Times Square in Manhattan
“The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.” (Isaiah 26:7-9)
The Judgments of the Lord
Reading these verses while praying recently, I realized that they are directly connected to the theme of revival and to the opening of doors for which we have long prayed. We have been asking the Lord for revival in New York City, as well as in our nation. We are asking for revival, not just because it would be marvelous to see God move again with power from on high, but because we desperately need “times of refreshing… from the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)
Our country is rapidly wandering away from its Judeo-Christian foundations, the chief source of the many blessings Americans have long enjoyed. Educators among others are rewriting American history as taught in schools and universities, and our children are deprived of a thorough and accurate knowledge of their roots. A nation in which most citizens were once familiar with the Bible is raising generations of children who are ignorant of the most influential book in the development of our society. From all too many professorial lecterns, the call goes out for freedom from religion in a land founded on freedom of religion.
Evils of every variety, including perversions and violence that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago are flooding into the culture, the media, and the daily life of our people. Many of us are deeply concerned that judgment cannot be far behind, and may actually have already begun. As Charles H. Spurgeon pointed out, the most fearful judgment of all is not when God sends forceful, visible punishments, but when He quietly slips away and people do not even realize that He is gone! “Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple…,” and who in Israel realized that the Spirit had left? (Ezekiel 10:18)
We who belong to the Lord need to consider prayerfully these verses in Isaiah 26:7-9. We may think that, though our nation is slipping away, we believers are doing just fine. At least we will escape judgment! Like the survivors safely ensconced in the Titanic’s lifeboats, we are so happy to be dry and safe that we are unwilling to risk going back to rescue those who are still drowning in the icy Atlantic. Like godly King Hezekiah, we respond to God’s warning of coming judgment by consciously or unconsciously saying in our hearts, “The word of the Lord you have spoken is good…There will be peace and security in my lifetime.” (Isaiah 39:8)
Meanwhile, we forget that judgment is a dreadful thing, not to be wished on anyone, no matter how evil they are. When judgment comes, multitudes of souls are swept away without remedy into dark eternity, souls who might have been rescued had we really cared. Oh, that we had a heart like the good shepherd whom Jesus spoke of in Matthew’s gospel! He willingly left the ninety-nine sheep that were safe, and traversed wilderness and desert to rescue one lost, bedraggled animal. “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” (Matt 18:11, NKJV) Or as Peter said of our Lord, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
The Righteousness of the Saints
The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth. (Isaiah 26:7) Please note that, as this passage declares, it is God who makes the way of righteous level and smooth. None of us will ever stand before a holy God by our own efforts or religious merit. Let us not boast therefore about how much better we are than those poor, lost sinners all around us. Are we any more deserving of the grace of God than they are? We stand in right relationship with God only by the continual working of the grace of God—as we die daily to our old selves and our old lives. No human righteousness will stand in the judgment day, only the righteousness we receive from Jesus Christ. In Spurgeon’s words, “All true religion is the work of God…It is a sin of the greatest magnitude to suppose that there is aught in the heart which can be acceptable unto God, save that which God himself has first created there.” (Spurgeon, Spiritual Revival the Want of the Church)
The New King James Version translates verse 7 with a fascinating difference: “The way of the just is uprightness; O Most Upright, You weigh the path of the just.” In this translation, verse 7 seems to contradict itself because it states that the way of the just is upright, but then declares, “You weigh the path of the just.” The righteous may think that they are fine, that there is nothing more that needs to be done in their lives. It is those sinners out there in the world who need to change! But the Bible reveals that revival begins in the house of God, and that judgment begins in the house of God, also. The righteous are the very ones whose ways God weighs! God looks at the paths of His people, and searches out what is in their hearts. Remember that the Father is seeking a Bride for His Son who will be a “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:27-28) That is a high calling indeed!
God was searching the heart of King Hezekiah when the Babylonian emissaries came to view all his treasures, and this godly man failed the test. How tragic were the consequences for his descendants, in whose time all those treasures that Hezekiah was so proud of were carried off to Babylon! In one way or another, he failed to fully appreciate the greatest treasure of all—his relationship with the Living God. He also failed to pass on that treasure to his children, to their fearful loss. His son, Manasseh, was the most wicked king Judah ever had, committing more sins and atrocities than the Canaanites whom Israel had replaced. (2 Kings 21:11) Yes, we are our brother’s and our children’s keepers! We will either leave a heritage that blesses or deprives those who come after us.
