Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Psalm 80: Revival Prayer

KEY TEXT: Psalms 80:1-3 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!

KEY THOT: The Psalmist acknowledges God as the Shepherd of Israel "who lead Joseph like a flock!" But Israel has gone astray like sheep and is now facing an impending national disaster as a result of their rejection of God's leadership as their Shepherd. The psalmist prays for God to "stir up your might and come to save us!". The psalmist asks the Lord to "restore us" and "let your face shine" upon His people. In other words, to pray for revival of faith in the nation. There are three aspects to this psalmist's prayer for revival: (1) restoring our vision of God (2) restoring our obedience to God (2) restoring God's favour upon us.

The first step in revival prayer is to restore our vision of God as the Shepherd-King who is "enthroned upon the cherubim" (v.1). Revival must begin with a renewed vision of God as the One "sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up" (Isaiah 6:1). The reason for backsliding and straying in our faith is often a loss of vision of God as the Shepherd-King. Until our vision of God is restored, we will remain self-sufficient and indifferent to His voice as our Shepherd, preferring to follow our own vision and voice instead of the Shepherd's. Jesus says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). To hear the voice of God again, we must renew our vision of God first. The psalmist sees the Lord as one who is exalted and powerful and so able to revive us: "stir up your might, and come to save us!" (v.2).

The second step in revival prayer is to call upon God to "restore us" (v.3). This is nothing more than a call for the gift of repentance--for contrition over our sins and a desire to turn away from our wayward and self-directed lifestyle back to God our Shepherd-King. Repentance will require us to confess not only our sins of commission (see Galatians 5:19-21 for a list of sins) and also our sins of omission (e.g. not participating in the Great Commission, not taking God's word seriously or ignoring the Spirit's prompting and voice.) The sin of omission is less obvious but equally deadly to our spiritual life: "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin" (James 4:17).

The third step in revival prayer is asking God for his favour: "let your face shine". When God's face is shining upon us, we experience divine favour in everything we do. Not just in the workplace (successful completion of projects, promotion, etc), but also in family life and kingdom ministry. Divine favour guarantees success in everything we do: "His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord  caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had" (Genesis 39:3-4).

An important element of the Aaronic blessing is God's favour: "The Lord  bless you and keep you; the Lord  make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord  lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26). When we have divine favour, we experience his protection, his grace and his peace.

Nothing beats walking in divine favour, to have his face shining upon us over everything we do. God's face shining upon us is our Father's beaming pride and pleasure over us. If we have lost that sense of divine favour, we can take the steps back into his favour by acknowledging first that He is our Shepherd-King, and then turning from our sin of commission and omission and staying in the light of his countenance by listening to his voice and following Him.

Father, may Your Spirit restore us and cause Your face to shine upon us daily. Amen.

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