Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Be not so terribly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. Your holy cities have become a wilderness; Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised you, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins. Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD? Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?
What is revival?
There is no question that revival is a sovereign work of God. There is no question that no one can cause a revival, as a godly and powerful preacher he may be. Revivals cannot be planned. George Whitfield made thirteen trips from England to America, but only on one occasion in 1740-1742 revival break out. God knows what He is doing and He will not be cajoled or be arm-twisted to do what He does not want to do. For did we not hear the other day from the mouth of Job that He is God and His purposes cannot be thwarted?
God is not comparable with men or any of His creation. In our prayer for revival, we must always seek to maintain a clear vision of Creature-creature distinction. For ‘From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. The otherness of God is such that He is absolutely different from what we have seen and have heard and known. Paul quotes this in 1 Cor. 2:9. For indeed, natural men are not only unable to comprehend God, but also the message of the gospel. God has to reveal these things to us by His Spirit
God has hidden His face from us because of our sins. For the Lord’s hard is not shortened that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear (Isa. 59:1).
God of heaven is the Father of His people. He has loved them although they have so often proved themselves unlovable. And just as the father has no choice about loving his son, God is our Father in the sense that He has loved us in spite of ourselves. But we have to also realize that in comparison to our plight and the position of God is that of a clay and a potter – He can do with us as He wills. We are the works of His hands and so we must never ask Him what have you done? For who are you O man, to answer back to God? Will what is moulded say to its moulder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use? (Rom. 9:20-21).
Our hope is in keeping on crying to the Lord to be merciful – not to deal with us and others as we and they deserve. We must keep on pleading to the Lord to reveal Himself to us by the richness of His grace for His name’s sake. Unless the Lord save you by His grace you cannot be saved at all. For by grace are you saved through faith and this is not of yourself, lest any man may boast. Unless God reveal His favour, there is no one who can stand!
We read in the following chapter how God answers the prayer for revival. He says, “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me. I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here am I, here am I”, to a nation that was not called by my name.” We have to acknowledge that the Lord will do what He will not because of the finesse of our prayers, or anything good in us. It is all because of God. May we find favour in His sight that He may send revival in our land and in our day.
Here is a man, who having known that His only hope is in God, he turns to God in prayer. He prayed that God may rend the heavens and come down. He prayed not for small things but for the big things – things that are eternal and universal. He prayed for God to show Himself in the most wonderful way. So here is the key that the Lord has given to His people – to pray and meet Him that way in His throne of grace to find mercy and obtain grace in times of need. Aren’t we in need of spiritual awakening? We desire that God may be known, that He may be trusted and be glorified as the only God worthy of all praise.
There are people who discourage praying for revival. They think that since revival is display of the sovereignty of God in salvation, we should leave it to the discretion of God. But I suppose we can say the same for all things so that we are content to simply depend on the providence of God in all things. As much as I appreciate where they are coming from, I would say that there is a sense of hyper-Calvinism here. There is an aura of fatalism that does not auger well with the great marriage between the sovereignty of God and the human responsibility. If we pray for the conversion of sinners, we should also pray for the enmass conversion of sinners. And we should pray for believers to genuinely and sincerely live for their Saviour in a godly manner.
Apart from that, this passage tells us so boldly, that of course you should pray for revival because Isaiah prayed for it. He prayed for God to rend the heavens and come down that people may know Him and believe in Him and be saved. He prayed for God to kindle the fire and the fire causes water to boil. He prayed that God may make His name known to His adversaries. He considered the history of redemption and saw that God has come in revival and down outstanding redemptive activities and yearned for it and for more. He prayed for revival. He prayed because he looked at the environment in which he lived and was appalled, in prayer he said,
“Your holy cities have become a wilderness; Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised you, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins. Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD? Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?”
Prayer for revival is an indication of frustration of the status quo and a desire for God to show His grace and stop the human madness and perdition. God will display His mercy and grace in revival and stop sin and its misery, how can we not pray for it?
We should pray that the Lord may pour His Spirit in great measure that we may witness God setting the hearts of men on fire for God, the wood of their hearts and cause the water to boil so that there will be a genuine love for God and spiritual things. we should pray that the Lord may give the Holy Spirit to convict men of their sins so that they may repent. To convince them of the righteousness which is freely given in Christ so that they may believe in Him and be counted as righteous in the sight of God.