Most of us agree that we need revival. We need revival in our personal lives. We need revival in the church. We stand in need of a revival.
What we need to understand is that we will not have revival just because we set aside a week for meetings. We will not have revival just because we have a great preacher and some singers who come in for a few nights to minister. Genuine revival happens when God moves sovereignly among a spiritually-prepared people. These verses tell us how that can be a reality in our lives.
These verses tell us about a time of genuine revival. Isaiah is writing about the coming of the Messiah. These verses were partially fulfilled through the ministry of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:3). They will see their ultimate fulfillment when Jesus comes in His second advent, to rule as the King of Kings and set things right in the world.
While these verses are primarily about the future, they also present what we can call “a roadmap for revival.” They point out the preparations we as the church must make if we want to see the Lord move among us in a time of power, glory, and spiritual renewal.
We know that we need God to move in our lives and in our church. We want to see the blessings of verse 5. Those blessings are the blessings of revival. But, before we can live in verse 5, we must make the preparations found in verse 4. If we make these preparations, I cannot promise you that we will have revival, but I can promise you that we will make revival far more likely than it would have been otherwise. I can promise you that these preparations will form a “highway in the desert.”
So, let’s review the preparations we need to make as individuals and as a church.
I. SOME THINGS WILL HAVE TO BE LIFTED UP
A. Every valley shall be exalted. Isaiah refers to a “filling process.” A valley is “a crevice, a gutter, or a low place.” This speaks to us about the places in our lives that are lacking. We all have low spots in our walk with the Lord. We all have places that we have allowed to become hollowed out and shallow. Those places must be filled in before revival can come into our lives. These valleys go by many names:
1. For some, it is spiritual: prayer life, Bible reading, church attendance, unforgiveness, guilt, anger, self-righteousness, etc.
2. For others, it is physical: financial problems, marital issues, physical problems, the hardships of life, relationships and activities that have pulled us away from God, etc.
II. SOME THINGS WILL HAVE TO BE LOWERED
A. Every mountain and hill shall be made
low. This refers to a lowering process. A mountain
or a hill is something that stands taller than
the landscape around it.
This speaks to us about barriers or roadblocks
in our lives that have the potential to hinder
revival from coming our way. There are many
potential barriers to revival in our lives: jealousy,
lust, pride, unfaithfulness, hindering relationships,
worry, hypocrisy, disobedience to the will
of God, busyness, fear, guilt, unforgiveness, etc.
We all have mountains in our lives. We all
have attitudes, actions, and passions that need
to be brought down so God can move in as He
desires. I have noticed that when mountains are
brought down, lows places are filled in. Look at
your life today and identify those high places that
stand as barriers between you and revival.
III. SOME THINGS WILL HAVE TO BE
A. The crooked shall be made straight. This refers to getting things lined up as they should be. The word “crooked” comes from a word that means “deceitful, sly, or slippery.” It speaks of a road that is deceptive in nature.
If we want revival in our lives, we must identify those areas where we have taken the wrong road and get back on track with Him.
1. Some have gotten themselves into relationships that have led them away from God.
2. Some have allowed work, recreation, or some other pursuit to lead them away from the Lord.
3. Some have wandered down a path of self-righteousness and have come to believe that they know what’s right for everyone around them. That dangerous road should be abandoned for the straight path of humility.
4. Some are walking the crooked path of pride. They refuse to bow to the Lordship of Jesus in their lives.
We have all taken the wrong path at times.
We must abandon the “deceitful, sly, and slippery”
paths of sin, pride, self-righteousness,
and worldliness that lead to destruction and step
onto the path of submission, surrender, and obedience
to the Word and will of God.
IV. SOME THINGS WILL HAVE TO BE LEVELED
A. The rough places plain. This refers to a smoothing process. It speaks to those areas in our lives that are a little rough or doubtful. It speaks to those areas that are questionable. It speaks to those places in life where we know we could do better but don’t.
The Bible tells us clearly how to handle those areas of life. It says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22).
Again, we all have those places in our lives that are a little rough. We allow ourselves a mile when the Lord has forbidden even an inch. We allow things like gossip, envy, anger, unforgiveness, laziness, hatred, bad temper, bad habits, arrogance, tardiness, prayerlessness, impurity in talk, negative thoughts, and unpure motives. There are a thousand other areas that could be named.
We all allow those rough places in our walk
with the Lord, but they must be smoothed out if
we want Him to send us genuine revival.
If real revival came, what would it look like?
It would not be a few days of meetings and then
forgotten forever. If real revival came, would
everyone embrace it? No, if real revival came,
many would leave the church because they like
things the way they are. Revival messes things
up for those who are unwilling to change.
If real revival came, what would it look like?
I think it would look a lot like verse 5. I think it
would look a lot like Acts 2:42-47. I think it would
look a lot like Acts 4:23-33. I think it would look
a lot like Acts 5:1-13. I think it would look a lot
like Acts 8:4-8.
In other words, I think that, when it comes,
real revival will make the church look more like
the New Testament model than it does now. I
think real revival will empower us for God’s work,
impassion us to reach the lost, enliven us to worship
the Lord, and instruct us in holiness.
Is real revival possible? Yes, I believe it is. It
will be more likely when we follow His roadmap
and prepare the way for Him to come to us in
power and glory.