. Righteous Anger is Accompanied by Other Godly Qualities and Expresses Itself in Godly Ways – Righteous anger remains self controlled. It keeps its head without cursing, screaming, raging, or flying off the handle. Nor does it spiral downward in self-pity or despair. It does not ignore people, snub people, or withdraw from people. Instead, righteous anger carries with it the twin qualities of confidence and self-control. Christlike anger is not all-consuming and myopic but channeled to sober, earnest ends. Godly strains of mourning, comfort, joy, praise, and action balance it. . . . Rather than keeping us from carrying out God’s call, righteous anger leads to godly expressions of worship, ministry, and obedience. It shows concern for the well-being of others. It rises in defense of oppressed people. It seeks justice for victims. It rebukes transgressors. Godly anger confronts evil and calls for repentance and restoration.
Unrighteous anger is rooted in the heart. It is a symptom of something wrong in the heart. When the Bible speaks of the heart it is referring to our innermost being. The heart is the center of who we are. Salvation is aimed at the heart, the core of our being (Romans 10:9-10). Because of the importance of our hearts the Bible states we should guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).
The apostle James speaks about unrighteous anger in his epistle. He states unrighteous anger is a product of a self-centered fleshly heart. He also is inspired to give us the solution to the anger problem. Let’s look at what he says:
James 4:1-12 - Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. 11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
Unrighteous anger is the product of self-centered carnal lusts gone wild (4:1-2). What does James tell us about anger? Here James talks about “ward and fights,” which are refer to divisions in the church which are a product of anger (4:1a). We know this is unrighteous anger because of what James attributes these hostilities to, “Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (4:1b). He goes on to say, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war.” (4:2a). Desires for pleasure, lust, murder, coveting, fighting and warring are all works of the flesh and in particular the consequence of unrighteous anger.
Unrighteous anger is a byproduct of prayerlessness or at best carnal praying (4:3). At the end of verse 2 James alludes to their actions being prayerless, (“You do not have because you do not ask.”) Anger is a byproduct of prayerlessness. He adds that when they do include prayer in their actions that it is wrongly motivated prayer. He says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (4:3). Again, even their prayers are self-centered and sinful. And this is evidence of a deeper problem.
Unrighteous anger is caused by spiritual adultery/idolatry (4:3-4). Their prayerlessness indicates they don’t care what God says about what they want or they know what they want is wrong and God wouldn’t approve so they don’t involve Him in the decision to seek it, or they are just so distracted by what they want that they fail to factor God into the equation. The Bible calls a fool someone who fails to factor God into their life equation (Psalm 14). That is how these angry people are acting. In verse 4 James calls his readers “Adulterers and adulteresses!” He’s not talking here about people who are unfaithful in their marriages as much as he is speaking about people who are committing spiritual adultery. Spiritual adultery is being unfaithful to God. It is being so consumed with something in this world that it becomes an idol that you will do anything to get and serve. James is very clear in his response. He says, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
Unrighteous anger grieves the Spirit (4:5, 11-12). James then points out that the Holy Spirit is jealous for their attention (4:5). God alone is worthy of our worship and adoring attention, nothing or no one else (Revelation 4:11). The jealousy of the Spirit is holy jealousy, a desire to commune and have a loving relationship with us. It grieves Him to see His people fighting and raging against one another when they should be uniting in fellowship with Him (Ephesians 4:32).
Unrighteous anger also grieves the Holy Spirit and God because it is the cause of numerous other offenses and sins. James mentions speaking evil of one another and proudly judging one another as if they were God. This is a grievous offense to a Holy God and needs to be repented of. “There is only one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (4:11-12).
And we might add here that unrighteous anger leads to actions that are unChristlike and therefore do not glorify God. In fact unrighteous angry actions dishonor God and give His enemies ammunition to discredit God and His people. When you, an ambassador of Christ, act in an angry unholy way, it gives the sinner and Satan reason to discount you, the message entrusted to you by God, and even God Himself. So serious is this that Moses was kept from the Promised Land because of his outburst of unrighteous anger (Numbers 20).
