As the judgements of 2020 blur, and the pressures of 2021 shift, I hear numerous voices in evangelicalism declaring: “revival is coming”.
As one who was born in, studied, tasted, been disappointed, prayed for and rejoiced in revival for more than 40 years, I believe what most of us envision when we hear the word “revival”, bears very little resemblance to the vision of what’s in the heart of God. The revival that is coming (and it “is” coming) will not be marked by God making “Church” popular. Nor will it be about Him making big, Jesus events popular, or American, conservative values popular, or charismatic personalities popular, or even making a Biblical world-view popular. As revival burns in our nation, it will undoubtably appear alongside many of these elements, but these will not be the signs that God is in our midst.
I’m convinced the revival that’s coming will be marked by three cascading, connected dynamics.
1. Revival will run like wild-fire across our nation upon the sparks of viral REPENTANCE. Repentance, abasement, humility and poverty of spirit will be the defining human response to salvation springing up from the ground in gathering after gathering, in region after region.
2. This viral transparency and vulnerability before the Lord will be ignited by an unparalleled spirit of the FEAR OF THE LORD and FIRST-COMMANDMENT LOVE FOR THE LORD. Wise servants, intercessors, evangelists, pastors and leaders will aim the people of God into a (Psalm 2:11) rejoicing and trembling spirit, and refrain from calling anything “revival” that isn’t.
3. The fear and love for the Lord will arise in the power of the Holy Spirit, from both small and large groups giving themselves to rich, combustable atmospheres saturated with the a pure adoration and exaltation of the BEAUTY OF JESUS.
Any thought of a revival as densely glorious as this becoming about ministry prestige, or political domination, or anything else we can take ownership of should be as troubling to us as the story of Ananias and Saphira. In Acts 5:11 Luke tells us that “great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.” All who embrace the revival that’s coming for temporal gain will watch the living presence of the Lord run like water through their hands. If we want what God has in store next, it’s imperative that we who pray for it, purge the self-accumulating voice from our minds – post-haste. Truth-be-told, the longer we tolerate this voice the further we remove ourselves from experiencing true revival.
The revival that’s coming will eclipse every other close comparison in our nation’s 250 year history. It will out-shine and out-shake anything 2000 years of Christianity has ever seen. For the same reason that THIS MUST BE TRUE, this revival will be marked by viral fear of the Lord, humility, repentance and joy. Both the unruly demonized and the religiously disciplined will bow low and break under the weight of His presence. It will produce glory-rich-atmospheres where no human is safe to stand; and no hand worthy to steady His holiness. It will literally be consummately about Him, and His increase. Period. In this hour, it would be impossible for revival to come any other way.
“For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14 and Isaiah 11:9)
Jesus is not returning to one ministry, one region or one nation. Neither is He coming to exalt any one of them. He’s coming to claim a Bride, separate the sheep from the goats, and rule 195 nations! What’s coming is a revival to herald His arrival; one that gives way to a global manifestation of His Isaiah 40:3-5 glory, where every impediment to Him will be touched, confronted and ultimately leveled… Economics, social justice, politics, schools, church-life, family structures, recreation, philosophy, medicine, relationships, heart attitudes and mind sets will all shake at the sound of His Word – dividing joint from marrow, so that it might establish His right order at the very core of the human heart. At the same time, everything that opposes His unique worthiness to reign will be consumed by the fierce judgement of His Mouth.
Beloved, envisioning what’s on the horizon is enough to melt flesh where we stand.
“The revival that’s coming will eclipse every other close comparison in our nation’s 250 year history. It will out-shine AND out-shake anything 2000 years of Christianity has ever seen. For the same reason that THIS MUST BE TRUE, this revival will be marked by viral ‘fear of the Lord’, humility, repentance and joy.”
Consequently, those who herald this revival, of necessity, must first be overtaken by a radically crucified spirit. This is the spirit that stirred in John the Baptist. The apostle John, wrote about the forerunner John: “He was not the Light.” (John 1:8) Through a life of sanctification, solitude, prayer, obsession, fasting, beholding, longing, confrontation and scandal the Spirit forged John into a man of great fidelity to the amplification of One singular vision: the brilliant increase of the One Who IS THE LIGHT.
John the Baptist wasn’t just a good opening act for the main attraction. John really DID prepare the way of the Lord. His selfless, focused words humbled the noisy hearts and scene-stealing souls of an animated, turbulent, clamoring, claiming and fearful people so that they might “behold” the “True Light Who enlightens every man” (John 1:9).
As the Messiah’s light illuminated hearts through John’s preaching the world saw itself through the lens of this God/Man’s dawning glory. The result was massive repentance of valleys, mountains, crooked ways and rugged paths. Everything of self was baptized into death, or they were left in “great sorrow”. (Mark 10:22) The authentication of John’s ministry was human zeal to yield self to the increasing the reign of the arriving King.
What then of those who herald revival today? What should be our spirit and determination?
Beloved, it should not need to be said: if we are heralding the vision God promises, and “all flesh”(Isaiah 40:5) is beholding HIS GLORY, our glory will not be interrupting it. Indeed, it means that our definition of maturity in this hour must be equated with becoming increasingly jealous for HIS reputation and selfless for our own. We must learn to be content with humility and obscurity, marginalized on the wilderness of culture for the sake of a billion souls being apprehended by the preeminence (Colossians 1:18) of the King.
“The One Who has the bride is the Bridegroom.” (John 3:29)
It will also mean that when the foundations of the world feel revival, they will be feeling the tremors of His arrival. The principalities that “lie in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19) will seek to vanquish the voice of not just one, but many… Revival will be the way of those who “love the day of His appearing” (1 Timothy 4:8) so much they “love not even their own lives unto death”. (Revelation 12:11)
Who understands that this is the the revival that the Lord has in His heart?
Who will so glory in what He is worth that they joyfully make way for His increase, even at the price of our own decrease?
JSB • April, 2021