When I hear the word “revival” I immediately think of a week of church services with an evangelist. There’s much more to it, of course. The dictionary defines revive as “to become active or flourishing again; to restore from a depressed, inactive or unused state; to renew in mind or memory.” I need that more often than the standard, scheduled spring and fall services. So how does Jacob accomplish that? God lays out four specific steps to revival for Jacob and his family.
First, consider his situation. Genesis 34 tells the sordid and shameful story of the date rape of Jacob’s only daughter, Dinah. Then after he fails to provide any moral leadership, her brothers take vengeance, perverting the covenant sign of circumcision as part of their plot to murder the men of an entire town and take all their wives and children as slaves. An extreme situation unlike any I’ve ever faced to be sure, but taking it down several degrees, and there are things we can relate to:
- Personal failure.
- Not living up to our calling.
- Having our influence destroyed.
- Responding to hurt with revenge.
Jacob was ruined. Any chance he had of drawing the Canaanites to Jehovah through his living witness was gone. Sure, he had the great Abraham and Isaac ahead of him, but instead of being a great example of faith, he’d be lucky if another tribe didn’t hunt them down and kill them all. It is in the middle of this mess that God speaks. “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there, and make an altar there to God.”
Jacob needed a major spiritual renewal, and in that short set of instructions, God told him the four steps to revival.
Step 1 – Arise – Change your surroundings, your routine. You cannot continue to live and function the way you are now and expect to flourish. Arise. Take action.
Step 2 – Go up to Bethel – Bethel means “house of God”. We immediately interpret that as church. And yes, we should be part of our local church and the worship services there, but I also think of it as God’s presence.
Step 3 – Live there – Don’t just flee there when times are hard. Treat God’s presence less like a life-preserver that you remove once you get out of the water and more like life support that you cannot be removed from.
Step 4 – Make an altar – Sacrifice and worship. I give up being the center of my universe to the Lord who created and governs it, and from whom I usurped my position.
Which of these four steps to revival can you take today?