This Is Revival | Sermon By Dr. W. A. Criswell
O Lord, I have heard thy speech and was afraid. O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years. In the midst years make it known. In wrath, remember mercy.
[Habakkuk 3:1, 2]
Of what is the prophet afraid? He is referring to the judgments of God upon Israel, and as the author of Hebrews avows, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” [Hebrews 10:31].
He is referring to the destruction of Israel, the Northern Kingdom of Samaria in 722 BC by the Assyrians. And he is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and Judah by the Babylonians in 587 BC. And Habakkuk stood between the two.
The first had already happened, and he was an emissary and messenger of God to announce the second.
When he was sent to announce that his own people would be destroyed by Babylonia and carried into captivity, he asked a question:
“Lord, how is it—however we may be evil and wicked, we are not more evil and wicked than they—how is it, Lord, that you allow them to destroy us?”
He says it like this in the thirteenth verse of the first chapter: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look upon iniquity; wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth a man that is more righteous than he?” [Habakkuk 1:13]
And the answer comes from God in the twelfth verse: “O Lord, Thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction” [Habakkuk 1:12].
That is the message of God to America today. We cannot continue in drunkenness, and debauchery, and blasphemy, and desecration, and not face the inevitable judgment of Almighty God.
The Lord will raise up even these evil and bitter and atheistic and materialistic nations to chasten us.
Then the prophet gave himself to the one recourse that is possible for us. He prayed. “O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years. In the midst years of the make it known. In judgment and in wrath, remember mercy” [Habakkuk 3:2b].
Revival will save a nation: it saved Judah in the days of Hezekiah; it saved England in the days of the Wesleys. Revival will save a city: it saved Nineveh in the days of Jonah; it saved Antioch in the days of John Chrysostom; it saved Florence in the days of Savanarola. And revival will save a home.
It will save a life. It did so yesterday. It does today. It will forever. “O Lord, I have heard thy speech and was afraid. O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years. In the midst of the years make it known. In wrath, remember mercy.”
What is revival? Revival is a Christian word. It is a family word. The lost are not revived. They need life out of death. It is Christian people, it is the family of God that are to be revived. Revival is a church word.
It is an assembly word. Judgment must begin in the house of God [1 Peter 4:17]. There must be here first the presence of the Lord, and all the joy and gladness that pertains to the bountiful goodnesses of God. That is revival.
It is not easy to forsake sin. It is not easy to deny the flesh. It is not easy to live the revived and victorious life. We must pray before God, before whose eyes our very souls are open and naked.
And we must pray a burden for the lost. It must be a care and a concern to us whethet people are saved or lost.
This is revival—the spirit of affirmation, of response and commitment. “I have said no to God for the last time, and I’m coming.”