Unrighteous anger is solved when we humble ourselves before God and receive His enabling grace (4:6-8a). James points out the solution to the anger problem, “But He gives more grace.” (4:6). God has what we need to deal with unrighteous anger; it is called enabling grace’ grace that enables us to deal with life problems. But such grace is reserved only for those willing to humble themselves before God. You have to leave your proud excuses and rationalizations behind and “Therefore submit to God” (4:7a). Satan wants you to remain angry and proud but we need to resist him. If we do James promises “he will flee from you” (4:7b). James then points out an even greater incentive saying, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (4:8a). God is there and ready for the repentant sinner to be reconciled to Him.
Unrighteous anger is solved by drawing near to God in sincere repentance (4:8-10). Verses 8-10 are a description of genuine and true heartfelt repentance. If we want God’s grace to help us deal with our anger, we have to see it for what it is, sin. That is why James exhorts and calls the people to “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (4:8b). James then exclaims, “Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom” (4:9). Why? Because they have neglected their relationship with God. They have been tools of the devil. They have acted in an unloving ungodly way. They have offended Almighty God! But if they realize all of this and humble themselves before God He will restore them; He will lift them up again.
Robert D. Jones goes on to sight from another source seven questions that help to determine if anger is righteous or not. These questions are:
1. Do you get angry about the right things?
2. Do you express your anger in the right way?
3. How long does your anger last?
4. How controlled is your anger?
5. What motivates your anger?
6. Is your anger “primed and ready” to respond to another person’s habitual sins?
7. What is the effect of you anger? [i]
So were the angry actions of Dinah’s brothers rooted in righteous or unrighteous anger? There definitely was a situation where Dinah had been sinfully violated. But there is no evidence or hint that Simeon and Levi killed the men of Shechem because they were acting righteously on behalf of God. God had not instructed them to act in such a way. And their actions were anything but holy. They didn’t pray or consult their father Jacob. They used deception (an instrument of the devil – John 8:44). They used the holy rite of circumcision to incapacitate their victims (34:25). They acted with cruelty and plundered the city to their own advantage and profit (34:26-29). And Jacob finally states, “You have troubled me . . .” (34:30). In light of all this it is safe to say that Simeon and Levi acted in unrighteous sinful anger. These unrighteously angry actions were raging overkill.
As justified as the Simeon and Levi must have felt they were in killing the men of Shechem, Jacob held them to a higher standard. He knew their angry response was not righteous. Jacob reasoned with them that their actions ruined his testimony with the other peoples of the land. The point here is that resistance to the revival that would come in Genesis 35 included resistance from inside Jacob’s own family. Jacob’s sons were harsh and took things into their own hands. They were right in rescuing Dinah but dead wrong in stepping over the line of their premeditated plan to murder the men of Shechem. And Jacob did not mince words in telling them that. He told them of the repercussions that the actions of his sons could lead to. Jacob would soon show his sons a more excellent way of living, the way of personal revival.
That Jacob held those around him to a higher standard is further evidence that he was sincere about what had happened to him earlier. Now Jacob would seek to lead his entire family to the altar of personal revival.
Revival – Genesis 35
Before we consider the way of personal revival as depicted in Genesis 35, let’s pause and consider just what revival is all about. Revivals do not occur in broad general terms, they start with individuals. God works on a heart and then He moves to hearts. When we pray for a revival, we need to do what another teacher on revival has said, and that is to draw a circle around ourselves and start praying for the person inside that circle. We need a personal revival before we can have a national revival! This study is The Way to Personal Revival. It is my prayer that God would refresh us and do a mighty work in and through us that would impact us personal as individuals, and in our families, neighborhoods, communities, workplaces, cities, states, regions, and nation, all for the glory of God. That’s what we need, that’s what this world needs. God may it be according to Your will and power.
What is a Revival?
What is revival? Is it something that only happened with enthusiastic people of the past? Is it when people put up a tent and have special outdoor meetings? Does everyone need a revival? When does a person need a revival in their lives? These and perhaps a few more, are some questions the Lord has directed me to address in this message.
