Oh That You Would .. Come Down (parts 1-4)
Oh That You Would … Come Down: Revival at any Cost -Part One
Text: Isaiah 64:1-4
“Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down.” One cannot read this text without sensing a “deep calling unto deep”. (Psalm 42:7). There is something in the depths of the prophet’s heart that is calling unto the deep things of God.
There is something in the prophet’s cry that has an all too familiar ring to it. Isaiah seems to be acutely aware that his nation is in desperate need of God to come down. His nation is in need of revival. When a nation or city is in need of spiritual revival it must be understood that preachers do not bring revival. Revival comes where God has already been at work. The fact that someone has been crying out to God for revival is an indication of the activity of God in their heart. This yearning in the heart for revival is the Father, Himself calling us into His presence.
Why cry for revival? The prophet Isaiah cried, “Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down.” (Isaiah 64:1). Why should the prophet cry for
God to come down if there’s nothing wrong? There is no need to cry for revival unless there is a problem. Not long ago in a series of meetings in the mountains of West Virginia in the U.S.A. an elderly colored woman stood and began to sing this Negro Spiritual:
1.) Oh…oh Zion, what’s da matter now? Oh … oh Zion, what’s da matter now? What’s da matter now? What’s matter now? Oh Zion What’s da matter now? We don’t pray like we use tah. What’s da matter now? We don’t pray like we use tah. What’s da matter? What’s da matter now? What’s da matter now? We don’t pray like we use tah. What’s da matter now?
2.) … We don’t sing like we use tah. …
3.) … We don’t weep like we use tah…
4.) … We’re not holy like we once were…
That old colored lady, her song says it well. Something is wrong in Zion. In the days of
Isaiah there was something wrong in the House of God. There were problems within and there were problems without. The problems that Isaiah saw stirred his heart to cry out for God to come down. What were the problems of Isaiah’s day? They were much like those the House of God is facing today.
The problems within the House of God that showed the desperate need for God to come down can be found in Isaiah 63:17. Isaiah cries, “Oh LORD, why have You made us to stray from Your ways, and hardened our hearts from Your fear?” The problems from within that signaled a desperate need for revival were:
1.) They had erred (strayed) from the ways of God,
2.) Their hearts had been hardened from the fear of God.
I submit to you based upon the Word of God that when those who call themselves God’s people begin to err from His ways and when God’s people no longer fear Him, it is time for us to cry as did Isaiah “Oh that You (my God) would rend the heavens, that You would come down (so) that the mountains would flow down at thy presence.”
The first signal of trouble from within was God’s people were erring from His ways.
This means to wander, to stagger like a drunken man. It’s a picture of one who doesn’t know how to walk godly in this life. When the Church ordains homosexuals to the ministry, it has erred from the ways of God. When the Church condones same-sex marriages or civil unions, it has erred from the ways of God. When Christians think it’s okay to live in adulterous relationships, it has erred from the ways of God. And when the
Church has erred from the ways of God, we have offended Him. The Church in America and England are staggering like a drunken man. When people in the Church no longer seek or long for personal holiness, when we no longer want corrected in the error of our ways, the Church is wandering, wandering, wandering. It is time to cry to God, “Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down.”
The second signal from within that shows a need for revival is when God’s people have lost a healthy fear of Him. Isaiah asked, “Why have You hardened our hearts from You fear?” (Isaiah 63:17). Isaiah wanted to know where God’s mercies were (63:15).
When God restrains His mercies because of our sins our hearts will be hardened. He will turn us over to our own evil desires (Romans 1; Acts 7:42). A heart that is hardened no longer responds in belief. Lack of fear and hardened hearts are connected to each other. It is interesting that earlier in the book of Isaiah the LORD accused Israel of having a fear of God that was not the right kind of fear. In Isaiah 29:13 we read, “Therefore the LORD said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.” Notice these three things about the people of God in Isaiah’s day:
1.) They gave God lip service. They said all the right things.
2.) But their heart was far removed from God. Their hearts were on something else. Their time, their money, their love was fixed in other places.
3.) The fear they had of God had been taught them by the precepts of men not by God’s Spirit. (Cp. Jude 4).
In Isaiah 29:14 God goes on to give a warning about when the fear of Him is the wrong kind of fear. God says, “Behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work and wonder.”
God is going to do something about the lack of fear among His people. It’s going to be a marvelous work. What is God going to do among His own people?
1.) Isaiah 29:14—He’s going to bring to an end the wisdom of those among His people that are causing them to no longer fear Him aright. There will be confusion in the leadership of the church.
2.) Isaiah 29:15—He’s going to deal with those among His people who think that He does not see what they are saying and doing in the dark.
3.) Isaiah 29:15-16—He’s going to deal with those among His people who somehow think that they have the right to mold their own lives. They think that He as the potter doesn’t know what is best and right for them. Thus they turn His ways upside down.
