Revival found its way into the lives of the Israelites through their focus on God’s Word, followed by a passionate explosion of enthusiasm which resulted in repentance, confession and rededication of their lives to God. But in chapters 11 and 12 it settles down to a firm establishment of order with the Priests and Levites being assigned various responsibilities. Chapter 12 lists them all by name in great detail and appoints some to specific responsibilities. In verse 8 six individuals and their brothers were “in charge of the songs of thanksgiving.” In verse nine another group and their brothers “stood opposite them in the service” assumedly as backup singers.

The thought that struck me was that all passion without order and structure doesn’t last very long. With the utilization of gifts in the church, Paul addressed the Corinthian’s weakness of “all passion” without order. In 1 Corinthians 12–14, Paul encourages the free exercise of spiritual gifts while at the same time he provides rules by which these gifts can operate “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).

I’ve seen people break off established churches because they felt “restrained” or “overly restricted” by the established order. They say “you can’t put new wine in old wineskins.” Only about 20 percent of new church plants survive for 3 years or more, but those that do find that their survival has its roots in a passionate revival followed by an establishment of order and infrastructure that sustains the effort. Jesus didn’t say “You don’t need wineskins” to hold your wine. Just the opposite, you need “new ones.” Wine left without wineskins (order) eventually becomes mud.

The same is true in personal revival. When I first became a Christian, I couldn’t find enough time in my day to read the bible, pray, and to talk about God with others. I never missed a church service. But after 30 years, I find what has sustained my faith and spiritual growth has been the harnessing of my passion around a set of structured practices that I do whether I feel like it or not. We cannot live on an emotional or spiritual high, we must allow the depth of our feelings to settle into an orderly lifestyle that reflects our professions. If not, we’ll often find that the seed of God’s word has really fallen on shallow ground, and it won’t survive long enough to bring forth lasting fruit in our lives.

“Search again for the Lord your God. And if you search for him with all your heart and soul, you will find him.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)