Revivals are a sovereign move of God initiated by the Holy Spirit working through consecrated men and women. It begins with a deeper appreciation for the holiness of God and a realization of how offensive our sins must be in the sight of a holy God. Revivals are not churches filled with people but people filled with God.
Revival turns the world upside down just like in the Book of Acts. It transforms society. The selfish becomes sacrificial. It is seen by the number of conversions, miracles taking place, healings, revived churches, revitalized prayer meetings, dynamic worship and a deep desire to seek the Kingdom of God above all. The radical change in a worldview by an individual is the most powerful tool to change a community.
There were numerous revivals in the Old Testament, brought about by the reformation of godly kings. King Asa 1 Kings 15:12 got rid of the idols. King Jehu (2 Kings 10:27) demolished the idols, tore down the temple of Ba’al so that it fully destroyed. The people tore down Ba’al’s temple under King Jehoiada (2 Kings 11:18). The young King Josiah ordered all the idols and superstitious trappings of Ba’al and Asherah to be removed from the Temple of the Lord, which was burnt in the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:4). King Jehoshaphat rid the land of Asherah poles and set his heart on seeking God (2 Chronicles 19:3) as happened under King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 31:1). Even King Manasseh cleaned up the land after his conversion in the prison of a foreign ruler (2 Chronicles 33:15). Under Ezra and Nehemiah the altar (worship) and the wall (protection) of Jerusalem (the symbol of the church) were restored.
Jesus came to restore the backslidden church and bring salvation to the nations. On the day of Pentecost the spiritual church was born. Throughout history deeper insight and prophetic vision came from individuals who sought a deeper life with God. The Reformation that swept through Europe and England forever changing the entire landscape of faith as well as causing a profound change in the old church, Catholicism, is associated with one man – Martin Luther.
Ever since, revival can be traced back to the devotion and singular purposeful prayer awakened by a deep desire for the Holy Spirit to move, to one man. Andrew Murray senior in South Africa in the nineteenth century prayed for Revival every Friday evening for thirty-six years.
The Revival of 1800 in America can be traced back to Logan County, Kentucky where a Presbyterian camp meeting under the ministry of James McGready invited the Baptists and Methodists to seek the Lord anew, attracting some twenty thousand people during a six-day gathering.
Joseph Jenkins in Cardiganshire Wales in 1904 sought a deeper relationship with God, and invited others to do the same. In one of his services a sixteen-year-old girl stood up and confessed that she loved the Lord with all her heart. This heartfelt utterance was followed by a stir in the congregation and a deep sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit. More services followed in which young people confessed their deep longing for the Lord.
Slowly the teaching on a deeper spiritual life spread throughout Wales and the impact on society became more and more clear. Crime was less and the courts fell silent. Even the pit ponies in the coal mines had to get used to kindness as they were always subjected to swear words and beatings. It was estimated that a hundred and fifty thousand people came to the Lord in the first six months of 1904.
There are other examples of special awakenings and a more serious seeking of spiritual truth than the predictable and the comfortable commonplace that invade our religious rituals. It is an inspiration to read about those and the renewal and restoration it imprinted upon society.
Our world desperately needs revival. The people are confused and hurting. Christianity has the answers to the big questions of life and proclaim a loving God, capable of miracles and supernatural intervention into absolutely anything no matter how bad, how evil, how putrid, how impossible in human thinking it may be. We have the solution. Our God reigns, sings the prophet of old. (Isaiah 52:7)
Let us ring 2021 in with the cry for revival. It starts with us, in us. Our prayers make a difference – not big corporate prayer meetings, although those are very effective and extremely necessary, especially when they follow in the fertile soil of individual prayer. We cannot get together while the virus is raging on. God calls us to prayer to reveal himself to every one of us.
In the second chapter of Habakkuk, the words are written that would become the cry of the Reformation. Habakkuk was serving his people as prophet around 600 BC. It was only in 1517, that the cry for individual justification by faith was starting to challenge the deep-rooted teaching of a corrupt church. To many at the time, it seemed impossible to break the far-reaching clutches of power-hungry papal authority. The Reformation and the courage of Martin Luther forever changed the landscape of Christianity.
We need a landscape change. The pandemic rages on while natural disasters are wreaking havoc in many places on our planet. Politics divide and offend. People are disappointed, angry and desperate for solutions. They seek their way out of the chaos of our world in politics and political leaders. God looks to the individual and promises his mighty intervention in your life, the moment you accept his universal invitation to all, that reverberates through all ages.
It is time to discern the times. Step back and pause for a moment. There is a greater power at work, than the rage in the streets. Can it be said of us, that was said of the sons of Issachar in a side remark in the middle of a verse in Chronicles?
…of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do… (1 Chronicles 12:32)
Are you ready to open the door for revival? It is in the faithful and fervent prayer of a righteous man that the power of heaven will be revealed. (James 5:16). You are the righteous man – you are a blood-bought, born-again child of the Most High God – that is your righteousness, not faultless living.
Open the door of your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to stir your world – like a mighty rushing wind… (Acts 2)
The just shall live by faith.