B. Motives for Seeking Revival
a. First motive: for God’s sake
3. Meditate on the holiness of God
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Paul’s words to the Romans about both Jews and Gentiles (Rom 3:18) are true of today’s society, and, sadly, to a large extent, today’s church. We live in an age emphasising human rights and individualism. We live in an age of relative morality –with some exceptions we make up our own morality. But, worst of all, whatever the good things about our society (and there are many) the worst failing is that we ignore God. Far from fearing God, most of us totally ignore him. There is no fear of God in his holiness, no sense of accountability to him.
Even in the church there is often little fear of God. Many Christian leaders preach about a God who is nice. They neglect “nasty” doctrines such as judgment and eternal punishment. The result is that church people don’t have to take sin too seriously (“after, all, everyone does it”) and have little sense of accountability or of anticipating the Day of Judgment. Evangelicals can be so taken up with justification by faith and the assurance of salvation (“I’m saved and I know it, because I trust in Christ”) that they forget serious warnings about the importance of good works and holiness.
The New Testament teaches about the fear of God. Peter exhorts Christians to “Fear God” (1 Peter 2:17). Pauls speaks of the fear of God as a motive for evangelism “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others” (2 Cor 5:10-11). The early church is described as “living in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). As Christians who are trusting in Christ and rejoicing in the assurance of eternal salvation the main fear we should have with respect to God is fear of grieving his love.
Prayer for Revival is a prayer for God to reveal himself in his awesome holiness. So those of us who pray for Revival must meditate on the holiness of God.
1. God is the Holy One
God is called “The Holy One” 55 times in Scripture (29 times in Isaiah). The Hebrew word for holy, qadosh, probably comes from the root “separation”, “cutting off.” Someone said: “Holiness is the pure white light formed out of the blending of the whole spectrum of God’s attributes.” Jesus is called the Holy One in Luke 4:34 and John 6:69; cf. Luke 1:35; Acts 2:27; 13:35.
Isaiah describes his great vision: “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs … and they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’” (Isa 6:1-3).
John’s vision of the heavenly creatures is similar: “Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev 4:8).
2. God is awesome in holiness
The Song of Moses asks: “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD. Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Ex 15:11). Job 37:22 describes the awesomeness of God: “Out of the north he comes in golden splendour; God comes in awesome majesty.” God is the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity: “For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place…’” (Isa 57:15).
At its inauguration “Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Ex 40:35). Similarly, when the temple was dedicated, it: “was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.” (2 Chron 5:14). The awesome presence of God was so overpowering that no-one could enter the building.
3. God is too pure to look on evil
Habakkuk says of God: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong.” (Hab 1:13). Hence Isaiah warns: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” (Isa 59:2).
A MEDITATION ON THE HOLINESS OF GOD
It is helpful to think of the biblical metaphor that God is pure light but sin, even small sin, is darkness. God cannot abide sin any more than light can tolerate darkness, even a tiny speck of darkness. He is utterly pure and infinitely bright spiritual light.
“God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” He “lives in unapproachable light,” he is “resplendent with light” and “wraps himself in light as with a garment.” Ezekiel had a vision of the Lord: “High above on the throne was the figure like that of a man. I saw from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire; and brilliant light surrounded him … This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord” (1 Jn 1:5; 1Tim 6:16; Psa 76:4; 104:2; Ezk 1:25-28).
Think of this unapproachable, resplendent light, dazzling like the sun shining in full strength. Then contrast it with the sins, including ‘small’ sins, in our own lives. The two are totally incompatible. The darkness, even a tiny speck of darkness, in our lives will be driven out by the light of the glory and holiness of God.
Lord, you are utterly and perfectly holy. You are pure light with no shade. Your light drives away all darkness, even the slightest speck. You are absolutely pure. Your purity cleanses away even the slightest impurity. You are utterly set apart from all imperfection. You are absolutely Other. Your wrath is a totally pure reaction of your holiness. If I, as an imperfect, sinful human, were to see you in all your holiness I would be struck dead. I deserve to be eternally excluded from your holy presence.
But thank you for your infinite love. In the cross, at infinite cost, you showed both your infinite love and your utter purity. You laid the foundation to enable humans who trust in you to share eternity in your manifest presence. You showed me just what it cost to be so loving so I would respond by seeking to love you, my Lord and my God, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Help me to remember that any failing of mine grieves and offends you, so I must not tolerate it. Show me anything in my life which dishonours you and help me to repent of it.