13. Experiencing Revival in Our Lives and Communities (Genesis 35)Related Media
Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes. Let us go up at once to Bethel. Then I will make an altar there to God, who responded to me in my time of distress and has been with me wherever I went.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods that were in their possession and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob buried them under the oak near Shechem and they started on their journey. The surrounding cities were afraid of God, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. Jacob and all those who were with him arrived at Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. He built an altar there and named the place El Bethel because there God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother. (Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel; thus it was named Oak of Weeping.) God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan Aram and blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but your name will no longer be called Jacob; Israel will be your name.” So God named him Israel. Then God said to him, “I am the sovereign God. Be fruitful and multiply! A nation—even a company of nations—will descend from you; kings will be among your descendants! The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you. To your descendants I will also give this land.” Then God went up from the place where he spoke with him. So Jacob set up a sacred stone pillar in the place where God spoke with him. He poured out a drink offering on it, and then he poured oil on it. Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel. They traveled on from Bethel, and when Ephrath was still some distance away, Rachel went into labor—and her labor was hard. When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you are having another son.” With her dying breath, she named him Ben-Oni. But his father called him Benjamin instead. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Jacob set up a marker over her grave; it is the Marker of Rachel’s Grave to this day. Then Israel traveled on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. While Israel was living in that land, Reuben had sexual relations with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard about it. Jacob had twelve sons: The sons of Leah were Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, as well as Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel were Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant, were Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant, were Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan Aram. So Jacob came back to his father Isaac in Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. Isaac lived to be 180 years old. Then Isaac breathed his last and joined his ancestors. He died an old man who had lived a full life. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Genesis 35 (NET)
How can we experience revival in our lives and communities?
Genesis 35 comes right after the terrible story of Genesis 34. There Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped by the prince of Shechem. Then Jacob’s sons seek vengeance by killing all the men in Shechem. If someone was reading the Bible for the first time, he might ask, “God is going to bless all the nations through this family? The messiah is going to come through them?”
In Genesis 35, God immediately goes to work to further transform Jacob and his family into a people, God can use greatly. If Genesis 34 was a desert, Genesis 35 is an oasis. In Genesis 34, God is never mentioned. Throughout the narrative God is neglected by both Jacob’s family and the Hivites. But in Genesis 35, the name “God” is mentioned eleven times. It is also mentioned twelve more times in names like Israel, Bethel, and El Shaddai (Sovereign God or God Almighty).1 His name and influence saturate this chapter. Jacob and his family experience a revival in their lives—preparing them for greater works for God.
As we consider this chapter, it demonstrates how to experience revival in our lives and communities. Many of us can look back at times when we were more on fire for God, hungrier for his Word, and more passionate to serve him. But now, those times are simply distant memories. Similarly, many of our well-known churches, Christian universities and organizations are really just monuments of the past—times when God moved in special ways. How can we experience and maintain personal and corporate revival? We can discern this from the revival Jacob and his family experienced in Genesis 35.
Big Question: What principles about experiencing revival can be discerned from Genesis 35?
To Experience Revival, We Must Recognize Our Desperate Need for God
Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you.
In order for Jacob and his family to experience revival, God needed to shake them. He needed to shake them by revealing how bad their spiritual lives had become. Typically, a fall doesn’t happen at once. It’s gradual as small compromises begin to manifest in our lives—leading to larger ones. As displayed in this chapter, Jacob’s family had begun to gather idols (Gen 35:4). When Jacob initially moved to Shechem, he erected an altar named “the God of Israel is God” (Gen 33:20). However, idolatry eventually became a stronghold in his family—eroding their morals and spirituality. They worshiped God and the gods of the nations. In many ways, they were just like the world. Therefore, God allowed them to experience tragedy to show them how far they had fallen and remind them of their deep need for him.
