“Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we might be saved.”
It never ceases to amaze me how the Scriptures continuously build the case for the new birth. In the eightieth Psalm we encounter a worship song which was written to be sung as a prayer before the Lord at a time of crisis. It seems as if it has been written in response to the chastisement of the Northern Ten tribes as they were led off into exile. The Psalmist draws attention to the three chief tribes among the ten. Their judgment serves as a warning to the Southern two tribes regarding their own walk with God. A certain deadness has entered into their life as believers and the Psalmist is leading them to cry out to God for revival. Three times the Psalmist repeats a chorus, each time with more urgency and greater clarity, calling on the Lord to revive His people. This chorus is found in verses 3, 7, and 19. In addition there is a hint at a fourth chorus in verse 14a when the Psalmist cries out, “Return to us, O God Almighty.” Then at the close of verse 18 the Psalmist asks the Lord to revive us.
First of all the call for God to Restore us, as the chorus states, is a twofold request. It is a call for the Lord to bring us to repentance and it is a request for the Lord to return to us. This is the focus of the Lord’s Work among us. In fact in verse eighteen the Psalmist uses a word, translated as revive, which means to restore to life that which is dead. It is a call for the Lord to raise the dead. The implication is that the people of God need to be born again. This is always the work of the Holy Spirit in the people of God. It is not something that we can do for ourselves. The mention of the ‘Son of Man’ within the context of God’s people points to the means by which this will be done. It will involve the death and resurrection of the Son of Man as, according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, the first fruits of those who will be raised. We are raised because He is raised. All of this reminds us of the vision which Ezekiel describes for us in Ezekiel 37:1-14 of the valley of dry bones. The bones came together, were covered with flesh and lived in response to prophesy, which is the proclamation of God’s Word. The vision leads up to the powerful statement Ezekiel makes in verses 12 to 14.
“Therefore prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them: I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, My people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.””
How is this to happen? It is clear that it will happen through the Messiah who is to come, the one called the Son of Man. It is also clear that this will be the Lord’s work. It is not something that we can do for ourselves. The Psalmist asks that the Lord turn to us and cause His face to shine upon us. What this means is that the Lord is being asked to manifest His nature to us. The Psalmist is prying that we might see and know Him as He really is. His holiness, sacrificial love, awesome power and grace are what we need to see. This is the vision that the apostle John has as he writes in his first letter.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
1 John 3:1-3
God’s call leads to our response in obedience. We are called to repent and to walk with the Lord in purity. This is the message of the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation as the Lord communicates with His Churches. In fact it is the message of the whole of the Book of Revelation. We are called to repent and believe the Gospel that we might be saved. It is to this that the Psalmist calls the people of God. This is our hope and our prayer for our day.