God is going to do a work within His house among His people. It’s a cleansing work. For judgment begins at the House of God. When God deals with those things, then shall the blessing of Lebanon be established that will return the fear of the LORD. Isaiah 29:17-24 makes it clear that the blessing of Lebanon is the key to revival. Isaiah 32:15 connects it to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. Hear the blessing that shall bless the people of God when Lebanon is turned into a fruitful field. When God has dealt with the lack of fear among His people, when God pours out His Spirit:
1.) The deaf will hear the words of the book, both physically and spiritually—Isaiah 29:18.
2.) The eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness both physically and spiritually—Isaiah 29:18.
3.) The meek and the poor shall find joy in the Holy One of Israel. There will be joy in He who is holy.—Isaiah 29:19.
4.) God will bring and end to evil—Isaiah 29:20-21.
a.) The terrible one will brought to nothing
b.) The scorner will be consumed.
c.) They who look for iniquity will be cut off. They who look for iniquity, God describes as people who lay traps for those who try to correct wrong. When a leader in God’s house tries to correct errors in your life and you lay traps for them to ensnare them verbally or otherwise you are looking for iniquity. Iniquity is also when the just are turned aside.
5.) What is the end result of the blessing of Lebanon? Isaiah 29:23-24 says that the fear of the Lord will be restored and that they that erred will come to understanding.
These things are what He will do when He comes to establish His kingdom. It is what He does when He rends the heavens and comes down to bring revival. How long before God does this? Isaiah 29:17 says “A very little while.” We must understand that when the church loses the fear of the Lord and has erred out of the ways of God there will be troubles from within but there will also be trouble from without.
Isaiah 63:18—When God’s people err from God’s ways, when God’s people lose the right fear of the Lord, then the enemy will have power over the people of God and will lay waste to the Church. The problem is not with God. The problem is with God’s people.
When the Church is in this condition, it is time to cry, “Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down.”
Oh That You Would Come Down: Revival At Any Cost (Part Two)
Text: Isaiah 64:1-7.
I want to talk to you on the subject of revival. Revival is the answer to the needs of the nations. When the power and presence of God sweeps in; it will not matter whether you have youth programs or adult programs. When the glory of God fills an area; you will not need entertainment nor spaghetti dinners to draw people in. When the Spirit of God grabs peoples attention, age difference will not matter. I want you to look at Isaiah 64:1-7. (Read it).
I have entitled this message, O That You would come down, part 2: revival at any cost.
Revival at any cost! Revival at any cost! Hear me, Revival at any Cost.
What is revival? Duncan Campbell, the Scottish preacher whom God used in the Hebrides Islands said, “An evangelistic campaign or special meeting is not a revival. In a successful evangelistic campaign or crusade there will be …people making decisions for Jesus Christ, but the community remains untouched, and the churches continue much the same as before the outreach. In revival God moves in the district. Suddenly, the community becomes God-conscious. The Sprit of God grips men and women in such a way that even work is given up as people give themselves up to waiting upon God.” (When the Mountains Flowed Down by Duncan Campbell). In such a time God’s presence is so strong that having an encounter with God is all that matters. Duncan Campbell said, “This presence of God is the supreme characteristic of a God-sent revival.” When such a revival comes, God’s presence is everywhere. He can be felt in homes, in factories, in the seats of government, upon the highways, in the amusement places, in the theaters, in the taverns. There is no place to escape His presence. When
God comes in such power many find Christ, many are healed long before they ever set foot inside a church or meeting place. God’s Spirit hovers over a city with such awesomeness that whatever is occurring in one place is happening everywhere. On the streets, on the buses, in homes, in other churches God’s presence will be felt. No place will escape Him. People of all ages, of all walks of life, of all religions will be bowed down beneath the weight of sin and their rebelliousness against the King who loves them so much. Emotions will not need to be worked up but emotions will be showing. People will be weeping and wailing in great agony over their lost conditions. Backsliders will fall under the conviction that they’re living beneath the calling of a child of the King.
How does such a revival get started? Everything I have read says the same thing. Some person or group of persons became so concerned about the low estate of the Church that they were moved to find an answer and to seek God for intervention. For the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa that cry arose from a Professor de Voss who in the book The State of the Church called for a deep searching of heart. His call was in response to what he saw as the low state of spiritual life which marked the church of his day and of his country. In his book he said, “If we only study the condition in all sincerity, we shall have to acknowledge that our unbelief and sin are the cause of the lack of spiritual power; that this condition is one of sin and guilt before God, and nothing less than a direct grieving of God’s Holy Spirit.” Duncan Campbell, the minister that God used in the Awakening of the Hebrides Islands asked, “How did this gracious movement begin? In 1949, the local presbytery issued a proclamation to be read on a certain Sunday in all the Free Churches on the Island of Lewis. This proclamation called the people to consider the “low estate of vital religion throughout the land…and the present dispensation of Divine displeasure due to growing carelessness toward public worship … and the growing influence of the spirit of pleasure which has taken growing hold of the younger generation.” As a result of that letter “they called the churches to take these matters to heart and to make serious inquiry what must be the end if there be no repentance. We call upon every individual as before God to examine his or her life in light of that responsibility which attends to us all and that happily in divine mercy we may be visited with a spirit of repentance and turn again to the Lord whom we have so grieved.” It was no different in Isaiah’s day, when he cried to God, “Oh that you would rend the heavens, that you would come down, that the mountains might flow down at your presence.”
