2 Chr 7:14 is used by many as the pillar verse for virtually every revival ministry. The problem is, our definition and expectations of revival are often strongly influenced by our non-New Covenant thinking and theology, our religious culture, our political and social culture, and unresolved ego issues. This second installment in this series examines the difference between old and new covenant promises as it relates to our understanding and application of 2 Chr. 7:14 and our expectations of revival.
The word “new” in Greek is kainos, meaning something that is qualitatively different, not just new in time or sequence. The new covenant is qualitatively different than the old. Hebrews 8:9 says the new covenant is “not according to” the old. It’s a very strong phrase of negation. It means: to have no part with, share nothing in common with, to be opposed to, or to be against. The differences between the two covenants are profound with far-reaching implications, and one of the differences is in the absence of “ifs.”
In the old covenant, the promises are conditional, such as in Deut. 28, 2 Chr 7:14 and elsewhere: “If you do such and such, then I (God) will do xyz”. God’s goodness is conditioned on humanity’s obedience. In the new covenant there are no behavioral conditions to God’s goodness, with the end result being empowerment to obey through the gift of the indwelling Spirit of the resurrected God-Man.
There’s no “if” list in the new covenant, but rather eight “I wills” of God. Here they are:
Jer. 31:27 Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.
Jer. 31:28 . . . so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant
Jer. 31:31 Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Jer. 31:33 But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jer 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Notice God’s initiation in the new covenant. Notice the lack of human contingencies. Notice the absence of the “if you” phraseology so common in the old covenant, especially in Deuteronomy and so common in revival preaching and 2 Chr 7:14: if we _____, then God will_______ (fill in the blank with the verb or virtue of your choice)–we initiate behavior change, then God responds with temporal blessings. This may be the way to train a dog to modify its behavior, but it is not how our Abba relates to us in the New Covenant.
There are no human contingencies in the New Covenant, as God’s conditionalities have all been met in Himself. The new covenant is characterized and secured by the faithfulness of God’s covenantal oath with Himself (Hebrews 6:13-20; Psalms 2 & 110) not the promises of good human behavior. The message of the new covenant is not one of uncertainty and conditionality, but rather the glorious assurance of sonship and the gift of the new nature, which as Christ’s own nature is obedient. Our obedient behavior is a gift that derives from the new nature (which we did not earn or merit), through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
This change in the fundamental nature between the old and new covenants has profound effect on everything, including our expectations, theology, and experience of revival. These things need a thorough, new covenant, update. We are as “revived” as we want to be. We ALREADY HAVE, everything necessary for life and godliness. We just have to get on with it and we will all have all the “revival” we can handle.
This blog is an excerpt of our book: Revising Revival: 2 Chr. 7:14, A New Covenant Perspective available at www.stevecrosby.com
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