Revival is a work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of a people. A revival is a re-sensitizing and softening of the heart. A revival is a refreshing of the Holy Spirit. Greg Laurie describes revival this way:
“The word ‘revival’ means ‘to restore to one’s original condition,’ to get back to the way that you used to be.’ And so when God speaks of revival He’s speaking to His own people and He’s saying that we should get back to that walk with Him that we may have had at an earlier time in our lives . . . . Revival is not something that just happens across the board, it’s something that happens in an individual’s life. We can pray, ‘Oh Lord send an awakening, send a revival!’ But it starts with me. It starts with you . . . . We need to get back to the time honored, God-tested, tried and true message of the Bible . . . . God has told us how to live.” – Greg Laurie in What is Revival? (WFT tape #G381)
Here are some other descriptions of revival:
· Charles Finney - Revival is a renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one's will to God in deep humility.
· Del Fehsenfield Jr. - Revival awakens in our hearts an increased awareness of the presence of God, a new love for God, a new hatred for sin, and a hunger for His Word. . . . Revival is not just evangelism, excitement, or emotionalism. It is the extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit! . . . Revival, no matter how great or small in its ultimate scope, always begins with individual believers whose hearts are desperate for God, and who are willing to pay the price to meet Him. . . . Revival is the moving of God's Spirit, through the power of His Word, to the hearts of His children, that resurrects to new life those areas which have been lying stagnant, dormant, or out of balance, and that results in new love and obedience to Jesus Christ. . . . Nothing short of an outpouring of God's Spirit will revitalize and empower an impotent and anemic church to display once again His glory to a lost world.
· G. Campbell Morgan - We cannot organize revival, but we can set our sails to catch the wind from Heaven when God chooses to blow upon His people once again
· Leonard Ravenhill - Revival is when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that He shows Himself.
· Stephen Olford - Whether it be in the personal life, or in the church life, or on the mission field, we need revival--we need revival urgently--we need revival desperately! . . . Revival is the manifestation of the glory, power, and blessing of the Son of God among His people. . . . Revival is ultimately Christ Himself, seen, felt, heard, living, active, moving in and through His body on earth. . . . Revival is not some emotion or worked-up excitement; it is rather an invasion from heaven which brings to man a conscious awareness of God. . . . Revival is that strange and sovereign work of God in which He visits His own people--restoring, reanimating, and releasing them into the fullness of His blessing. . . . When God breaks into a life or a community, nothing else matters save the person of Jesus, the glory of Jesus, the name of Jesus. . . . Will you pray 'Revive me!' and then open your being to the Spirit of Revival? Do not rest until you have been restored to the fullness of the blessing that God is waiting to pour out in your life!
· Vance Havner - Revival is falling in love with Jesus all over again.
When is a Revival Needed?
Generally speaking, a revival is needed when the church, (the people in it), has become ineffective, weakened, or run down in its ministry to the world. This may be the result of depending too much on self and not enough on the empowerment of the Spirit. This may be the result of a lack of faith. It may be the result of heresy in the church. It may be the result of sexual immorality or compromise of various kinds that have crept into the church. It may be the result of carnality and division in the church.
Revival is needed when the heart of believers has become hardened or dulled. Like an ax that becomes dulled from use and must be re-sharpened, the dulled heart must be repaired too.
A revival is a re-breaking of the heart by the Holy Spirit.
· Psalm 34:18 - The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
· Psalm 51:17 - The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
· 1 Peter 5:5b-6 - . . . Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, (See also revival under Josiah in 2 Kings 22:18-20)
Revival is needed when troubles are weighing heavy on the hearts of believers. At Pentecost the believers who had been obediently waiting in prayer for the empowering of the Holy Spirit referred to by Jesus (Acts 1:4-5,8), were empowered in answer to their prayer in accord with the promise of God (Acts 2). 3,000 were saved on that day (Acts 2:41). Those who were saved were “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Of these newly empowered believers that started up the early church it states, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). The Lord was performing miracles through Peter and John and opening doors to preach the gospel (Acts 3). The church grew to 5,000 (Acts 4:3-4).
But where the gospel goes forth and ministry is done, you can always expect opposition from the enemy. Peter and John were opposed by the religious Jews, (the same ones who had played a major role in crucifying Jesus) and forbidden to preach Jesus any longer but Peter and John kept on preaching (Acts 4:1-22). But this was the first of many persecutions of the early believers (Acts 5:40-41; 6:8-15; 7:1-60; 8:3-4; 9:31; 11:19-21; 13:45-51; 14:19-22; 16:16-40; 17:13; 20:17-24; 21:10-14; 22:19-20). Such persistent persecution could have quenched a people if they depended on their own strength. Opposition and persecution weigh heavy on those who are the objects of it. But the Lord can use such things.
