Prepare for Revival- Isaiah 57:14-15
We as churches often hold “revivals”. We realize that God alone can bring revival, that it is not something that can be “scheduled”. We also realize that God desires revival, He desires to revive His people and His church. So is there anything we as a church can do to bring about revival? We will examine a passage in the book of Isaiah to find an answer to this question. We will now turn to Isaiah 57:14-15. In verse 15, we find God promising to revive His people, but in verse 14, we find that God lays out certain conditions which must be met first in order for this revival to come about, conditions needed to be met in order to “prepare the way” (verse 14). God alone brings revival, and we find here that our role in bringing revival is to prepare the way. We will now look more closely at this passage to see just what this means and what we are to do. Isaiah begins verse 14 by stating “He will say”, with the “he” here being rather vague in Hebrew (why the NIV translates as “It will be said”). What is important is not who the speaker is but what is said. What is said is to “build up, build up, prepare the way”. The Hebrew word “build up” here is calal, literally “to exalt or lift up”. The path to bringing revival begins in exalting God, putting Him in His proper place, accepting and embracing the fact that He is God and we are not. We are then commanded to prepare the road. It is here that we must recognize that this passage is written as poetry, and “preparing the road” here is imagery and has nothing to do with construction. The Hebrew word “prepare’ here is panah, to “turn back or turn toward”, and the basic idea here is one of repentance, of a turning around to head in the opposite direction. We then find that this repentance is to be in two areas. The first is expressed in the Hebrew word derek, translated as “way” and used poetically here to refer to our “walk” our way of life, our behavior or lifestyle. This is also expressed in the parallel expression to “remove the obstacles”, literally “stumbling blocks”, those things in our lives which cause us to lose our way, to wander off the path. Repentance is thus first expressed here as a change of behavior, as a putting off of sinful ways of behaving, as a turning back toward God and away from all of our wanderings. As we proceed to verse 15, we find God here speaking directly and plainly, and giving us the second way in which we must repent in preparation for revival. He refers to Himself here as the “high and exalted one” in language identical to Isaiah 6:1. He is the “one who inhabits eternity”, the one whose “name is perfectly holy”, the one who “dwells in a high and holy place”. Our second form of repentance then is not of behavior, but of mindset and attitude. We must see God as the “high and exalted one” and treat Him as such, we must live in light of this reality. He is all of the above and more. He is not the “big guy” or the “man upstairs”, He is the holy, sovereign creator of everyone and everything, and we must first see Him as such if we are to live in proper reverence toward Him. We are then told that God not only dwells in eternity but also in those who are “contrite” and “lowly of spirit”. The Hebrew contrite here is dakka, literally “crushed or broken”, and refers to those who are crushed and broken over their own stumblings and shortcomings. The Hebrew lowly here is shaphal, literally “humble”, and refers to those who see who they are in the light of who God is, who realize that He is God and they are not, and earnestly endeavor to live in accordance with this realization. This is the description of the state of mind of those who have repented as God desires and describes in verse 14, and this passage then concludes with God’s promise to revive the contrite and humble, to bring revival to the hearts and lives of those who “prepare”, to all who earnestly desire to repent of their sin, to repent of their misunderstandings about God and who he is, to all who are crushed and broken by their shortcomings and sin, to all who will humble themselves before God and submit all of themselves to Him. This is God’s means of preparing for revival. May all of His people take this to heart and commit to do all that is necessary to bring revival to their own hearts and lives, and to God’s church all over the world.