Revival is a word that fills me with joy and expectation. It could be a word that brings discomfort and even aversion to some people. Church history is full of testimonies of the “touch of fire” that we associate with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Such a time marked by the spiritual flow of miracles, conversions, prophecy and tongues could be controversial, being rejected by reformism and orthodoxy and other mainstream denominations.
Revival implies something new, an improvement in the condition and strength of something, so that what is important is emphasized again.
In the church, revivals always confirmed the Biblical truths bringing about a return to the wellspring of Christianity. It is a special emphasis on the fundamental verity of what we believe.
Revival is always noted. Even people who ignore Christianity is confronted by this miraculous wave of spiritual deepening and “strange” inspiration of renewed spiritual vigour.
In the last days of Jesus’ ministry on earth, He entered Jerusalem triumphantly. We all know the story. He sent his disciples to bring him a colt that was tied to a post in the city. He instructed them to say: The Lord has need of him, should anyone ask why they are taking the colt. We know that the animal was a young donkey, male and under four years old. According to the prophecy in Zechariah the coming king would ride on a young donkey.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)
A king riding on a donkey came in peace and a king on a horse came to make war. Horses were always associated with war.
The people threw their garments down and sang: Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest. (Luke 19:38).
Jesus did not stop them to do this as the Pharisees urged him to do. He simply said the stones would call out if the people keep silent. This is true revival. When Jesus “rides” triumphantly into people’s lives, worship is spontaneous and true.
When He drew near to the city, He wept over it. I read this verse (Luke 19:41) and was somewhat surprised that I have not taken note of another time when Jesus wept (other than at the grave of Lazarus). He wept over Jerusalem and spoke a lament over the city.
“If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.
For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:42-44)
These words cut me to the heart. My sole purpose in studying the Bible is to gain insight, wisdom, knowledge, revelation about God and Jesus, me, my circumstances and the world around me. I want to make sense of it all or “sense” in my spirit the work of God in everything. It brings peace and calmness in the raging storms of this life.
I long to discern the “time of my visitation”.
The Pentecost that we have celebrated just this past week, is indeed very special. It was one of those rare years that Passover and Easter (which I prefer to call The Passion) fell on the same date. According to the lunar calendar (used by the Jews) and solar calendar (used by the Christians), the Passover of Judaism and the Feast celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ were celebrated together. Pentecost is called Shavuot in Judaism or The Festival of Weeks, to be counted exactly seven weeks and one day (50 days) after the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Deuteronomy 16:9; Leviticus 23:16).
After the Ascension of Jesus, the disciples and other followers of Jesus went to Jerusalem to await the Holy Spirit. They did this in obedience to the command of Jesus at his departure, his very last words on earth.
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:8,9)
Last words before a departure, especially such an extraordinary departure as this, are always valuable and vital. We should all sit up and listen closely. Jesus announced the mighty, unstoppable outpouring of the Holy Spirit in his very last words on earth.
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4,5)
We can all read Acts 2 again and absorb what happened on that great day when the church was birthed.
A while later Peter visited Cornelius, a Gentile in his home. The outcome of this meeting was again a miraculous visitation of the Holy Spirit.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. (Acts 10:44-46)
This is God’s way to turn the world upside down.
But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. (Acts 17:6)
Let us be ready. Consider the elements of revival before judging extraordinary things happening. We need wisdom in handling an explosive outpouring of the Spirit of God.
We need to respond to the Holy Spirit without fear (thus not quench the Spirit) or presumption (seizing initiative that God has not given us).
We are not to control the Spirit. We need to seek the face of God for discernment in submission to the working of the Spirit and the wisdom of God coming through prayer. This is wise stewardship in revival times when the Spirit of God moves with grace and glory.
If we are uncertain of things happening, we should seek the counsel of gifted and trusted ministries to confirm and pray together. It is the church acting in unity and grace.
Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14)
Much emphasis could be on the experiential side of such an outpouring, but it should always be complimented with consistent, systematic teaching of the Word of God. The focus of revival is on God, not on the experience or the “things that happen”. A move of God will lead to worship and the glorification of Jesus as the Initiator and Sustainer of everything.
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. (1 Peter 2:21)
It is only God’s wisdom that will enable us to walk wisely.
Jesus prayed for us. This is our guideline – always.
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. (John 17:4)
Lord, send the rain – let the fire fall!