Before Revival, There Must be Repentance (Jeremiah 5:3)

by Julia Bruce
CEO and Keynote Speaker

Revival is needed because we have all gone astray

While a man dressed in a devil costume was walking to a Halloween costume party, it began to rain torrentially. The man ran for the first cover he could find. It happened to be a church in the middle of a revival service where the pastor was deep into his sermon on the fires of Hell. He ran directly into the sanctuary to the shock of all in attendance. The congregation panicked and they all cleared the room, except for one unfortunate woman who was trapped beneath the feet of this confused fellow. With fear and trembling the woman pleaded, “You know I’ve been on your side all along!”

Doesn’t this woman’s plea sound like our world today? We choose to remain on the side of Satan rather than surrendering our hearts for the revival we desperately need. The words of Isaiah 53:6 ring true for us today:

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Jerusalem needed revival just as much as our world today

In Jeremiah’s day, Israel wasn’t any better. God says to Jeremiah in verse 5 of chapter 1:

“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; See now and know; And seek in her open places If you can find a man, If there is anyone who executes judgment Who seeks the truth, And I will pardon her. Though they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’ Surely they swear falsely.”

God says he would spare Jerusalem if Jeremiah could find a man – just one. Jeremiah and his scribe, Baruch, would have been two righteous people, but God uses this hyperbole to make a point. Jerusalem had become as heathenistic as our world today. Stubborn. Bent on having its own way. Refusing to repent and experience a revival.

Back in Genesis 18, we find a similar situation. God visits Abraham and tells him his plans to destroy five cities and Abraham bargains with the Lord. Just as God agreed then to spare the cities for ten righteous men (which could not be found!), God still extends mercy to cities and nations on the grounds of a few righteous people who dwell in them. But sooner or later, God says “Enough!” and His judgment will come. How many truly righteous people would God find in America – or in your nation?

Jeremiah’s response: They will not repent

Jeremiah responded to the Lord saying that God had already stricken and consumed the people of Jerusalem, but still they had not grieved over their rebellion and sin, they refused to receive correction, they made their faces harder than rock, and they refused to return to God. Down in verse six, it says of the city: “Their transgressions are many; Their backslidings have increased.” In other words, they refused to experience revival.

Living Every Sin Imaginable

As you read this, you might say, “Sounds just like our nation today.” Perhaps as you read this description of Jerusalem, someone you know comes to mind. They are caught up living in every sin imaginable and any time they are corrected they just become harder and harder, refusing to acknowledge or repent of their sin. Perhaps these words convict you because it sounds like you.

Jeremiah said of the people of Jerusalem: “They are foolish.” And the people of today are just as foolish. They refuse to repent and continue living every sin imaginable. We refuse to see the desperate need for a revival in our nation – or we see it, but just don’t know how to start a revival.

God’s Response: Righteous Judgment

Jerusalem and the entire nation of Israel will experience the righteous judgment of God, but when warned, they believed that they, “God’s chosen ones,” would not see it. They mistakenly presumed that God’s promises to bless Israel precluded the possibility of judgment for sin. They believed that the covenant God made with them would protect them from the promised judgement that was coming. However, they must have skipped over a two-letter word: if. All the way back in Exodus 19-24 where Moses is the leader of the nation, God promised to make the nation of Israel is treasured possession among all people and “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” if they follow God’s commandments. But they did not. Instead they each turned their own way and did whatever they wanted.

Because they did not chose revival, God judged

Israel was still God’s chosen people and through them God would bless all nations through the birth, life, death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. But just as a parent disciplines a wayward child, God must discipline his chosen people. As a result, the nation would be invaded, conquered and the people carried off. Only a remnant would be left and from them, God would keep his promise to Abraham and David.

Will we be like Israel or choose a Revival?

The question for us today is, will we be like the nation of Israel and falsely believe that God will not judge? America has been known as “In God We Trust” – but no longer. The people have spoken. The Ten Commandment have been removed from every government building and court room. They have tried to remove “In God we trust” from our currency. Today, people only trust in themselves and live for themselves. Judges 17:6 describes us perfectly: “but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Christians of today need to wake up. If God would judge his chosen people for their moral depravity and sin, you can bet He will judge us today. We, like the nation of Israel, sit around in denial and think it won’t happen– but there will come a day when God says, “enough is enough!” It is time that the Christians of the world unite in a unified prayer effort for a revival for our world.

