I’m going to sound curmudgeonly here, but please hear me out. We’ve had about a week now of cities being torched by riots and stores being emptied by looters. There is a great deal of unrest in our nation. And I see many of our religious leaders calling for real revival. Here’s the curmudgeonly sounding point:
“What we really need is revival”, whiles a true statement, can also be used as a smokescreen for inaction. Yes, it is true that the most powerful thing we can do is pray and entrust our situation to God. However, I believe the prophet Isaiah has a bit to say to this. Consider Isaiah 1:1-18.
In verse 7 we read that “your country lies desolate; your cities are burned with fire…” And notice what the people did in response to this. They ramped up the religious festivals. They called a solemn assembly. This is your good ol’ SBC, “let’s set apart a time for prayer for our nation and seek God’s blessing.” These Israelites gathered more and sacrificed more than they had previously.
Notice God’s response to all of this. “I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly”. Their fervent prayer was nothing more than a noisy gong. Their trampling of the courts did nothing to move the heart of God but only stirred up even more indignation.
“When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” Isaiah 1:15
What about the promises given to Solomon? What about 2 Chronicles 7:14. These people were turning to God in prayer and religious practices and signs of repentance. So why isn’t God listening? Because they were missing a key component to that promise; namely the “and turn from their wicked ways.” You see, prayer (calls for revival and all that spiritual sounding stuff) can just be a way for the bloody-handed religious elite to remain in power.
What God really wants (1:16-17) is actual change. He essentially says, “You want revival?!?, you really want your land to be healed? Okay…cease to do evil, learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
We can tirelessly drone about our need for revival, but it’s probably not going to come until we scrub down.
If I’m being blunt and specific I, personally, find calls for revival empty while many women, as well as men, remain without justice for the sexual assault and slander that they’ve endured. I find it empty for us (SBC) to give lip service to diversity and yet we cannot find it within ourselves to hire one single minority for five empty entity head vacancies.
Yes, the gospel IS the answer. And Christ CAN and does heal and remove blood-stained hands by the power of His own. BUT that cleansing isn’t for those using religiosity to keep bloody power. “Heal me, even if it means I lose every ounce of power.” That is the cry for revival that we need. It’s what I’m praying for in my own heart and hoping to see happen within our SBC.
That’s what Isaiah 1:18-20 means. Healing and real revival comes to those who are appalled by their own bloody hands and want real redemption. Real revival doesn’t come to those who want revival as a means to keep their way of life.
Yes, let us pray for revival. But let us make sure that we’re washing the blood off our hands while we’re praying.
This article originally appeared here.