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By Richard Owens Roberts

A very helpful way to come to grips with the Biblical teaching on revival is to approach it from the standpoint of the cycles of history. In your imagination, picture a very long line that begins with the creation of man in the Book of Genesis and continues on until the end of the present age, sometime in our unknown future. Let us call this imaginary line the norm. A cycle of history consists of crossing this line twice: once going down and a second time going up.

robertsThe Cycles in the Old Testament.
Consider this question, At the time of his creation, was man above or below this imaginary line? Every indication is that prior to his fall man enjoyed a relationship of great beauty and intimacy with God which was vastly above the normal relationship of man with God in subsequent times. But Eve sinned and Adam joined her. Suddenly their intimacy with God was lost and their relationship plunged below the line. From that point in Genesis until the close of Malachi it is possible to trace numerous cycles in which God’s people experienced a return to God and a still later departure from Him.

The Book of Judges provides tremendous help in understanding these cycles. Please note the pattern as established in Chapter Two.

  • Stage One: The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua (vs. 7).
  • Stage Two: When Joshua died (vs. 8), the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, serving the Baals and forsaking the Lord, the God of their fathers (vss. 11-13).
  • Stage Three: The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He brought them under righteous judgment, delivering them into the hands of their enemies. Wherever they went the hand of the Lord was against them for evil and they were severely distressed (vss. 14-17).
  • Stage Four: When the judgment was so heavy and the oppression so great that they could no longer handle it, they groaned under the burden and cried unto the Lord (vs. 18b).
  • Stage Five: When the cry unto God was of great anguish and from their hearts, God raised up a judge who delivered them from the hands of their enemies (vs. 18a): and the people again served the Lord their God and enjoyed a season of rest.

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November 2010