The tragedy was meant to break them. Dinah had been defiled, the men of the city had been murdered, and now they were in fear of the other nations coming after them (Gen 34:30). The revelation was meant to reveal their need to get right with God. Through all this, they should have recognized, they were sinful before God and just as ungodly, if not worse than, the world around them. They were broken and therefore right where God needed them to be, so he could move in their lives in a special way and change them. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he delivers those who are discouraged.” Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
Other than through trials, God often helps us recognize our great need for him by giving us a special revelation of himself. With Isaiah, he saw God high and lifted up, and in response, he confessed his sins and those of his people (Is 6). Seeing God’s light, showed him the darkness in his heart and the darkness around him. Similarly, it’s interesting to consider that right after God called Jacob to return to Bethel, Jacob immediately told his people to get rid of their idols, even though God never mentioned them. Like Isaiah, when Jacob experienced God, he saw his sin and the sin around him. Through both his family trial and his revelation of God, Jacob knew his and his family’s great need for God and therefore was ready for revival.
In understanding this, we can tell why many of us aren’t experiencing revival. We don’t see our need for it. We don’t recognize how broken and sinful we are. We don’t recognize our need for God’s Word, prayer, Christian fellowship, and repentance. This is why we often lack a desire for these things and neglect them. Therefore, God has to help us see our need—either through a trial, special revelation, or both.
Are you recognizing your desperate need for God? Are you ready to experience personal revival?
Application Question: In what ways have you experienced revival after a trial or special revelation of God? How can we keep a recognition of our desperate need for God, even when not experiencing trials or special revelations? How can we grow spiritually even in mundane times?
To Experience Revival, We Must Hear and Respond to God’s Word
Then God said to Jacob, “Go up at once to Bethel and live there. Make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” … and they started on their journey. The surrounding cities were afraid of God, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.
Genesis 35:1, 5
As mentioned, in Jacob’s brokenness, God spoke to him. He called him to return to Bethel, where God initially appeared to Jacob when he fled Esau (Gen 28), and build an altar there. After Jacob’s family left Shechem, the fear of God fell on the surrounding peoples, as God protected Jacob’s family. Psalm 34:7 says, “The Lord’s angel camps around the Lord’s loyal followers and delivers them.” As they were obedient, God delivered them.
In the same way, revival cannot happen apart from our hearing and responding to God’s Word. Consider the following verses: Psalm 19:7 (ESV) says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.” James 1:25 says, “But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does.”
When we hear and obey God’s Word, God blesses us. There is no revival apart from God’s Word. Therefore, if we are going to experience revival, we must give great attention to reading Scripture, listening to it, memorizing it, and obeying it. Because many neglect God’s Word, they never experience revival. It bores them. They would rather watch TV, play video games, listen to music, hang out with friends, or a host of other things—anything but spending time in the Bible. Therefore, revival tarries.
In Nehemiah 8, when Israel experienced a great revival, it began with them listening to the Word of God read and preached from dawn till noon—six hours! And the whole time they heard it, they stood. When they meditated on God’s Word and honored it, the Lord brought a great revival. They cried, repented, and committed to following God’s laws. Revivals throughout history have followed the same pattern. They were marked by a deep reverence for God’s Word. Sadly, in most churches today, if the preacher goes over thirty minutes, people start fidgeting, falling asleep, or getting angry. We don’t honor God’s Word corporately or individually, and therefore, revival tarries.
Instead of protecting us, as seen with God’s terror falling on the surrounding peoples, God often intentionally allows threats in our lives—meant to shake us and turn us to his Word. Psalm 119:67 says, “Before I was afflicted I used to stray off, but now I keep your instructions.”
Are you devoted to God’s Word? How is God calling you to study it, listen to it, meditate on it, and obey it more? This is a step towards revival that can’t be missed.
Application Question: In what ways is revival attached to studying, obeying, and honoring God’s Word? How have you experienced revival in times when you were most devoted to Scripture? How is God calling you back to a special devotion to Scripture?