Many of us in this nation are deeply concerned about the heritage being left for our descendants. We are genuinely seeking God for revival in this generation, realizing the great need of our own hearts and of those all around us. Like Isaiah, we plead with the Lord, “Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old.” (Isaiah 51:9) We are standing and waiting in front of a door, knocking and asking God to open it, pleading with Him to show His power in our time. We pray as Habakkuk did, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2) But here comes the hard part! While we are knocking, God is searching our hearts.
The Necessity of Waiting
When God has given us a promise, a desire, or a burden, and we are not seeing it fulfilled, we are tempted to stop standing in front of that door. It is all too simple to say, “This is silly! I am going to try to find my own way here,” and some believers do. But if a door truly is of God, it is critical that we wait. It is imperative that we persist, so that God can work in our hearts to make us ready in His good time to go through that door. Where is it that we are not yet ready? God wants to move, but can He move in us?
Let us look at the second part of this passage, “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” (Isaiah 26:8) Please note that, when believers live as they should, “Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws,” the result is not a flurry of activity, but a waiting on God. Every season of revival in history began with, “we wait for you.” Every major revival has been preceded by prayer, intercession, and waiting on God until He comes in convicting power! Many of us are asking the Lord to open a door for revival in New York City, and in our nation. We stand waiting in front of that door, knocking and asking God to open it—and there discover an inconvenient truth about ourselves. Our fallen human nature does not like to wait!
Fisherman on the Sea of Galilee
In this, we are very much like the Lord’s disciple, Peter. He had been with Jesus and had seen the miracles, the crowds, and saw God move in power. He also saw Jesus die, and even rise from the dead! The period after the resurrection must have seemed like an anti-climax, nothing is happening! He may have felt that the best was past, it was all just history. So what does this impatient fisherman do? He says to his fellow disciples, “I go a-fishing!” Oh, how tempted we are to go and do the familiar things. Our flesh is willing to do anything, but wait on God. At the risk of repeating myself, if a door is of God, it is important that we wait! We must persist in faith because, while we are waiting, God is working in our lives to make us ready to go through the door. Consider if He were to open the door earlier, but we were not ready to enter? What then?
What was Peter’s great need? He had repented after his betrayal of the Lord, and had been restored to his place as a disciple. Yet Jesus said to His disciples in Luke 24:49 (NKJV) “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Peter needed to be filled with the Spirit of God before he could become the apostle that God intended him to be. We too need the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, if we are to see revival in our day. When Jesus spoke of the work of the Holy Spirit, He said,
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16:8-11, NKJV)
When the Holy Spirit moves in reviving power, the people of God’s house are the first to come under deep conviction of sin. Layers of pride, self-righteousness, and deception are stripped away, and the souls of men and women are laid bare before Almighty God. In Spurgeon’s words,
“We too often flog the church, when the whip should be laid on our own shoulders… Let us, therefore, commence with ourselves, remembering that we are part of the church, and that our own want of revival is in some measure the cause of that want in the church at large.”
The Holiness of God’s Name
One of the great marks of unadulterated repentance is that believers begin to hold the name of the Lord in much higher regard than they did previously. As the next part of Isaiah 26 states, “Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Years ago, an Orthodox Jewish friend assured me that we Gentile Christians do not comprehend how holy the name of the Lord is to religious Jews. He suggested that Christians handle the Lord’s name too lightly. For a religious Jew Ha Shem (שם), the Name, is to be honored above all and is not even to be spoken lightly. The Name of the Lord represents the Person of God Himself: who He is, His character, His purpose, and His power. Strong’s Concordance to the Bible describes Ha Shem as, “an appellation, as a mark or memorial of individuality; by implication honor, authority, character…” The very nature of the Lord of Israel is contained in His holy name.