When they returned to the brethren and told them how God had worked, the assembly worshipped the Lord (Acts 4:23-28). And as they prayed the Bible states:
· Acts 4:23-31 - 23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
As the last verse in this passage shows, those who had been empowered at Pentecost, but who had experienced opposition and persecution, were refreshed or revived by the Holy Spirit.
Who Gives a Revival?
Revivals come from God. The Psalmist repeatedly calls on God for revival:
· Psalm 85:6 - Will You not revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You?
- Psalm 71:20 - You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, Shall revive me again, And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
- Psalm 119:25 - My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word.
- Psalm 119:37 - Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.
- Psalm 119:40 - Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me in Your righteousness.
- Psalm 119:88 - Revive me according to Your lovingkindness, So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
- Psalm 119:107 - I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.
- Psalm 119:149 - Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; O Lord, revive me according to Your justice.
- Psalm 119:154 - Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word.
- Psalm 119:156 - Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord; Revive me according to Your judgments.
- Psalm 119:159 - Consider how I love Your precepts; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.
- Psalm 138:7 - Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.
- Psalm 143:11 - Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake! For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
Where Do Revivals Begin?
Revivals begin in the hearts of God’s people. The Bible states:
· 2 Chronicles 7:14 - 14 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.
“My people” or the people of God are the ones who need to humble themselves and pray and seek the face of God. Andrew Bonar, a revivalist stated:
Revivals begin with God's own people; the Holy Spirit touches their heart anew, and gives them new fervor and compassion, and zeal, new light and life, and when He has thus come to you, He next goes forth to the valley of dry bones…Oh, what responsibility this lays on the Church of God! If you grieve Him away from yourselves, or hinder His visit, then the poor perishing world suffers sorely!
Prayer is Integral to Revival
The above verses say revival will come when God’s people, “humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, . . .” Prayer is integral to revival. Lewis Drummond stated:
An awakening is ready to burst on the dismal scene when Christians have a deep, profound Spirit of prayer for an awakening.
The recently deceased Stephen Olford once wrote:
The people of God in America are doing everything today except praying! We can plan programs, promote rallies, raise money, exalt personalities, play softball, swallow goldfish, and many other 'good things' with the best of the them, but we can't get the people of God to attend real prayer meetings.
If we want revival, we must pray for it.
What does a Revival look like?
Oswald Smith described the Irish revival of 1859 in the following way:
. . . people became so weak that they could not get back to their homes. Men and women would fall by the wayside and would be found hours later pleading with God to save their souls. They felt that they were slipping into hell and that nothing else in life mattered but to get right with God... To them eternity meant everything. Nothing else was of any consequence. They felt that if God did not have mercy on them and save them, they were doomed for all time to come.
The following is a summary of what happened in the classic 1904 Welch Revival:
Souls were saved, individual lives were changed and Society itself was changed. . . .
Countless numbers of souls were saved. No records were kept of the actual number converted, but 150,000 is a very conservative estimate during the first six months.
Wales again became a God-fearing nation. People, thousands of them, were saved. There are men and women still in our churches today whose parents or grandparents' testimonies were that they were converted in the Revival in 1904 or 1905. . . .
Not only were individual lives changed by the power of the Holy Spirit, but whole communities were changed indeed society itself was changed - Wales was again a God-fearing nation. . . . Public [drinking] houses [or bars] became empty. Men and women who used to waste their money in getting drunk were now saving it, giving it to help their churches, buying clothes and food for their families. And not only drunkenness, but stealing and other offences grew less and less so that often a magistrate came to court and found there were no cases for him. . . . Men whose language had been filthy before learnt to talk purely. . . . with the sounds of prayer and hymns, instead of oaths and nasty jokes and gossip. . . . People who had been careless about paying their bills, or paying back money they had borrowed, paid up all they owed. People who had not been friends for a long time because of something that had happened in the past, forgot their quarrels and were happy together again. In fact, Evan Roberts used to say that there could be no blessing on anyone who had unkind thoughts about anyone else.
