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Revive Us Again

by David Johnson

IMG_0666  It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God and as we consider the truths therein and apply them to our lives. The title for the lesson is, “Revive us, Again” and the text is Psalm 85 verses one through 13. Listen to the Word of God.

You showed favor to your land, oh Lord. You restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. You set aside all of your wrath and turned from your fierce anger. Restore us again, oh God, our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us.  Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations?  Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you?  Show us your unfailing love, oh Lord, and grant us your salvation.  I will listen tow hat God the Lord will say. He promises peace to his people, his saints. But let them not return to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him that is glory may dwell in our land. Love and faithfulness meet together. Righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will, indeed, give what is good and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.  Wonderful words from the Word of God.
Revive us again, certainly we all need this from the Lord. But, of course, we need to cooperate with the Lord to truly be revived, obviously, from the inside out as God’s people. Psalm 85 is about the restoration, the revival and rejoicing regarding the past and to the hopeful future for Israel, God’s original covenant people. God judges nations and individuals, but God deeply desires to reconcile and reestablish relationship and fellowship between himself and his people. We will examine this psalm toward Israel, but also make application to America and can be made as application to any nation and any people today.

Someone has divided this song into three sections. Verses one through three as a review of God’s past grace.  Verses four through seven as a recognition of God’s present anger. And verses eight through 13 as a revelation of God’s future grace.
In verses one through three God’s grace was in Israel’s past lavished on the national and faithful Israelites. Notice the phrases. You showed favor or grace. You restored the fortunes. You forgave and covered all their sins, which implies repentance. You set aside all your wrath.  Surely a holy God could only generously give his grace, his favor due to Israel’s repentance and faith of a significant number of Israelites. God also lavished his grace and favored Israel due to his promises and because of the patriarchs of the nation of Israel, especially Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This past review of God’s grace was possibly during the time of the Jews returning and rebuilding their nation and temple after their exile in Babylon. So this prayer song praises God for restoring Israel. Obviously America is a much different nation at a different time and circumstances. However, there are some principled parallels.

We, as Americans, are certainly not a perfect people or with perfect leaders, even presidents. Do you realize that nine of our 44 United States presidents were slave holders, owned slaves? And of the nine of the 44 presidents, amazingly only one of those presidents eventually freed his slaves at his death and it was the very first president, George Washington, the only president who was a slave owner who made arrangements to have all of his slaves freed upon his death.

So we, as Americans, who are not perfect, can also review especially God’s past grace to our nation and our citizenry. We have been showered with God’s grace. Our fortunes improved dramatically after winning our independence and freedoms from England. Our nation was established as a Christian nation with many of our founding fathers and citizens as Christians based on biblical principles. Our land and people by God’s grace can be summed up by one of our patriotic hymns, which says, in part: Oh beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain.  America. America. God shed his grace on thee. And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.  That is God’s grace to us as Americans to our nation, America.

However, in Psalm 85 verses four through seven there is recognition by the psalmist of God’s present—that is, at the time that this psalm was written—of God’s present anger with Israel. Obviously, the Israelites needed restoration and revival again as they had, again, rebelled against God.  Note the phrases in Psalm 85 verses four through seven.  Restore us again. Put away your displeasure toward us. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again?  Any anger of God toward any nation, toward a people is not an impulsive emotional loss of temper by God, but, instead, is a judicial outrage because of God’s holiness, absolute holiness reacting to constant unrepentance and wickedness and rebellion toward God, which is very serious.  It was then in the past and is today in the present and will be in the future for a rebellious people of any nation.

America, by most accounts, has presently fallen into a moral downward spiral of unrepentant wickedness from legalized abortion to lethal violence on our screens and streets in a non-fashion. In our land we are now in the so called post Christian times of our nation and people. In early America one of the most famous and effective sermons that sparked great revival and spiritual awakening was entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards. And great conviction fell on thousands, perhaps tens of thousands eventually. But in present America generally speaking all across our land even from many pulpits to the pews, our people primarily seem to prefer to be showered only with positive platitudes and only with a sprinkling of Scripture without the need for repentance or revival, because it seems that most Americans seem to be smug, satisfied, spiritually, morally, ethically in our land.  And yet the violence in America is the greatest of all of the industrialized nations on this earth today.

Sermon styles change.  Society changes.  But the conviction of the Holy Spirit on sinners does not change.  In America today we all have a personal choice in any nation today. We all have a personal choice to revive or to reject godliness, to repent or to resist the Holy Spirit, to remain in a rut or to be revived, to be restored or receive Christ for the first time. Whatever our inner need is, God is in the restoration business. And we need to pray for our nation, for our people, especially leaders in high places and leaders to be in high places.

Our goal should be, according to our need, as, for example, in Psalm 85 and verse six. Will you not revive us again that your people, your people, God’s people, may rejoice in you?  How is our joy in the Lord today?  Do we need to seek God? Do we really need to seek him and surrender fully to really rejoice? Or is our need more as in Psalm 85 and verse seven. Show us your unfailing love, oh Lord, and grant us your salvation. So have you, first, received God in Christ today for salvation in repentant faith, in obedient faith, including being immersed and baptized into Christ Jesus and persevering in the faith in Christ Jesus today?

In Psalm 85 and verses eight through 13 we have God’s revelation of his future grace here for Israel. Note some key phrases. He promises peace to his people that his glory may dwell in our land.  The Lord will, indeed, give what is good and our land will yield its harvest.  And so here peace to his people Israel will come only when they receive their Messiah as a nation, when they receive Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah King, the Prince of Peace.  His glory will come when Jesus Christ returns to this earth and dwells on Mount Zion in Jerusalem to rule and to reign in perfect righteousness and justice. The golden age of Israel and the messianic, millennial kingdom and Israel will yield its harvest of souls with the final righteous remnant of Israel. And in a tremendous bounty of blessings in their land.

So are the nations, such as America, part of God’s revelation of the future? Consider Revelation chapter 21 and verse 24 that says, in part:  The nations will walk by its light. Well, what does it mean here? The nations, literally, from the original Greek means the peoples. That is, redeemed peoples here, Gentiles from every other nation, including America and from every other ethnic group which will dwell in the new Jerusalem. Then all the peoples will become God’s people, saints that have been sanctified by the blood of Christ.  And according to Revelation chapter 21 and verse 23, which says in part: The glory of God gives its light, gives the city light. That is, radiance in the company of God in his shekinah glory. And then in Revelation chapter 21 and verse 26 it says: The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. That is, all the nations, not just Israel, all of the peoples, not just Israelites, into God’s city, the new Jerusalem. Of course, only those who are under the blood of Jesus Christ, only the saved, only God’s people in the eternal city and the new earth. Evidently, there will not be Israelis or Americans, but finally all as saints, all as believers will be one as God’s people. And Revelation chapter 21 and verse three says, in part: They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God. So no more divisions or barriers or exclusions amongst God’s people.

And then the last verse, Psalm 85 and verse 13. Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps.  Jesus Christ is returning and we need to be ready and live out the admonition that Jesus gave in John chapter 14 and verse 23. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him. That must be our goal lived out in the present and, by God’s grace, to be our fabulously rewarded future through our obedient, persevering faith in Christ Jesus.

So are you ready? Are you in Christ Jesus?  You must be for all of these great promises and prophesies to God’s people to be part of your and my personal experience in Christ Jesus. And so revive us again, oh Lord.

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4