To Experience Revival, We Must Remove All Spiritual Hindrances
So Jacob told his household and all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes… So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods that were in their possession and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob buried them under the oak near Shechem
Genesis 35:2, 4
After God told Jacob to return to Bethel and before departing, Jacob immediately called his family to repent. They were to get rid of their foreign gods, purify themselves, and change their clothes. What gods was Jacob referring to? When Rachel left Haran, she stole her father’s idols (Gen 31:19). It seems that Jacob never took them from her. She was syncretic—worshiping Yahweh and other gods. Over time, this, no doubt, spread throughout Jacob’s household and especially to Rachel’s children and servants. Probably, when Jacob’s sons raided Shechem—taking their goods—they probably also took the idols. They even were carrying special earrings, which represented the various gods and were used for divine protection.2
Though Jacob was aware of all this, it seems he never previously commanded his family and servants to get rid of them. He just allowed idolatry to exist in his home. The people of Israel had started to look like the pagans surrounding them. When Jacob calls his household to purify themselves and change their clothes, these acts were symbolic of a change of character (cf. Eph 4:22-24, Jude 23). When they purified themselves, they probably washed their bodies. Jacob’s household was to start anew.
We must do the same. To experience revival, we must get rid of all spiritual hindrances in our lives. We must get rid of any idols. Idols aren’t necessarily tiny figurine gods that we worship. Idols are anything that draw our focus and attention away from God. Anything we put our trust in over him. Sometimes they can be pleasures like entertainment, a hobby, or sports. Sometimes they can be people like friends, family, or a dating relationship. Sometimes they can be things like a job, car, or money.
In order to experience revival, everything must be in its proper place—under God. God uses our jobs to provide for us. But we must never look at our job as our Provider. God is the one who gave us the job, and he is the one who will lead us to a new one when it’s time. He is the one who provides for our future—giving direction and meeting our present and future needs. That’s why we can seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all things will be added to us (Matt 6:33). As long as we are doing God’s will, we will experience God’s provisions.
There is always a danger of idolizing our gifts instead of the Giver of every good gift (Jam 1:17). For this reason, we must guard our hearts (Prov 4:23). Like the rich man, sometimes we need to give away certain things, as their influence is too strong on us (Matt 19). At other times, we simply must give less time to those things and not be engrossed in them (1 Cor 7:31). At all times, God must be first.
First Peter 2:1-2 says, “So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation.” We must rid ourselves of all evil, so we can “yearn”—meaning hunger for the things of God. Many of us lack hunger for the things of God because we are clinging to things that are sinful and worldly.
What are your spiritual hindrances? What keeps you from hungering for the things of God—his Word, prayer, church, worship, and serving—and experiencing revival?
Application Question: What are the idols in your life—areas of undue influence or pleasure that threaten and hinder your relationship with God? How is God calling you to bury your idols, wash your body, and change your clothes in order to re-focus on him?
To Experience Revival, We Must Practice the Discipline of Worship
He built an altar there and named the place El Bethel because there God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother… So Jacob set up a sacred stone pillar in the place where God spoke with him. He poured out a drink offering on it, and then he poured oil on it. Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel… Jacob set up a marker over her grave; it is the Marker of Rachel’s Grave to this day.
Genesis 35:7, 14-15, 20
When Jacob returned to Bethel, he built an altar in obedience to God’s command. He called it El Bethel, which means “God of Bethel” (v. 7). The Israelites had many sacred places. They were sacred because of something God had done at those places—Mount Sinai, Jerusalem, the Jordan River, Bethel, etc. However, Jacob, who seems to have grown in maturity, is not as concerned with the place of experiencing God, but with God himself. That’s why he renamed it, “God of Bethel.” Both the altar and the renaming of the place represented Jacob’s worship—his desire to honor God. Though he had just experienced tragic events and was despised and threatened by the pagans around him, Jacob worshiped the living God in the midst of his difficulties.