Spanish Hebrew Bible, Solsona,
Catalonia, Spain 1384
The most holy form of God’s name in the Bible is the Hebrew tetragrammaton. It consists of the letters yud, he, vav, and he (יהוה) and no Orthodox Jew ever pronounces it. Instead, when a religious Jew reads the Hebrew Scriptures aloud and this name appears, he will use the names Adonai (the Lord) or Elohim (the supreme God) in its place. As my Jewish friend pointed out, no Jew alive today or for many centuries past would even know how to pronounce this holy name. Yet along come Gentile Christians who claim to know with authority that the name represented by these four Hebrew letters is pronounced Jehovah or, more recently, Yah-weh. If Gentile Christians sometimes shake their heads at Jewish unbelief in the Messiah, how do Jews feel when Christians claim knowledge that they cannot possibly have? We who are Christ’s servants are called to “provoke” the Jews to jealousy after their God (Romans 10:19 and 11:11)—not to make them shake their heads!
Why should this matter to us today? As Jesus stated in Matthew 12:34, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (NKJV) What we speak and how we speak reveals much about the attitude of our hearts. Every day in our beloved land sinners use the name of the Lord as a curse! I remember years ago sitting on some steps on the Old Campus at Yale, hearing a young woman hold an animated conversation in an Asian language. The only word that I could understand was when she cursed using the name of Jesus! At the time I thought, why not use the name of Buddha or some Eastern god? Why did she have to use the name of Jesus? Where does such cursing come from? It comes straight out of hell! The devil knows how holy the name of God is, and wants to drag that name down in the streets. Yet, when revival comes, people honor the name of the Lord; they fear the name of God. His Name is no longer just a word that has scarcely any real meaning to them.
Believers can also be careless about their use of God’s name. As a freshman at Yale University in 1971, I took part in morning prayer meetings six days a week in the old Dwight Hall Library. My brothers in Christ and I prayed with all the vigor we could muster at 7:15 AM—but we had a lot to learn! Proverbs 27:17 states that, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We were so serious about praying that, in our youthful enthusiasm, we sometimes pounded hard on the arms of the library’s poor old overstuffed chairs. It was a wonder that the padding did not come out!
Worse yet, we outdid one another with, “O Lord… Father God… Jesus…Lord… Heavenly Father… O Lord…,” until we began to wonder about the propriety of such abundant use of the names of a Holy God. Thereafter, we counted one another’s use of God’s name in every prayer, until one of us was caught using the name of the Lord 104 times in a single session! We all finally realized that something was amiss, that we needed an entirely new respect for the Lord’s name, and a more humble way of praying! In the months that followed, the Lord was no slower to respond to our prayerful requests, just because we used His name more sparingly and respectfully.
The Fear of the Lord
Is it possible that we who are believers treat God and His holy name too lightly? Have we become overly familiar in handling divine realities? We speak so much nowadays about the love of God that one has to ask, have we forgotten about the fear of the Lord? Do we understand what Paul meant when he wrote in Hebrews 10: 31, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” We sing, “Our God is an Awesome God,” but do we understand awesome as in the modern slang of “Awesome, dude!”—or do we know this word in its original etymological sense of “respect combined with fear and wonder”?
Moses with the Tablets
of the Testimony
Fear is not a popular word in contemporary Christian circles but Moses, the great Jewish prophet and lawgiver, understood the meaning of fear from first-hand experience. That is why he wrote in Psalm 90:11-12,
Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Moses knew the terror of the Lord, and even felt the ground shake beneath his feet in the presence of God! He saw God face to face, as few men ever have, and begged the Lord to grant him “a heart of wisdom.”
Compared to Moses, might we Gentile Christians be too quick to think that we are already wise, we who have never seen God? We freely air our opinions on religious matters, and spout our personal theologies. We too often preface our views with the words, “Well, I think…,” and speak of things we comprehend partially at best! As Leonard Ravenhill wrote of one contemporary Christian theologian in Revival Praying (p. 18), “He has a right to his opinion, but that does not make his opinion right.”
We justifiably criticize the Jews of Jesus’ day for substituting their own thoughts and traditions for the plain sense of the Word of God. Yet do we not do the very same thing with our multiplicity of traditions, theologies, and denominations? In Jesus’ words from Mark 7:6-8,
Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you
hypocrites; as it is written:
“These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
You have let go of the commands of God
and are holding on to the traditions of men.
These are very strong and even offensive words, but we must keep in mind that they were spoken not only as a reproof to the Jews, but also as a warning to Gentile believers. Are our hearts also far from God? In genuine revival, people clap their hands over their mouths in astonishment at just how far off the mark their religious opinions were. Suddenly, God’s Word appears to them to be just as simple, true, and unchangeable as ever it was! God’s people also discover that passages from the Scriptures that once seemed to apply only to other people, actually apply to them as well.