What Prevents a Revival?
A lack of obedience to God prevents revival. A.W. Tozer wrote:
Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late - and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.
A lukewarm lackadaisical attitude toward God prevents revival. Andrew Murray once wrote:
We must not be satisfied with a feeble life, but must seek for an abundant life. We must surrender ourselves entirely, that the Spirit may take full possession of us, so manifesting that life in us that there may come an entire transformation in our spiritual being, by which the complete mastery of Christ and the Spirit is recognized. . . . A true revival means nothing less than a revolution, casting out the spirit of worldliness and selfishness, and making God and His love triumph in the heart and life. . . . May it not be that the formality, the lukewarmness and worldliness, the self and pleasure-seeking, which marks the great majority of our professing Christians, are being looked upon by God as 'wicked abominations' in His house, while we have very little conception of their evil? . . . Men ought to seek with their whole hearts to be filled with the Spirit of God. Without being filled with the Spirit, it is utterly impossible that an individual Christian or a church can ever live or work as God desires.
A lack of holiness, compromise and rationalizing with sin prevents revival. Charles Haddon Spurgeon stated:
If Christ has died for me--ungodly as I am, without strength as I am--then I can no longer live in sin, but must arouse myself to love and serve Him who has redeemed me. I cannot trifle with the evil that killed my best Friend. I must be holy for his sake. How can I live in sin when He has died to save me from it?
The Bible says:
· 1 Peter 1:15-16 - 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Holiness is not optional; it is something God wants and yes, demands for us.
How Can We Experience Personal Revival?
Genesis is the book of beginnings. Everything starts in the book of Genesis. The first revival is found in the book of Genesis in chapter 35. In scripture there is a principle of first mention, which means the first mention of something sets the standard or foundation of a definition. If we want to know how to experience a revival the first place we should look is the first place it occurs. That means we should go to Genesis 35.
Jacob is the main human character in this first revival. He is the perfect person to be revived because he had a history of relying on himself (on his flesh or carnal nature). His very name means “heel catcher,” or one who grabs. Jacob was one of a pair of twins born to Isaac (who was himself a miracle baby). A prophecy foretold that Jacob the younger would rule over Esau the older and the two would be at odds with one another (Genesis25: 19-26). Early in their lives Jacob manipulated his way into getting Esau’s birthright (Genesis 25:27-34) and stealing his father Isaac’s blessing (Genesis 27). This created hatred in Esau for Jacob and Jacob actually had to flee for his life (Genesis 27:41-46). On his journey God spoke to Jacob in a dream and Jacob, the fleshly man, responded with offering God a conditional vow (Genesis 28). You don’t put conditions on God. But that is the way Jacob the grasper was, he was always looking to get something for himself. He met his match in Laban who would become his father in law. Laban outwitted him as Jacob served 14 years to secure Rachel as his wife and got her sister Leah too in the transaction (Genesis 29). Family life for Jacob and his two wives was contemptuous since the two wives competed for Jacob’s favor. Jacob’s family grew and eventually had to leave Laban’s territory when conflict arose (Genesis 31). Jacob left Laban on bad terms. As Jacob went on his way he heard that Esau was ahead of him and he feared greatly. He responded to this situation by first strategizing to appease Esau with goods he sent on ahead but then God met him in the night and he had a wrestling match with the LORD. The result of Jacob’s struggle with God was God blessed him with a wound that would cause him to always trust God as His Lord (Genesis 32). This was a pivotal and life changing event in Jacob. When Jacob met Esau he humbled himself before him and the two brothers reconciled (Genesis 33). Jacob finally had some peace in his life until his daughter Dinah was raped by a neighborhood boy Shechem. This led to her brother’s vengeful murder and plundering of the Shechem and his entire family and the city where they lived which was a cause of great grief to Jacob (Genesis 34). This then leads us to the chapter where we find the first revival.
How can we experience personal revival?
First, realize God initiates revival. Genesis 35 begins with the words, “then God said to Jacob” (35:1a). God saw the need for revival in Jacob’s life and God took the initiative to speak to Him about it. God usually begins to revive a people by speaking to them, burdening their heart and convicting them of their need of revival. The apostle Paul stated:
· 1 Corinthians 15:10 - 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
· Philippians 2:12-13 - 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
And so revival is a gracious work of God in us. (See also Acts 15:8-9).