While at Bethel, God spoke to him again (v. 10-12). After hearing the Divine message, Jacob set up a sacred pillar and poured a drink offering and oil on it (v. 14). He consecrated it as a place of worship. Immediately after, “Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel” (v. 15). Since he had previously named the area Bethel (Gen 28:19), this probably was a public declaration. Everybody else needed to know that this was the “house of God.” Later, after Jacob’s wife Rachel died, he also put a pillar over her tomb (v. 20). Though the NET calls the pillar a “marker” (v. 20), it’s the same Hebrew word used in verse 14. Thus, the NIV and ESV translate it “pillar.” No doubt, it was a memorial of Rachel, but it also was a place of honor for God. (1) Jacob worshiped when he got to Bethel, as he built an altar. (2) He worshiped after God spoke to him, as he built a pillar and consecrated it. (3) Then he worshiped again, as he built another pillar right over Rachel’s grave. Even, potentially, Jacob’s greatest trial could not stop him from worship.
Similarly, if we are going to experience revival and sustain it, we also must constantly worship God. The opposite of worship could be said to be complaining or being bitter. Bitterness can destroy revival or hinder it from taking place, both in our lives and others. Hebrews 12:15 (ESV) says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” Likewise, 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” When we’re not giving thanks to God in our various circumstances, but instead complaining, we miss God’s grace and quench his Spirit. We quench the joy, peace, patience, and perseverance, he can give us.
If we are going to experience revival, we must learn to live a life of worship. Like Job, in the midst of trials, we must cry out, “The Lord gives and he takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21 paraphrase). Like Jacob, we must build altars and pillars everywhere, even in the midst of threats and tragedies.
Application Question: Why is worship so important for revival?
- Worship reminds us of the greatness of God and how everything else, even our trials, are minute in comparison. This is why Christ taught us to begin our prayers, not with our problems, but with petitions for God’s name to be hallowed (Matt 6:9)—to be worshiped. Worship helps remind us that God is greater than our problems and that he is sovereign over them.
- Worship silences the competing voices around us—worry, anxiety, criticism, etc. When we worship, these voices get quieter and the Lord’s voice gets louder. We need to hear our Lord’s voice at all times, but especially during trials.
- Worship builds our faith. It breeds courage, forgiveness, and peace, as we trust in our Father.
Are you worshiping God despite your circumstances? Worship is an integral step to experiencing revival, individually and corporately.
Application Question: In what ways have you experienced God’s peace and strength, as you worshiped in the midst of your circumstances? How is God calling you to grow in public and private worship?
To Experience Revival, We Must Remember Past Times of Special Grace
He built an altar there and named the place El Bethel because there God had revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother… God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan Aram and blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but your name will no longer be called Jacob; Israel will be your name.” So God named him Israel. Then God said to him, “I am the sovereign God. Be fruitful and multiply! A nation—even a company of nations—will descend from you; kings will be among your descendants! The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you. To your descendants I will also give this land.” Then God went up from the place where he spoke with him. So Jacob set up a sacred stone pillar in the place where God spoke with him. He poured out a drink offering on it, and then he poured oil on it. Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Bethel.
Genesis 35:7, 9-15
It’s interesting to consider that at Bethel, God doesn’t say many new things to Jacob; he reminds him mostly of old things. When God speaks, he again calls Jacob, “Israel” (v. 10). He repeats promises already given to him—that he would become a nation and the land of Canaan would be given to him (v. 11-12). The only new things seem to be the fact that God uses the name El Shaddai, “Sovereign God” or “God Almighty” and that God mentions that kings will come from him (v. 11). When speaking to Abraham in Genesis 17, God also used the name El Shaddai and mentioned that kings would come through his line. God was re-confirming his covenant with Jacob, while adding a little more information.
When we experience revival, God often does the same with us. Many times, we think that we need new revelation to experience revival or change in our lives. However, this is seldom the case. Often, we just need a fresh revelation of what we already know—who God is, what he has promised us, and who he says we are. We need to remember that God is sovereign—in control of all our circumstances (Eph 1:11), that he is loving (1 John 4:8), and that he works all things for our good (Rom 8:28). To revive us, God often has to take us back to our Bethel experiences—times of renewal when he spoke to us through the Word, prayer, worship, and godly brothers and sisters.
