A QUESTION OF REVIVAL
Messianic Evangelical Thoughts
on Revival in the Body of Messiah
Q. Is the Christian world on the verge of a revival?
A. A question which I often hear coming out of the churches is: 'Are we on the verge of one of the greatest revivals then world has ever seen?' And it's a question that has been mooted for the last 15 years at least. In the 60s and 70s there was talk of 'renewal' but come the 80s Christians were seeking something deeper. And now, in the late 90s, they are still looking for the same thing.
Last year (1996), as you may remember, a famous South American preacher visited Norway and promised by the end of the year a great revival would take place in this country.
Q. I never heard anything more. Did it?
A. No, it never did. Indeed I questioned the truthfulness of this prophecy at the time, as you may remember, as this was made in the context of the New Age-inspired charismatic counterfeit 'revival' of 'The Word of Life Movement' and other spin-offs of Toronto and the like.
Q. Why do you think Christians everywhere looking forward to revival, prophesying about revival, and never experiencing it?
A. Because they are searching in the wrong way and through the wrong channels.
Q. Perhaps you would explain...
A. O.K., but before I do that I think we'd better be clear in our minds exactly what the word 'revival' means as I think there are many misunderstandingsabout it. Perhaps we could start by stating what revival isn't, and that is evangelism. There have been plenty of evangelical crusades over the years, some of them very successful, yet none of these constituted revival.
The navi (prophet) Habakkuk prayed:
Put in modern English this reads:
"O Yahweh, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Yahweh, REVIVE THY WORK in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy" (Hab.3:2, KJV).
"Yahweh, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Yahweh. RENEW THEM IN OUR DAY, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy" (Ibid., NIV).
If revival is to come to the Body of Messiah worldwide then churches must expect what Yahweh wants to give and not what they want. There have been revivals in the Christian past which I want to briefly discuss but none of them really constituted a renewal of Yahweh's deeds of old. IF WE WANT REVIVAL THEN WE MUST EXPECT THE SAME KIND OF ACTIVITY OF ELOHIM (GOD) THAT WE FIND IN THE BIBLE - not just His deeds recorded in the New Testament, but in the Tanakh (Old Testament) too. Moreover, we must stand in awe of His deeds - not just the ones we like and would like to see in our assemblies - but ALL of them.
Q. Are you suggesting that Christians don't want to see some of Yahweh's past deeds in our time?
A. You bet I'm saying that! I've heard many Christians mumble and grumble over the story of Ananias and Saphhira in Acts chapter 5, for example. They were struck down for lying to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and the result was that fear of Elohim (God) spread throughout the local assemblies. Now take a vote on how many people in modern congregations who would like to see that sort of activity back and I'm pretty sure a majority would say no.
Q. And they would probably say that 'it was just for that time and not ours'.
A. Too true. The same as many denominations have said about other spiritual gifts like the prophetic and apostolic....or redefined them to make them more palitable for their watered-down theology or lack of emunah (faith).
Q. So why don't they want such spiritual manifestations?
A. Fear. Fear that they would be found out in sin. Fear to be told by the Ruach (Spirit) that they aren't saved even though they want to believe they are. Fear to live the Besorah (Gospel) as it should be lived. But if you want revival you have got to be prepared to live ALL the Besorah (Gospel) and risk the naked emet (truth) disturbing your comfort zones.
Q. Are there any other examples you might like to mention?
A. What about martyrdom? Revival always brings martyrdom. It's happening all over the world but not yet in the West. And it's the lukewarm, drunken, immoral, sleepy West I'm principally speaking of here.
What of the great miracles of the Tanakh (Old Testament)? They are too numerous to mention here. Would you like to see those back again?
Q. I've often dreamed of the sort of outpouring of the Ruach (Spirit) that took place in Solomon's temple and the signs that accompanied Israel in the wilderness - the pillar of fire by night, for example.
A. I too believe all these things. I also believe in the true Pentecostal gifts and not the prattling gibberish one hears, but of people speaking foreign languages under Yahweh's anointing. Think of the impact if hundreds of North Americans and Europeans descended upon the Arabic nations speaking fluent Arabic in all its various dialects? Think what would happen in the Moslem world! It would ignite a spiritual inferno.
Q. So what you're saying if that before a revival takes place people must have a vision for what sort of things Yahweh might do?
A. A vision and a DESIRE for it - a desire for the "old paths". Remember what Yahweh told Jeremiah?
But what is Christendom saying?
"Stand at the crossroads and look; ASK FOR THE ANCIENT PATHS, ask where the good way is, and WALK IN IT, and you will find rest for your souls."
Thus there is no revival. They want 'modern methods', new teachings - and they've got what they asked for - a mixture of Christianity and occultism; they've thrown away their crosses which they're tired of bearing and have started clutching crowns they haven't received; they have shunned poverty and demanded wealth; they have demanded a 'highway to heaven' instead of a narrow path. So they have reaped emptiness - a hollow Besorah (Gospel) gives hollow spirituality and no chance of revival, because it is of the flesh - worldly.
"We will not walk in it" (Jer.6:16, NIV).
Q. So basically what we've got to do is restore backsliding Christians before a revival can take place?
A. Yes, providing one isn't saying that the restoration of inactive Christians is the same as revival. Revival is far more than that - far, far more. When revival takes place this is more than spiritual restoration; when revival takes place there is an unusual sense of Elohim's (God's) presence that EVERYONE in a congregation experiences - not a sudden spiritual illumination of one person here or there. And it may last for weeks or months. And revival isn't salvation either. Whilst many people may become saved in revival, and many backsliders experience spiritual restoration, revival - though including these things - is far greater than all of them.
The navi (prophet) Isaiah knew what to expect in revival when he bewailed:
"Oh, that You would tear the sky apart and come down and the mountains tremble before You!" (Is.64:1, author's translation).
We need a wider vision of what revival is - in our sceptical age we tend to emphasise (rightly) that Yahweh changes hearts and personalities but play down His dramatic intervention in our physical world. Why limit Him? Wouldn't you like the old ways? Wouldn't you like the ground to tremble beneath your feet (California residents excepted!)?
Q. It would be fantastic! People would really beging to listen and pay attention.
A. Yes, they would, because revival is far grander than evangelism and spiritual restoration, encompassing both and yet at the same time more glorious. One preacher said that revival is like David in Saul's armour - it just doesn't fit! Like salvation, it is more glorious and wonderful than anything that can be said or written about it.
Q. How would you define revival, hard though it is?
A. It is the BRINGING BACK TO LIFE OF THE BELIEVER. He may think he is alive whereas in fact he is only half awake. Or better, it is the RE-ANIMATION of he who already has chayim (life) - of the one who has been born-again in Messiah. It is not for unbelievers who are dead in their sins.
Q. So revival is principally for Christians?
A. Yes. Unbelievers need resurrection-power. Believers need re-animation. You can't re-animate something or someone who has never had chayim (life) in the first place.
The great Welsh preacher, Christmas Evans, said that "revival is God bending down to the dying embers of a fire that is just about to go out, and breathing into it, until it bursts again into flame." I think I would go along with that. In revival, the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) come alive to the life of Elohim (God).
Q. So if the Messianic Community (Christian Church) is to be revived, it has to come back to life. But it is made of so many different denominations teaching different things. Some deny the spiritual gifts, some deny the supernatural even...
A. Alas, this is true. Different churches and assemblies are based on different traditions, some of Elohim (God) and some of men. Most of these are corpses or near-corpses. They are fossilised and unable to contain the Ruach Elohim (God's Spirit). If they are to be revitalised, then they can only be so on Yahweh's terms. They must return to the "old paths", or at least desire them. If the Body of Messiah -- and I am talking about true Christians/Messianics everywhere and not church traditions or denominations - is to come alive and receive its authority as the Assembly of Yahweh in these the last days, it must return to the standard of revival that was set in the New Testament Community - and that was the Day of the first Messianic Shavu'ot or 'Pentecost'.
Q. So we should wait, like the first talmidim (disciples), until we experience the rushing wind and the tongues of flame resting on us, galvanising us into speaking tongues? Why not something like the endowment at the dedication of Solomon's temple?
A. What happened in Solomon's day and at other times was very important and is an ingredient of revival, but it was not the fullness. The Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) was given in a very special way when Yah'shua (Jesus) was glorified, but not before (Jn.7:39). And why? Because only through the life, death and resurrection of Messiah could the Father's power be properly seen and understood. Elohim's (God's) power must be seen not only in the context of signs, wonders and miracles, but at work on a Cross, forgiving its enemies and triumphing over denial, betrayal and an ugly death. It must be seen in supreme modesty and humility - the modesty and humility of Yah'shua (Jesus).
Q. How was Yah'shua (Jesus) 'seen' to be modest and humble??
A. Think back on the resurrection and compare it with the transfiguration experience on the Mount with the Patriarchate, Peter, James and John. Yah'shua (Jesus) was illuminated there and revealed His glory. Yet He was not resurrected. Why, then, was this glory hidden AFTER He was resurrected?
Q. Because He remained humble even in victory!
A. Yes, I believe so. He triumphed over Satan, death, demons, men - every force arrayed against Him. How would you have depicted that had you been writing a hero story? Probably a mighty, shining Sovereign standing above the world, as in the myths of the false religions. But no, not Yah'shua (Jesus). He did not appear in glory and overwhelm His talmidim (disciples) (as He did previously with the three apostles) or make His enemies cower before His might. Not at all. He appeared modestly and humbly, gently guiding them in the days before He ascended into heaven.
So the power that fell at the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') was Messiah-like power, revealing a side of Elohim (God) that the Israelites had not fully known before. Thus any revival must not only demonstrate Elohim's (God's) power but also His FORGIVENESS, HUMILITY and MODESTY. That is why all true manifestations of the Ruach Elohim (God's Spirit) in the Messianic (Christian) Dispensation must emerge from the point in time we call Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost'), and not before. Thus Shavu'ot (Pentecost) must be the norm for the Messianic Community.
Q. But that's what the Pentecostals have been saying all along...
A. And they're right! When others say that the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') was a one-off experience, they are fundamentally wrong. The New Covenant Shavu'ot (Pentecost) is one of the most important signposts of the Besorah (Gospel). Those who say it isn't are, in reality, living in a spirit that pre-existed the Day of Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost'), because they won't admit that it can come again. No, the Ruach (Spirit) could not have been fully given in the day of Yah'shua's (Jesus') humiliation - His birth, life and death (though it was partially given) - for that would have set the wrong tavnith (pattern). The Ruach (Spirit) could only be given in the day of Messiah's triumph - His arrival on the Throne - for that alone would set the right tavnith (pattern) for a triumphant Messianic Community (Church of Christ).
Q. So if we want revival, our prayers must be centered around the expectation of New Covenant Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost')?
A. Yes, and every revival that has taken place in the historic Messianic Community (Church) throughout the last two millennia has contained one or more ingredients that were present at the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost'). In some revivals the dominant feature has been the conviction of sin, in others abounding simcha (joy), and in others amazing supernatural events. The next revival, which will see the end-time Assembly of Yahweh (Church of God) TRULY born, will contain ALL of them. And that is going to be EXTRAORDINARY, the likes of which Christendom hasn't seen for two thousand years.
Q. But it's been such a long time since there was a revival...
A. True, but that shouldn't stop us from desiring one. If we look at the scriptural witness we will see that Elohim (God) has greater things in store than what we're witnessing in Christendom today.
Some years ago a young Christian was reading the Book of Acts and sensed that something was wrong. "What do you think that is?" he was asked. He replied: "There seems to be too wide a gap between the Church of that day and the Church of today." And he was right. The Community (Church) of today is a completely different species from the New Testament one!
Q. Then perhaps we should be looking at the ingredients of the first messianic Pentecost to see where we are missing out?
A. I agree. Let's do that and work our way thorough Acts 2.
The first thing that strikes me when reading this chapter is that the descent of the Ruach (Spirit) was accompanied by extraordinary physical occurences. There was a mighty rushing wind and tongues of fire rested on the heads of the talmidim (disciples)...
Q. Why those particular manifestations?
A. Well, both wind and fire are respresentations of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) throughout history. Elohim (God) was calling attention to Himself and His work through outward signs in response to the emunah (faith) of the gathered talmidim (disciples). Though the rushing of wind was never repeated in the New Testament, nor the tongues of fire, there were similar incidences...
Q. What of the vision you saw of the small room in which there was a sudden wind that made the scales fall off the eyes of the firstborn qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) so that they began to see each other and sing celestial hymns? And the vision of the tongues of flame over the field of corn?
A. These were visions, symbolic, alluding back to the original manifestation at the New Covenant Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost'). They were, I strongly believe, calling to our awareness the need to return to our Shavu'ot (Pentecost) roots. These visions have not yet, incidentally, been fulfilled, though there have been some indications that the first one is in the process.
My point, however, is that when Elohim (God) sends revival, He accompanies it with physical signs and manifestations, together with extraordinary power. Why He does this we can only speculate about - certainly in the past such signs have accompanied major historical changes, as with the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land. When such signs occur, dispensational changes seem to be occurring too, or at least a call to be prepared for imminent dispensational changes.
When these manifestations occur we should not quench the Ruach (Spirit) by intellectualism or our unwillingness to accept supernatural activity - Elohim (God) has little time for human traditions or theologies used to suport them. Frequently He works against our expectations.
