Read: Nehemiah 8:1-3 NIV all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate. They told Ezra the teacher of the Law to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded for Israel. So, on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.
Nehemiah 8:9-10 NIV Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Jerusalem’s city wall was complete but there appears to be something missing. From finally entering the Promised Land to being exiled in Babylon to finding freedom again, the Israelites could now return to their homeland of Jerusalem. However, the physical restoration was not enough. The Israelites knew in their heart something was missing. They realized how far they had fallen from God and needed spiritual restoration. So, they turned to Ezra, the teacher of the Law and asked him to read the Law of Moses. Once the reading was complete, the Israelites wept over their sinful ways. Interestingly, Nehemiah and Ezra instructed the people to not weep but rather celebrate this holy day knowing God was their strength. It seems odd that the people would confess their sins and then be told by the governor and priest to celebrate, but that’s exactly what they did.
Several months before COVID hit in 2020, I started to hear pastors, and others, talking about revival. According to christianity.com, the word revival is defined as “the product of all Christians praying and seeking the Holy Spirit’s presence. The product of a revival is the rejoicing for the one that was slipping away and now that has been brought back to life”. As we progressed through the pandemic, I continued hearing of revival coming. I have often thought we, as a society, were faced with the possibility of our own demise, the imminence of the second coming, and self-reflection of how far we may have strayed from God. That couldn’t have been more evident than The Asbury Outpouring. Beginning on February 8, 2023, Asbury University began a routine Chapel service with the student body. Two weeks and two days later, after non-stop services, prayer and attracting people from as far as Russia and Japan, stories of changed lives and salvation are still being told. It was reported that tens of thousands of people came to pray. What a celebration of restoration!
Much like the Israelites, hardship brought about change in hearts, repentance, and revival. Although the pandemic has officially ended, may we always remember God’s goodness and mercy, and keep revival alive!
Read more about the Ashbury Revival at https://www.asbury.edu/outpouring/