Therefore, to experience revival, we also need to continually return to Bethel. Pastor Bruce Goettsche said it this way:
We need to learn to think differently. If we were as good at remembering the good times in our life as we are replaying the hurts, we would be so much better off. We are prone to nurse a grudge and forget a kindness. We dwell on a failure but dismiss a victory. And as a result, things get distorted. When our spiritual lives begin to feel stale and unfruitful, we need to take a trip back to Bethel,
-- remember the day you met Christ and how your life changed because of Him
-- recount the circumstances and people that God used to lead you to His grace
-- re-read a book that stirred your soul
-- compare who you are (by God’s grace) with who you used to be
-- walk through the church and remember special times you have had in the various rooms
-- review some of your favorite passages of scripture
-- recall the spiritual teachers and leaders that have impacted you (I like to let my eyes browse over the books on my shelves and think of the way God has used these authors to teach and mold me).
Looking back . . . gaining perspective is only one step in the process but it is a valuable step and an important step.3
The first time God met with Jacob at Bethel (Gen 28), he was preparing him for twenty difficult years of working for Laban. When God wrestled with Jacob and originally named him Israel (Gen 32), he was strengthening him to meet Esau. Now, in his second stint at Bethel (Gen 35), God was encouraging Jacob as he faced the threat of the pagans and future traumatic events which happened shortly after, like the death of Rachel.
How is God calling you to return to Bethel? How is God calling you to remind yourself of who God is, what his promises are, and who he says you are?
This is one of the reasons why the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are so important. Baptism is a visual reminder of what has happened to us spiritually at salvation. It’s one of the Bethel altars, we should always return to. When we went under the water, it pictured our dying to sin in Christ. When we rose out of the water, it pictured our rising with him from the dead to live new lives—righteous lives. Similarly, the practice of the Lord’s Supper is a continual reminder of Christ’s death and therefore our forgiveness of sins and his future coming. These are just some of the ways we return to Bethel and experience revival in our hearts.
Application Question: What are some significant Bethel experiences that you need to remind yourself of for encouragement, strength, and revival? How do you remind yourself of them? Is there a discipline or practice that you employ?
To Experience Revival, We Must Respond in Faith to Our Trials
(Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak below Bethel; thus it was named Oak of Weeping.) … They traveled on from Bethel, and when Ephrath was still some distance away, Rachel went into labor—and her labor was hard. When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you are having another son.” With her dying breath, she named him Ben-Oni. But his father called him Benjamin instead… Then Israel traveled on and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. While Israel was living in that land, Reuben had sexual relations with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard about it… So Jacob came back to his father Isaac in Mamre, to Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. Isaac lived to be 180 years old. Then Isaac breathed his last and joined his ancestors. He died an old man who had lived a full life. His sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Genesis 35:8, 16-18, 21-22, 27-29
Trials are both a catalyst for revival in our lives and, at the same time, potentially a detriment to revival. God uses trials to help us grow and know him more. But, Satan uses them to draw us away from God. As with Job, Satan uses trials to tempt us to curse God. Similarly, after Jacob’s Bethel experience, trials came with the potential of continuing to ignite the flames of revival or extinguish them. Jacob faced many new trials: (1) First, Rebekah’s nurse, Deborah, died (v. 8). In Scripture, she was never mentioned by name before this text. When Rebekah left Haran to marry Isaac, Genesis 24:59 says her “female attendant” went with her, which was probably Deborah. She was probably around 150 years old.4 She had nursed Jacob, and at some point, probably after Rebekah’s death, came to live with Jacob and helped care for his children. Obviously, she was dearly loved, as she was buried under a tree, which they named “Oak of Weeping.” (2) Then, Jacob experienced the death of Rachel (v. 18), who was his favorite wife. He worked fourteen years to attain her. She died while giving birth to Jacob’s twelfth son, Benjamin.
