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A Revival In The Family

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8-2-98

A REVIVAL IN THE FAMILY
GENESIS 35
:
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the families of America are in trouble. Unfortunately the families
in the church are not immune. The statistical studies indicate that the divorce rate is higher in the church than in
society as a whole. Church teenagers seem to be getting in trouble about the same rate as other youth.

Alice and I have been assisting in a conference for pastors and their families at East Texas Baptist University this
past week. It was not a large group in attendance, but among the pastor’s present there were several stories. Two
of the pastor’s have had daughters to conceive out of wedlock in the past five years. Another couple has been to
the brink of divorce. They reported chaos in the families that make up their churches. One pastor has had three
women to leave their husbands for another woman in the last three years—and this is not a large congregation.

Is there any hope for the family? There is. The hope is for a family revival to take place like the family revival
experienced by Jacob and his family. Let us study their experience of revival so that we might know the same in our
families.
I.        THE REVIVAL TIME.
The context of this family revival is important. There were two things that made it abundantly clear that it was time to
go back to Bethel. Could these two things be indicating to us that it is time for revival in our family?
1.        The Moral Crisis.
It was a time of moral crisis in the family. Jacob had bought a little piece of land near Scalen and had settled down
with his family. His only daughter Dinah had befriended some local youth and met Shechem, the son of the local
ruler Hamor. Shechem had been attracted to Dinah, and when she refused his approaches, he had raped her. It
had brought a deep sense of grief and shame to the heart of Jacob and his wife Leah.

When the brothers of Dinah heard of her defilement at the hand of Shechem, they began to plot revenge. And this
they did. After deceiving Hamor and Shechem, Levi and Simeon killed all of the men in the town. Their brothers
joined them in claiming all of the goods that the belonged to this family, and in taking the women and children to be
their slaves. Jacob knew that what his sons had done would put his whole family in jeopardy. His family would be no
match for the Canaanites if they joined together against him. Fear settled upon him and his sons.

It was in the darkness of these days that Jacob realized that his family needed a revival. He understood this moral
crisis as a spiritual problem. And he was right!

Are you facing a crisis in your family that would speak to you of the need of revival? Our culture does not want to
include a consideration of God when considering a family crisis, but those of us who are in covenant with Him must.
Everything that happens to us is related to our relationship to God. God speaks to us through the things that
happen to us.

2.        The Spiritual Call.
But there was more than the crisis that faced Jacob and his family. God chose that particular time to make another
appearance to Jacob. “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Go up to Bethel, and settle there, and build an altar to God, who
appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.” Jacob knew that God had spoken to him.

The call was to go back to Bethel. You will remember that Bethel was where Jacob had the vision of the staircase
that went from earth to heaven. It was where he saw the angels of God ascending and descending on the staircase.
It was where God had entered into convenant with him like he had with Abraham and Isaac. It was where he had
made a significant promise to the Lord. To go back to Bethel was to go back to the place of beginning in his walk
with God. It was to renew his commitment to the Lord.

The call included a word about building an altar at Bethel and presenting to the Lord the worship that He deserves.
He was to put back into his life some things that he had been neglecting.

Has God been speaking to you? If He has, you will know it. There will be an inner conviction that comes from the
Lord Himself that this is something that must be done in your life. He may be speaking to you through this very
message tonight.

Is it revival time for your family? Is it time to return to some things that you have been neglecting in your walk with
God?
II.        THE REVIVAL PRICE.
What is involved in a spiritual revival in the family? What steps must be taken before you can experience revival in
your family? I see at least three things involved in the price of revival.
1.        The parental obedience.
The first thing to consider is the obedience of the parent—in this case Jacob. When Jacob became aware of the
plight of his family and heard the Word of the Lord, he took prompt action—he obeyed the word of the Lord. He
called on his whole family to join him in a return to Bethel. He became the leader in the whole process.

There is a lesson for us in this. If revival is to take place in your family, there needs to be some spiritual leadership
from the parents. The children do have a part in the revival, but the burden for leadership falls on the parents,
especially the father.

Is not true that we are more to likely to find concern about the need for revival in the children than we are in the
parents? Parents often become calloused toward the Lord and slow to respond to the word of the Lord that comes
to them. Not Jacob! He led the way.
         2. The family cleansing.
The second step in this process is described by Moses in the inspired account. Jacob initiated it with a challenge to
his children and the whole household: “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and
change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel where I will build an altar to God”.