In the first place, if there is to be a God-sent revival, if God is to rend the heavens and come down, there must be someone who sees and is deeply troubled by the condition of the land and of God’s people. In Isaiah’s day, Isaiah saw the horrible condition of God’s people and of his nation. In Isaiah 63: 17-18 noticed the problems in his day. In that text he says, “O LORD, why have you made us to stray (err) from your ways, and hardened our hearts from your fear? Return for your servants’ sake, the tribes of your inheritance. Your holy people have possessed it but a little while; our adversaries have trodden down your sanctuary.”
The problems that Isaiah noticed among God’s people were these:
- The people of God had erred from God’s ways.
- God’s people had hard hearts and no longer feared God.
- God had left them; the Glory of the LORD had departed and they were powerless against the enemies of God. This compelled Isaiah to cry, “Return for thy servants’ sake.” (Isaiah 63:17).
- The House of God was being taken over and destroyed by God’s enemies. (Isaiah 63:18). God’s people were in bondage to the enemy. They were powerless to stop what the enemy was doing.
The lessons from Professor de Voss about the condition of the Church in South Africa were these:
- Spiritual life in the churches was at a low ebb.
- The church was filled with unbelief and sin.
- This unbelief and sin was the cause of the spiritual powerlessness of the church.
- This condition was grieving the precious Holy Spirit of God.
The lessons from the Hebrides Islands;
- The church was in a low state.
- It was stated that God was displeased with the condition.
- People were not interested in the things of God.
- The growing influences of pleasure and of the world were gripping the hearts of young people.
- The church was powerless to change people’s lives.
- People were in bondage to the enemy and sin. God’s people were enslaved to the enemy.
I ask you, “What is the difference between the conditions in Isaiah’s day, the days of the Hebrides Island and the days of Professor de Voss’ day in South Africa? What is the difference between their days and ours?
The condition of the Church in this country:
- Is the church here in a low state? I submit to you that it is.
- Do the world and its pleasures have a grip on the hearts of young people and other Christians as well? I submit to you that they do.
- Is the Church here powerless against the bondages that Satan has people in? I submit to you that we are powerless. I submit to you that much that is being paraded as the power of God is nothing more than a charade. It is an empty well without water.
- Do sickness and demons flee when we command them go in the name of Jesus? I submit to you that for the most part they do not.
- Is sin rampant in the church? I submit to you that it is.
Secondly, if there is to be a God-sent revival; the focus must be upon our own sins; the sins of our churches as well as our personal sins. It is so easy to point the finger at others and to ignore what is under our own noses. We can become so busy pointing out the sins of the lost world that we miss the plank that is in our own eyes. Isaiah understood this concept when he cried “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6 NIV). Isaiah was not speaking of the heathen world. He was speaking of the people of God. The church in America has become like the Laodicean Church. We are neither cold nor hot. We are “rich and increased with goods; and (think we) have need of nothing; and (we) know not that we are wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” And God is pleading with us to buy from Him, “gold tried in the fire, that we may be rich; and white raiment, that we may be clothed, and that the shame of our nakedness may not be revealed. (Rev. 3:17-18).” Gold tried in the fire is true faith, a faith that has been tested and has come out shining like pure gold. White raiment is true righteousness and holiness. The church in America has a faith that is not true faith. The church in America has a righteousness that is not the righteousness of God. Dare I say the same of other countries? The Almighty God says we are naked before Him. If we do not repent of our whoredoms, God is going to reveal the shame of our spiritual nakedness. He is going to strip us bare before the world. He is going to show that the faith being preached in many of the pulpits of this land is not the gold tried in the fire. He’s going to show to the world that the righteousness we proclaim is not the robe of His righteousness. There is hope. God has said, “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among MY people; If MY people, which are called by MY name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from THEIR WICKED ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14). This text (2 Chronicles 7:14), in its original context is referring to something in the natural but it has ramifications in its spiritual applications. The absence of rain is the absence of the blessings of God. It is the absence of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, the Word of God which lies in the soil of the heart of the Church cannot grow. The devouring locust and the pestilence amongst God’s people are those things which are devouring and making weak the Church of the living God. And the reason the church is powerless and weak is directly related to our own sins. Revival will come where God’s people will humble themselves and forsake their wicked ways. In illustration of this point, the Island of Barvas had been praying for revival when God showed an elderly woman the churches filled on the Island. She called the minister and told what God had shown them. Believing that God was about to send revival the elderly woman and her sister told the minister that they would pray on that end of the island if the elders and deacons of the church would spend at least two nights a week in prayer and waiting upon God; which they agreed to do.
