With all the news we hear today about so-called revivals, it is important that we find out just what revival really is. There are two Hebrew words that are translated “revive, revived, or reviving” in the Old Testament. They are chayah and michyah. They are both closely related words. Chayah or chavah are primary roots meaning life. Michyah is the noun and adjective form of chayah. Here are Strong’s definitions:

2421. chayah, khaw-yaw’; a primary root; to live whether literally or figuratively; causative, to revive:

Translated (in the KJV): keep (leave, make) alive, X certainly, give (promise) life, (let, suffer to) live, nourish up, preserve (alive), quicken, recover, repair, restore (to life), revive, (X God) save (alive, life, lives), X surely, be whole.

4241. michyah, mikh-yaw’; from 2421; preservation of life; hence sustenance; also the live flesh, i.e. the quick:

Translated (in the KJV): preserve life, quick, recover selves, reviving, sustenance, victuals.

One means to live, the other means the preservation of life and they are translated “revive, revived, or reviving.”

There is only one word in Greek in the Bible that is translated “revive.” It is anazao:

326. anazao, an-ad-zah’-o; from 303 and 2198; to recover life (lit. or fig.):

Translated (in the KJV): be alive again, live again, revive.

The root word is zao, from which we get the word zoo. Used as a prefix (“zoo”-logy) it means life. Zoology is the study of life. Zao means life, or to live. In this specific word, the Greek prefix ana means to become. It is a word that has several meanings when takin in context. It may mean in the midst of, up, between, apiece, in turn, again, and others. So anazao means to come alive (again).

So just from our study of the words that are translated “revive,” we get a good understanding what revival is. To be revived is to be brought alive again. Drowning victims and heart attack victims can be revived or brought back to life from certain death had help not arrived. But what we are interested in is the spiritual meaning of the word. It means to be brought back to life. The unsaved, or dead, are brought back to life by their faith. For the saved, we usually think of revival as to come home, like the prodigal did. It implies that a person has fallen away and needs to come back to the faith.

Those words are the words of a man, that is, me. Now let’s see what God says about it. What God says is far more important than what men say.

Let’s start with the psalms:

(Psa 85:1-5) To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. LORD, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. {2} Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. {3} Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. {4} Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease. {5} Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations?

God has turned his face from Jacob (that is all twelve tribes of Israel). We are not told why, but Israel strayed from God many times and God turned His face from them. This refers to one of those times. It probably does not refer to return from Babylonian captivity, for that included only part of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and not all twelve tribes.

The Psalm begins with relief that God has finally relented from his anger and forgiven and brought back the people from captivity. The word for captivity means exiled from prosperity. When God turned away from them, their prosperity faded, but now His anger has subsided and prosperity is beginning to return.

Verses four and five are rhetorical questions. God has already turned aside His wrath and the question is in support of that conclusion. The answer to the questions is no, He will not be angry forever to all generations (eternity).

(Psa 85:6) Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?

Here is the word “revive.” The Hebrew here is chayah. They have turned from their iniquity and been forgiven. They want Him to return them to full life in Him. They rejoice in it.

(Psa 85:7) Show us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation.

Mercy can be rendered kindness and grant, give, and salvation, deliverance. The psalmist is saying, “Show us your kindness, O Yehovah, and give us deliverance [from captivity]. Salvation, or deliverance, is yesha from which we get Yeshua, or Jesus, who is our deliverer.

(Psa 85:8) I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.

He will revive them, bringing them back to life in Him, and He will keep them there by His grace. No man can revive anyone. Only God can revive us. Notice that God also said that they should not return to their folly. We can be delivered and then can turn back to our old ways. When that happens, all we need do is repent and confess and we will be forgiven.

(Psa 85:10-11) Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. {11} Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

What is truth? It is the Word of God. Grace has met with Truth, righteousness, and peace, and they have banded together. The word translated kissed means to be fastened. Righteousness comes ONLY from God. We get the truth from God’s Word, which is Truth, and which is in written form (the Bible, the Torah, etc.) on earth, but all of our righteousness comes from above. We have the Law on earth, but the Law condemns us. We have God’s Word on earth; it is truth. Righteousness comes from the Father who is in Heaven. When we have the righteousness from God, the Truth (His Word), and God’s grace, we have peace.