Second, realize revival involves God reminding us of where we once were (35:1b). God said to Jacob:
· Genesis 35:1 - Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”
In Genesis 34 Jacob’s sons had just wiped out a city in anger over the rape of Dinah. Jacob needed God to remind him of a time when he was close to God. “Bethel” means literally “house of God.” This was the place the Lord first met with Jacob. The LORD reminded Jacob of the words He gave to him when he first was fleeing from Esau. What were those words? At Bethel the LORD said:
· Genesis 28:12-15 - 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
These are words of grace because God is stating He gives the land to Jacob (28:13). They are words of promise as God promises growth and that He would use Jacob to bless others (28:14). They are words of protection as God promises to keep Jacob and not leave him until all God purposed to do was completed (28:15). These are the words God wanted to remind Jacob about.
The Bible says:
· Romans 10:9-10 - 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
When you were saved you proclaimed Jesus as your Lord. Is He still your Lord? Have you slowly or rebelliously taken back some of the things you once gave Him control of? Maybe you need to go to Him in prayer and return that which you’ve taken back. And maybe you need to ask Him to search you deeper for areas that need to be surrendered to His Lordship. Is He your “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”? (See Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 19:16). If you are further not nearer to the Lord today than you once were, you are what the Bible refers to as a backslider (Jeremiah 3:6-15). God will heal your backslidden ways if you return to Him (Hosea 14:4). We need to return to our first love (Revelation 2:1-7).
Third, realize revivals often work through a person chosen by God who acts on God’s word (35:2a). The account goes on to say, “And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, . . .” Jacob acted on what God had conveyed to Him. God moved on Jacob’s heart and he passed on to others what the Lord had put on his heart. Revivals are quenched by those who keep what God conveys to them to themselves. If God gives a word, he desires us to share it! (Jeremiah 20:9; Galatians 6:2). The Bible is filled with God’s call to share His word with others and that is especially true in revival settings (1 Peter 3:15). It may be a testimony of what God has done in your life or a scripture He has put on your heart, an answered prayer, God can use such things to spark a revival. We need to exert a bit of caution here though. We shouldn’t feel like we have to say something; don’t use such a time to voice a pet peeve or gripe. We need to listen to the Lord and only speak if He directs you to do so (Acts 4:8f., 31; 13:9f.; James 1:19-20; 1 Peter 4:11).
Fourth, realize revivals involve holiness, a willingness to forsake anything and everything that is not pleasing to God (35:2b). Genesis 35:2 states:
· Genesis 35:2 - 2 And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments.
We need to be willing to ferret out sin in our hearts and lives. We need to be willing to forsake and throw away anything that jeopardizes our walk wit h the Lord (Galatians 2:20). The Bible states:
· Psalm 66:18 - If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.
Hearts are dulled and desensitized to the Spirit when sin, fleshly attitudes, worldly distractions are allowed to muddle up one’s heart before God. We need to clean house before the Lord. We need to ask God to search us as the Scripture says:
· Psalm 139:23-24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;24 And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. (See also Jeremiah 4:3-4)
The missionary Jonathan Goforth stated:
If revival is being withheld from us it is because some idol remains still enthroned; because we still insist in placing our reliance in human schemes; because we still refuse to face the unchangeable truth that, 'It is not by might, but by My Spirit.'
Surrender and lay yourself bare before God and seek His holy gaze upon you and then respond to His conviction with repentance and forsaking whatever thing He points to in your life and heart. Someone sent me a story about a Haitian pastor who shared a powerful life principle about the need to let God do a thorough work in us. The pastor recounted:
A certain man wanted to sell his house for two thousand dollars. Another man wanted very badly to buy it but couldn't afford the full price the owner was asking. After much bargaining however, he agreed to sell the house to the poor man for half the original price -- along with just one stipulation: He would retain ownership of one small nail protruding from just over the door.
After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So the first owner went out, found the carcass of a dead dog and hung it from the single nail he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail.
The Haitian pastor concluded that "If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ's habitation."