“So, the minister called his leaders together and for several months they waited upon God in a barn among straw. During this time they plead one promise, ‘For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44:3).’ Do we understand that this promise from God says that He will pour out His Spirit upon those who are dry and thirsty? It promises further that He will pour His blessing on my offspring. I want my seed, my children both physically and spiritually to have the blessing of God poured out upon them. The people on the Island of Barvas wanted the same thing for their church and their children. This went on for at least three months. Nothing happened. But one night a young deacon rose and began reading from Psalm 24, ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully, He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation’ (Psalm 24:3-5).’ This text from Psalm 24 shows very clearly that if we want the blessings of God our hands and our hearts must be clean and pure. The text goes on to say that if I have lifted up my soul to vanity, to emptiness, the blessing will not come until it is dealt with. How many of us have lifted our souls to emptiness? We have opened our souls to the vain and empty things of this world and emptiness has filled our souls. Things that are not of eternal value are empty and we fill our souls daily with the emptiness of this world. We have been drinking from the broken cisterns that hold no water and we have forsaken the well springing up into eternal life. ‘Closing the Bible, he (the young deacon) addressed the minister and other office bearers in words that sound crude in English but not so crude in our Gaelic language, ‘It seems to me so much humbug. To be waiting as we are waiting, to be praying as we are praying, when we our selves are not rightly related to God.’ Then he lifted his hands toward heaven and prayed, ‘O God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?’ Then, he went to his knees and fell into a trance.’ ” My heart echoes the words of that deacon, “O God are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?” “Duncan Campbell went on to say, “Now don’t ask me to explain the physical manifestations of this movement, because I can’t but this I do know, that something happened in the barn at that moment in that young deacon. There was a power loosed that shook the heavens and an awareness of God gripped those gathered.” (When the mountains flowed down by Duncan Campbell).
If revival is to come there will be a cost. The cost begins with someone first realizing that this nation is in serious trouble. The price to be paid for revival will continue to be paid when Christians and churches begin to cry to the Holy Spirit of God, “O God are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?
As for me, God being my helper, for I cannot do this in my own strength or holiness; my cry will be “Revival at any Cost” I am not fully aware of what that means. I know some of what could happen. I know that I am weak. I know that in my strength I am no match for the enemy. But it is not in our strength that the battle is to be fought. It is by the blood of Jesus Christ and the Word of our testimony, our testimony of what He has done. Glory Be to His Holy Name. In closing, hear it again ”Revival at any cost! Revival at any cost!” We must have, God-sent revival or all is lost. Revival at any cost!’
Oh That You Would Come Down: The Role of Desperation in Revival (part 3)
Text: Isaiah 64:1
“Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down, that the mountains might shake (flow down) at Your presence”.
The Prophet Isaiah in his day looked at the conditions of his nation. He looked at the sad plight of the people of God and became desperate for God to do something. His cry is still ringing through the corridor of time, “Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down”. His cry is a cry of desperation. The cry of the prophet is similar to the cry of Abraham in Genesis chapter 23. Abraham’s wife Sarah had died and he needed somewhere to bury her. Abraham went to the children of Heth and said, “I am a foreigner and a sojourner among you. Give me property for a burial place among you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. (Genesis 23:4).” When we read the text we see an exchange going back and forth between Abraham and the children of Heth. The children of Heth seem to want to give the burying place to Abraham for free. But it seems as if Abraham knows better. He wants to be sure that the burying place will belong to him. His wife is dead. He is grieving but must go through the process of trying to bargain for the burial place in the midst of his grief. Finally, in Genesis 23:13 we see Abraham pleading for the cave of Machpelah in the field of Mamre. “But if you will give it, please hear me. I will give you money for the field; take it from me, and I will bury my dead there.”(Genesis 23:13). The phrase of Abraham ‘if you will give it’ is exactly the same Hebrew phrase that we find in Isaiah’s cry to God, “Oh that you would”. My friends, if we wish to see the desperation of Isaiah’s cry look at the cry of Abraham. How desperate is someone who has been mourning for the loss of someone they love and they have nowhere to bury their dead loved one? It is bad enough that the person has died but now you must bargain for a burial place in the midst of your grief. That is the desperation of Isaiah. “Oh God, things are desperate. As desperate as if I had a dead loved one with nowhere to bury them. Things are in bad shape, “Oh that you would rend the heavens that you would come down”. Have we become that desperate about the situation in America? Are we that desperate about the condition of the Church in America? Are we that desperate about the condition of our own local churches?
DESPERATION IS A KEY THAT GOD USES TO BRING US TO A POINT OF CRYING OUT FOR REVIVAL.
