From time to time, the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean experiences changes that affect significant areas of the globe. These are called La Nina (cold) and El Nino (warm). Around the time of the beginning of the 1904 Welsh Revival, one of those writing about the work of God in Wales, noted that a recent El Nino had caused a period of exceptionally warm torrential showers along the west coast of South America. Apparently, some dessert areas received their first outpourings of rain for around 350 years. In an incredibly short time, the barren land was transformed into a paradise of lush flowers and vegetation. Millions upon millions of seeds, which had lain dormant in the parched earth, drank in the life-giving rain and burst into life.
The prophet Isaiah wrote of the future Messianic age that “the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing.” (Isaiah 35 v 1-2). When John the Baptist sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask if he was ‘the Coming One’ (another term for Messiah) Jesus replied by saying “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear” (Mat 11 v 4 -5), a quote from the same passage of Isaiah. Jesus clearly understood himself to be the Messiah and that his coming was the beginning of the new period of God’s working.
So we are in the Messianic age that the prophets foretold. We are in the age of the Spirit’s outpouring. We are in the age of miracles. We are in the age when apparently barren land can bring forth fruit in abundance.
Why then are these things the exception rather than the rule in the experience of so many of us?
There are at least two discernible reasons
The most obvious, is that just as rain cannot cause growth if there are no seeds in the ground, the Holy Spirit does not bring forth life if the word has not been planted in human hearts. The Holy Spirit does not work in a vacuum, but he affirms and confirms the word of God.
Secondly, it is observable in nature that there are times and seasons of growth and times of fallow when the ground rests. Several of Jesus’ parables likened the way that the Kingdom of God works, to the way that seeds grow. We sometimes feel that we are doing well if we manage to organise our churches in a consistent, unvaried way, but we would be hard put to show a biblical basis for that, and even harder to demonstrate it from history. Neither consistent rain nor consistent sun will produce a harvest; we need seasons of both.
When the Church experiences revival, it experiences a period of ingathering and fast growth, however, that growth needs to be consolidated and tested:
There must be periods of testing in order to establish the genuineness of what God has done.
There must be periods of study –sheer hard work when we search the scriptures to understand the mind and workings of God. We need to spend time in the word so that the Holy Spirit can teach us to discern between his work and the elements of flesh, soul and the demonic that might have crept into our churches during revival times.
And there needs to be periods when we concentrate on putting into practice the fusion of spiritual energy, understanding and endurance.
God knows, we desperately need revival. However, unless we are using the time when we do not have revival to learn from testing circumstances, immerse ourselves in the word and to put into practice what we already have, then we will not be ready for revival when it comes.
As any student of revival will know, persistent believing prayer is essential, but that prayer must be intermingled with God’s refining work in our lives that will bring us to a place where we despair of ourselves and look to Christ alone. Effective prayer arises out of an understanding of the will of God discovered in his word and written on our hearts by his Spirit, and bold, importunate prayer, can only come from hearts that walk in obedience to the level of light that we have received already.
Reading about revival can be one of the ways to stir ourselves afresh to seek God. We are offering a free copy of a short book that we have produced.
This brief introduction to Revival aims to raise questions in our hearts and minds. Most of us will at least have heard of revival, some of us will have read accounts of it, and a privileged few will have experienced it first-hand.
For all of us, the challenge is to understand whether it might fit into the future purposes of God.
This booklet will not fully answer that challenge for you, but perhaps it might just stimulate you sufficiently to read, pray and study toward that end.
Published by the Unboring Book Company Northampton, England.
FOR A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK
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Offer closes 31st December 2020