In my last post I said that I would start to look at the true meaning of the gospel. I feel that we have lost sight of, or perhaps never really known, what it means. I have spent the last few days pondering just where to start. I have been doing some research into various aspects of the gospel and modern church life and have come to the conclusion that the most pressing matter that needs addressing soonest is that of revival.
I thought it might be useful to explain where the Bible stands on the subject and to look at how the modern church managed to get itself into the mess that it has over the subject. I have entitled this post Myth Buster #1 – Revival, because what is preached on the subject of revival is complete myth and has no foundation in either Old or New Testaments.
As I said in my last post, I am worried about the way in which the church (that is the body of believers rather than any building) carries itself. I have suggested on more than one occasion that the swagger it displays is borne from arrogance. I suspect that this arrogance is best seen in the light of the subject of revival.
Now, there are several definitions that can be given to the word revival. Firstly, the dictionary definition that most non-church folks would understand, which means to bring back to life something that appears lifeless. After that, the word falls mainly into the dialect of the modern church and is applied in ways such as a revival meeting, in which people are encouraged to reawakened their interest in God; or the increased numbers of people attending church buildings where such meetings are taking place. On the whole, and in general, many people in the modern church, when they use the word revival, they are talking about a mass change in public perception towards God and a time when entire nations seek God.
There is a general air of expectation amongst church goers that revival is just around the corner; that God is about to pour out His Holy Spirit on a nation like this one and we won’t be able to handle the results. Now, don’t get me wrong – I would love to see such a thing. I am not against a revival taking place here in Hunstanton, or in Norfolk, or in East Anglia, or in the country as a whole. However, I am totally against false prophecy, which I believe is at the very heart of the issue.
Ask any preacher who lays claims to a prophecy about revival and the story is pretty much the same. God has promised that they will see revival in their lifetimes; that revival is just around the corner; that God is ready to pour our His Holy Spirit; and that we should be ready. Mostly, I would suggest, that the source of these prophecies is someone’s imagination or wishful thinking, rather than the Spirit of the Living God.
Tough words? Fighting talk, you might be inclined to say. Yes, I agree. But it needs to be said, nonetheless. I am more than happy to be proved wrong about this. However, sadly, I think I am right. Let me tell you why.
I always refer to the Bible. Anyone who knows me will tell you that. Whatever topic the conversation might be centred around, I always bring it back to what the Bible says on the matter. I can’t help it. I have one of those brains that looks for the God perspective, because I know that my own perspective is easily swayed. Do you know how many times the word revival appears in the Bible? You might be surprised to learn that there isn’t a single instance of the word anywhere in the good book. The word revive appears eight times in the King James version, but never in the sense that might describes a move of the Holy Spirit like the modern church would. The word in question only appears in the Old Testament and it is haya and it means to live or keep alive, but we already knew that. So, if it is not in scripture then where do we get it from?
As you will see in the next few posts that a great deal of what we believe or do in church is based not upon the solid rock foundation of scripture, but on phrases coined by preachers or movements in order to quantify something they wish to promote. Revival is no different.
I would recommend that you do your own research into this subject, and that you do it prayerfully with the specific help of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to show you what it really means to you. Why do I say this? Because revival does exist. It exists when we as individuals seek a closer walk with Y’shua, the Son of the Living God. It describes the move from spiritual death to life abundant when we hear and accept the gospel of Christ. Revival begins in the heart of each one of us. And that is all God is interested in – a personal relationship with you. Nothing else. A good read of John’s gospel and chapter 21, in particular, will confirm this. Look closely at the exchange between Y’shua (Jesus) and Peter in verses 20-23. It is clear that Y’shua wants Peter to only concern himself with his relationship with Y’shua, and not about anyone else’s relationship. There is a great article on Ken Brown’s website entitled ‘Mind Your Own Business’. You can find it here.
I would like here to be able to offer you scripture that some have twisted and turned to make it sound like a revival is coming. They sometimes do. I have heard people do just that with Ezekiel chapter 37 – The Valley of the Dry Bones. Or with Joel chapter 2 and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. But, when you hear people do this they will always take the original scripture out of context. This is a bad practice. Usually, what you will hear is a message designed to keep you attending a certain church group, or to entice you to start attending a particular meeting. They advertise in such a way that you start to feel that if you don’t go you will miss out and won’t receive God’s blessing. Let me tell you now that God has already blessed you with every spiritual blessing (see Ephesians 1). Already done. The purpose of promoting such meetings in this fashion is simply to get more bums on seats. The more people that attend regularly, the more money is coming in. The more money comes in, the more meetings they will put on. You get the picture. It has nothing to do with souls saved. Just bums on seats, and the maintenance of the man-made institution that their forbears built.