Q. But physical manifestations aren't the only dramatic occurrence at revivals, are they?
A. Most certainly not. One thing that strikes me is the extraordinary preaching that occurs. Take Peter, an uneducated, unrefined fisherman. When the Ruach (Spirit) fell on him at that first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost'), what suddenly happened? He became an outstanding preacher! In one sermon, three thousand souls were converted!
Something special happened to Peter - he received an ability he never had before. If we read of him in the Gospels we find a brash, stobborn, and insensitive man more likely to put people off than attract them to Messiah. He was constantly putting his foot in it. Now, though, something amazing happened.
Q. What was special about his preaching? I mean, how did Peter's preaching differ from modern preachers?
A. Richard Owen Roberts identifies three kinds of preaching, and I think we should pause to take a brief look at these. The first is MOUTH TO EAR preaching. This takes place when the words of the mouth of the preacher enter the ears of the hearer but go no further. We've heard a lot of such sermons, haven't we?!
Q. And given them too!
The second type of preaching is HEAD TO HEAD. This is where the thoughts of the preacher influence the thoughts of the hearer, affecting the mind, but nothing more.
Q. Sounds a bit like the early Independent Church days we went through in the 80s and early 90s...
A. Alas, also true. Many came to us in the early days of this Messianic Evangelical Movement because they were amazed by the things Elohim (God) was revealing to us. But it was no more than an intellectual exercise for them. If we failed in our preaching it was that we failed to penetrate deeper.
Which brings us to the third type, HEART TO HEART preaching. This is where something happens in the preacher's heart of so compelling a nature that it pours like waterfall into the heart of the hearer, producing great and wonderful results.
When revival occurs preachers experience an extraordinary dynamic flowing through their words. Simple statements and sentences bristle with a strange and unusual power. Men and women are cut to the bone with conviction.
Q. And yet we read the Bible when such a quickening of the Ruach (Spirit) took place and we are left unaffected so often.
A. Which proves what we have always said, that unless you have the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), the Bible will remain dead to the reader.
I remember reading the story of a sermon given in a small rural church in the southern United States during the Civil War. An uneducated lay-preacher who totally lacked charisma went up to the pulpit at the request of the Pastor and preached. A stenographer recorded his every word. He set that congregation alight by the power of the Ruach (Spirit) that was in him. But when his sermon was read after it was recorded there was there was nothing which one might say was 'brilliant' or even extraordinary. His words, read after the event, appear dull and uninteresting. Yet those who were present at that meeting remember the Ruach's (Spirit's) fire and were set alight in Elohim's (God's) power.
Q. But sometimes it is true that simple folk are given a gift in which they become the masters of prose.
A. That's when the heat of revival comes. Modern scholars of the liberal school refuse to accept that the epistles that bear his name were written by Peter because of his background. But these men know nothing of the Ruach's (Spirit's) power. Yahweh can transform the ignorant into vessels of sublime wisdom. And that is what he did with the apostle Peter.
Another ingredient of revival is a heightened awareness on the part of believers of Elohim's (God's) HOLINESS. So consumed by Elohim's (God's) power and holiness were the first be.lievers that Luke writes:
I would say that one of THE fundamental characteristics of revival is not only an awareness of ELOHIM'S (GOD'S) holiness but a burning desire on the part of the people TO LIVE QADOSH (HOLY, SET-APRT) LIVES. When I therefore see some of the modern charismatic movements billed as revival, like Toronto, a sinking feeling comes over me, because I see a worldly people merely play-acting at being holy.
"No-one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people" (Ac.5:13, NIV).
When revival comes people become gripped by a heightened sense of Yahweh's majesty and holiness. Conduct that until then appeared respectable and acceptable suddenly appears to be unbelievably wicked. Prejudices that marked professing Christians for years are suddenly seen as grievous sins. Private indulgences, which people previously never gave a second thought to, suddenly seem to merit all the wrath of Elohim (God). Prayerlessness, ignorance of Scripture, sins of omission, pride, self-centred living, long forgotten sins against fellow believers, words carelessly spoken, are no longer defended by a myriad of excuses, but are laid open before Yahweh. People who thought themselves worthy of heaven stand amazed that they are not in hell. In short, a REVOLUTION takes place in believers' souls...
There is a heightened sense of awareness in everything, as though someone suddenly turned on a bright light in a dark room. Abstract theology suddenly bursts into life...
Q. Can you cite an example?
A. Take the Cross, which for many is just a theological concept. When revival comes, the Cross suddenly becomes alive in the believer. I doubt Peter really understood what the Cross meant until it was revealed to him by the Ruach (Spirit) at that first Messianic Shavu'ot (Pentecost. 'Weeks'). Doubtless its meaning deepened for him as he waited with the others those ten days in the upper room, but the full understanding of it came only as the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) revealed it to him on the first day of that first Messianic Shavu'ot (Pentecost. 'Weeks'). And then, suddenly, empowered by the Ruach (Spirit), he was able to make its meaning clear to the crowd gathered before Him, some of whom, no doubt, had actually been present at the Saviour's crucifixion. After Peter's sermon, such was their understanding of the Cross, they were "cut to the heart and said...'Brothers, what shall we do?'" (Ac.2:37, NIV).
The Cross of Messiah always takes on a new and precious meaning in times of revival. Awakened hearts see the Cross, not in general terms, but in personal terms. It's no longer, "He died for the sins of the world," but "He died for ME". The Cross becomes so personal that the wounds, bruises and stripes Yah'shua (Jesus) received, along with the insults, the taunts and the jeers, provoke deep personal sorrow that He had to endure such agony for "such a one as me." These stirrings of the heart of revived believers drive the soul to contemplate the Cross in a way never known before. All the devils in hell and all the wickedness on earth do not have the power to keep the awakened Christian/Messianic from deeper consecration and devoted ahavah (love) to such a Saviour.
Q. Isn't it true that you were brought to Messiah through a movie on the crucifixion?
A. Yes, but I would not compare this with what happens in revival. I was an unbeliever and saw Passolini's Gospel According to St.Matthew. It was in Italian and though there were English subtitles I was so absorbed, particularly in the latter part, that my only consciousness was the suffering of Messiah (Christ). I would not say that the film brought me fully to Messiah for that was to happen on the night of 30 March 1977 that the Ruach (Spirit) fell on me in such a powerful way and I was born again. But it certainly sensitised me. I do not believe that film led me to repent of my sins fully but it was a step towards that goal.
Q. Isn't it so in all the great historical revivals that prayer suddenly takes on a special prominence?
A. And Scripture reading. I am sure that as good Judahites the talnidim (disciples) spent a lot of time before the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Pentecost. 'Weeks') searching the Scriptures and praying. After it, however, both prayer and the study of the Davar Elohim (God's Word) took on a new and greater meaning. So important did this become, it would seem, that they decided to abstain from their administrative tasks in order to give themselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the Davar (Word).
Q. Like the Bereans...
A. Yes, they too. They "searched the scriptures daily" (Ac.17:11). Revival brings a passion for scripture study and prayer.
Q. I think this is NCAY's biggest problem today, don't you?
A. Certainly one of them. Today's believers are content to let their pastors or elders do all the praying and studying for them, but in revival each believer finds their heart leaping toward prayer and the study of the Bible.
Q. But isn't this partly the fault of an ecclesiastical structure which has a 'clergy-and-laity' arrangement?
A. Undoubtedly. This division is built into many traditions. But even in assemblies like ours, where everyone is involved, this is no defence against apathy to prayer and scripture study. But I take your point - churches that do not have this clergy-laity divide tend to be better in one or both of these dispositions and activities.
At the same time we must never underestimate human nature. You know, the Pharisees were scripture-studiers and 'pray-ers' par excellence - their problem was their attitude. Revival either changes such attitudes or causes the false believers to reveal their true colours.
Q. Like persecuting true believers?
A. Yes. Revival really separates the wheat from the tares, so long as it survives. Those on the 'middle ground' either flee to Satan's camp or repent and embrace the Besorah (Gospel) whole-heartedly.
Revival does something else too. Because it provokes a thirst for the Davar Elohim (God's Word), for prayer, and for holiness, it tends to lead Christians/Messianics beyond the simple, milk-besorah (Gospel) (the "sincere milk of the Davar/Word" - 1 Pet.2:2) and propells them into searching out the "strong meat" (Heb.5:12,14, KJV). They delight in lengthy, reverent, searching study of Scripture, and in the application of its truths in their lives. Prayer, which prior to revival may have seemed a drudgery, becomes pure delight. Those words of the hymn, "Sweet Hour of Prayer", become a precious reality. And when the allotted time for prayer is up, instead of relief that the chore is over, there is sorrow that the time has passed away so swiftly. In revival, men and women enjoy, as Moffatt puts it so eloquently in 1 Samuel 21:7 - being "detained in the presence of the Eternal."
Q. But isn't this apathy towards prayer the result of other factors too?
A. Perhaps to some extent - were you thinking of a lack of practice?
Q. A lack of being in the habit of prayer, getting waylaid by worldly activities, and so on.
A. All of these are caused by a lack of fire for Yahweh, and that is what revival restores. Which brings us to another ingredient of revival, and that is EXTRAORDINARY FERVOUR AND EXCITEMENT. You can feel that throb of excitement as one reads the Acts of the Apostles. "There was great joy in that city" (Ac.8:8, NIV), it says in one place. The first Christians/Messianics were excited about everything that was connected with Elohim (God) and His Kingdom. They were excited about Yah'shua (Jesus), about the coming of the Ruach (Spirit), about the establishing of His Kingdom, and about His coming again. That dull, apathetic attitude, so typical of so many modern churches, was unknown in the first century Messianic assemblies (churches). They were gripped by intense earnestness and a spirit of expectation.
Q. But couldn't it be argued that this was because the Messianic (Christian) emunah (faith) was so NEW and DIFFERENT. Today it's been around nearly two thousand years. Yah'shua (Jesus) was fresh in their memories, His death, resurrection, and so on...
A. All of what you say is true, but there is one element that is timeless which you are forgetting - the fact that Yah'shua (Jesus') death and resurrection two thousand years ago IS RAISING SPIRITUALLY DEAD PEOPLE FROM THE GRAVES OF SIN TODAY. That same power and might can, and does happen, today, because the atonement of Messiah, though rooted at a particular juncture in history, stretched backwards to those in the spirit world waiting to be freed from their sins as well as forwards to us today. In a sense, this is a timeless event.
Q. So you're saying that the fervour of the first believers should be the same today too?
A. Of course! The Besorah (Gospel) hasn't suddenly become 'old' because of time. The Good News then is still the Good News today. The power that changed then changes today too...if only we will believe and repent from our attachments to the world. Our problem today is that we have grown so accustomed to creature comforts and (especially in the West) the protection of the welfare state and absense of war and famine that we are little impelled to rise above the apathy which swamps society as a whole. Those who live in poverty and hardship are often better situated than we are because circumstances keep them humble and impregnates within them an intense longing for better things.
The power that raised Yah'shua (Jesus) from the dead and placed Him on the right hand of the Father was working with those first believers in all its quickening might, and desires to do the same with us if only we will let it.
We're also quite a plastic society given over to the wearing of innumerable masks. In revival, believers often have to defend themselves against the charge that they are drunk. And what are the marks of a man who is a little drunk? He is happy, hearty, jocular, exhilarated, genial and exuberant. Most of today's Christians do not come under the same dark suspicion as did our first century brothers and sisters, but it is hardly to our credit to stress such a distinction. We are more dignified, more sophisticated, more respectable and more sober - and more in need of revival.
Q. This sounds completely contrary to everything you have taught about order and discipline in the Messianic Community (Church).
A. I am by no means retracting that. I fully maintain the need for order and discipline, as the apostles did. But I am against pretense, of fleshy movements in the heart that masquerade as the Ruach (Spirit) of holiness and piety. I'm also against the wildness and excess in many charismatic churches which are merely reflexive, emotional projections only that remind me of rock concerts - they aren't the real movement of the Ruach (Spirit) - they're fleshy, psychic and often demonic. There is nothing contradictory between discipline and simcha (joy). True simcha (joy) - unlike the man drunk on alcohol - is in complete control.
Please do not for one moment think I am advocating the abandonment of all that Yahweh has revealed to us and which we have preached this last decade. By no means! We have attacked so much of charismatic Christianity not because we are against the charismatic gifts but because we are opposed to all the counterfeits which drench that movement. And true revival sweeps away the pretense and shallowness of such flesh movements that bedevil the Body of Messiah in these end-times.
Q. Is there evidence that all the ingredients of Messianic Shavu'ot (Pentecost) have been present in past revivals?
A. Not altogether, but different ingredients at different times. The amazing thing is that if you were to take a survey amongst Christians and asked them about what they knew of the great revivals of the past, the chances are that 99.9 per cent wouldn't have any knowledge at all.
The fact of the matter is that human beings have incredibly SHORT MEMORIES. It is for this reason that Elohim (God) has left us a record of miraculous events and revivals in His Davar (Word). Sometimes He leaves other records; knowing how easy it is for the human mind to forget even as great and significant event as the crossing of the Jordan, Yahweh commanded Joshua to raise up a memorial of twelve stones, so that when future generations asked what they meant, they could be told precisely what happened (see Joshua 4:21-22).
Messianic Evangelicals are fond of such memorials which find their way into our temple symbology. We believe sacred history is vitally important, especially recent history so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the recent past. It is for this reason we have a secondary canon, and in particular, our collection of inspired writings called the Olive Branch which, for want of a better name, may, together with other writings, one day be called the 'Acts of the Messianic Evangelicals' or 'New Covenant Christians'.