GOD IS BRINGING PEOPLE TO A POINT OF DESPERATION WITH EMPTY RELIGION AS IT EXISTS IN AMERICA
One day “A father took his son to a large city museum thinking the visit would entertain the boy. But for two hours the lad did nothing but sigh and complain. Finally in desperation he said to his father, ‘Dad, let’s go someplace where things are real.” ( The Bible Exposition Commentary).
I am convinced that this story is a true picture of the church in the United States of America. We invite our children and friends to the house of God hoping they will enjoy what we seem to enjoy. We invite them for entertainment. Oh we wouldn’t say that, but I’ve seen it. We invite them to the Bingo game or the spaghetti dinner or to the latest Christian music group or tell them about the big name preacher that is coming. Now don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with fellowship dinners. There is nothing wrong with having good Christian singing groups in to edify the body. There is nothing wrong with having a big name preacher in to minister. But when those become the tools we use in hopes of building our own little kingdom or for increasing the finances of our church then something is wrong. We might also tell them about the phony things we think are the power of God. We hope that these things will cause them to want to become a part of our church. The problem is the church down the street is probably doing the same thing. Some people may come and may tolerate it for a while. We may even try to impress them with our programs. But it doesn’t take long for them to realize that our church is void of the real power of God. There are even Christians roaming from church to church because they are weary of the entertainment. Before long they begin to cry, “Let’s go someplace where things are real.” They are becoming desperate for the real presence of God. Many times churches go on oblivious to the fact that the Glory of the Lord has departed. We are often oblivious to the fact that people are tired of not finding God in His own house. Like Samson of old our locks have been cut, the Spirit of God is gone, our strength has departed and we know it not. Some of these people are beginning to cry out “Where is the God of Elijah?” The question is this, “WILL THE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH BEGIN TO REALIZE IT?” Will you in this house begin to drop the charade and begin to cry to God, “Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down?” God I am tired of the potlucks. I am tired of business as usual. I am thirsting for your mighty presence.
GOD IS BRINGING MINISTERS TO THE POINT OF DESPERATION
The prophet Isaiah is a minister whom God brought to a point of desperation. Isaiah could not solve the problems of his day. He knew that God was the only answer. Praying Hyde who was part of the Sialkot Revival in India was used mightily of God as a prayer warrior. Before the Sialkot Revival came he joined a prayer union to pray for the revival to come. Those who joined the Punjab Prayer-Union signed a document which stated their principles in the form of questions. The questions were these:
“Are you praying for quickening in your own life, in the life of your fellow-workers, and in the Church?
Are you longing for greater power of the Holy Spirit in your own life and work, and are you convinced that you cannot go on without this power?
Will you pray that you may not be ashamed of Jesus?
Do you believe that prayer is the great means for securing this spiritual awakening?
Will you set apart one-half hour each day as soon after noon as possible to pray for this awakening, and are you willing to pray till the awakening comes?” (McGaw, Francis. John Hyde: The Apostle of Prayer. Minneapolis, Mn: Bethany House Publishers; pg. 22)
Praying Hyde signed this statement. Are we willing to do the same? Listen carefully to them again. (Comment on them.) Now listen carefully to the second question again, “Are you longing for greater power of the Holy Spirit in your own life and work, and are you convinced that you cannot go on without this power?” Are you convinced that you cannot go on? Have you come to an end of yourself? Are you desperate? As ministers of the Gospel, as workers in the vineyard of the King, have you come to the conclusion that you are powerless? Is it breaking your heart that the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the demon-possessed and the lost leave our churches the same way they came or they do not even bother to come at all because there is no real presence of God in the house? Have we come to an end of the excuses for the powerlessness and emptiness of our churches?” Have we come to the place that Dr. R. Edward Miller came to? He describes it in his book entitled, “Secrets of the Argentine Revival”? He came to the point where he realized the emptiness of his ministry. Hear his desperation:
“There had always been plenty of plausible excuses for the lack of harvest and the want of results in my ministry. True in my childhood and teen-age years, I had often witnessed mighty manifestations of the power of God under the ministry of such leaders of God as Dr. Charles Price, Aimee McPhereson, Smith Wigglesworth and other mighty men of power in the Holy Spirit, as well as the ministry of my own Father.
However, the truth was that these manifestations were completely lacking in my own ministry. Excuses, reasonings, rationalizations, all convenient places to lay the blame, provided me imaginary refuge from the searchlight of God’s truth.
Always, the reason for my relative fruitlessness lay somewhere outside of myself. In one place the people were too hard, in another it was not harvest time yet, or it was necessary to sow the seed first or the people had no faith. From one pastorate to another, from one mission field to another, the excuses multiplied. True, a certain work for God had been done so that in the eyes of man and of my contemporaries there was no need to feel ashamed. After all, no other missionary was doing any better, but in my own secret heart was the knowledge that there was a better way.”
GOD IS ALLOWING MINISTERS AND MINISTRIES TO RUN INTO BRICK WALLS SO THAT WE WILL REALIZE OUR DESPERATE NEED FOR GOD.