(Psa 85:12-13) Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase. {13} Righteousness shall go before him; and shall set us in the way of his steps.

Turning toward truth and righteousness, both of which are from God, is how we are revived. This Psalm points to national revival (our land shall yield her increase). The way to national revival starts with individual revival. Turning from wickedness and toward truth and righteousness is the way to be revived. Where do we get our truth? From God’s Word, the Bible. God credits our righteousness to us because of our faith in Jesus Christ.

The absolute best way to be revived is to study the Word of God, which is truth, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Anything contrary to the Word is not truth, but falsehood. Notice that there is jubilation, but no one is falling out in a faint or laughing uncontrollably, or writhing in uncontrollable fits; those things are not Biblical. Let no one tell you that they are.

Let us now read about the prodigal:

(Luke 15:11-24) And he said, A certain man had two sons: {12} And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

The son was at home, with his father, alive and well. But he felt he needed to get away from his Father’s house and do it his way. When he left, he was dead in his Father’s eyes, just as we are dead in our sins without God’s forgiveness.

{13} And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

When we try to live without God, we are wasting our substance. The son did it his way and look where it got him:

{14} And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. {15} And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. {16} And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

One could compare this with the Word of God. It is our spiritual food. When we get away from God, we become hungry for God. But many times we turn from a true teacher of God’s word, to false teachers (the swine), and we would fain (long to) fill our bellies with husks (false doctrine) instead of the real, true Bread, that is, the Word of God.

{17} And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! {18} I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, {19} And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

This is the first step toward revival, realizing we need God, who is our Father.

{20} And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. {21} And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

This must be our attitude in order to be revived. We must be humble and truly realize our plight. His father was waiting for his hoped return, and when the father saw the son, he was overcome with joy. Our Father is like that. When we are truly sorry, and on our way home, God has compassion and is ready to receive us back into His house.

{22} But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: {23} And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: {24} For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Once we come back home in humility and with repentance, all is forgiven and we are back in God’s good graces. The son, who was alive with his father, left home and left the way of life he had with his Father. He was lost, dead. Finally, after his life became so miserable that he couldn’t stand it, he headed for home. And before he could even get home on his own, his Father came out and got him and took him back in, back home. He confessed his sin and his Father forgave him. He was revived. He was dead but was alive again. The New Testament word for revival, anazao, is used in verse 24, For this my son was dead, and is alive again. He was dead but now is revived.

Having an out of town preacher come to your church to preach a week of nightly sermons is not revival. You don’t need a fiery evangelist to prod you, and you don’t need a revival service to attend. In fact, it is not even necessary to be in a church. (Having said that, there is nothing wrong with attending a revival service—many are revived at such a service). Revival is turning away from your sinful ways and turning back toward God and His Word. To be revived, all you need do is to turn from your wicked ways, to confess your sins and repent, and to turn back to God. How? By prayer, confession, repentance, and getting into His Word. When you are in His Word, you will do His will and be pleasing to Him.

Once you are revived, just as the son communed with his father upon his revival, you may also want to have communion with your Savior. You may have communion at home. All you need to do is gather the elements, unleavened bread and wine, and have communion. You may substitute grape juice for the wine. It is important that you do it in remembrance of what Jesus did for you on the cross: He died. Get out your Bible and read about the Lord’s supper and follow the example there, which was given by Jesus. Mat 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, and Luke 22:17-20.

One last word on revival. Many teach that there will be a great end-time revival just before Jesus returns. That is not necessarily true. Here are two verses that tell what the Bible says about such an idea:

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, {2} That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. {3} Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”

2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; {4} And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

See also Matthew 7:21-23, Matthew 24:5, 10, 11, 24, Luke 18:8, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Jude 3-4, and Revelation 17

It is true that the Gospel will be preached to the entire world before Christ returns, there will be apostasy at the same time. See Matthew 24:14 and Revelation 14:6.

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