Rebellion and RevivalWednesday, August 14, 2019
Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
— Psalm 85:4-7
The text of Psalm 85 is introduced by a particular historical designation: “Of the Sons of Korah.” When we know Korah’s story, we gain unique insight on this prayer of restoration and revival. In Numbers 16 we learn of Korah, a tabernacle servant during the time of Israel’s wilderness wandering. Along with 250 fellow dissidents, Korah rose up and challenged Moses and Aaron for priestly authority.
That didn’t go too well for him…
But several chapters later, we learn while God’s wrath is swift and just, he is full of mercy and grace:
And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, and they became a warning.
But the sons of Korah did not die. — Numbers 26:10-11
For reasons we do not fully see in the text, the sons of Korah were spared the judgment of death; and we later learn they continued in service to the tabernacle as guardians and caretakers, some even joining David in great military victories for the people of God. What seems evident is that the sons of Korah and their subsequent descendants made a choice: They would distance themselves from the rebellious ambitions of their father, and choose to align with their heavenly Father and His purposes.
Psalm 85 echoes the plea behind this choice: “Restore us again… put away your indignation toward us!” (v. 4). The psalmists, recalling the prayer of their forebearers, cry out for mercy and restoration. God does not extend wrath “to all generations,” rather, His grace invites His children to step fully into restoration through the door of service and mission in His world. What the sons of Korah experienced when they continued to choose the purposes of God rather than man was personal and corporate revival, evidenced in joy, worship, love and ultimately salvation.
A friend of mine will often ask his kids, “Are you playing kingdom, or are you playing earth right now?” The question is a pointed reminder that we make a choice every day. When we choose to resist the broken, failed path of rebellion, and align ourselves with God’s purposes, He withholds anger and pours out love, He removes uncertainty and provides direction, He restores joy and grants salvation. May you experience restoration and revival through choosing to play Kingdom rather than earth today.
Our Father, how could we ever depart from Your character and Your ways? And yet each day we wrestle with little rebellions and uprisings. Forgive us for our wandering tendencies, and lead us back to You. Withhold anger and show mercy so that we might know Your joy and Your purposes in our lives. And we thank You for Your own obedient Son. We could not make these requests of You apart from Him. Amen.
Ministry Director, Christian Union Caritas