We read of “God stepping down” in the book of Acts, the Great Awakening, and in various historic revivals, and our hearts are seized by the quiet inward glow of longing for like outpourings of the Holy Spirit today. We pray that He might do it again, and this we ought to do. Surely every discerning saint is in harmony with the exhortation of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones:
“Does it grieve you my friends, that the name of God is being taken in vain and desecrated? Does it grieve you that we are living in a godless age…But, we are living in such an age and the main reason we should be praying about revival is that we are anxious to see God’s name vindicated and His glory manifested. We should be anxious to see something happening that will arrest the nations, all the peoples, and cause them to stop and to think again.” ~Martyn Lloyd Jones
And Spurgeon’s gut-cry ought to quicken any soul who is alive unto God:
“Oh! men and brethren, what would this heart feel if I could but believe that there were some among you who would go home and pray for a revival – men whose faith is large enough, and their love fiery enough to lead them from this moment to exercise unceasing intercessions that God would appear among us and do wondrous things here, as in the times of former generations.”
I have shared this burden for many years, and I pray that my flicker “would ever rise to a flame,” “until the Day of Jesus Christ.” I do not say the following to discourage those kinds of yearnings, but to set them in their proper frame.
“In all thy praying,” remember this: Those great works of God, when the “spirit of grace and supplication” cascaded upon the landscape of history, when the hearts of men trembled and passed into the glories of the new birth with faith and repentance; when the entire framework of families, villages, and societies was transfigured (one needs only to look at that great work of grace in Ephesus in Acts 19, or into the lives of Whitefield and Wesley, or into the histories of Wales and Hebrides to catch the flavor of that to which I refer)- these are only a foretaste of what will be experienced by the nations in conjunction with Israel’s eschatological salvation.
We are preaching, serving, praying, laboring, and pouring out lives our with a view set toward the return of our King. In the great revivals of history, “God stepped down,” but at the Day of the Lord, “He shall plant His feet on the Mount of Olives,” and never shall He be hidden from Israel or the nations again. In that Day, “the mystery of God is finished.” His presence will be more than tangible, for He shall “reign” upon the earth “for a thousand years,” the light of His manifested holiness covering “the earth as the waters cover the sea.”
Cease not to long, to hope, even to gasp in prayer for copious outpourings of the Spirit in your own life, upon your children, upon the Church. Do not grow weary in your intercessions for an unparalleled work of grace in your neighborhood, city, and nation. Let not the flame of desire for the advance of the Gospel grow dim- that witness to the Jewish people, and to the thousands of yet unreached tribes in the earth. But do not permit yourself to consider those fruits as an end in and of themselves, for as wonderful as they are, and as much as they are connected to God’s glory, they do not yet bring to consummation the burden of the apostles and prophets in Scripture.
Let your prayer for historic revival be bound up with the ‘maranatha’ cry, for there is coming a Day when “all things” will be summed up in the Lord of the Harvest, the Great Awakener, the Reviver of the Church, the “root and offspring of David,” the King of Israel. This is not jargon for the eschatologically interested. This is the sure promise of heaven, the “hope of Israel,” the “eternal purpose” of God Himself.
If historic revival is a season where the Church sees Christ more clearly, the age to come will be that time when we “look full in His wonderful face.” If the Great Awakening was a time when the Gospel sent profound and deep-seated ripple effects of grace through many nations, the age to come will be “life from the dead,” the King Himself upon real terra firma, the remnant of Israel “saved to the uttermost,” the bright and penetrating Light of Christ and the “law of the Spirit” shall reverberate through all nations, “and they shall all know that I am the Lord.”
Let not your hope for His return diminish the “will You not revive us again” prayer. But as you cry, “my soul longs for You in a dry and weary land,” forget not that a Day is coming when your longing for Him will be ultimately and irrevocably answered. There is coming a time when the saints will no longer pray with the ancient Psalmist, “Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down,” for the prophet Ezekiel has given us that great word from the Lord’s own mouth, “My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”
The Balm of Gilead will permeate the land that has been trampled, torn and fractured by the weight of sin, and that most precious voice from the Throne will declare, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
The “form of this world is passing away,” and we are to live so as not to “make full use of it.” We are waiting for the Day when the Son of Glory is released from His heavenly place, that He might “wash away the filth from the daughters of Zion,” destroy those who “rage” against His Covenant, and show forth the sweetness and purity of His Everlasting Government. He is coming to “make all things new.”
“Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
All true saints are living for that Day. Every work of grace in revival, every increase in the life of prayer, every advance of the Gospel in missions, is but a taste of that glorious time. We do not shun these works of grace. They are our life-bread in battle, our sustaining glimpses of the One in whom our hope is set. We drink from spontaneous springs along the pilgrimage, and they come when our Sovereign Friend, our Merciful King, deems them necessary. We yearn for those springs, we pray for them, we anticipate them. But when the ground appears dry, we journey onward, knowing that the Captain of the Hosts is yet leading the way. It is the way of the Cross, the way of wisdom, the way of holiness and love. The “Chief Shepherd” is “the way everlasting,” ever leading us to Himself. And He is our salvation.
On His great and awesome Day, those spontaneous springs- from the quiet whispers of leading to those profound seasons of revival mercies- will give way to “the day of His power,” the deluge of Millennial waters, when “righteousness will roll like a mighty river, and justice like an ever flowing stream.” It is toward that Day that we fix our cry; it is for that Day that we hope and yearn ultimately; “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,” along the pilgrim way…along the ancient paths of obedience and communion. Where else could sons and daughters go? He has “the words of eternal life.”
Oh, Son of David, “Uprightly have they loved Thee.” With joyful trembling we hear Your promise, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.”
“Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”