The Promise of Revival (7)
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2.5-9
What God seeks
When God created the heavens and the earth and all things in them, He had a particular goal. His desire was to extend the blessed joy of His own Being to creatures of His own making, that they might know, enjoy, delight in, love, serve, flourish in, and glorify Him.
God does not need creation, nor any of its creatures, including us. His joy and glory are not added to by creation, much less by anything we might do. He is complete and perfect in and of Himself. But in the magnanimity of His grace, it pleases God to bring certain of His creatures into participation with Himself, to know His joy, experience His strength, bask in His pleasures, and experience His glory – both seeing and refracting it.
To that end, He created all things very good (Gen. 1.31). Not perfect. Not even finished or complete. But very good, as a footprint or cornerstone for all that He intended should follow once His initial work was done. He put the man and the woman in the garden, along with His other creatures, that they might serve the garden and guard it against anything which threatened God’s very good plan (Gen. 2.15).
Then came the fall, and the rest is history. Sad history, mostly.
But the fall of Adam and Eve, and all the rest of us in them, the universal and deleterious effects of that fall on creation – which groans and travails to this day (Rom. 8.22) – and the rampaging and ruinous reign of Satan over the fallen world in no way changed God’s mind about what He seeks. He is still seeking His glory, through His creatures, in all the most quotidian activities of their lives, so that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and the goodness of God will abound throughout the land of the living (Hab. 2.14; Ps. 27.13).
Thus, the task God originally appointed to humankind – that of bringing the garden to full flourishing and beauty, and, through their children, making such a garden of the whole earth – continues, albeit no longer as a task of development per se, but as one of restoration. To us, as the image-bearers of God, who are being restored in the likeness of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18), the task remains to fill the earth with people like ourselves, and to put all our thoughts and all our work, culture, social life, institutions, and aspirations under our feet, as we worship at the feet of Jesus Christ.
But what was true in the first century remains true to this day: Now we don’t see it happening.
The work we’ve been given to do
The readers of the book of Hebrews didn’t see it happening because they had opted out of the mandate to subdue and restore the earth. They were drifting from their great salvation (Heb. 2.1-3), and they needed to be recalled to their true purpose as disciples of Jesus Christ. So the writer quoted Psalm 8 to pull his readers back into focus and back to the workbench. He would not accept the excuse, either that this work was too difficult or too unlikely. He simply restated that mandate of Psalm 8 and acknowledged the difficulty of the task.
And then, to incite his readers – including us – to hope, obedience, and energetic entrepreneurial endeavor, he said, “But we see Jesus.” Jesus is what revival looks like. When you and I are revived, like the writer of Psalm 119 pleaded with God to be, we will look increasingly like Jesus. When our churches are revived and renewed, they will increase in unity and maturity in the likeness of Jesus, and will truly be His Body incarnate in our world (Eph. 4.12-16). When the world is awakened to the reality of Jesus, as we live and proclaim Him, they will stream up to Him, eager to learn more of Him, and to be made whole and find peace through His grace (Mic. 4.1-8).
All the work we’ve been given to do in this life – our jobs, making a marriage, raising kids, keeping a home, participating in church or community life – must be unto the restoration of God’s original idea of goodness, beauty, and truth. We are called to the Kingdom and glory of God (1 Thess. 2.12), and nothing lies outside that calling or the implications of its demands (Heb. 2.8). We are in the work of restoration, and we will only succeed in any of this work as we keep our eyes on Jesus, stay in communion with Jesus, allow the Spirit to transform us into the image of Jesus, do all our work as unto Jesus and not unto men, and labor to bring the glory and goodness of God to increasing abundance in our spheres of influence.
And this great, continuous, all-encompassing, world-transforming work begins in prayer.
Praying Psalm 8 for revival
As you pray Psalm 8, reflect on the cosmic proportions spread out in this psalm – the heavens, the earth, all creatures, all people. God intends that His excellence and glory should be known throughout His creation. You may think yourself of small significance in this great scheme; so did David (Ps. 8.3, 4). But your view of yourself does not change God’s view of and plan for you. He calls you to take up the work of restoring the world, and that work must begin in your soul, as you seek the Lord for revival day by day.
Ask the Lord to show you, in specific ways, how you can glorify Him in all aspects of your work. How you can encourage your fellow believers to glorify Him. How you can become more consistent in your witness for Him, as well as in doing all things for His glory.
Contemplate the many excellencies of God which are throughout the world – all His works and gifts, His abundant goodness and provision, His continuous attending Presence and power throughout the cosmos. Rejoice in Him, and look for ways of discovering His Presence with you daily (Prov. 25.2); then praise and thank Him, and be a docent of His glory to everyone around you.
Above all, as you pray, look to Jesus. See Him as He walked the earth. Envision Him on the cross, and rising from the dead. Look upon His face in glory, as revealed in Revelation 1 and elsewhere. Commit yourself and all your work to seeing Jesus, and to serving Jesus, so that you will become more like Jesus and Jesus will fill your world increasingly with Himself (Eph. 4.8-10).
The way to revival is the way to eternal life itself: see Jesus, and seeing Him, live for Him, and plead with Him to bring His eternal plan for beauty, goodness, and truth to some greater measure of completion through the works of your hands each day.
1. What could you do to improve your ability to see Jesus more consistently and continuously?
2. What does it mean to do all that you do, including all your various kinds of work, to the glory of Jesus Christ?
3. How can praying Psalm 8 help you to be more mindful of your calling as a believer?
Next Steps – Transformation: Pray Psalm 8 along with other psalms we’ve studied, so that you gain a growing vision for revival. Download this and the previous series of studies on the theme, Revived!, and share them with some friends.
T. M. Moore
We are pleased to offer Worship Guides for use in your family or small group. Each guide includes a complete service of worship, and they are free to download and share by clicking here.
This is part 4 in the series, Revived! All installments in this series may be downloaded for further study by clicking here. For more psalms to sing, order a copy of The Ailbe Psalter (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.