Q. But what of recent Protestant revivals? They aren't in the Bible and aren't easily to be found in book form either.
A. Indeed not, and this highlights one of the weaknesses of a closed biblical canon - because there is no Israelite theocracy (as in Tanakh/Old Testament times) or One Apostolic Assembly/Church (as in New Testament times), notwithstanding the wishy-washy idea that the 'one Church' is exclusively invisible - really a white-wash of the fact that the visible Community (Church) has messed things up - so there are no official, canonical records of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in action after the time of the first apostles. There are plenty of records but Christians/Messianics can't agree as to whether (a) they merit the same sort of inspirational status as the New Testament, or (b) whether all revivals are bona fide or not.
The records exist but you have to work hard to find them sometimes. Part of the responsibility of the Remnant will be, I firmly believe, to gather such records of spiritual revivals so that they are easily accessible to Remnant believers. Look how successful the Roman Catholics and Mormons have been in solidifying their identity by use of the records of the Church Fathers and the diaries of the Mormon Pioneers, respectively.
The fact of the matter is that those of the Reformation tradition tend to forget the work of their forbearers. Elohim (God) has done great things in the past through great men of the Reformation and we should not forget them.
Q. Perhaps you could give us some examples...
A. First of all, I'd like to suggest that it is possible even to forget events of great biblical importance if we are not careful. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said:
Now think back on those churches which partake little of a Holy Communion or Eucahrist (some don't partake at all) and then reflect on the amount of time that is spent by them meditating on the death of Messiah. I think you would be surprised. Many of the modern groups in the 'Faith Movement' dispense with the Master's (Lord's) Supper altogether and most Messianics, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, limit it to an annual Passover meal.
"So dulled is the human mind by sin that we would forget the death of Christ were it not for the fact that God has commanded us to remind ourselves of it regularly by breaking bread and drinking wine."
Q. So that's why they are always focussed on the resurrection but never the death...
A. It could be. They are so taken up with victory that they forget the source of that victory and thus rob it of true power.
Anyway, back to more recent historical revivals. You will excuse me if I use British examples as I am more familiar with these. In 1859 there was a revival in Ulster, in what is now Northern Ireland, where one of my ancestral lines comes from. The chief characteristic of of this revival was what has come to be called 'strikings down'. People would fall to the ground in the streets or in the fields and would lie there motionless for hours. When they recovered they sensed that Elohim (God) had visited them, and they would worship Him and praise Him with great fervour and excitement.
So astonishing was this physical phenomenon that crowds of non-Christians gathered where believers were present just to see these physical manifestations take place. Many were converted as they sensed that Elohim (God) was in their midst.
Q. But I thought we were against such manifestations which are even now happening in the Toronto churches and in other charismatic movements??
A. There is nothing unbiblical about falling prostrate before Elohim (God) in worship. But elders 'helping people fall down' by using psychic powers, pushing them, uncontrollable laughing, talking gibberish, and self-absorption definitely are unbiblical - a phenomenon which has come to be called as 'slain in the Spirit'. They may be slain but not in or by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)! Toronto and other like movements are influenced by New Age theology. The Ulster awakening was not. In many modern churches you are expected to fall down as evidence that the 'Spirit' is in you - or you are expected to speak gibberish ('tongues') as evidence that you have been born again or 'baptised in the Spirit'. These are forced, fleshy manifestations. They are counterfeits.
The Ulster revival of 1859 did not start some outlandish new movement with deviant doctrines and practices. It simply resensitised people to Yahweh's presence.
Q. But isn't that what the Toronto people say is happening amongst them?
A. They are saying it but the fruits suggest otherwise. This is not the work of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) but a counterfeit fleshy spirit. Toronto will die out eventually.
Q. But so did the Ulster revival, didn't it?
A. As a movement of the Ruach (Spirit), yes, but it did not spawn a heretical movement of its own. That is a fundamental difference.
However, I do not think that the falling down phenomenon is as important, or necessary - Yahweh simply chose to use that method then given the people's belief structures, exptectancies, emunah (faith), etc. More important in my view is the type of revival that brings about EXTRAORDINARY PREACHING. When true revival comes, mediocre or even poor preachers suddenly become transformed...or cease preaching...or cease being listened to.
In 1904 a certain David Davies, a minister in the town of Swansea, in South Wales, was 'struck' by revival. He was kwown to be a fine Christian minister but he was regarded by most as an extremely poor speaker (you know, the type that makes you want to fall asleep). He would cough and splutter his way through a sermon, and, were it not for the consistent Christian character he bore, many would not have gone to listen to him.
Then one day revival hit Swansea, and David Davies became a man transformed. He went into his pulpit next Sunday and the people could hardly believe their ears. Gone was the hesitancy and stuttering and instead he spoke with the most amazing authority and power. Following his message that Sunday, hundreds of men and women were converted to Messiah, and week by week thereafter, David Davies wielded an exceptional ministry in the power and demonstration of the Ruach (Spirit).
Q. That's fantastic!
A. Yes, but do you know what? When the revival began to simmer down the following year, the strange thing was that David Davies reverted to his previous hesitant style of preaching. This underlined, even more clearly, the fact that his anointed preaching was not the result of human effort, but a mighty manifestation of the Living Elohim (God).
Q. But why did it die down so quickly? When the apostles preached, they preached with power for the rest of their lives. Paul said: "My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Ruach's (Spirit's) power" (1 Cor.2:4, NIV). Why did Davies lose his gift?
A. I think I will answer that one after we have looked at some more examples, if you don't mind? Your question is a very important one - remind me of it again a little later. But first let's look at another characteristic of Yahweh's revival-- AN EXTRAORDINARY SENSE OF ELOHIM'S (GOD'S) MAJESTY AND HOLINESS. Indeed, it would not be possible to find any revival in history where this was not present. Just as Elohim's (God's) awesomeness and holiness were made known to the New Testament Community (Church), so they have been made known in every great spiritual awakening since.
I'll give you an American example this time, namely, Charles Finney, in the mid 18th century. As Finney preached on such subjects as 'The Holiness of God' or 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God', men and women were given such a revelation of Yahweh's holiness that the thought of remaining in a state of sinfulness became intolerable, and they would cry out: "O God, save me from myself and from my sin. Slay me, but do not let me persist another day in this awful condition." Some have tried to explain this away by saying that Finney was an eloquent and logical speaker, but eloquence and logic apart from the anointing of the Ruach (Spirit) are utterly powerless to bring about lasting change in the human heart.
Now, nothing like this ever happened in Toronto which was an indulgence in a lust for the gifts only. Nothing like this has happened in the modern Faith Movement. In one service in Northhampton, Massachusetts, such was the anointing on Finney's message that the whole congregation of about five hundred rose up as one man crying out, "O God, we are not worthy to stand in Your presence. Save us -- or destroy us." Such was the revelation of Elohim's (God's) holiness during the days of Finney that anyone who committed sin would make an instant confession of it. Christians, particularly, feared to enter a church with unconfessed sin in their hearts, unless, in front of the congregation, their sin might be made known.
Q. But that's exactly what we do in our temples, isn't it?!
A. Yes, but so far confession has been reluctant - people have not seen Elohim's (God's) holiness in anywhere near its fullness yet. Some have obtained glimpses on it in the temple. There are few who have been through the temple who have not left with an awareness of what holiness is at all.
Q. But most of them rebelled and tried to hide under grace, didn't they?
A. But under an anointing of the Ruach (Spirit) they would do the very opposite. They would not try to excuse their sinful behaviour but would desire with all their hearts to be cleansed so that they could hold fellowship with Yahweh. That is what revival does. That is what happened with Finney's preaching.
Q. I get the impression that the kind of thing that happened with Finney is the kind of revival NCAY means is important.
A. Very important - vital, in fact. To not know the holiness of Elohim (God) is to not really know Elohim (God) at all. To fail to grasp Elohim's (God's) holiness will also be to fail to grasp the meaning of the CROSS, and that is another characteristic of true revival: PEOPLE GET A NEW INSIGHT INTO THE CROSS. That is why Toronto and other movements like it are such a SHAM because it does NOT bring a heightened awareness of the cross. In fact, the very opposite. These 'health and wealth' merchants want you to focus on crowns of glory, highways to heaven, and the like - THE SPIRIT DOES THE VERY OPPPOSITE. It convicts of sin. But these peddlers of a false Besorah (Gospel) want you to believe that you have stopped sinning altogether!
In the mid eighteenth century, at about the same time as Finney in America, a similar revival took place in North Wales under the ministry of Christmas Evans. He had always been an eloquent and forceful speaker, but when revival came, it touched his tongue with an ever greater eloquence and power. The main emphasis in all his preaching was the work of Messiah on the Cross. One of his favourite texts was John 3:16. "For Elohim (God) so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." When he came to the part of his message that dealt with Messiah's death on the Cross, his rugged features would take on a softness and a gentleness that had to be seen to be believed, and his voice, usually stern and demanding, became soft, mellow and persuasive.
A biographer says of him (and I'm quoting here):
Hallelujah! Can there be any movement of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in which the Cross is not made prominent? Such a thing is unthinkable!! It is as impossible as a river without a source, or a day without light.
"Thousands who heard Christmas Evans, having been content to wear the Cross as an ornament, now found themselves viewing it as the place on which Christ bore their own personal sins. The conviction was borne home to every man and woman, that their very own sins put Christ there. In every place he preached, multitudes would weep at the foot of the Cross, and end up wholly saved and redeemed."
Q. Preaching the Cross doesn't seem to be so popular these days.
A. Sadly, no. People are too wrapped up in their own little seeker-sensitive, materialist worlds, especially in the rich West. Or they're wrapped up in liturgies and ceremonies - they are 'religious' but not spiritual anymore. Most people go through the motions of religion but aren't touched by the Ruach haMashiach (Spirit of Christ). I am ashamed to say that Messianic Evangelicals at this time (1997) aren't so much better - we have been so focussed on our persecutions, our losses of brethren and sisters, and the Zionic quest that we too are guilty. We have much to repent of.
"...Elohim (God) forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)!" (Gal.6:14).
Another common element in any revival, as I have said, is that of an INTENSE INTEREST IN PRAYER AND THE READING OF SCRIPTURE. At the beginning of this century there was a revival in Wales. When "the fire fell" (as the Welsh like to put it), one of the first indications that Elohim (God) was at work was evidenced by people's intense desire to pray and read the Bible. Meetings lasted from ten in the morning until twelve at night - fourteen hours! There was little preaching. Singing, testimony, prayer and reading the Bible aloud were the predominant features. Coal miners, thousands of feet below the earth would gather together during their food breaks, not to eat, but to pray and read the Scriptures aloud. Some would even gather at the pithead an hour before work in order to sing and pray. Often the manager and officials of the mine would join in.
This is characteristic not only of the Welsh revival but of every revival. When Elohim (God) comes down upon His people in the way I am describing to you, instead of excuses for not praying and reading the Scriptures, revived believers find no other activity so delightful and beneficial. Why should this be so? Simply because the revived believer has fallen in love! The prime desire of every lover is to be with his beloved. He delights to talk to her, to spend time with her, to listen to her voice, to focus on her endless charm. And so it is with revival.
Q. I don't know what to say. I see my own spiritual bankruptcy.
A. You are not alone. We are all, I dare say, ashamed. But being conscious of the need for revival is the first step in that direction. If we don't see our lack, we will never ask Yahweh to make up for it.
And now we come to the last feature of revival - an EXTRAORDINARY FERVOUR AND EXCITEMENT. I have mentioned the 1859 revival which, if we measure it by its impact on both the Church and the world, was one of the greatest outpourings of the Ruach Elohim (God's Spirit) since the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') in Jerusalem!
Q. That important??
A. Well, it was called the 'International Revival' because it broke out simultaneously in America, Ulster and many other places. Once people had repented of their sins, and had found perfect peace with Elohim (God), it invariably happened that they would be filled to overflowing and deep and lasting simcha (joy).
Q. We need that!
A. Yes, and let no-one think that revival is associated with gloom and heaviness and a downcast spirit. There is always a period of mourning for sin, but this is soon followed by waves of endless delight and simcha (joy). It is surely amongst the most tragic misrespresentations of emet (truth) when historians write that, in times of revival, Christians act like "dejected melancholiacs." It is a traversty of the true tradition of revival. Revival imparts an immense sense of well-being. It produces a witness in the hearts of believers that all is well within. It makes music inside the soul, and bestows a glad exuberance. Compare it with the dull, apathetic attitude which is common in many parts of today's Messianic Community (Church). Only the Almighty can produce the change. O YAHWEH, SEND A REVIVAL!
Q. But looking at many of the modern charismatic churches you would think that revival has come. They are dancing and shouting and are filled with happiness.
A. It's counterfeit, my friend, it's FALSE, because it isn't CHANGING PEOPLE WITHIN. They're not repenting. They're just having a fleshy party - a rock concert with speeches. When did you last hear a congregation confessing its sins publically? I've been to many charismatic meetings and it's all the same - it's all 'look at us, look how happy we are!' It's all centred in the self. Anyone can party. Anyone can sing and dance. But not many will confess their sins! THAT is the key. True character reformation in the power of Elohim (God). They're not at peace within themselves - confront them with Yahweh's requirments for holiness - the mitzvot (commandments) or Torah - and they will back off or get angry. THERE IS NO HUMILITY, NO PURITY, NO HOLINESS. It is all FAKE. Beware!