WHY IS GOD ALLOWING THINGS TO COME TO A CRUCIAL POINT? WHY IS GOD LETTING IT COME TO THE POINT OF DESPERATION? WHY DOES GOD ALLOW CALAMITIES THAT WILL GET US TO THE POINT OF DESPERATION?
In order for God to cause us to cry out for Him, He must destroy our man made utopias. He must bring down the Tower of Babel’s that we have created. All that we do in our culture, all that we do in our government and even in our churches to create a society or religion that is not dependent on Him is a tower of Babel. We prefer to be secure rather than learn to trust God.
My friends, it is a fact that God uses calamities, tragedies and circumstances to bring us to the point of desperation. He does it so that we will turn our minds from the temporary things of this world to the things that are eternal, but why? Why must it come to that? Why must it be that tsunami’s and earthquakes and volcanoes and wars and hurricanes are what it takes to make us contemplate the eternal? Charles Finney, the noted evangelist answered the question this way, “Men being so reluctant to obey God, will not act until they are excited. For instance, how many there are who know that they ought to be religious, but they are afraid that if they become pious they will be laughed at by their companions. Many are wedded to idols; others are procrastinating repentance until they are settled in life, or until they have secured some favourite worldly interest. Such persons never will give up their false shame, or relinquish their ambitious schemes, till they are so excited by a sense of quiet and danger they cannot hold back any longer.” (Finney, Charles. Revivals of Religion. Pg. 4). Let me put it this way, “There is a necessity for catastrophic events to make an atmosphere that is conducive to revival. The entertainment industry and other influences and forces of our day against revival are greater than the influences in favor of a move of God for revival unless a catastrophic event tips the scale to get peoples attention on God. There is a law in science that says, ‘A force in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force that is greater.’ When revival is desperately needed, to pray for peace and prosperity, to pray for things to remain as they are is to leave things in the status quo. The Prophet Elijah prayed that it might not rain. He prayed for something to happen that would get the attention of his people. Sometimes it is necessary to pray for God to do something that will rock the boat.” Do not think that this is strange to the ways of God. Did not God use Moses to create crises in Egypt by bringing plagues and death? In the book of Revelation we are told that the two end time prophets of God will “have power to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” (Revelation 11:6). During the 1900’s there was a Baptist tent preacher by the name of Mordecai Ham. His “success was not the result of traditional evangelistic methods, but the fruit of Apostolic power. Often he would seek out the worst sinners in the community and then proceed to pray and plead with them until they were surrendered to Christ, resulting in a great in-gathering of the lost. At other times he faced down stubborn opposers of the gospel, declaring he would pray to God to either convert them or kill them. In Mr. Ham’s biography there are several incidences recorded where those who resisted and opposed the Holy Spirit were brought to swift judgment.” “The evangelist recalls with great reluctance that deaths took place during many of his great campaigns. Ambulances would have to come and carry bodies away from our services.” “Many persons that openly fought a Ham meeting met with some form of violent death soon after.” (source: Mordecai Ham by David Smithers. Internet website; www. Watchword.org). There was one town where Mordecai went to where four men formed a gang determined to drive Mordecai Ham from town. They went to him and threatened him. He said to the four of them, “I will pray that God save you or kill you.” As best as I can remember the story, that day the leader of the gang died. Within the week there was an explosion in a local factory. All of the other three members of the gang worked in the factory and died in the explosion.
Look around! Pull the blinders off. When is the last time you beheld the genuine, earth shaking, healing, confronting glory of the living God? When is the last time you saw souls compelled to come to the Altar? It is time to put away the pretense! It is time to come to the throne room of God by the blood of Jesus Christ and to cry, “Oh that You would rend the heavens, that You would come down, that the mountains might flow down at Your presence”. We are desperate for an encounter with You, the living God. Without your presence, multitudes in the valley of decision will be forever lost. They will lift up their eyes in Hell and cry, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. (Jeremiah 8:20). How desperate are we?
Oh That You Would Come Down: Revival at any Cost (part four)
Text: Isaiah 64:1-3
“Oh that You would rend the heavens! That you would come down! That the mountains might flow down (shake) at Your presence — as fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil, to make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, the mountains flowed down (shook) at Your presence.”
In Luke 14:28-32 Jesus tells two parables which have the same purpose. The parables read: “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” In both of these parables Jesus is seeking to make it clear that we should count the cost of being His follower. Salvation is indeed free but it will cost you everything. Jesus is a king and wants a complete surrender of all that we are and all that we have. It is foolish to think otherwise. If you have made a decision to be a follower of Christ, I trust you have seriously considered the cost. If you have not considered the cost then I implore you to do so today.