The Thoughts of the Lord
Oh, how we boast about who we are and what we know—until we come into the presence of the living God! It is there that we realize, once again, that we are only fallen flesh and blood, just like everyone else! If anything is different about us, it is because of the gracious work of God in our lives—not because of what we have done or any special knowledge that we possess. In the words of the apostle Paul, who heard the voice of Jesus speaking to him from heaven, “If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.” (1 Corinthians 8:2-3, NKJV)
Does it even really matter so much what we think? Or should we be seeking with all our hearts what God thinks, namely the mind of Christ? King Solomon suggests that we walk softly before God, and be careful about what we say:
Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
Proverbs 10:19 (NKJV) offers the same advice: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Sometimes it is better just to be quiet and listen, then to fill the air with our words. God does not despise our thoughts, or the desires of our hearts, but as Isaiah prophesied in chapter 55, verse 9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Mediterranean Sea from Israel
King David, a man after God’s own heart, declared in Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Some people would call David narrow-minded but, in fact, his eyes had been opened to see the greatest treasure of all. Therefore, he cried out to the Lord,
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.
Will we remain satisfied with our own thoughts and ideas, or do we long to understand what God thinks? Will our hearts be content with earthly things, or do we long for the things of heaven? Do we long for days of heaven upon earth, for that is what revival truly is!
Oh that the Lord would grant us a heart of wisdom to understand how little we know, and how much we still have to learn! As a dear missionary friend once declared, and I am sure many other experienced believers have said the same, “The older I get, the more I realize how little I know!” The Christian who is certain that he or she knows everything is an immature Christian. The more we grow up in Christ, the more we will understand that the Christian life is not about mastering a body of knowledge, or even about achieving a level of self-sufficiency. The Christian life is about learning to walk in a continual, growing dependence on Jesus Christ. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, emphasis added)
Revival and the House of the Lord
What were we praying for so fervently in all those early morning prayer meetings during my years at Yale? Revival! We loved to sing that old hymn of William P. Mackay,
Revive us again; fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, Hallelujah! amen;
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.
But what does revival mean? People often talk about revival meetings as if revival were something people plan and make happen. But genuine revival comes directly from the throne of God. In the words of Hosea, chapter 6: 2-3 (NKJV),
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
Note that all-important phrase, “That we may live in His sight.” No man or woman comes into the presence of the Lord lightly. We must be washed to the depths of our being of all sin, selfish ambition, pride, unyieldedness, and anything else that will not bow the knee to Almighty God. The Kingdom of Heaven is not a democracy, it is an absolute monarchy. Pride will never enter God’s presence, only humility will!
As one fellow prayer warrior from my freshman year put it, “Humility is knowing God as He really is, and yourself as you really are. When you understand that, there is no room left for pride.” Or, in the words of Andrew Murray from his book, Humility, “As Christians, the mystery of grace teaches us that as we lose ourselves in the overwhelming greatness of redeeming love, humility becomes to us the consummation of everlasting blessedness… nothing is more natural and beautiful and blessed than to be nothing that God may be everything.” Are we ready to “pursue the knowledge of the Lord” until we truly know Him, and He becomes everything to us? Or are we claiming to be more than we really are spiritually? One of the marks of genuine revival is that believers, and not just worldly sinners, come trembling and repentant into the presence of the Living God. In the words of Job 42:5-6,
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.
The simple fact is that sinners are far more likely to repent when believers get real with God, and throw off their half-heartedness and hypocrisy!
Why should sinners repent when we who claim to bear the name of Christ refuse to do so? Why should sinners change when believers do the same things they do? And why should the world fear Almighty God when Christians prove by their actions that they do not? What Spurgeon stated about nineteenth century London could easily be said of New York City today:
“Oh sirs, the lives of too many members of Christian churches give us grave cause to suspect
that there is none of the life of godliness in them all! Why that reaching after money, why that
covetousness, why that following of the crafts and devices of a wicked world, why that clutching
here and clutching there, that grinding of the faces of the poor, that stamping down of the
workman…if men are what they truly profess to be?”