Q. When does revival normally come?
A. If I'm reading my modern Christian/Messianic history correctly, revival comes when the Community (Church) is in decline, or at a low ebb spiritually. No one can doubt that this is a true description of the Messianic Community (Church) today in most parts of the world.
Yet what do we here? People are saying that after thirty odd years of charismatic Christianity, thousands of Christians have been renewed. They are saying that the Messianic Community (Church) is on its way to spiritual greatness and supremacy.
This is false. Yes, there has been renewal, but it hasn't been followed up. Discipling is weak and after the initial simcha (joy) of rebirth most have sunk back to low levels of spirituality. And the charismatic activities of the last ten to fifteen years are, as I have repeatedly said, mostly counterfeit works of the devil trying to delude Christians into a false sense of security. (20 years on, in 2017, it's even worse.)
There has been much evangelism, and it's important. But in the West, the Messianic Community (Church) is not only in DECLINE but in FULL RETREAT. The patient may have all the outwards signs of good health, but when the proper tests are given, the results show DEEP cause for concern. The Messianic Community's (Church's) influence in the world is growing less and less. Don't be misled by all the sabre rattling that goes on in the churches. Christians are singing, shouting, holding large meetings and conferences, but when it is all over, what impact has been made on society? Some perhaps, but far less than we ought.
"Success", someone once said, "is measured not by what we are, but by what we are compared to what we could be." All the good we accomplish is nothing compared to what needs to be accomplished. The world laughs at our attempts to influence it. It sees us as weak, feeble, ineffectual, and (when looking at some of the charismatics) cranky, weird if not downwright insane.
Q. So when do you think revival will come?
A. I'm not sure I can answer that question. Does anyone know when revival comes? Did anyone predict the revivals of the last two centuries? I have heard many predictions of revivals over the last few years but they all turned out to be wishful thinking. A more fundamental, revolutionary change has to take place in the Messianic Assemblies (Churches) before revival comes. The spiritual surgeon's knife nowhas to cut deeper than at any other time previously to get past the scepticism, cynicism, immorality, unbelief, worldliness, lawlessness and shere evil of modern man.
The Messianic's (Christian's) primary weapons are prayer and Scripture Study. Prayer is either weak and ineffectual or just the screaming of impudent little children (today we call them 'snowflakes') demanding their imagined rights. Believers have lost all humility. Now, in the charismatic churches, they are saying: 'You've promised us this, God, so give it to us,' forgetting that Yahweh has a program of discipleship which true believers are expected to follow. But the modern world wants something for nothing - good grades at school without studying, rewards like pocket-money at home without helping mother and father out in the house, money without hard labour, etc.. People want instant gratification.
Why did revival come to the Hebrides in Scotland? It didn't come by wishing. "The heavens were opened and the mighty power of the Lord shook those islands because a group of people waited, tear-stained and travailing, before the throne of the living God", said Leonard Ravenhill, author of Why Revival Tarries. The birth of a child is preceeded by months of burden and days of travail: so is the birth of revival. Yah'shua (Jesus) prayed for His Community (Church), but then, to bring it birth, He gave Himself in death. What did Isaiah say?
Q. Do you think the Christian Church has compromised its convictions?
A. There can't be any doubt about that. The Messianic Community (Church) in the West does not suffer for its convictions. Dietrich Bonhöffer said that "suffering is the badge of the Christian." I don't see much of that badge being worn over here.
"...Yet no sooner is Zion in labour than she gives birth to her children" (Isa.66:8, NIV).
Q. And Luther said the same thing...
A. Yes: "Suffering is one of the marks of the true Church." And what did Paul say?
And Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
"All who desire to live a godly life in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus) WILL BE PERSECUTED" (2 Tim.3:12, RSV).
The Western Church avoids suffering and persecution by COMPROMISE. It always has done. The moral lives of most Christians often aren't much higher that the standards of the world. The lives of most Christians do not challenge and rebuke unbelievers by their integrity and purity. The world sees nothing in Christians to despise. It's awful, isn't it?! We are seldom bold enough to rebuke vice or speak out against the injustices of society. Issues like abortion, homosexual practices and other abominations deserve our unlimited condemnation, but many in the Christian Church mind their own business lest people are offended. Their god is now 'political correctness', not the Besorah (Gospel). The Christian message is diluted to such an extent that we escape suffering by compromise.
"If they persecuted Me, they WILL persecute you" (Jn.15:20, NIV).
Q. But haven't we, as Messianic Evangelicals, boldly spoken the emet (truth) and been persecuted for it?
A. Sometimes, but probably not enough. We need to be saying the emet (truth) more boldly and more often until the world is filled with rage. We need to raise our standards even higher, tighten our disciplines against the breaking of Yahweh's Torot (Laws) without fear or favour. What would happen then?
Q. There would be a huge public outcry!
A. And we would be ridiculed, scorned, villified in the press, on radio and on TV, and thrown into prison. But the Messianic Community (Church) would be revived. Yes, we have stuck our necks out often, but all too often we have retracted them again for fear of our families, and especially our children. And I would say that is our greatest weakness. But at the same time we are showing a manifest lack of trust in Yahweh. But if we were true to all Yahweh wanted of us, NCAY would be carried into a place of mighty spiritual revival.
Q. So you're saying that spiritual revival proceeds bold proclamation of the Besorah (Gospel)?
A. Without a doubt. Look at all the people in NCAY who have left us and compromised with the world. What has happened to them? What are they doing for Elohim (God)? Are they being true to the Davar (Word)? No, they have compromised with the Davar (Word) and made friends and common cause with our enemies to one degree or another! They have abandoned their first love.
We need derive no comfort from that, however, for we too are much in need of reforming. I think of some of the pastors and other valiant Christian workers in the Lutheran Church in Norway who are being imprisoned for speaking out against institutionalised abortion and homosexuality. These are the people on the front of Yahweh's will. They are being persecuted and forgotten.
Q. Is revival connected to the way we use our money?
A. Everything to do with the Besorah (Gospel) affects revival. Are we robbing Elohim (God) of His tithes and offerings? The Messianic Community (Church) can never be powerful until it recognises and understands the principles that govern financial giving. Giving must begin with tithes and offerings to Elohim (God). No Christian/Messianic can afford to neglect this.
If we give to Him, He has promised that He will "open the windows of heaven" (Mal.3:10). I am utterly convinced from the testimonies of all kinds of Christians and Messianics that believers worldwide are robbing Elohim (God) through neglect of tithes and offerings. Tithing is not so much an 'investment scheme', as many are wont to view it, but a matter of LOVE AND OBEDIENCE of Elohim (God).
"Thou shalt surely tithe all increse...and I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes" (Deut.14:22, KJV; Mal.3:11).
Although I should not need to say it here, a tithe is the first ten percent of our income. This belongs to Yahweh. A third of this tenth is for the ministry, a third for the poor and a third for financing the annual festivals. Elohim (God) encourages us to give offerings to meet special needs, but these offerings are above and beyond the tithe. Those who say that tithing is part of the Torah (Law) and does not apply today are quite wrong as the tithe was established before the Torah (Law) was given through Moses (Gen.14:20), and tithing was reaffirmed by Messiah in the New Testament (Matt.23:23). Elohim (God) also promises that when we are faithful in our tithes and offerings, He "will prevent prests from devouring..crops, and the vines..." (Mal.3:11, NIV).
I am convinced that many of the financial difficulties in which believers find themselves are due to their failure to tithe, or because they tithe with the wrong motives. This might sound harsh and legalistic but don't dismiss this principle on these grounds. I have seen it working in the lives of so many. Our failure to give tithes and offerings to Yahweh will prevent Him from "rebuking the devourer" for our sakes and we will be left to fend for ourselves.
Q. You mentioned that worldliness is a hindrance to revival. Could you be more specific?
A. Some think of worldliness as attentance at cinemas, football matches, discos, bars, and the like. It is all of these but at the same time far more. You can refrain from attending cinemas, football matches, or watching TV, and still be worldly.
Worldliness is an attitude of mind. It means thinking like the world. And there is overwhelming evidence that the Messianic Community (Christian Church) has allowed itself to be squeezed into the mould of the world. Instead of letting Scripture be their standard and guide, Christians have tended to form conclusions based on humanistic thinking - the way of the world.
Q. For example?
A. Well, lets take this issue - one that is supported not only by the world but by increasingly larger numbers of Christians/Messianics too - that husbands and wives have equal rights and responsibilities in society - in a word, coheadship. The Bible says, NOT SO. Both are equal before Elohim (God), but both do NOT have equal or identical responsibilities (Eph.5:22-25). This is called the 'Patriarchal Principle' which is so fundamental to the Besorah (Gospel) but which is now almost universally absent from the western churches.
Take another view held by the world and also by many Christians - the standard for all behaviour is 'love'. NOT SO, says the Bible. Elohim (God) says that the standard for behaviour is EMET (TRUTH) (Rom.2:2).
Take one more (the list is endless) - the world says, and many believers unfortunately agree, that marriages which are unhappy qualify for divorce. NOT SO, says the Bible. The answer, according to Elohim (God), is to overcome self-centredness and to put one's own interests last (Phil.2:3-4).
Slowly but surely the Messianic Community (Christian Church) in this penultimate generation is allowing its thinking to be cast into the mould of the world. Apostacy occurs when the world influences the Messianic Community (Church). But in revival, IT IS THE MESSIANIC COMMUNITY (CHURCH) WHICH INFLUENCES THE WORLD.
Q. But what, if as you have long preached, the world is beyond redemption? What if the Messianic Community (Church) has "ripened in sin" and can now only await judgment and sifting? How can revival come then?
A. You have really hit the nail on the head here, I think. These are important questions. And again I'm going to have to delay answering them until I have covered some other points, if you don't mind, because I haven't covered the ground thoroughly enough yet.
A. I want to now, if I may, return to an earlier theme and to metaphorically underline it in bold red ink. What was the urgent note that characterised New Testament Messianism/Christianity, but is scarcely heard in the Messianic Community (Church) today? REPENTANCE.
Time after time, in the Acts of the Apostles, the call to repentance was sounded AFTER the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost')! The preaching of the first apostles was dominated by this theme. The mandatory nature of repentance was woven throughout the entire fabric of the life and ministry of Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself, and its urgent necessity repeatedly proclaimed. But repentance is a missing note amongst today's believers. As one preacher remarked:
Q. That's an exaggeration!
A. I don't think so. And even if it is, there's enough emet (truth) in it to hurt. WHEN MEN AND WOMEN ARE NOT CHALLENGED TO REPENT AS THEY COME INTO THE CHRISTIAN/MESSIANIC LIFE, THEN THEY ENTER IT WITH THEIR EGO STILL INTACT AND DOMINANT. We Messianic Evangelicals have been preaching this for a decade but few have listened. Is it any wonder that we have so many believers in the churches today who are argumentative, self-centred and rebellious? They never really surrendered their wills when they entered the Messianic/Christian life, and when any issue comes up between their will and Elohim's (God's) will, they, never having learned the way of obedience and repentance, take a self-centred stance - one that is usually in opposition to the Almighty. An assembly (church) which does not recognise the importance of repentance is an assembly (church) that is rapidly in decline.
"Nowadays there is abroad an EASY BELIEVISM. We tell people, 'Say this prayer after me and you will have the gift of eternal life, a mansion on the main street of heaven, a diamond-studded crown, and you will rule over five cities in the Millennium.'"
Christianity is in decay even where there is superficial 'life'. One of the worst signs of decay is believers' unloving attitudes toward one another. It's the single biggest issue that muffles the Messianic Community (Church).
Well, one could argue that such unloving attitudes can never be entirely eliminated from the Messianic Community (Church) by powerful preaching, expert councelling, or by writing about it as we do in our publications. These things can certainly help.
Q. Are you saying that without revival we can't make progress?
A. Partly. Yahweh will send revival and spiritual anointing wherever there is a people making the effort to be obedient to Elohim's (God's) will. What is unique to Messianic Evangelicals, as far as I know, is the fact that we invite our members to enter into personal covenants with Yahweh and with each other to be true and faithful to Yah'shua's (Jesus') mitzvot (commandments). It works. Yahweh blesses such obedience provided the impetus is ahavah (love) and not, as I often call it, a 'spiritual investment plan' such as Mormonism and other groups teach.
We acknowledge that we, NCAY, need revival. We live by our covenants and have noticed the difference between us and those who do not. We know our spiritual condition. "Revival", as Peter Lewis put it, "comes to a desperate church not a triumphalist one". Well, we're desperate. We see only too starkly, our poverty and need.
Q. So revivals only begin when a Community (Church) is looking and preparing for it?
A. That is partly true only. Revival begins in the sovereign purposes of Elohim (God). I would say that in fact man has little to do with them. Revival is initiated in heaven, not on earth, as I've already said.
Q. Just like salvation.
A. Yes. But it is wrong to think, as many do about salvation, that man has nothing to do. We are not impotent sponges which Elohim (God) will fill as we do absolutely nothing. Charles Finney believed, as we do, that revival can happen in the Messianic Community (Church) the moment we are prepared to meet Elohim's (God's) conditions. Yet Elohim's (God's) sovereignty also plays a critical rôle. Elohim (God) alone can produce revival but it is transported to the earth on the wings of fervent, believing prayer. Every revival in history began in heaven but flowed into the Body of Messiah across the ramp of intercessory prayer. I believe this view is correct for it neither robs Elohim (God) of His sovereignty nor man of his responsibility. This is fundamental Messianic Evangelical teaching.