However today, I would like to use the theme of this text as a starting point on our subject of revival. There is a cost to revival. If we are serious about crying out to God for revival, if we are serious when we cry as did Isaiah, “Oh that You would rend the heaven! That You would come down! That the mountains might flow down (shake) at Your presence” then we had better know the cost. Not only will it cost us, it will cost others around us. When we make this cry, we are asking God for revival at any cost. We will know the cost when we know what we are asking God to do. Consider with me what we are asking God to do when we cry, “Oh that You would rend the heavens!”
1.) We are asking God to remove all that keeps us from seeing His glory.
2.) We are asking God to do it quickly.
3.) We are asking God to remove all that we trust in.
4.) We are asking God to remove all covered up sin.
5.) We are asking God to make His name known to His adversaries.
6.) We are asking God to make nations tremble at His presence.
In the first place when we cry, “Oh that you would rend the heavens’ we are asking God to tear, to rip apart the heavens. There is both a literal and a figurative meaning of the text. We know that when our Lord comes for the last time there will be a literal fulfillment of the text. He will part the literal heavens and come down. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “All the host of heaven shall be dissolved. And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; all their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree.” (Isaiah 34:4). This speaks of the literal coming of the Lord at the end of days. But when we cry, “Oh that you would rend the heavens” in a cry for revival; we are asking God to remove all that keeps us from seeing His glory. We are asking for revival at any cost. The hosts of heaven are the stars of heaven. In scripture stars are symbolic for those in positions of authority; such as earthly rulers, spiritual powers. It could even apply to people that hold sway over us, such as movie STARS, wrestling STARS, sports STARS. Stars represent things that hold our interests. When we ask God to rend the heavens, we are asking Him to rip from our sight and our hearts all those bright things that keep us from seeing His glory. We are asking Him to bring down from their positions of influence anyone and everything that shines if that is what is takes to bring revival. When God steps down in power those things that keep us from loving Him with all of our heart lose their grip on us. Duncan Campbell tells of such an incident during the revival of the Hebrides Islands: He said, “The power of God moved into that dance and the young people over a hundred of them fled from the dance as though fleeing from a plague and they made for the church.” Someone came to Mr. Campbell and said,
“Mr. Campbell, something wonderful is happening revival has broken out.” Revival is when attitudes are changed. When God’s Spirit comes, people will flee from dance halls. They will flee from the theaters. Their sole concern will be about their immortal soul. They will yearn for a relationship with the Almighty God. When God rends the heavens: the entertainment industry, the sports industry, the movie industry, the theatres, the amusement parks, the gambling industry, everything that causes us to be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God will come crashing down and lose their hold on us.
Do we realize the economic collapse that will happen in certain sectors? Those businesses will lose money and go bankrupt because no one will be interested in them anymore. This is exactly what happened in the Bible where “Many of them which also used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.” (Acts 19:19). The footnote in one of my Bible’s says that that was the “equivalent of about 138 years pay for a rural worker.” But we must remember that these people no longer bought any more black magic books. The occult industry in that community went bankrupt that day. The palm reading shops, the tea reading shops, the occult book stores, everything connected to witchcraft lost its hold on people. This same type of thing happened under the preaching of Girolamo Savonarola during the late 1400’s. “The people of Florence abandoned their vile and worldly books, and read Savonarola’s sermons. All prayed, went to church, and the rich gave freely to the poor. Merchants restored ill-gotten gains amounting to many florins. Even the hoodlums, or street gamins, stopped singing ribald songs, and sang hymns instead. All the people forsook the carnivals and vanities in which they had indulged, and made huge bonfires of their masks, wigs, worldly books, obscene pictures, and other things of that kind.” (Lawson, James Gilchrist. Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians. Pg. 82). When God comes down people become God-conscious and will only be interested in the glory of God.
When we cry, “Oh that you would rend the heavens” we are asking for revival at any cost. This word ‘rend’ also has the meaning to do it with lasting effect. We don’t need something that will be like the fireworks on the fourth of July. We need something to change our culture until Jesus comes. After the Hebrides revival had been over for several years there was a man who decided to go to see if there was anything or anyone left from that revival. It just so happened that the house he was staying in turned out to be the house of one of the leaders of the Hebrides revival. As he sat across the table from this leader of the Hebrides revival, the leader told him this story: “There are only six of us left and at night we often sit around the table and retell the stories of what God did.” And then the leader of the Hebrides revival looked this young man in the face and with tears in his eyes he said, “If you ever get a hold of it, never let it go.”