Malachi 1:6 declares, “’If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name.’” In the covenant of grace depicted in the New Testament, all who belong to Christ Jesus have been made kings and priests: “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:4-6, NKJV)
Therefore, it is not just pastors, evangelists, and the like who must honor God in their everyday lives. Every member of the Body of Christ must honor and respect the Lord and His name in all that they do, for “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) Do our daily lives bring honor to the Lord whose name we bear? “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Or do men mock God Himself because of the way we behave, and hold the church of Christ in contempt? No wonder judgment begins with the house of God!
That They May Be One
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you;
your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my
spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth, the people
of the world learn righteousness.
Oh what a blessed day when the people of God are more concerned about honoring the name of the Lord than having their own names honored! What joy there must be in heaven when all the man-made barriers, traditions, agendas, and ambitions that have divided believers for years are swept aside—and only one name is exalted among the flock of Christ! “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” What a privilege to be enabled to forget about our own honor and reputation, and to give our whole heart to seek the “renown” of the One who alone should be exalted over all the earth. This should be the normal Christian attitude, yet most of the time we tragically miss the mark, get bogged down in lesser things, and allow the devil a field day!
Is it not about time that the Lord had a field day among those who are called by His name? As Jesus said of His own death in John 12:32-33, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” What a powerful beacon the cross is, breaking the hardened hearts of men! But why then are believers so concerned about lesser things, when their greatest duty and privilege in life is to lift up Jesus Christ—that He may “draw all men” to Himself? Have we forgotten what Jesus prayed for us in John 17:11? “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name — the name you gave me — so that they may be one as we are one.” What a transformation in the testimony of the saints when revival sweeps away their sad divisions, and the world sees a Church that is One Body! Only then does the Church fulfill the description in Song of Solomon 6:10, “Who is she that looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” (KJV, updated)
Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan
What we need to see opened in New York City is a pair of doors, liked the matched pair at the entrance to a cathedral. To see the saints united in Christ is half of the door. I was privileged to be at the 150th anniversary commemoration of the famous Fulton Street Prayer Meeting Revival of 1857, and of the national awakening which sprang from it. It was very special to see so many believers from different churches praying together, worshipping together, lifting up the Lord and honoring Him. It was something that I had never seen before in this great city–a taste of the “fair as the moon, clear as the sun” part of the verse from Song of Solomon.
But, how desperately we need to see the fulfillment of the other half of this verse, and the other half of the door opened! This half is for believers to stand together to evangelize the entire city. No one church or even several churches can ever do this on their own. When the churches of New York stand together united in Christ, “terrible as an army with banners,” they will reach the city to a degree that will never be accomplished by any other means. It has seemed to me at times that this half of the door will never open, but God can open it! God can grant us a season when believers do stand together. That is the great need of our generation! Anything less will leave the largest parts of this city, gathered from many nations, perishing for want of the blessings Jesus won for them on the cross of Calvary.
As we pray for revival, we need to ask ourselves a question. Are we living in the shadow of the cross and pointing lost souls to Christ? Or is our shadow obscuring the cross, and standing in the way of Almighty God, because we refuse to die to ourselves? As Pastor Luis Rivera of Manhattan Grace Tabernacle pointed out a few years ago, we claim that we are too shy to preach the Gospel to the lost, but the fact is that we are too selfish. When we forget about ourselves, nothing will stop us from “speaking the truth in love” to the lost. (Ephesians 4:15)
There is another area where our shadow may be obscuring the cross. Revival is not about our agendas. It is not about our desire to be somebody spiritually, or to build up our ministry. It is not about our desire for church growth, or even for our little group to be blessed. In fact, revival requires us to put down our personal agendas, and to take hold of God for His agenda. Lord, we have had our agendas, we have done our things, we have held our meetings, and we have pressed ahead with our efforts. We have done everything we could think of but, as Jeremiah 8:20 (NKJV) says, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!”
Are we living to build our churches, or to build the Church of Jesus Christ? Ponder for a moment another of those great reproofs to the Jewish people, and warnings to Gentile believers. Malachi 1:10-11 declares:
“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my
altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your
hands. My name will be
great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among
the nations,” says the LORD Almighty.
We long for our places of worship to be full, and blame lost sinners for being so unresponsive. But is it with us that God is not pleased? Are we lighting “useless fires” on His altar, when we should be pouring out tears of repentance before His throne, and when we should also be weeping for the lost to come home to Jesus? “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness,” and so do the members of the Body of Christ!