If you maintain that either salvation or revival depends exclusively on Elohim's (God's) sovereignty or exclusively on man's responsibility then you end up with the two great Christian heresies - Calvinism (which denies man's free agency) and legalism (which denies Yahweh's grace). Sovereignty and free agency are the two rails on which the trains of salvation and revival run. This is the only way to sound judgment.
Q. You seem absolutely certain of this.
A. I am. Years of scripture study and experience have revealed plainly to me that this is the emet (truth). Teachings emphasising or minimising one or the other lead to distortions of reality and emet (truth).
Whenever Yahweh wants to bring His redemptive purposes to pass here on earth, He does not move arbitrarily but respects the principle of prayer, which He Himself has established. He therefore touches the hearts of certain of His people to pray - it may only be a few - and thus proceeds to transmit His purposes along the ramp that prayer has built. Yahweh never acts against His nature. He would cease to be Elohim (God) if He did so. And His nature is to use, not ignore, the great principle of prayer which He has so wonderfully established in His universe.
Q. So if no-one is carrying the revival burden in his heart, it won't happen?
A. I think not. This principle suffuses the Bible. Before deliverance came to the nation of Israel in Egypt, Moses had to bear a burden. Before the great temple of Elohim (God) was built, Solomon had to bear a burden. Before the sins of the world could be removed, Yah'shua (Jesus) had to bear a burden. BEFORE THERE CAN BE A BLESSING, SOMEONE HAS TO BEAR A BURDEN.
Q. So nothing happens if you just sit around and wait!
A. It should be obvious, really. It is true both of worldly movements as well as of spiritual ones. This Messianic Evangelical work would never have begun, and we wouldn't have a massive book of revelations or a gigantic website, if a burden hadn't been carried - and not just at the beginning but throughout our development. Some people carry burdens for Yahweh's work and others become a burden by opposing it. We have had our fair share of both!
So if we want revival either in our own Community (Church) or in the Body of Messiah worldwide, Elohim (God) will first place a burden on the hearts of key figures. Why some should be selected to carry this burden and not others I cannot say, except that it is a mystery that we must ascribe to the sovereignty of Elohim (God). One thing is sure, however: YAHWEH NEVER GOES BEHIND THE BACK OF HIS BODY to introduce redemptive changes in His universe. When revival comes, it will come through the hearts of those who have been greatly burdened to pray.
And when it comes, it comes SUDDENLY and UNEXPECTEDLY. Revival begins without much preamble and without warning. The first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') began in this way:
This is brought about very clearly in the book of Habakkuk (3:1-3). After the navi (prophet) has prayed for revival:
"When the day of Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') had come...SUDDENLY a sound came from heaven like a rush of a mighty wind" (Ac.2:1-2, RSV).
the next verse goes on to say:
"O Yahweh, revive thy work in the midst of the years" (Hab.3:2, KJV),
The original Hebrew conveys the impression of suddenness. Following Habakkuk's prayer, Yahweh came suddenly, and without warning, to revive and invigorate His people.
"Elohim (God) came from Teman, the Qadosh (Holy, Set-Apart) One from Mount Paran" (Hab.3:3, NIV)
All the revivals I have talked about came suddenly. Study the record of of any revival throughout history and you will find that Elohim (God) came to His people unheralded and unannounced.
Q. But haven't we been told that this anointing will come to us?
A. Yes, and if you look at the history of revival you will also find that he imparts a few people a sense of His approaching presence, but the actual breakthrough always occurs with startling suddenness. Yah'shua (Jesus) told the talmidim (disciples) to wait in Jerusalem until they were endowed with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) but the actual day it came took them by surprise. So it will be with us.
You know, one of the break-off groups from this Community (Church) are also expecting an anointing, but they aren't doing a thing. They've already rejected those parts of the Bible they don't like and one (the leader of the last rebellion) has virtually rejected it altogether, including the atoning work of Messiah! I can prophesy, in the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus), that without repentance, revival or anointing will NEVER come to them. (It didn't. Within a short time, they all fell away and either became New Agers, agnostics or atheists - see the Third Rebellion).
Q. So tomorrow we could find ourselves in the middle of a revival?!
It is also a fact that revival begins in the most unlikely places. Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') did not begin in the majestic atmosphere of the Jerusalem temple but in the upper room of a house. For some reason, which ought not to be too difficult for us to understand, Yahweh seems to delight in bypassing the places where we might expect revival to break out - in a splendid cathedral or at a large Christian conference - and causes His fire to burst out in a small prayer meeting where only a few are present. In fact, NO REVIVAL HAS BEEN AN OFFICIAL MOVEMENT OF A CHURCH. This is why revival always astonishes the Messianic Community (Church) - it flares up where it is least expected.
Q. As the Toronto people claim...
A. Yes, but this was a counterfeit. Don't forget that. Satan also tries to follow the pattern used by Elohim (God). He is clever. And the closer he can emulate it, the better he can deceive.
I wonder if you have ever heard of the Primitive Methodist revival in the 1800s?
A. Well, this began not on the historic sites of former Methodist accomplishments, such as in London or Bristol (England), but in a tiny hamlet on the hillside of Mow Cop near Stoke-on-Trent. Someone described it as the least likely place in which a revival has ever broken out. Any why? Because there were only a few grey, roughly built cottages situated there, inhabited by people with little intellectual ability or learning. The area was bleak, rugged and uninteresting. Nevertheless, this is the place Elohim (God) chose in which to manifest His power and glory. If ever the Messianic Community (Church) receives a blow to its pride it is when Elohim (God) breaks forth in revival. He shows, in that act, how unimpressed He is with ornate buildings, exquisite architecture or long-standing religious traditions. When Elohim (God) came down to meet Moses in Midian, did He do so because Midian was a qadosh (holy, set-apart) and sanctfied place? No, He came not because it was qadosh (holy, set-apart), but to make it qadosh (holy, set-apart).
Q. So we should be prepared for surprises.
A. If indeed it can be said that we can be 'prepared'. One revival in North Wales in the 18th century began with the death of a highly respected minister. As the crowds gathered at his funeral service, the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) broke in and produced a mighty revival. The 1904 revival is connected with Evan Roberts, but it really began in a meeting at which Evan Roberts was present, when a shy and timid 16-year-old girl stood up and blurted out, "I love Yah'shua (Jesus) with all my heart!"
Consider again the revival which took place in New York in 1847. A Dutch businessman, Jeremiah Lanphier, advertised a midday prayer meeting in his office. At the first meeting, six people were present. So mightily did the Ruach (Spirit) work amongst these six, that within six months more than ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND businessmen were crowding into prayer meetings all over the city. In Uganda, a revival broke out when one Christian walked more than a hundred miles to ask the forgiveness of a Christian he had wronged twenty years previously.
So why does Yahweh by-pass organisations, committees and the well-oiled machinery of the Church in order to bring a revival to birth? He does it that the glory might not be man's, but His. The Almighty delights to be involved in situations where there is no doubt who is responsible for the victory which has been achieved. And a revival is such a situation.
Q. So you're saying that Yahweh might by-pass us??
A. Of course! Why not? Are we more righteous than other believers? Do we have a special deal with Elohim (God)? I think not! All we have is by grace and because we were willing to respond to His call. What, if at the point Yahweh wishes to send revial, we are insensible and unresponsive? Do you think He will wake us up and say: 'Come on, lads, wakey wakey, you're my special pets, get ready!' No, if we aren't ready, He'll go right by to someone else. He is no respector of persons. We are not entitled to any special favours.
Revivals not only break out in the most unlikely places and in the most unexpected ways but also with the MOST UNASSUMING PEOPLE. Don't think, when you read about such famous people as Charles Finney and Christmas Evans that all revivals begin with such outstanding personalities. Most revivals, in fact, began with unknown individuals. And those who were well-known, generally speaking, played little part in the revival until they themselves had passed through a time of deep repentance and inner cleansing.
Have you ever heard of James McQuilkee? Probably not. Yet he was a man whom Elohim (God) used mightily in the Ulster revival of 1859. Have you heard of David Morgan? Elohim (God) used him greatly in one of the revivals that shook Wales, yet prior to the revival he was known to no more than the five hundred or so people who lived in the small village where he was brought up.
Q. So we had better not try to explain Elohim (God's) ways of doing things?
A. No. If you can explain a revival then the chances are that it isn't one.
Q. I wonder if I could return to some of my earlier unanswered questions. What is the purpose of revivals? Why don't they last longer? Why does Yahweh send them when He does?
A. The first thing we need to remind ourselves of is that every time a revival has occurred it has included ONE OR MORE INGREDIENTS of the revival that took place at the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost'). So maybe we should be asking ourselves the questions: why havn't modern revivals included ALL the ingredients?
I think the answer depends on the local situation, what people want, and how much they are willing to live the WHOLE Besorah (Gospel). Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') came because the people were ready for the FULLNESS. They were prepared. One could also argue, as many do, that believers needed a rôle model, so that they could see the whole Besorah (Gospel) in place. I agree with that too.
I don't believe that full revival has come because there has never been a people ready to live the whole emet (truth). Moreover, Christians/Messianics have had to live within cultural traditions that are hostile to many aspects of the Besorah (Gospel), such as (in our militantly feminist times) patriarchy. Yahweh gives us only what we, and the environment in which we live, can bear.
As you know, the Millennium will be characterised by many things that are anathema to our modern societies, and even the societies of one or two centuries ago. Think what would have happened if in the Welsh revivals of the last century Yahweh called His people to live the United Order of all things incommon and polygamy, both of which will be natural expressions of the Besorah (Gospel) in the Millennium?
I believe that Elohim (God) allows revival to flare up in short bursts to edge the Messianic Community (Church) one step or more steps forward towards that Millennial goal at a time. The Body of Messiah is still very much in its infancy, despite two millennia of turbulent history. It progresses in fits and starts because it is confronted and resisted by human nature and political institutions at every step of its journey.
People pray for revival when they get sick of the situation. We wait for decay to get so bad that we won't stand for more. We ought to keep it burning longer, as the apostles did, but it's an uphill struggle. The tendency to rebellion is strongly engrained in our fallen Adamic natures. Self-centredness has ever been the brake that has retarded the onward march of the Body of Messiah.
Q. Isn't it legitimate for believers to enjoy themselves in Elohim's (God's) presence, and to long for services that pulsate with divine power? Why, then, does Yahweh suffer the Body to go through long dark periods of spiritual emptiness and darkness?
A. You are asking a question that modern charismatics have tried to answer by saying that these long periods of darkness were fundamentally WRONG. They say it's people's fault and we should have that 'pulsation', as you call it, all the time. But you are forgetting the main purpose we are down here in this mortal probation, and that is not to enjoy ourselves in Elohim's (God's) presence (which we will have for ever after this life is over) but to WORK OUT OUR SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING (Phil.2:12). We are here to make choices. We are here to be tested.
Revival has simply, I believe, been given in the past since the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost') to prevent the Body of Messiah sinking into total oblivion because of man's rebelliousness. It has been temporary because it's purpose was never to create Paradise on Earth. That paradise - the Millennium - is not dependent on the condition of Body, so we don't need 100 per cent revival to ussher in the Millennium. Indeed, the opposite is true. We are told that the true Messianic Community (Church) will be a tiny remnant when Yah'shua (Jesus) returns. It is not the "Church glorious and triumphant" that will bring in a thousand years of peace - it is a Community (Church) rescued from extinction at the last moment.
Q. So you're saying that we have a wrong view of the mission of NCAY?
A. Fundamentally, yes. Elohim (God) has many purposes in this mortal probation. The Messianic Community (Church) is a vehicle, it is not the consummate end - at least, not before Yah'shua (Jesus) returns to set everything in order. Elohim (God) could, at any time, permit a Shavu'ot/Pentecostal-like revial and then let it sweep the earth so that there wouldn't be any more unbelievers. But the question is: what would that be for? Would everyone be given a legitimate chance to choose the right from the wrong? Would all the pre-mortal spirits have had a chance to be born?
What Elohim (God) is not is arbitrary. There is purpose in all things, even in the darkness and evil which He permits to operate down here.
Q. So you would not say, as some do, that the only purpose of revival is to bring glory to Elohim's (God's) Name?
A. That is only part of it. It is the short-term aim only. It is true that our motivation for revival should always be to bring glory to Elohim (God). Of course. We cannot know what it is that will bring Him glory. We must be linked to His purposes, and thus to His power.
Q. What is our purpose here on earth, then? You say that it is to work out our salvation, but surely it is to bring glory to Elohim (God)?
A. Aren't the two the same? When we are working out our salvation we are bringing glory to Elohim (God), because we are fulfilling His purpose in us. We are not here to 'enjoy' ourselves in the worldly sense.
Q. So do we as Messianic Evangelicals subscribe to the teaching of the Westminster Confession concerning worship?
A. If you mean our purpose is to "glorify God (Elohim) and to enjoy Him forever" then, yes, of course. Any pursuit of pleasure, even spiritual pleasure, apart from Elohim (God) who made us, is a violation of His purpose in the creation of man, and a traversty of man's best interests. Man was not made for himself but for Elohim (God). As the Westminister theologians went on to say: "To pursue self-gratificationto the abandonment of God (Elohim) is to guarantee immediate disappointment and eventually total ruin."
I think, though, this statement can be misread to make it look at though Elohim (God) has thoroughly selfish motives. He has created us to be free agents and wishes us to grow to be like Him by imitating His Son and drawing on His resurrection power through emunah (faith) and multiply His ahavah (love) in the world. He wants us to grow and mature and not simply be puppets on a string.