The whole household followed the leadership of Jacob. “So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the
rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.” This must have been an impressive sight as
each member of the family brought whatever material they had related to a false god, or an idol. Doubtlessly
Rachael brought the household idols she had carried off from her father’s house when they left the land of Haran.
Other members of the family had picked up some of the trinkets of the false gods along the way. They probably
even had some that they had claimed from the spoils when they destroyed the village of Shechem.

What are we to understand by all of this? They are simply cleansing themselves of anything would be a substitute
for God in their lives. When they arrived at Bethel, they wanted it to be clearly understood that all of their trust was
in the God of Abraham and Isaac. They did not need any other god, nor did they want any relationship with any
other god.

What would this involve in your family? Is there anything that your family would need to get rid of before you could
experience a genuine revival in your family? Is there anything to which you have been giving alliegence that belongs
only to God? Would someone need to destroy their credit cards because they have been trusting in them to meet
their needs instead of the Lord? Would your family need to get rid of a premium movie channel because it has been
enthroning the goddess of pleasure in your family? Would you dare allow the Holy Spirit to walk with you through
every room in your house with an understanding that you will get rid of anything that displeases the Lord?

There can be no spiritual revival in the family unless a family is willing to pay the price in repentance. Jacob and
family were not ready for a meeting with God at Bethel until they had made a grave under the oak at Shechem.

3. The family commitment.
There was yet another part of the price—the altar of commitment. This was the first thing they did when they arrived
at Bethel: “Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. There he built an
altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing
from his brother.” When Jacob had been there before, he had anointed a stone and called the place Bethel. He had
built no altar. This is the second altar that Jacob has built, but it is the first that he has built in response to a word
from the Lord.

The altar was a place of sacrifice. Jacob offered sacrifices for the covering of the sins of his family and for the
consecration of his family to the Lord. As the offerings were consumed on the altar, it was an outward symbol of the
way that Jacob and his family were offering themselves to the Lord. It was also a place of communion with the Lord.
In a way that he had never done before, Jacob and his family were involved in the worship of the Lord God of
Abraham.

Dad, are you willing to build a family altar in your home and offer yourself and your family to the Lord? A dear friend
shared with me how and his family did it some years ago. They made an altar out of the coffee table in the den. He
placed on the coffee table his billfold, which contained all of the money that they possessed. He put their car keys
and their house key on the table. Then they knelt around the table and offered themselves to the Lord in a prayer
of dedication. It was a day of fresh beginning for his family—they began to experience a spiritual revival in their
family.

Would you be willing to pay such a price for a spiritual revival in your family?

III.        THE REVIVAL BLESSING.
1.        The  revelation of the Lord.
What happened at Bethel for Jacob and family is a beautiful story! Yet it is stated so simply in the text: “After Jacob
returned from Paddam Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him.” God appeared to him again! The same
God that had met him at Bethel the first time reveals himself again. The same God with whom he wrestled through
the night at Peniel comes again.

Would you not like to know more about the form this revelation took? I would. All I know for sure is that God made
Himself known to Jacob in a fresh way—gave him fresh insights into His character and His grace. Is this not the
essence of revival? Is not revival coming to know God in a deeper and more meaningful way?

2.        The renewal of the blessing.
“And God blessed him.” Wonder what that means? We gain some insight into its significance when we listen to what
God said to Him. “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” Then God
added, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from
you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this
land to your descendents after you.”  To catch the real force of these words, you have to keep them in their context.
Abraham and his family have been afraid of their future because of the angry deed of Levi and Simeon. They have
wondered what their future might be spiritually after the defilement of Dinah. Would God still have a place for them
in His plan? In this word of grace God assures Jacob and his sons that their place in his plans is secure. He will do
all that He has promised to do.

Do you need this kind of the blessing on your family? Does your family need to be reminded of the mercy and grace
of the Lord? This is again at the very essence of revival. It is God renewing his call in the heart of his people. It is
God restoring your family to its place of ministry and service.

Is it time for your family to have a revival, to make a return to the Lord God of Jacob? Then let’s do it tonight! Let’s
not go home until we have taken proper steps of return to the Lord.

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