Friday, July 31, 2009

Fighting Friday: The Real Reason for Revival by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

And Moses said unto the Lord, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now the way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. (Exod. 33:12-17.)

Before we continue with our study of this great chapter from Exodus, let me remind you of what we have learned from it up to this point. Moses has prayed for a personal assurance as far as he himself is concerned; he has asked for power, power for himself and for the people and, thirdly, he has asked for some exceptional authentication of the Church and his message. And now we must go on to consider why he prayed for these things. What were his motives? Surely this is all-important for us, because, if I understand the situation at all, it is in this realm of purpose and of motives that we so constantly go wrong. We start at the wrong end. And, therefore, shall derive great benefit and instruction as we watch Moses praying here. And, of course, you will find everywhere in the Scriptures that what is true of him at this point is true of God's intercessors, God's saints, as they plead with God, wherever you find them in the Scriptures. Moreover, I would remind you that if you read the history of the great revivals of the past, you will find that, as you read of the men whom God has used most signally, as you study them in the period before the revival came, when they were pleading and interceding, you will find invariably that they were animated by exactly the same motives as we find here in the case of Moses.

So we must be perfectly clear with regard to this matter of our motives. I am calling you to pray for revival. Yes, but why should you pray for revival? Why should anybody pray for revival? And the answer that is first given here is this: a concern for the glory of God. You will find it at the end of verse 13: 'Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight; and consider that this nation is thy people.' That is the motive. That is the reason. Moses was concerned primarily about the glory of God. Now, you will find that he constantly used this particular argument with God. There is an illustration of this in the previous chapter, chapter 32 verses 11 and 12. God was angry with the Children of Israel because they had made the golden calf and had rebelled against him, and God said to Moses,

I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? (Exod. 32. 9-12).

You see Moses' concern? He is concerned about the name, and, as it were, the reputation and the glory of God. And that is the point he is making here again. 'This nation,' he says, 'is thy people.' He is saying, in effect, that God's honour, and God's glory is involved in this situation. They are, after all, his people, they have claimed that, he has given indications of that, he has brought them out of Egypt in a marvellous and a miraculous manner. He has brought them through the Red Sea, is he going to leave them here in the wilderness? What will the Egyptians say? What will the other nations say? Has he failed? He promised them great things. Can he not execute them? Can he not bring them to fulfilment? Moses is suggesting to God that his own glory, his own honour, is involved in this whole situation. Now you will find this plea endlessly in the Psalms. You will find it constantly in the Prophets. Their prayer to God is, 'for thine own name's sake', as if to say, 'We have no right to speak, and we are not really asking it for ourselves, but for thine own name's sake, for thy glory's sake, for the sake of thine eternal honour.' Moses, thus, had a concern for and was jealous about, the name and the glory of God. And here he is asking God, for his own sake, to do this extra, this special, thing.

Now, we cannot go into all these points in detail, but this is the thing that matters is it not? The Church, after all, is the Church of God. 'She is His new creation, by water and word.' We are a people for God's own peculiar possession. And why has he called us out of darkness into his own marvellous light? Surely it is that we may show forth his praises, his excellencies, his virtues. And, therefore, we should be concerned about this matter primarily because of the name, and the glory, the honour of God himself. Whether we like it or not, it is a fact that the world judges God himself, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole of the Christian faith, by what it sees in us. We are his representatives, we are the people who take his name upon us, we are the people who talk about him, and the man outside the Church regards the Church as the representative of God. And, therefore, I argue that we must emulate the example of Moses, as we find it here. Our first concern should be about the glory of God.

But am I being unfair when I suggest that this is scarcely ever mentioned? There is great concern about the Church today, of course, but what is the concern about? Today's concern is about statistics, and figures. People are talking about churches being empty, and they talk about means and methods of trying to fill them and of getting the people in again. They are interested in the figures, in membership, in finance, and in organization. How often do you hear annual conferences and assemblies expressing a concern about the glory of God, and the honour of the name of God? No, our attitude seems rather to be that the Church is a human organization, and of course we are concerned about what is happening to it, as a man is concerned if his business is not going well. We are businessmen, and we are concerned about the institution, and the organisation. But this was not Moses' primary concern. His first and chief concern was about the glory of God. Are you grieved at the state of the Church? If so, why are you grieved about it? Is it because you are old enough to remember the end of the Victorian era, or the Edwardian period, when it was the custom for people to crowd into churches? Is it just a sort of nostalgia for the great days of the Church? Or do we know something of a concern for the name of God? Are we pained? Are we hurt? Are we grieved? Does it weigh heavily upon our hearts, and minds, and spirits, when we see the godlessness that surrounds us, and the name of God taken in vain? Do we know something of this zeal, this holy zeal?

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