If the Messianic Community (Christian Church) is to respond properly to Elohim's (God's) will it must put Yahweh's interests first and all other interests in a firm second place. Some may, unfortunately, pray for revival, fearing that if it doesn't come that their very way of life will be undermined or destroyed. Others may pray for revival motivated by a concern for loved ones who are in sin. Still others may pray for revival out of a concern for the bankrupt condition of the Messianic Community (Church). But worthy as such aims may be, let it be understood that the primary reason why we should pray for and desire a spiritual revival is for the glory of Elohim (God).
Q. Even though Yahweh may not want the earth to be swept by a Shavu'ot/Pentecostal-like revival, I take it that you accept He wishes His Body to be in top spiritual form?
A. The Messianic Community (Church) should always be living the fullness and in the power it was always intended to enjoy. Its history has been of 'peaks and troughs'. At times it soars in the chariot of revival with the world at its feet. Other times it is beggared and bankrupt - the laughing-stock of society. History records that 50 years after the first Messianic Shavu'ot (Weeks, 'Pentecost'), it began to lapse into lukewarmness and infidelity, and by the end of the first century had lost much of its spiritual supremacy. It stayed this way for over a century. Then at the beginning of the third century, Yahweh stepped in to revive His people, though it never reached the same heights as earlier, having already become corrupted by lawlessness and false doctrines. In subsequent centuries this pattern of 'peaks and troughs' is clearly traceable. During one period the Community (Church) is 'up', in the next, it is 'down'. Then when it looks as if it is finished and will never arise again, Yahweh graciously steps in and touches the hearts of His people in revival power.
"Praise be to His glorious Name for ever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory" (Ps.72:19, NIV).
Q. So why should the Body fall into periods of lukewarmness and decline with all the great ministries which Yahweh sets in it - gifted pastors, teachers, nevi'im (prophets), etc.?
A. Simple - the waywardness of the human heart (Jer.17:9). Such is the human condition that even the most spiritual people can allow their hearts to be turned away from Elohim (God) by such things as materialism, humanism, existentialism, and so on. So wilful are their desires that the ordinary ministries of the Body cannot move them. It is such times that Yahweh sends revival.
Q. What about calamity?
A. That too - and sometimes, as a preparation for revival.
Q. Is there any part of the Messianic Community (Christian Church( today which is presently experiencing all that Yahweh wants for her, do you think?
A. I doubt it.
Winston Churchill once described the Allied army that landed at Anzio in 1943 on the Italian coast as a "beached whale". I think that is a pretty good description on the Assembly of Yahweh (Church of God) today. Someone else has described it as a 'sleeping giant"'which conveys much the same sort of mental picture.
Q. And yet there is so much activity worldwide...
A. Man's activity isn't necessarily Elohim's (God's) activity. Evangelistic concerns are good and proper but they aren't necessarily evidence that the Community (Church) is properly awake. How can it be when it is quagmired in Greco-Roman thinking?
We are on the edge of a patriarchal awakening - an awakening that is going to sweep away all the gentile churches by the last day. The thinking patterns are all wrong. The wineskin of the churches is old and delapilated - it's shrunk and cracked. It can't contain the wine of the Ruach (Spirit) save for brief periods and in small amounts. That's why revivals in the past have been so short-lived. The will has been there (sometimes), the ahavah (love) has been there (sometimes), but the structures have all been wrong (most of the time). In the end the wineskins burst and the energy is dissipated.
That is a reason why NCAY has been called into being. We're nothing right now and we probably won't be for a few years yet. Almost nobody has heard of it and those who do regard it has totally inconsequential - an absurdity, an aberration, a charming little quirk...or worse. Solomon's temple started that way. It was conceived in the mind of his father David who labouriously collected materials for it without a single stone being laid upon another during his lifetime. Then Solomon took over. Only after many years of toil did Yahweh endow His House with His presence.
We've been at work a long time ammassing the materials - the blueprint for Zion in the revelations. We've done it quietly without anyone really noticing, just like the stones of Solomon's temple were quarried in complete silence. The likes of Solomon's temple has never been seen before. Elohim's (God's) Shekinah Spirit had never been seen before as it manifested when that temple was dedicated. So never despise small beginnings. Elohim (God) built a nation from a pack of idolatrous slaves, and He built His Messianic Community (Church) from a bunch of illiterate fishermen.
NCAY, and others like her, that will form the Remnant, will awaken but the revival that's coming won't be anything like the previous ones. The fire will be so hot that all the dross will be consumed like stubble. It will be a purging. The Fellowship that emerges from it will be spectacular - there won't be any sleeping believer in it.
Q. What of the other churches?
A. They will fossilise completely - there won't be any born-again Christians/Messianics in them because they'd starve. And they - the fossilised churches and messianic synagogues - will turn on the revived Assembly of Yahweh (Church of God) with hatred and bitterness. The division will be complete - wheat and tares. People will either be for Messiah or against Him.
Q. No neutrals, then?
A. No. They will be forced to choose one way or the other. The resultant Assembly of Yahweh (Church of God) will capture the attention of the unbelieving world. Those that repent will come to it -- the rest will persecute it.
In the meantime the world hardly recognises the presence of this Assembly. Though it may occasionally pay it lip service, deep down unbelievers regard it as archaic and ineffectual. When a minister is portrayed in a TV serial or a play he is invariably a stilted caricature of the real thing, a dyspeptic creature, who speaks in a silly, affected voice, and who is more non-Christian than Christian. Of course, there are many of the clergy who fit this caricature perfectly, but to reason from the particular to the general is foolish and absurd.
Q. The comedians like to have a go too, don't they?
A. It's the same thing there. Ministers are usually portrayed as rather quaint, absent-minded, out-of-touch foolish people.
Another idea the world has of the Messianic Community (Church) is that we are a group of psychologically immature people needing a religious prop in order to face the challenge of living in a strife-torn world. But that isn't the worst of it. Men and women project the weaknesses, the mistakes, the inadequacies of the Messianic Community on to Elohim (God) and say: "If there is a God, what kind of God can He be to give His Name to such a motley crowd as this?"
Q. But isn't that true to some extent -- Christians are a bad reflection of Elohim (God)?
A. Yes, sadly. But revival changes all that. It puts Elohim (God) right in the middle of His people, giving them a voice so powerful that when the Messianic Community (Church) speaks, the world sits up and listens. To those who say that the Body of Messiah is weak and enervated, we can reply: 'That is how it may look at present. But just wait - our Elohim (God) is on the way.'
Q. We should be ashamed of being Christians/Messianics as we look at the state of the Body worldwide! And we should be outraged by the godlessness and immorality around us! We should be angry the way Yahweh's Name is blasphemed in almost every section of society! Why do we let them get away with it - mocking the Bible as though it were nothing more than a piece of antiquated literature??
A. Because the Messianic Community (Church) is defeated - it has caved in to the world - and it's caving in more and more with each passing year. It has lost emunah (faith). King David felt much as you do - he was enraged by all the blasphemy he heard around him - all the atheism. He begged Yahweh to do something about it - to descend from heaven and stop the mouths of the blasphemers and those who were ridiculing Him.
If we're not upset by what we hear around us in the world then we've become a part of it, perhaps without ever realising it. Yet the Bible says clearly that those who are friends with the world are enemies of Elohim (God) (Jas.4:4). To hear sacred things treated with contempt and eternal matters trivialised without indignation is not possible to those who truly love Elohim (God) and serve His Son, the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
Q. And those who aren't? What is their state?
A. Awful! They are off the Derech (Way) that leads to salvation. Yet we should not be surprised - the Bible prophesies that that this spiritual apathy and lethargy will be typical of the last days.
Revival will awaken many of these backslidden believers. However, it will principally be the world that awakens, on the look out as it always is for the extraordinary. When the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) fell upon the people who were in Jerusalem, together with the strangers gathered there for the feast, asked the talmidim (disciples), "What does this mean?" (Ac.2:12; cp. Ex.13:14) They were arrested by the mighty outpouring of Elohim's (God's) eternal power. That is always the case in revival - unbelievers, albeit out of curiosity, gather in the presence of the unusual and ask the question: "What does this mean?"
A preacher who was converted in the 1904 Welsh revival recounted his experience of conversion: "I was a drunkard and a down-and-out," he said, "but one night someone came into the pub where I was drinking and said, 'There's some strange things going on in the church down the road. People are crying, falling on the floor, and all kinds of things are happening.' My friends and I went down to the church to scoff and have some fun. But when I entered the door it was as if I had been arrested: I sobered up immediately, and fell on my knees calling upon God to have mercy on my soul." And then he added some words which are heard on numerous occasions with revival: "I went to scoff but I stayed to pray."
Q. Surely there is nothing the Messianic Community (Church) can do to produce such an impact and an effect?
A. No, it can't. Evangelistic crusades, rallies, concerts and the like can attract and appeal to the world, but only revival can arrest it. Only revival can turn people on their heads. It results in greater power and purity in the Community (Church), as we've seen. It means that long-standing habits of self-indulgence that surrender neither to reason nor to Elohim (God), will be broken when revival comes. The doors and walls of the prison of self, in which so many Christians/Messianics are incarcerated, particularly in our modern grossly individualistic society, will be broken down by revival. The Saviour who came to declare freedom to the captive will enable His people to be free indeed. Unconfessed sins that have been covered over for years will be brought to light. The interesting sin about the exposure of sin in times of revival is that the fear and shame which usually accompany such moments are thought of as nothing compared to the prospect of forgiveness and cleansing.
Q. So we're not actually aware of how serious sin is until revival comes?
A. No. We are unconscious, asleep. Elohim's (God's) anointing changes all of that.
Another thing revival means is that the plans and strategies of the Messianic Community (Church) are thrown into upheaval and disarray. Goals and ambitions once thought to be of the utmost spiritual importance are seen to be but temporal. Elohim's (God's) timing, Elohim's (God's) purpose, Elohim's (God's) plans rule the day. Some assembly (church) structures may collapse when revival comes, but are then rebuilt "according to the pattern shown in the Mount" (Heb.8:5). Traditions may perish. Programmes may have to be abandoned and schedules rearranged. Well-rehearsed choir numbers may remain unsung for ever. Nothing is ever the same again in the Community (Church) when revival comes.
A third result of revival is the breaking of the will. When Elohim (God) moves from heaven in extraordinary power, all that stands in opposition to Him may be expected to be broken and cast aside. Pastors, Elders and leaders will be broken by revival. Men who have preached interesting and eloquent sermons may discover their ministry has the value of "wood, hay and stubble" (1 Cor.3:12, KJV). Sermons and messages which seemed satisfactory enough in previous days will never do for revival. God, the Master Workman, will break the congregation too. Men and women, who had resisted Him and His Word, now find themselves pliant and ready to do His bidding. But the breaking down always leads to a remaking. Yahweh not only pulls down - He builds up.
Q. As I try to visualise this picture in my mind a thought comes to the fore. Isn't revival what Elohim (God) is doing all the time, though in a less concentrated form? Aren't all these processes happening only so slowly that we don't always notice them?
A. I hadn't really though about that before but I suppose you are right. Yahweh is continually sifting and awakening. He revives gradually outside of 'revival' and suddenly, and dramatically, in it. It's an interesting point.
Q. And as a follow on I would like to ask: where is the justice in this? Surely someone who lives through one of these infrequent revivals is going to be in a far better position of salvation than someone who is not. If revival is by grace, what does this tell us about salvation?
A. You are coming up with some very hard questions today! I think there is a danger here of becoming Calvinistic - that is, saying that we humans have no say in our salvation because it was all decided before we were born. I cannot accept that for reasons I have given elsewhere. I can only answer this question in one way: those who were born in those time periods when revival took place were placed there because that is what they merited. It was all fore-ordained by Yahweh. He places us in time and space because that is right and just. There can be no other answer.
Q. But isn't that tantamount to saying that salvation is by works?
A. Be careful that you don't mix up the different types of salvation that the Bible discusses. There is jurisdictional salvation which no-one can earn, which puts us in right relationship with Elohim (God) through emunah (faith), and emunah (faith) alone. Then there is sanctification and glorification which, though also a matter of emunah (faith), is also up to us. This subject I have discussed in detail elsewhere so I won't go into it again here.
Suffice to say that Yahweh is not unfair if we never live to experience a revival in our lives. The same opportunities lie before us as for those who experience revival. Remember also that when the Ruach (Spirit) withdraws or diminishes in intensity after revival we are left much more up to ourselves - there is far less 'arrestation', if I might use that word again. Someone swept away in the wave we call revival must still learn discipline and obedience. Revival is not cheap grace. It is grace, to be sure, but it does not circumvent the soul's need to continue "working out his salvation in fear and trembling." Elohim (God) does not remove our free agency in revival. If He did, everyone would be converted. And they most certainly are not. Though unbelievers are certainly converted in revival, most of them are not.
But let me return to the main results of revival as I wish also to remind our readers of holiness. In revival holiness becomes the prime object of people's lives. To become like Yah'shua (Jesus) often becomes the theme song of a revival. Christians/Messianics are consumed with a desire to conform to Messiah's image, and the principle of Romans 8:29 -- "Elohim (God) decided that those who came to Him...should become like His Son" (LB) -- becomes the dominating passion of their lives. The great truths of Scripture are no longer relegated to group discussions in church on a Sunday or in a mid-week house group, but are lived out on a daily basis and applied in every exigency of life. Revival people are truly a qadosh (holy, set-apart) people.
