The Inside Workings of Revival

The other day I heard of a party of tourists who thought to spend a brief holiday in “seeing” the Welsh Revival. Having arrived at the Cardiff station, they sallied forth to see the sights. Alas! they were doomed to disappointment. There were plenty of people about, it is true; but instead of seeing a revival orator, preaching to enthusiastic multitudes at the street corner—as their imagination had pictured—each and all were on business bent as usual. They sought out several chapels, only to find all silent and the front gates locked. At last, espying a police constable, they resolved to apply to him.

“Policeman,” said the spokesman of the party, can you tell us of anywhere where the Revival is going on?”

At this the big, burly man drew himself up, and bringing his hand down on his chest with a heavy thud, said, “In here!”

Are you praying and waiting for a revival in your neighbourhood and district?

Pray on! But meanwhile, why not let operations commence within? Remember, the outward manifestations of revival are one thing, the inside working of it is quite another.

From the history of Hezekiah, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 29 and 30, we may gather some idea of its practical bearings.

Confession

was the first step that Hezekiah took. Read verses 5 to 9 of chapter 29 and see the remarkably correct and candid estimate he formed of their condition before God.

Self-occupation is a great affliction whatever shape it may assume; but at the same time, it is absolutely imperative that we should form a calm and impartial estimate in God’s presence of our own spiritual condition.

Mark, I do not say that you must correctly estimate the condition of those Christians with whom you meet, or to whom you belong, but your own spiritual condition. Do not attempt to form your estimate when on your feet preaching, or when talking to the girls in your Sunday-school class, or even when, at the Bible reading or lecture, your soul expands with delight at the treasures of the Word of God. Let it be away yonder in the quiet of God’s presence and in the more lowly walks of life and service that you discover what you really do know, and have got, and whether, after all, you can truly say—

Jesus, Thou art enough
The mind and heart to fill.

In Hezekiah’s day they had “turned away their faces from the habitation of the Lord,” and they had “shut up the doors of the porch” (vv. 6-7). The sun may have brightly shone without, but all was gloom within; and compared with the bright days of David and Solomon, all was confusion and worse.

That, by the way, is the proper standard by which to gauge. Compare yourself with the standard of modern Christian profession, and you may be content and self-satisfied. Compare yourself with the standard of primitive Christianity, and you will be overwhelmed with shame and confusion of face.

But to be effectual, confession must be followed by

Cleansing

Verses 12 to 19 of chapter 29 record how the cleansing operations began in the sanctuary of God, working from the innermost shrine to the outermost court, and in verse 14 of chapter 30 we find them continued throughout the whole of Jerusalem, when many a cherished altar and idol were utterly destroyed.

At this point many of us have reached a deadlock in our spiritual history: We have often made our confession to God, and many a fervent prayer for help and a higher level of Christian experience has escaped our lips; but we have not risen from our knees with a set purpose by the grace of God to put away every defiling thing.

Beloved young Christian, is there in your heart some altar erected—not to the Unknown God—but to some well-known idol, the idol of worldly pleasure, or of mammon, or even of religious ambition? Search and see, and if so, go forth in divine strength and hew down this altar in the name of the Lord.

Cleansing, however, even of the most rigorous kind, is but negative. In Hezekiah’s day they followed it up by something positive.

Consecration

followed the cleansing operations. In verse 31 of chapter 29, Hezekiah is able to say: “Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank-offerings into the house of the Lord.”

The marginal reading, “Now ye have filled your hand unto the Lord,” is very instructive here. Consecration for us implies not only that we are cleansed and set apart for God, but that our hearts and hands are filled with that which is pleasing and fragrant to God.

Notice the primary force of the word consecration is Godward. It is “unto the Lord.” If He finds pleasure and delight in seeing Christ, His well-beloved Son, reproduced in you, then yours will be “a consecrated life” in its highest sense.

Nevertheless, in a secondary way, its force is manward. They whose hands are filled as “an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ,” are also “a royal priesthood,” to “show forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” (see 1 Peter 2:5, 9). These two go hand in hand: the one is the practical proof and demonstration of the other.

To have one’s hands filled with fragrant offerings Godward, coupled with loving service man-ward, is consecration indeed.

Things worked precisely after this fashion with Hezekiah and his people. Following their consecration unto the Lord, we find in chapter 30 that in the first place they kept a passover unto the Lord, and, secondly, that they were moved to extend a helping hand to others of their less-favoured brethren, the remnant of the Ten Tribes still left in the land. And if the majority mocked at their efforts, yet the rest humbled themselves, came to Jerusalem, and shared in a time of great blessing, so much so that when they returned home they commenced cleansing operations on a larger scale and of a more thorough nature than ever. They “brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all” (chap. 31:1).

So while chapter 29 gives us revival in its inside working—confession, cleansing, and consecration, chapter 30 shows the revival in its outside power and effect—great humbling (v. 11), great unity (v. 12), and great joy (v. 26), coupled with the reaching for God of people who had been estranged from God’s sanctuary for centuries (v. 11).

Go in, therefore, for revival in your neighbourhood, dear friend, and pray on, and expect largely. Meanwhile shrink neither from heart-searchings, even deep ones, in the presence of God, nor from the relinquishing of long-cherished idols, so that with a heart truly devoted to and fragrant of Christ, you may have your hands well filled with His blessed service. Then, like the Cardiff policeman, you will be able to answer all inquiries as to where revival work is proceeding by laying your hand upon your heart and with all humility of mind, saying—“IN HERE!”

F.B.Hole

Simple Testimony 1906, p.66