Recipe for Revival

We can find the recipe for revival in 2 Chronicles 7:14. The first half is what we must do. The second half is what God will do if we do the first half.  In this verse, God says:

What we must do to experience revival:

If my people, which are called by my name

Who are those who are called by God’s name? Us. Christians. Those who called and believed in the name of Christ to save them from their sins

shall humble themselves – 

Our world today doesn’t like humility, but that’s the only way to come to God. We must acknowledge how far we have fallen short and that there is no good work of our own that can save us from God’s judgement of sin. The only way we can be saved is through Christ who created a way for us to have fellowship with God. James 4:8-10 says, “Come hear to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Humility require the proper heart posture

It is necessary that we have a proper heart posture when we come before God. We live like we deserve His mercy, grace and blessing and take salvation for granted – but Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death. Death. That’s what we deserve for our sin. Eternal death. However, because he loves us, he created a way — one way — for us to have eternal life. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but by Me.”

The ultimate example of humility

Jesus is our ultimate example of humility. Philippians 2:8-11 says, “Being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” If the Son of God found it necessary to humble Himself, then why would we think we don’t need to? The truth is we don’t want to. Humility is hard – even painful sometimes.

and pray – 

This isn’t a memorized, repetitive prayer. It isn’t the Lord’s Prayer. This is the kind of soul-searching, gut-wrenching prayer that takes place as the Holy Spirit reveals to us just how sinful we are. It’s an agonizing conversation with our Holy Creator as we pray for ourselves.

Too often we treat prayer like a magic spell to bring a genie out of a bottle who will gladly give us everything we wish for and then get mad when we don’t get it. God is not a genie.

When we pray, we come into the presence of God. In His presence there is no room for arrogance and pride. It’s where we find forgiveness of sin. It’s where the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin. In His presence, our hope is restored. It’s where we make our requests to God. It’s where we admit our need and our dependence on Him. In His presence, our faith is laid out before Him and we are able to touch the heart of our heavenly father. It’s where we have a relationship with God.

and seek my face – 

I can’t help but think of Mary losing Jesus, the Son of God, as the family left Jerusalem to return home and Jesus stayed behind in the temple. If God had entrusted you to be the earthly mother of His Son who would be the Savior of the world and you lost him, I guarantee you would be earnestly and diligently seeking His face.  How often and how diligently do you seek Him? Are you satisfied with just enough of Him to get you through the gates of heaven for eternity – or do you long to have a passionate relationship with the One who gave His life for you? Do you only seek Him when life is full of chaos? Do you seek Him just for the hour or two you are at church on Sunday? When was the last time you truly sought the face of Jesus?

and turn from their wicked ways – 

One lie. That’s all it takes to have “wicked ways.” In fact, In Isaiah 64:6, the prophet said, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are are filthy rags.” The filthy rags that he was talking about were the dirty rags a woman used during her menstrual cycle. What Isaiah was saying is that even in our best state of righteousness, we are still just filthy, unclean rags. We are all sinners. But we look at the person we work with or the one that lives down the street and say, “But I’m not as bad as …” Well, you certainly ought to pray for that person, but this recipe for revival starts with you and it starts with me.

If you drew a circle around you and stood in the middle, revival begins with a humble heart praying & turning from your wicked ways – not the wicked ways of your husband or wife, rebellious teen, mother-in-law, teacher, boss, or coworker. Your focus is on you & your wicked ways – your own filthy rags. If you truly believe you don’t have any, sincerely ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them to you and He will.

What God will do when He sends a revival:

It is only then that God will hear us from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. The nation of Israel didn’t get it. They chose to remain hard-hearted and sin-filled so God judged. If He judged Israel – His chosen people – so severely, how can we not expect Him to judge us today? Would you commit this week to following this recipe and ask God to send a revival to our nation?

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