A fifth result of revival is that Christians/Messianics become greatly burdened for the souls of unbelievers. Prayer for the eternal welfare of those outside of Messiah becomes a passion. Someone said that the word that is characteristic of revival is the word 'Oh'. It comes out continually in the prayers of those who agonise for the lost. 'Oh God,' they cry, 'save those who are dying in sin.' Nothing short of lasting conversions will satisfy the qodeshim (saints, set-apart ones) in a time of revival. They pray for that same liberating Ruach (Spirit) that broke and remade them will do the same in the hearts of their friends, families, acquaintances and people throughout the world. New converts are made without arm-twisting. No elaborate plans for follow-up are necessary as new converts stand on their own feet from the moment of conversion.
And sixth, a result of revival is that Christians/Messianics begin to manifest the ahavah (love) of Messiah toward one another. Those who have borne grudges or have gossipped about other Christians/Messianics go to those they have wronged and ask their forgiveness. Maintaining a clear conscience becomes a matter of paramount importance. Those who have sinned privately make their confession to Elohim (God) whom they have wronged. Those who have sinned publicly find the grace and strength to make a public confession. A watching world will look on in amazement as it sees Christians/Messianics, who had hitherto lived hypocritical lives, now taking their emunah (faith) seriously. The light that shines in a revived Community (Church) cannot be put out. It shines more and more until the perfect day.
Q. What about the effects of revival upon such things as politics and socio-econonomics. I don't supose it reaches into the world directly like that?
A. It's tempting to think that but actually the evidence suggests the opposite - at least in the historical revivals thus far. When revival came to Wales drunkeness was immediately cut by half and many public houses (bars) went bankrupt. Crime was so diminished that the judges were presented with white gloves signifying that there were no cases of murder, assault, rape, robbery, or such like, to consider. The police became 'unemployed' in many districts. Stoppages occurred in the coal mines, not due to unpleasantness between management and workers, but because so many miners became converted and stopped using foul language that the horses which hauled the coal trucks in the mines could no longer understand what was being said to them, and transportation ground to a halt.
Q. Hasn't NCAY said that the time was now passed to redeem society? Doesn't the history of revival contradict our position? Shouldn't we be more hopefull?
A. We have never said that revival was unnecessary or that we should stop trying to influence society for its betterment. What we have denied is the liberal Christian doctrine that society will be gradually changed until the world is converted and then the Millennium comes. The Bible clearly teaches that when Messiah returns the world will have ripened in sin and Messiah will have to personally intervene by force to bring about Millennial conditions.
We have never said, 'Give up on society'. How could we? Society is people. But we have told our people to be realistic and not to suppose that witnessing and revival will sweep the world into the Millennium. What we have said is that political involvement is pointless because it is futile to change the world in the power of man. Revival is the opposite - it is the power of Elohim (God). We believe that local conditions - politically and socially - can be changed for a while to enable evangelism to proceed and Elohim's (God's) people be gathered out of the world. The longer such changes can remain, the better, of course. But we must be realistic and not lose sight of that the Bible says about the end times. Paradise will not be achieved by revival - its purpose is solely to win souls for Messiah and gather them out of Babylon spiritually whilst remaining in it to continue the Messianic Community's (Church's) witness. The world will only be overwhelmed by Messiah's personal intervention at the Second Coming.
Q. So you're saying that revival improves society for a while to, as it were, make more time for the harvesting of souls?
A. Something like that. Look at our world today. Great revivals have come and gone. Satan is still the prince of this world and is getting more and more power daily. Only Yahweh's intervention will finally topple him globally. Meanwhile he can be toppled from the thrones of people's lives with the good news of Yah'shua (Jesus).
Q. Is there any particular aspect of society's ills which you would like to see a modern revival change?
A. There are many, of course, but one that distresses me the most is the murder of the unborn. Abortion rates are increasing all the time. Countries that once shunned abortion, as late as the beginning of this decade (the 1990s),have now abandoned their high moral ground and caved into the liberal secularists. Canada and Romania are two dissimilar examples. Countries like Poland and Ireland, which are holding out because of their Catholicism, are under threat.
Despite our strongest protests and flawless arguments we seem powerless to get people to see that life begins at the moment of conception, and that to abort a foetus for any other reason than danger to the life of the mother (and even that is a difficult issue) is an offense in the eyes of Elohim (God). Though the problem is not one that did not affect previous generations to such a degree, and we have no statistics against which we can measure it, I believe, nevertheless, that revival in the Messianic Community (Church) would greatly affect the thinking of society in relation to this issue. The Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) flowing out from the Messianic Community (Church) into the world with power would, in my judgment, cause men and women to feel deeply uncomfortable about abortion. In no time, the laws governing abortion on demand would be changed.
Today subjectivism has taken the place of fixed principles of moral law. Instead of judging conduct on the basis of what Elohim (God) says, people now say: 'Let your conscience be your guide.' But conscience without the reinforcment of the Davar Elohim (God's Word) and the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), as I have taught so many times, can excuse just as easily as it can accuse. Revival would not force men and women to act in ways that are consistent with Elohim's (God's) demands in Scripture, but the light it would cast would make men think twice before embarking upon deeds of darkness. As it is written: "Yahweh will cause men to hear His majestic voice" (Isa.30:30, NIV).
Q. Any others?
A. Divorce. In Norway 50 per cent of all marriages fail. Add to this the failure rate of Common Law Marriages and the figure is undoubtedly considerably higher. The statistic is not much better in other Western nations. There are no signs that this situation is getting any better. Clearly the Messianic Community's (Church's) teaching on marriage makes very little impression on the world. Indeed, the world seems to make divorce easier and easier. Revival in the Body would likely curb the rising divorce rate. Such would be the power that would flow through the Body that its voice would be heeded and its standards recognised and upheld.
I could list other standards - on violence, dishonesty, disrespect for parents, and a dozen others. I believe that revival would also give nations a sense of destiny which many have lost.
Take my own nation of Britain. Revival would, I believe, restore a much needed sense of destiny to the British people. Prior to World War Two, the British people believed they had a special destiny in the world. Some aspects of the idea were, of course, quite unsupportable. Those who said that whoever resisted Britain resisted heaven - and old memorial tablets in churches to admirals and generals declare this - were speaking from an imperialistic and not a spiritual perspective. Thankfully, most of that imperial pride has gone. Discerning people know that the only country with a future is the country which sets out to bring its purposes in harmony with the purposes of Elohim (God).
One Christian historian believes that Britain could do that more swiftly than most other countries. The reasons given are that she has a longer history and experience of self-government, and a long enjoyment of civil, political and religious liberty has given her a maturity of judgment in all these fields, which is still rare among men. Britain has had no civil war for over 300 years. Tolerance, fair play and a freedom from frenzy mark the people. (20 years on, I am not so sure of that any more). The nation has a high destiny still. A revival in the House of Elohim (God) would inevitably overflow into the Houses of Parliament. Revived Christians/Messianics in Parliament, and other high places, would speak with new power and authority. Few, if any, would be able to resist the call to Biblical standards and morality. Britain could be great again, but nothing short of revival in the Messianic Community (Church) could accomplish it, not even the new political climate created by New Labour.
Q. And other nations?
A. All nations have a destiny, I believe, and an important one. Imagine what a revival in Germany would accomplish amongst that highly disciplined and hard-working people. Or in the United States with traditions similar to the British. Or in Singapore which has achieved status as a first rate economic power in only one generation! Think what would happen in Nigeria or South Africa with a Christian/Messianic revival! Every nation is endowed with gifts from the Almighty which would bless the whole world. We would become a true Family of Nations as Yahweh always intended - a family transcending in importance anything dreamed up by the British Commonwealth, the Organisation of African Unity, or even the United Nations itself.
Q. But I take it you don't really believe this could happen?
A. Eschatologically, no, but in the meantime, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Let's not throw water on the fires of hope. I sincerely believe that we will see national revivals though in which countries I do not know. (We are now, in 2017, of the belief that permanent revivals will take place in Sweden, Kenya, the Philippines and Bolivia.) It might start in some small place like the Maldive Islands, for example, transforming an entire nation. We can at least be praying for it.
Q. Do you think a revival will necessarily start in a 'Christian' nation?
A. Not necessarily. Name me one 'Christian' nation! Britain is a 'Christian' nation on the religious maps in atlasses but if you were to ask me to point a nation which had the most moral laws I might well point out a multi-religious country like Singapore has.
Q. But the majority of Singaporeans are Buddhists and Moslems!
A. Yes, but the moral laws there have more in common than those of Britain! So whilst the majority acknowlege no Christian 'tradition' the laws of the land are far more 'Christian' than in Britain..generally speaking.
Q. How will we know if, and when, Elohim (God) is about to initiate a revival?
A. As always, through His nevi'im (prophets). He will inspire people to pray for revival and to order their lives for one, and call the Messianic Community (Church) globally to repentance. As it is written by the Chronicler:
"If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray...and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear..." (2 Chr.7:14, NIV).
This passage is, as one minister has remarked, "the final and polished formula on how to prepare for revival." In fact, I think this passage is so important that we owe it to ourselves to study it closely.
The first emet (truth) is to be gleaned is that REVIVAL BEGINS WITH THE PEOPLE OF ELOHIM (GOD). To criticise and condemn unbelievers for their unbiblical standards and practices is beginning at the wrong place. Revival relates first to the people of Yahweh. Some say that the term 'people of Elohim (God)' relates to all those who have some kind of religious inclination. But the Almighty leaves us in no doubt whom He is addressing:
He is talking to those who know Him intimately, who have taken His Name upon themselves (His character), and who are linked with Him in a family relationship by covenant.
"If My people, WHO ARE CALLED BY MY NAME."
Q. That is quite a responsibility for people who call themselves Christians or Messianics.
A. Yes. But these are not nominal Christians or Messianics we are talking about here but those who have experienced the New Birth - they're spiritually regenerated. What a responsibility we have! After all, whether we like it or not, people judge Elohim (God) by the impression we make upon them, If we fail, they don't reason with themselves and say: 'He's only one in a million Christians - the others are a good deal better.' No, they observe our way of life, evaluate our actions and our behaviour, and say: 'If that's what serving God is like, then I want nothing to do with it.' This is why Yahweh chooses to begin with His own people when he is about to bring His redemptive purposes to pass in history. Once the people of Elohim (God) are right, then it won't take long to put the world right.
Q. But that's the main problem, isn't it? The people of Elohim (God) are divided and are sending conflicting messages out to the world.
A. Yes, the tares are amongst the wheat, as Yah'shua (Jesus) said they would be...until the last day. Then the sifting and sorting would take place.
Q. Is it not more likely that revival will come more selectively this time?
A. That depends what you mean. Revivals in the past have always been selective - they have not been universal. I do not imagine they will be any different next time.
But let's return to our text in Chronicles to see what conditions must be met by Yahweh's people before revival comes:
Q. Shouldn't prayer take priority rather than humility?
A. I am surprised you would suggest that! What use is prayer if a person is proud? Pride has always been - and will always be - the greatest barrier to Elohim (God) having His way in His Body. Not for nothing did the old theologians put pride at the head of the list of the 'seven deadly sins'. "Pride," said one preacher, "is the primal sin. Little as we know of the life of the angels, there is evidence for believing that pride led to the revolt of Satan in heaven."
"If My people, who are called by My Name, will HUMBLE THEMSELVES..." (2 Chr.7:14).
Q. This is what you have been preaching ever since the Messianic Evangelical Movement began...
A. Yes, and it has been the cause of EVERY rebellion we have had in NCAY as well as the Messianic Community (Christian Church) in general. It was undeniably the root cause of the Third Rebellion which saw NCAY finally purged. The schismatics have made a point of stressing that pride is not such a serious sin after all, which is hardly surprising, really, for them. But they are not alone. Pride is the disease both of this world as a whole and the Messianic Community (Christian Church).
Self-centredness is a blight that affects both the redeemed and the unredeemed. Because we are Christians/Messianics does not mean that we are automatically protected from the disease of self-interest. How many times have you, even though you are a believer, allowed yourself rather than Elohim (God) to have the benefit of the doubt over some spiritual challenge He gave you? How many times when reading a passage in Scripture which doesn't quite fit in with your view of things have you believed your own doubt than the final authority of the Davar (Word)?
When pride is present, then everything which comes up has an immediate self-reference. Me...me...me...or I...I...I.... There can be no real victory in any believer's life until they have found victory over pride. The injunction, "humble yourself", suggests that an act of the will is necessary. Yahweh can humble us, but how much more meaningful it becomes when we do it ourselves. I ask all those who read this: Are you a proud person? Then do something today to trample on your pride. Pride has many evil characteristics, but its greatest evil is this - it blocks the way to revival.
Q. I somehow can't see Christendom humbling itself of its own free will...
A. No, neither can I. That is why revival will only come to the tiny minority who are willing to humble themselves - to a remnant people. Revival will not come to those who are waiting to be knocked off their pedistals by some catastrophe. People do humble themselves when catastrophe comes but it isn't pure, and therefore doesn't last. When former conditions of prosperity return, those who were forced to be humble will invariably return to pride again. We have many revelations that address this important subject which need to be studied carefully over and over again (see NC&C 45:6-10; 105:17-18; 140:11; 141:7-12; 142:21-23; 161:23-24; 193:37-41; 269:15-17; 325:8-10). One revelation is quite blunt, saying:
Next, as you mentioned, we come to prayer - but not before we have dealt with pride.