This might sound like a cold and cynical view. I do agree that there are many out there who genuinely believe that revival is coming. But these people also believe that we are in the End of Days. Let me tell you, you can’t have it both ways. If we are in the End Times or Last Days or End of Days then the Bible has plenty to say about what the conditions will be like then. And it will be the complete opposite of revival.
Now, let’s us just put a pin in that notion for the moment. Let’s just say that God wants to revive this nation. What would have to happen first? There is some evidence in the Old Testament that we could look at as an example for revival. But what comes before this evidence on every occasion is reform.
The Old Testament contains everything we need for understanding how God works and who he is. Of course, the fullness of His revelation to us can be seen in the person of Y’shua. He is the Word made Flesh (John 1). But in the written word, amongst the historical events in the birth and establishment of the nation of Isra’el, we have a fascinating account of how God works.
Take some time to look at the lives of three kings.
Joash or Jehoash
After years of kings that ruled over Judah who had all steered the people away from the true worship of the Living God, to the worship of worthless idols (did you know that the word for idol in Hebrew literally means worthless!), Jehoash, under the carefully guidance of Jehoiada the priest, ‘did what was right in the eyes of the Lord’. Although he didn’t go far enough and it was quite clear that he was controlled by the priest, he did go some way to returning the people to the One True God, and saw what we might call revival. You can find his account in 2nd Kings 11:1-12:21 and 2nd Chronicles 22:10-24:27.
This king’s account appears in three places in the Old Testament in order to empathise its importance. Hezekiah, unlike the boy king Joash, was truly his own man and not governed by any priest. His genuine desire for reform saw a true revival of right worship from the people of Judah. You can read about him in 2nd Kings 18:1-20:21; 2nd Chronicles 29:1-32:33; and Isaiah 36:1-39:8.
Another boy king but one who knew how to control the priest and not be controlled. He went further than Joash, but not as far as Hezekiah. As a result, he too saw revival after his reforms. His account is to be found in 2nd Kings 22:1-23:34 and 2nd Chronicles 34:1-35:27.
Now, I mention these kings because their examples each have something in common – they knew that the way to revival was reform. Without first reforming their ways, it is impossible to expect revival. If we are to expect revival here, in this nation, then reform is essential. We will have to all be united. Instead, we are divided. We need to clear away the disagreements over doctrine and practice and focus upon what worship of the Living God is all about. We’re not there yet.
So, let’s be clear, the biblical examples of what the church refers to as revival are all proceeded by a series of reforms. That’s what God has left us to say on the matter. There is no new revelation from Him since the coming of Y’shua in the flesh, and Y’shua urged us all to worship in spirit and in truth. Today, much of what we do is neither. Reform is required.
Before revival, reform.
I said earlier that I wanted to put a pin in the End of Days subject. Let’s take it out and take a real look at what the Bible actually says.
Whilst the Bible has really very little to say about revival, it has plenty to say about what the End Times will look like. And, I can tell you, it doesn’t look good. Far from a lovely time when millions of people return to God and our church buildings are overflowing into the streets, and pubs are closing, and book makers are going out of business, we see widespread deception and a great falling away from worshiping God. It is time for the modern church to wake up and smell the proverbial end times coffee. Either we are not in the End Times, in which case we must reform and hope for revival; or we are in the End Times and we should be anchoring ourselves to scripture to make sure we don’t get washed away in the wave of apostasy that is heading our way.
It is clear that we are not yet in the Great Tribulation, or Jacob’s Trouble, because the makers that will indicate that are not yet present. But, it looks increasingly likely that we are drawing near to that time because the markers that Y’shua Himself warned for us to look for are visible.
The church needs to make its mind up about where we are, because what is clear from the Bible, there will be no End Times revival in what we call the church. There will, however, be revival amongst the Hebrews but not until we enter the final seven years, or Jacob’s Trouble.
I have studied the prophecies of the Bible concerning the End Times for nearly thirty years, and I know what I believe and understand. Recently, I have taken to seeking the Holy Spirit for guidance in this rather than just reading what other people think about what it all means. I suggest now that you do the same – ask the Holy Spirit to show you what you need to know about it. Read the Book of Daniel. Read the Revelation. Read Matthew 24. Seek God as you do. Don’t take my word for any of this. God is seeking for us all to have a personal relationship with Him, not with your preacher or some author. With Him.
All I will say is that we are either in the End of Days, or we’re not. Either way, what is required by the modern church is reform. A return to how things should be, as they were in the first century AD. As it was when Luke recorded the events shown in the Book of Acts.
There is no revival without reform. There is no church revival in the End of Days.