(3) Next, after Rachel died, Jacob experienced betrayal, as his oldest son, Reuben, had sexual relations with Rachel’s handmaid, Bilhah (v. 22)—who was also Jacob’s concubine. Why did Reuben do this? We can only speculate. Possibly, since Rachel was always Jacob’s favored wife, Reuben hoped to remove a potential rival to Jacob’s affection for his mother Leah. By sleeping with Bilhah, Jacob would have despised her and may have been more inclined toward Leah, who was always desperate for his affections (Gen 29). Another potential reason was that Reuben was trying to claim his right of firstborn. “Near-Eastern custom held that the possession of the concubines of a man’s father or vanquished enemies validated succession.”5 This is why Absalom, the son of David, publicly laid with his father’s concubines, after taking the kingdom from him (2 Sam 16:22). Like the prodigal son, Reuben was trying to claim his inheritance then and not later (Luke 15). (4) Finally, Jacob experienced the death of Isaac, his father (v. 29). Both Jacob and Esau buried him after he lived to 180 years old. All of these negative experiences were opportunities for revival or threats to it in Jacob’s life.
How does Jacob respond to these trials? Did he respond in faith or with a lack of faith? It seems that he responded faithfully. We see this in several ways: After Rachel’s death, as mentioned, Jacob builds a pillar, which seemed to be a memorial for her but also a way to worship God (v. 20). Also, he renames their child Benjamin—”son of my right hand”—instead of keeping the name Benoni—”son of my sorrows” (v. 18). Jacob refused to see his son in a negative light. He saw Benjamin as his strength, which the right hand represented. Also, there are further hints that Jacob responded in faith. The fact that the narrator uses the name “Israel” right after Rachel’s death in verse 18 and also after Reuben’s betrayal in verse 22, seems to imply that Jacob was living according to his new name—”God commands”—in the midst of these tragedies. Though he doesn’t seem to judge Reuben immediately, at his death, he does eventually remove the right of the firstborn from him and gives it to Joseph’s sons (Gen 49:3-4). First Chronicles 5:1 says, “The sons of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn—(Now he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father’s bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph, Israel’s son.”
Experiencing revival doesn’t necessarily remove trials from our lives; as with Jacob, trials tend to follow revivals. Often it is right after a wonderful experience at church or going to a retreat that a major temptation will confront us. This is why youth often experience great highs during a retreat and really low, lows after. Temptations often follow periods of revival. It was right after Christ’s baptism and the Holy Spirit falling on him, that he was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Also, it was right after the Mount of Transfiguration that Christ confronted the demon in the boy and his disciples’ failure to cast him out (Matt 17). Though revivals don’t guarantee the removal of trials, if properly used, they do provide strength to confront them. After Jacob’s revival, he confronted four strong tests. In them, he responded as Israel and not as Jacob. By doing this, he continued to stoke the fires of revival in his life, instead of allowing them to be blown out.
How are you responding to your trials? They represent both opportunities and threats for revival. Are you confronting them with faith or with doubt, with joy or with bitterness, in the Spirit or in the flesh? Are you confronting them as Israel or as Jacob? May the Lord give us grace to confront them as Israel—with faith, joy, and in the power of the Spirit.
Application Question: What are your current trials, which God is aiming to use for your good and Satan for your bad? How is God calling you to respond to them in faith, like Israel, and not in the flesh, like Jacob?
How can we experience revival in our lives and our communities?
- To Experience Revival, We Must Recognize Our Desperate Need for God
- To Experience Revival, We Must Hear and Respond to God’s Word
- To Experience Revival, We Must Remove All Spiritual Hindrances
- To Experience Revival, We Must Practice the Discipline of Worship
- To Experience Revival, We Must Remember Past Times of Special Grace
- To Experience Revival, We Must Respond in Faith to Our Trials
Copyright © 2018 Gregory Brown
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1 Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (p. 836). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
2 Getz, Gene. Men of Character: Jacob (Kindle Locations 3604-3607). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
3 Pastor Bruce Goettsche’s sermon on Genesis 35, accessed June 1, 2018, from http://www.unionchurch.com/archive/101799.html
4 Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (pp. 839–840). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
5 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: beginning and blessing (pp. 424–425). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.