“He sends His command to the earth; His word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down His hail like pebbles. Who can withstand H icy blast? He sends His word and melts them; He stirs up His breezes, and the waters flow.”
“I looked again – and there before me was a flying scroll! He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide.” And He said to me, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. The Lord Almighty declares, “I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of him who swears falsely by My Name. It will remain in his house and destroy it, both its timbers and its stones.””
David Pao in his Acts and the Isaianic New Exodus (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, Michigan,2000, page 176) writes, “In this chapter, I have shown that the word of God in the narrative of Acts is an active agent that travels to the end of the earth. The goal of this journey is to conquer the world and to create a community as the true people of God. Even when the suffering of the ministers of the word is mentioned throughout the narrative, the word itself is portrayed as undefeated.” Earlier Pao had identified the Word of God as the Lord Jesus Christ actively at work in the world, creating a people for Himself. “The relationship between the identity of the word and that of Jesus can be seen in Acts 6:5 where it is said that the apostles will be devoted “to the service of the word.” The Lord whom they serve is of course the risen Jesus who called His followers to be His servants (cf. Acts 26:160.” (Pao, p. 161)
What David Pao is describing is the focus of the prophetic words of God in both the book of Psalms and Zechariah. God’s Word is sent out as a living agent confronting the world not only with the holiness of God, but also with the depth of our sinfulness. This is the foundation of any discussion of revival, or of evangelistic fruitfulness. To pray for revival is to be praying for the conquering ministry of God’s Word of truth to be going out into our world. Where God’s Word goes forward sin is always exposed. The Apostle Paul tells us that, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”” (Romans 1:16-17) So often we pray for evangelistic fruitfulness, or revival, as if it is something which will touch the life of others, bringing them painlessly into God’s Kingdom, and never coming near us. Historical revival is another matter however. When Jonathan Edwards described the revival that he lived through he showed us that this was a sovereign work of God’s Spirit that began with a deep encounter with God’s truth. People hear the Word of God with deep conviction. They saw clearly their sin, becoming aware of their desperate need for Christ. So thorough was the conversion of these people that it began to impact the way they lived. Others saw in them something real. The gospel went out and conquered, creating a people who would forever belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe that this spread of God’s Word is what is at the heart of Zechariah’s prophesy of the scroll, containing God’s Word, which God caused to fly throughout the whole land entering into every house, bringing a curse, conviction of sin, so that each one would be brought to embrace God’s Word and by that great encounter being saved.
What about you? Have you met the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you encountered His holiness? Have you been brought to see clearly your sin? Have you discovered that He did not come just to expose your sin so that you would be convicted? He came that you might be saved in Him.
To pray for revival is to pray that this reality would once again spill over our whole land and that, to paraphrase St. Francis of Assisi, “It would begin with me!”