God will have His way on earth! His name “will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun.” Jesus will have His beautiful, eternal bride out of every nation, tongue, and tribe on earth. But, will we be among the number of that great company who are ready and willing to be co-workers with the Lord, laborers who will bring in the great latter harvest from all nations on earth? “The Lord announced the word, and great was the company of those who proclaimed it.” (Psalm 68:11) This is not the work of one man, but of a company of believers united in heart and in purpose in Christ!
Ruins of the Gamla Synagogue in Israel
Revival is going to come, but are we ready for it? Are we seeking great things for ourselves, while the world is falling apart all around us, as Jeremiah’s servant, Baruch, did?
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You said,
“Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.” [The Lord said,] Say this to him: “This is what
the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have
planted, throughout the land. Should you then seek great things for yourself?
Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but
wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.” (Jeremiah 45:2-5)
Are we seeking great things for ourselves, for our particular ministries, or are we seeking great things for God? Everything of this present world will be consumed by fire because, “This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted.” God made this present earth, but one day He will consume His own handiwork with fire. All that will remain from this present world are the souls of men and women, and they will spend eternity in either heaven or in the lake of fire.
Some believers resist praying for revival, because great judgment has often followed great moves of God in history. Sometimes we want to have peace, but peace is just not an option. The marvelous revival of Israel under King Josiah was quickly followed by the terrible judgment of the Babylonian exile. As Yale’s famous historian, Edmund S. Morgan, pointed out, the Great Awakening united thirteen separate British colonies and gave them a sense of nationhood they had never had before. Nevertheless, two bloody conflicts, the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, followed that blessed season. The Fulton Street Prayer Meeting Revival was almost immediately followed by the terrible American Civil War in which about 750,000 people died. The great Welsh revival preceded the First World War by only a few years. The people of the Korean peninsula were blessed by a revival that touched the entire nation, north and south, shortly before the Japanese began their oppressive rule leading up to World War II, and also before the Korean War broke out, causing nearly two million casualties.
Judgment for sin is going to come and we cannot stop it! But we can ask for seasons of repentance to come first. Leonard Ravenhill had to handle this very issue, and wrote the following passage in 1962:
“The alternative may not be Christ or chaos: it may be Christ and chaos. I well remember a lady in
New Zealand saying recently that she feared to pray for revival because national revival seems to
be a prelude to coming judgment. Maybe she is right, but better to have revival followed by judgment
than to have judgment without a revival preparation. (Revival Praying, p. 19)
God does not want to judge men, but their rebellious actions force His hand. Nevertheless, even as judgment looms on the horizon, the Lord continues to seek to save all that He may from that coming judgment. He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV)
Right here, however, before we conclude, we must ask another question. God is not willing that any should perish. But are we willing for them to perish? Do we live our daily lives oblivious to the dying souls around us? Or, does it break our hearts that men, women, and children die simply for want of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? You can almost see Isaiah weep as he prophesied regarding his own generation, “For my people have been taken away for nothing…” (Isaiah 52:5)
How many in this generation are selling their souls for cheap nothings? They do not know that they have an eternal soul to save, a hell to flee, and a heaven to gain. And they will never know unless we first pray for them, and then go and tell them. May our God grant us brokenness of heart, and enable us to weep before His throne until repentance comes—until the Spirit of God is poured out from heaven above in reviving power!
O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid;
O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years!
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
(Habakkuk 3:2, NKJV)
Copyright ©2007 Christopher N. White
(Based on a message given at the New Testament Missionary Fellowship)
This article is dedicated to John McCandlish Phillips for his decades of faithful prayer for revival in New York City and the nation, and for his kind editorial help.
1. Andrew Murray, Humility: The Journey Toward Holiness.
Bethany House Publishers: Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2001.
2. Leonard Ravenhill, Revival Praying. Bethany House
Publishers: Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1962.
3. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons. Baker
Books: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1999, Vol. 3-4.
4. James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.
Abingdon: Nashville, Tennesee, 1890.
Versions of the Bible Quoted:
All Bible references are from The New International Version
(The Zondervan Corporation: Grand Rapids, Michigan,
1995) unless otherwise noted.
KJV: The King James Version.
NKJV: The New King James Version, Thomas Nelson, Inc.: Miami, Florida, 1982.