Secondly, when we cry, “Oh…that You would come down”, we are asking God to make a straight line from there to here. We are asking God to come quickly, don’t delay. What a contrast this is to one of the problems of God’s people that we mentioned earlier. Isaiah said that God’s people were erring form God’s ways. We said that meant to stagger like a drunken man. Here this cry to God is saying make a contrast between the ways of your people and your response to their erring. We are crying, “God, this is so important make this a priority.” To ask Him to come down is to ask Him to level and to cause to bow down everything in the path. It will be like when the glory of the LORD came down and filled the temple Solomon had built for the LORD. The priests could not stand because of the awesome presence of the LORD. They were made to bow down. Be sure we know what we ask when cry, “Oh that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down”. Anything that is in our lives that is not already bowed down to the Lord will be bowed down at the coming of His presence. As John the Baptist cried echoing the Prophet Isaiah, “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: the crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth: the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:4-5). This is what took place at the revival which occurred at Cane Ridge, Kentucky in the early 1800’s. During this revival there was both a physical bowing down and a spiritual bowing down. Listen to this eyewitness account: “The noise was like the roar of the Niagara. The vast sea of human beings seemed to be agitated as if by a storm. I counted seven ministers, all preaching at one time, some on stumps, others in wagons and one standing on a tree which had, in falling, lodged against another. …I stepped up on a log where I could have a better view of the surging sea of humanity. The scene that then presented itself to my mind was indescribable. At one time I saw at least five hundred swept down in a moment as if a battery of a thousand guns had been opened upon them and then immediately followed shrieks and shouts that rent the very heavens.” (Website on the Cane Ridge Revival).
These same manifestations of being bowed down and wailing occurred to people listening to the preaching of John Wesley Redfield. Hear carefully of what happened when this man preached: “He preached holiness forcibly every where he went. This sometimes aroused great opposition, but it also brought great results. Dead churches were revived, new ones were built and the sick were often healed. Mr. Redfield’s doctrine and anointing were not borrowed from books, but born in prayer. Frequently he would groan as if in the throes of death as he wrestled in prayer; then the victory would come. People shouted, prayed and confessed, many lost their strength (could not stand up, were bowed down) and did not regain it until they promised obedience to God.” ‘Such manifestations of God’s power frequently followed his ministry. Under Redfield’s preaching in New York, people would run out the back doors of the meeting house trying to avoid the conviction of the Holy Spirit. They would then fall helpless in the streets under the power of God. When found later, they were assumed to be drunk, and taken to jail. The first night this occurred the officers marveled, as one after another the once rebellious sinners, recovered, repentant and praising God. (Smithers, David. John Wesley Redfield. www.watchword. Org.) There are many such accounts in the revivals that have occurred in the world. When we ask God, “Oh… that You would come down” we are asking God to level everything that is exalted and not bowed down, we are asking for revival at any cost; even the cost of our own pride and prejudices being leveled.
Thirdly, when we cry, “Oh… that the mountains might flow down (shake) at Your presence”, we are asking God to remove our trust in everything but Him. We are asking Him to deal with all high and lofty obstacles that prevent revival from coming. An examination of what mountains represent in scripture is an eye opening lesson. In Leviticus 26:30 God warned the Israelites “I will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.” It was often the custom in ancient times to put places of worship in the mountains. These often became known as high places. In this text God is referring to the places of worship of false gods. So in this instance to ask God “that the mountains might flow down (shake) at Your presence” is asking God to melt every form of false worship. It is asking God to level the foundations upon which places of false worship rest. That would include any idol in our hearts. In Jeremiah 51:25 Babylon is referred to as a mountain. God says to Babylon, “Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys all the earth says the LORD, and I will stretch out My hand against you, roll you down from the rocks, and make you a burnt mountain.” In this case a mountain is that which destroys Gods’ people and the earth. Here we are asking God to deal with anything that is destroying Gods’ people and which is destroying the earth. In Zechariah chapter 4 God had ordered the rebuilding of His house under the hand of Zerubbabel. There was a hindrance to Zerubbabel which God referred to as a mountain. God said to the mountain, “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”” In this case mountains are those things which hinder God’s people from completing the tasks that God has given them to do in the building up of His house.
There are things that hinder God’s people from arising to the call of God upon their lives. They may be things we are deeply in love with. In asking God to cause the mountains to flow down at His presence is asking Him to melt whatever keeps us from fulfilling our God given destinies. What things are hindering us from doing what God has called us to do? In this kind of revival whatever it is that is in the way will melt like wax at the presence of the Lord. Are we willing for those things in our lives that keep us from arising to be melted like wax?
In Deuteronomy God says that when His people have forsaken Him for those things that are not God, “For a fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; it shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap disasters upon them; I will spend My arrows upon them. They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside; there shall be terror within for the young man and virgin, the nursing child with the man of gray hairs. ” (Deuteronomy 32:22-25). If the foundations of the mountains are set on fire, those things which men consider solid and unshakeable are the things which God says will crumble and melt when God rends the heavens and comes down. When all that men trust in is shaking and melting and crumbling it is an indication of the fire of God consuming the earth. If we cry for God to rend the heavens and come down and melt the mountains we are crying for revival at any cost. Do we know what we ask? Do we really want revival?
Count the Cost:
1.) We are asking God to remove everything that keeps us from seeing His glory.
2.) We are asking God to do it quickly
3.) We are asking God to melt the mountains in all of its meanings.
We are asking God to send revival at any cost.