"Be ye not deceived, beloved, for PRIDE IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL; and pride will not repent, but would rather exalt itself. He who weepeth over his sins, despising them, hath begun to understand..." (Olive Branch 352:118-120).
But Christians/Messianics, you might say, do pray! Yes, but how much? How sincerely? How unselfishly? When did we last stay up late just to PRAY? When did we get up early just to PRAY? Many believers go through their Christian life just praying by rote, or praying only when they want something for themselves. This isn't the kind of praying Yahweh means when He lays down the conditions for revival.
"If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and PRAY..."
One of the greatest definitions I know of is this - PRAYER IS CO-OPERATION WITH YAHWEH. Consider what is meant by this phrase - co-operation with Yahweh! It is an exercise that links our faculties to our Maker to work out the intentions He had in mind in their creation. Prayer isn't bending Elohim's (God's) will to ours, but bending our will to His. We work out the purposes which Elohim (God) has worked out for us.
I read the account of a man who sat and listened to an organist playing a beautiful melody. He said that behind the organ he could see a man striking upon bells the same notes the organ was playing. So in addition to the tones of the organ were the tones of the chimes, forming a beautiful accompaniment. Prayer is like that - it means we are striking the same notes as Yahweh. We thus become a part of a universal harmony - the 'music of the spheres', as it were. Our little notes are caught up and universalised. Prayer puts us in tune with the Infinite, and then Infinite power works through our finiteness.
But there is more that Elohim (God) expects of us than this for revival. He invites us not merely to pray, but to make the prayer time a deep encounter with Him.
The kind of praying Yahweh looks for is not the brief, eager-to-get-it-over-with type, but the unhurried waiting before Him - the true seeking of His face. The Tanakh (Old Testament) nevi'im (prophets) knew how to pray like this. They came before Yahweh and laid hold on Him until something great and mighty happened.
If you study the great biblical prayers such as he prayer of Moses, the prayer of Abraham and the prayer of Daniel, you will discover in all these prayers there were common elements. The nevi'im (prophets), when they prayed, all used the same princples to get Elohim (God) to respond. Now it follows if we can discover these common elements, and weave them into our prayers, then their presence will greatly strengthen our petitions.
The first ingredient was SELFLESSNESS. They put others first - themselves last. The second - BOLDNESS. They were so convinced of their cause that they had no fear in coming into His presence. The third ingredient was that of REASONED ARGUMENT. Taking Yahweh's own words, and quoting them back to Him, was one of their greatest strategies. Yahweh loves to be reasoned with - He is an Elohim (God) of intelligence and logic (Is.1:18). A fourth ingredient of the great biblical prayers was that of being SPECIFIC. They knew what they wanted, and they asked Elohim (God) straight out for it. All of these ingredients are in this great prayer of Isaiah that I am going to cite now, chapter 16, verses 15-19:
Q. It almost sounds arrogant!
A. That depends on the kind of inflexion you put on the words - it is only arrogant if it is read in a certain spirit. But this is a navi (prophet) crying from the depths of his heart - it's a plea of desperation - very human but not devoid of respect. You'll find such prayers not atypical. Think of the desperation of Job.
"Look down from heaven and see from Your lofty throne, qadosh (holy, set-apart) and glorious. Where are Your zeal and might? Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us. But You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; You, O Yahweh, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your Name. Why, O Yahweh, do you make us wander from Your ways and harden our hearts so that we do not revere you? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes that are Your inheritance. For a little while Your people possessed Your qadosh (holy, set-apart) place, but now our enemies have trampled down Your sanctuary. We are Yours from of old; but You have not ruled over them, they have not been called by Your Name" (Is.16:15-19, NIV).
The important point is that Isaiah's prayer contains those prophetic ingredients I have mentioned - selflessness, boldness, reasoned argument and specificity.
Q. Was Isaiah's prayer answered?
A. The Judahites returned home to Jerusalem and Judea! They didn't deserve to but Elohim (God) took them home. They rebelled again later. Isaiah's prayer, though, was not so much a question of him persuading Elohim (God) to change His mind but of alligning his own thoughts and desires with the Almighty's.
Q. What would have happened if Isaiah hadn't prayed that prayer, do you think?
A. I believe someone else would have because He would have raised up a navi (prophet) whose heart was right. But Isaiah was selfless - that he would not have prayed that prayer is as inconceivable to me as Messiah changing His mind about dying on Calvary. Both were impelled by ahavah (love) for their people.
Finally, let's look at the last part of that passage in Second Chronicles:
You know, there are a great many deluded Christians/Messianics who think because of their New Birth that they are no longer wicked - careless, perhaps, but surely not WICKED?? But that's exactly what the Bible says. Wicked.
"If My people...will humble themselves and pray and seek My face...AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS..." (2 Chr.7:14).
It may well be that believers have learned to so rationalise some of their actions and behaviour that they do not realise quite how wicked they really are.
Q. Can you give us an example?
A. There are dozens that one could name. You know, the tendency on our age is to let ourselves off lightly whenever we have done something wrong. We use such euphamisms as: 'Well, the only one I hurt was myself,' or: 'It isn't all that important.' But ANY violation of a Biblical Torah principle is immensely serious. When we pass on a juicy bit of gossip concerning someone who has erred and strayed - that is a wicked way. When we criticise and condemn those who have the spiritual oversight over us (like our pastor), rather than bring them before Elohim (God) in prayer - that is a wicked way. When we wound others by our words or actions, and fail to ask their and Yahweh's forgiveness - that is a wicked way. When the acquisition of money dominates our thinking and crowds out eternal things - that is a wicked way. When we watch degrading films, read morally debilitating literature or listen to bad music - that is a wicked way.
Q. I always thought of wickedness as serious sins like murder, adultery and the like?
A. They are wicked when the world of unbelievers does such things, but when believers do them they are an ABOMINATION. But what is a minor since to an unbeliever is a major sin to a professing believer. How can these sorts of things be happening in the hearts of those who claim to know the Derech (Way) -- Yahweh's own people, called by His Name?
Q. Is it really that bad??
A. I am sorry to say this, but yes, it is. But this is one of the problems I mentioned a little earlier - we have lost all concept of what Yahweh's holiness is and are thinking like the world. So I repeat - ALL OF THESE SINS ARE WICKEDNESS and until they are dealt with THERE CAN BE NO REVIVAL.
Q. I am mortified. I never realised...
A. That is good. Realisation is the first step towards repentance. If we are guilty of any of these wicked ways, and many others I have not mentioned, then let us here and now repent of them and have done with them. As the people of Elohim (God), whether Messianic Evangelicals or any other type of Christian/Messianic, the world has a right to expect us to be different:
Well, I've been focusing on the bad news - we must in order to get anywhere positive. Now the good. Let's continue with our passage:
"Make teshuvah (repent) and turn from all your transgressions" (Ezek.18:30, RSV).
I WILL HEAR...FORGIVE...AND HEAL. A three-fold promise. Do you believe that? Do you believe that as you prepare your heart through repentance and prayer, Elohim (God) will come again and restore the Messianic Community (Church) to its former glory? If may be a lot for some of you to believe, especially those of you who find yourselves in a lethargic local congregation. But not to believe would make Elohim (God) a liar. Believe it then! With all your heart. Put your whole weight behind the promise. Humble yourself before Elohim (God): Pray more - in private and in public prayer meetings. If your congregation doesn't have a prayer meeting, then gently ask why this is so. Lay hold of the grace of Elohim (God) to get rid of everything in your life of which you know He disapproves. Hear His promise again. Even though you have memorised it, it will do you good to see it spelt out in full:
"If My people...will humble themselves and pray...and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I WILL HEAR FROM HEAVEN AND I WILL FORGIVE THEIR SIN AND WILL HEAL THEIR LAND" (2 Chr.6:18-31, NIV).
Q. What now?
A. Time for a spiritual check-up. It's so easy to allow emet (truth) to enter our minds without allowing it to affect our WILL. After all, it is only what we ACT upon that we really believe. It is important to keep in mind, as you go through this check-up, that however deficient you are spiritually, Yahweh's ahavah (love) for you remains constant and certain. He loves you as you are, but he loves you too much to let you stay as you are - hence His gentle prodding towards maturity. I say again, its is extremely important that you keep this in mind, otherwise a check-up like this can be devastating, and thus counter-productive:
"If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (1 Chr.7:14, NIV).
I must ask myself:
Q. I think that will give us a lot to do...
A. Oh, I've only just started. This is only the first course. Repentance isn't so simple. There's more:
- 1. How long is it since I became a Christian?
- 2. Have I grown steadily in that time?
- 3. Was I ever further forward than I am now?
- 4. Can I measure a degree of steady progress in my spiritual understanding?
- 5. I wonder how much of my life is left?
- 6. Is my reading of the Scriptures a mere duty, or is it a delight?
- 7. Am I deeply conscious of the need for more private and corporate prayer?
- 8. Do I think more of a larger income than I do of my spiritual development?
- 9. Am I a deeply spiritual person?
"Search me, O Elohim (God), and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts" (Ps.139:23, NIV; see also 2 Tim.2; 1 Chr.28:9; Jer.17:10; Rom.8:27).
Q. I suppose that was just the second course...
- 10. Do I live day by day in conscious dependence on Yahweh?
- 11. Does the need for revival have much place in my prayer life?
- 12. Have I hurt or wounded anyone and not yet apologised?
- 13. How much time have I given in the past to acquainting myself with the history of revival?
- 14. How much time am I prepared to give in the future?
- 15. Do I give myself to Elohim (God), then draw back when I realise just how much is involved?
- 16. How do I feel about undertaking this spiritual check-up - challenged, bored, unconcerned, attacked?
- 17. Do I grieve when I hear the Name of Messiah blasphemed, or have I grown insensitive to such things?
- 18. When my non-Christian friends ask me about my interests, do I take the opportunity to share Messiah?
- 19. How long is it since I last shed tears over the condition of the world and the Messianic Community (Church)?
- 20. Am I fighting a losing battle with evil thoughts? and
- 21. When did I last undertake a spiritual fast?
"Test me, O Yahweh, and try me, examine my heart and my mind" (Ps.26:2, NIV; also see, Mt.7:1-12; 1 Cor.11:28; 2 Cor.13:5; Lam.3:40).
A. Yes, there's more. Our ability to look at ourselves objectively, without attempting to defend ourselves, will be the measure of our growth and yieldedness to God. If we find ourselves defending or excusing ourselves then we must try to find out why.
So I must ask myself some more searching questions:
Q. I think we have a great deal to think about, pray about, and get on with now.
A. More than we perhaps realise. But, having seen what we need to do, let us also remember that for revival to occur it is ELOHIM (GOD) who must come down from heaven and visit us in mighty Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) power.
Q. The task ahead looks daunting even given Elohim's (God's) sovereign power and grace.
A. It is good that our horizons have been expanded - and progress in the spiritual life must begin with a deeper awareness of both our deficiency and our need.
To finish, I would like to read to you the words of Bishop Wilberforce who, many years ago, said:
The Unseen Ruler has willed revival to come to the true and faithful Remnant and the day of His final gathering power cannot be far distant. But He looks to you and me to "prepare the way."
"We look at some mighty estuary which the retiring tide has left bare of water. We see a vast expanse of sand and mud, with little trickling rivulets wearing their scarcely appreciable way through the resisting banks of that yielding ooze. The man who knows not the secrets of the tide, and the influence by which God governs nature would say: How can you expect to see that great expanse covered? But high in the heavens, the unseen Ruler has set the orb, which shall bring in her time, the tides of the surrounding ocean, and when the appointed moment comes, suddenly and sufficiently, the whole is covered by the rejoicing water, and again it is one silvery surface, sandless and mudless - because the Lord has willed it."
"Prepare the way for the Master, make straight paths for Him" (Lk.3:4, NIV).
- 1. Revival Comes to Wales - the Story of the 1859 Revival in Wales by Eifion Evans (Evangelical Press of Wales)
- 2. The Welsh Revival of 1904 by Eifion Evans (Evangelical Press of Wales)
- 3. Revival and its Fruit by Emyr Roberts & R.Geraint Gruffydd (Evangelical Library of Wales)
- 4. George Whitfield and the Great Awakening by John Pollock (Lion Publishing)
- 5. Like a Mighty Wind by Mel Tari (Kingsway Publications)
- 6. Strangely Warmed by Garth Lean (Tyndale, USA)
- 7. Revival by Richard by Owen Roberts (Tyndale, USA)
- 8. Rain from Heaven by Arthur Wallis (Christian Literature Crusade)
- 9. Finney on Revival by Charles G. Finney (Bethany House Publishers, USA)
- 10. Revival Praying by Leonard Ravenhill (Bethany House Publishers, USA)
- 11. Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill (Bethany House Publishers, USA)
- 12. The Channel of Revival - biography of Duncan Campbell by Andrew Woosley (Faith Mission)
- 13. Every Day with Jesus: Preparing for Revival by Selwyn Hughes, Jan-Feb. 1984 (CWR)
My thanks for Selwyn Hughes' booklet, Preparing for Revival, which provided most of the historical background information for this interview.
Given in Kadesh-biyqah, Sweden, on Saturday 11 October 1997.
Comments From Readers
 "We need to personally walk in the light of God and do as he leads. God is busy with transformation within each, who follows the lead of His Spirit, into His own image" (RG, South Africa, 19 May 2017)
This page was created on 12 October 1997
Last updated on 19 May 2017
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