The devil has only come to steal, kill and destroy. He can be very crafty and he would love nothing more than to steal from us our very inhabitance in the Lord. Let's ask the Lord to reveal any pegs we may be leaving for the devil today and take back all that belongs to us in Jesus!
We need to seek for God to do a thorough work in us. This work must be along the lines of Paul’s words to the Thessalonians where he was inspired to write:
· 1 Thessalonians 5:22-25 - 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 25 Brethren, pray for us.
We need to be wholly and totally surrendered to God (Romans 12:1-2). God is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all. Give Him your all.
Fifth, realize revivals involve taking action on God’s word (35:3-4). Jacob and his family took action; they obeyed the word of the Lord. It states:
· Genesis 35:3-4 - 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.” 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.
Jesus said the one who truly loved Him was the one who was obedient to Him (John 14:21, 23). Do you love Jesus enough to obey Him? (Matthew 7:21-28; James 1:22-24).
Sixth, realize revivals result in God’s protection (35:5). It states:
· Genesis 35:5 - 5 And they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.
Revivals lead to the protection of God over His people. He puts a holy awe on even the secular onlookers. Often so-called “revivals” are more a circus and source of curiosity than an exalting of Jesus. The presence of God was such that no one dare come against Jacob and his people. If someone has been persecuting you or falsely accusing you or on the attack against you, rests in God, put your trust in Him as your Protector (see Psalm 4:8; 11; 59; 121; 124; 139:10). The Scripture states:
· Isaiah 41:10 - Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
· Isaiah 54:17 - No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.
· Isaiah 59:19 - So shall they fear The name of the Lord from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.
God is better able to defend us and His church against enemies than we are or any other earthly person is. (E.g. Acts 5 and Ananias and Sapphira; Paul and the sorcerer in Acts 13:6-11).
John Wesley used to say:
Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen; they alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.
Seventh, realize revivals result in a focus on God (35:6-7). Jacob moved from merely remembering that holy place by giving it the name of “Bethel” (i.e. “house of God”) to focusing on “El Bethel,” or the God of the house of God. Revivals are not wrought by focusing on the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is working and bringing revival the focus is on Jesus. Jesus said:
· John 15:26 - 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
Jesus said, “He will testify of Me.” When the Holy Spirit comes upon a people in revival, the focus is on JESUS. In a genuine revival the focus is on Jesus, not any other human leader or even the Holy Spirit Himself; it is on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2; 13:5).
Eighth, realize revivals may involve weeping (35:8). Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse died and the place where they lay her was then called “the oak of weeping.” Revivals sometimes come to prepare us for a loss (see Death of Rachel in 35:16-29). Sometimes a loss occurs in the midst of a revival. But weeping shows a willingness to allow our emotions out. People are often reserved or embarrassed to let their emotions out. Sometimes the keeping in of emotions is a sign of pride. In humility and humble (not prideful show) we should let our emotions out before the Lord. (See Psalm 30:4-5).
Leonard Ravenhill wrote:
I read of the revivals of the past, great sweeping revivals where thousands of men were swept into the Kingdom of God. I read about Charles G. Finney winning his thousands and his hundreds of thousands of souls to Christ. Then I picked up a book and read the messages of Charles G. Finney and the message of Jonathan Edwards on 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,' and I said, 'No wonder men trembled; no wonder they fell in the altars and cried out in repentance and sobbed their way to the throne of grace!'
But a revival is not based on emotion; emotion is an honest bi-product of it. Stephen Olford wrote:
Revival is not some emotion or worked-up excitement; it is rather an invasion from heaven which brings to man a conscious awareness of God.
Ted Rendall adds:
Perhaps the greatest barrier to revival on a large scale is the fact that we are too interested in a great display. We want an exhibition; God is looking for a man who will throw himself entirely on God. Whenever self-effort, self-glory, self-seeking or self-promotion enters into the work of revival, and then God leaves us to ourselves.
When was the last time you shed a tear before the Lord? In humility (not prideful show) we should let our emotions out before the Lord (See Psalm 30:4-5; Hebrews 12:12-17; James 4:7-10).
Ninth, realize revival leads to insight and greater perception of God and our relationship to Him (35:9-11). It states:
· Genesis 35:9-11a - 9 Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel. 11 Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. . . .
Jacob the heel-catcher or selfish grabber was transformed to “Israel” or “one governed by God” one who served God as LORD. Revival brings us back to our best time with God and then brings us even deeper as God works in us a greater capacity to know Him on a deeper level. We need to draw near to God (Psalm 73:28; James 4:8). This is a work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-14).
Often a revival begins with the Lord bringing a portion of scripture to mind in the one he is using to initiate the revival. For instance of one is seeking the Lord’s help in a situation where they are being attacked in some way, the Lord may give them a verse such as:
· Psalm 86:17 - Show me a sign for good, That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Or He might give a verse that directs the person on how they should respond to the offender such as:
· Proverbs 19:11 - The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.
Revivals are started by God pointing us to His word and speaking to us from it by the Spirit (e.g. 1 Thessalonians 2:13). If we are going to be revived we need to prayerfully listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us through His written word the Bible. We need to get to the point where like Jeremiah we say:
· Jeremiah 15:16 - Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.
Is God’s word a source of joy to you? If not, you need reviving. Seek the Lord and ask Him to rekindle a joy for His word. .
Tenth, realize revival leads to memorable fruitfulness and blessing (35:11b-14). It states:
· Genesis 35:11-14 - 11 Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. 12 The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.” 13 Then God went up from him in the place where He talked with him. 14 So Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it.
God revived Jacob and sent him out to be “fruitful and multiply.” And after God left him, he erected a stone pillar, a lasting symbol to remind him of this special time. Then Jacob poured out a drink offering. The idea of a drink offering being poured out is similar to the idea of “pouring out your heart” to someone. You have to be willing to empty yourself before the Lord before you can be fully filled with the Holy Spirit. You have to be willing to fully surrender all to God; all your cares; all your distractions; anything that would be a hindrance between you and God. Then you are ready to receive the full outpouring of the Spirit. And that is the sequence we see here. It goes on to state that Jacob “poured oil on it. “ Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in scripture (Zechariah 4). Are you poured out before the Lord? Are you empty of yourself and full of the Lord? Are you spiritually fruitful? Are you growing in your relationship with Jesus? Are you being used by Him in some way? Are you involved in His ministry, in His church? We are fruitful when we abide in Jesus (John 15). When the Holy Spirit is at work He bears fruit in us (Galatians 5:22-25) and through us (Colossians 1:9-12). Revival is a work of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible states:
· Romans 8:14-17 - 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
· Romans 8:26-28 - 26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Revival is a work of the Spirit but that does not mean the focus is on Him. When the Holy Spirit is working He points us to Jesus. We can measure the extent to which a work is of the Spirit by the degree the focus and glory of it goes to Jesus. This is what Jesus taught when He said:
· John 14:26 - 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
· John 15:26 - 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.
· Acts 1:8 - 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Personal revival is what we need. A personal return to the Lord; personally going deeper with the Lord is what we all need. The first revival can happen here with us, in you and me. Are we willing and hungry enough to seek it? Is it important enough for us to request it obediently from the Lord?
Revival is there for those willing to pay the price, count the cost, and fully surrender to Him and walk in the ways He tells us to. Will we do it? Will you do it? Time will tell.
Charles H. Spurgeon - Oh! men and brethren, what would this heart feel if I could but believe that there were some among you who would go home and pray for a revival - men whose faith is large enough, and their love fiery enough to lead them from this moment to exercise unceasing intercessions that God would appear among us and do wondrous things here, as in the times of former generations.
· Revelation 3:20 - 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
The Lord tells us in His word to REVIEW where we are with Him:
· 2 Corinthians 13:5 - 5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
The Lord tells us to REMEMBER where we once were with Him:
· Revelation 2:4-5 - 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
The Lord tells us to REPENT and turn back to where we should be:
· 2 Chronicles 7:14 - 14 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.
And the Lord tells us to REPEAT what we once did when we were right with Him and move on deeper and higher in our relationship with Him:
Jeremiah 6:16 - 16 Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
 E.M. Bounds, Purpose in Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 1978 edition of book originally published in 1920, Page 95
 E.M. Bounds, Purpose in Prayer (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 1978 edition of book originally published in 1920, Pages 102-103
[i] Robert D. Jones, Uprooting Anger (Phillipsburg, New jersey: P&R Publishing) 2005. Pages 29-30.