2 Chronicles 7:12-18 NKJV
Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.’
This dramatic Word-from-the-Lord came to Solomon after all the public ceremonies were over and the celebrants had been sent home. This one-on-one encounter with God included a promise for the ages. In the centuries since that night, believers who have found themselves, their families, their nation, and, later under the New Covenant, their churches, beset by famine, both physical and spiritual, and by natural and human-born disasters, have claimed this promise:
“If my people who are called by my name 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 heal their land.”
And, because God is One who keeps His promises, historical records of these desperate sessions of prayer, repentance, spiritual and behavioral reform, and sincere seeking of the face of God, deliverance came. I believe this is what we are witnessing in this generation of young believers and this is the cause of great hope for my generation and my children and grandchildren.
I tire quickly of Christian critics whose personal views of “real” revival are tainted by devotion to their sectarian or positional views that are threatened by these events. They remind me of the critics in Jesus’ day who could not rejoice in a miraculous healing because Jesus had done it in what they considered to be the wrong timing. Please, my fellow leaders! Have the humility to admit that God’s ways are higher than yours, as the prophet Isaiah says. They are past your ability to “find out.” Instead, be wise enough to thank God for a generation of leaders who are humbling themselves and praying and turning from their wicked ways as they seek God’s face. Isn’t this what we wise old folk have been praying for?
Some have been alarmed at what they see as a lack of preaching and therefore a shortage of the Word in these services. As a worship leader for more than 40 years in the Assemblies of God I have seen lots and lots of long altar services. I became convinced long ago that the Scriptures leading the pray-ers were not necessarily the ones in the sermon they just heard. In extended altar services many participants may be finally submitting to issues prompted by verses they learned long ago. We all know it takes time to yield our lives to the Lord. With this in view, the altar services lasting for hours and even days not only make sense but they are necessary to see the level of repentance and renewal we need in this hour. It takes time to “turn from our wicked ways” and “to seek His face.” Who would call a halt to such a season of prayer to preach a 3-point sermon no matter how funny the poem was at the end?
Other critics are unbelievers. I can more readily understand their views. If one does not believe in a Creator God who is available to those who turn to Him, this all must seem just so much delusion and make believe. Of course they must comment, regardless of their lack of any base of understanding, and usually fall back on their old standby, sarcasm, and make condescending jokes at all these stupid, misguided, simpletons whose emotions are carrying them away. These critics are blind to the rule of emotion in their own worlds where gender and sexual desire are ruled completely by feelings rather than the obvious facts of life. They see everything so clearly except their own ruling ironies. But at least, they have reason to doubt the mystifying moves of the Holy Spirt they do not believe exists.
From Generation to Generation
The context in which this promise was given was that of a generational transfer of faith: From King David’s reign to that of King Solomon. Because the Judeo-Christian revelation of God has at its heart a personal relationship with God as well as a people-group relationship, this personal link must be forged anew in each generation. The historical drama unfolded in the Old Testament from Mt. Sinai on is one of renewal followed by apostasy time and again. Church history under the New Covenant reveals the same repeating drama. Based on the story of the Abraham-Isaac-Jacob sequence, it is often preached that the 1st generation is one of experience with God, the 2nd is one with a history of an experience with God, and the 3rd generation must wrestle with God to have its own experience in order to follow the Lord. When I was a teen, it was made clear to me that I was a member of the 3rd generation of Pentecost so I had to have my own experience with God. For these reasons I see what is happening at Asbury as a generational event that is necessary to the perpetuation of a Christian faith springing from the Bible. After all, I was around for the Jesus Movement of my youth that was blessed and helped perpetuate the Asbury Revival of 1970. We might say something like, “His truth is marching on!”
Another View of Spiritual Renewal
For those who think that I am relying too much on Old Testament promises, let me expound on the words of Jesus.
Matt 16:24-25 NKJV
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”
Notice that He said this to those who has already began to be His disciples. In these three steps subsequent to repentance and confession of faith in Christ we again see the same process as in God’s promise to His people in the time of King Solomon. Let’s make this clear:
|Old Testament||New Testament|
|Humble yourself and pray||Deny yourself|
|Seek my face||Take up your cross (the will of God for you)|
|Turn from your wicked ways||Follow Me|
Again we see both an event and a process, a life-changing decision and a life-giving, continuing encounter with God. If this is what is happening at Asbury, we should not be surprised that it is taking time. Hundreds of students are simultaneously involved at various stages of this life-giving, personal revival.
The Biblical Support for Waiting on the Lord
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
It may be that the word “wait” might be translated “serve” but that does not weaken or alter the promise. Don’t we call those who serve us in restaurants “waiters?” These young people are not wasting time in the altars, they are waiting on the Lord. We can with equal truth say they are serving the Lord. They are “denying themselves” as Jesus commanded. They are discovering the crosses selected for them so they can hoist them to their Calvary-cleansed shoulders. They are seeking the face of God! Such work must not be hurried and certainly must not be devalued because it lacks visible action. We must remember the always relevant question hurled at us by the Psalmist:
Psalm 24:3 NKJV
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place?
Our lives are filled with momentum. The value of each event is measured it how it leads to the next event. We are programed by our culture to “ascend the hills” of life so momentum in public and private worship is the coin of this hurried realm. But the Psalmist adds a complimentary question. “Who shall stand in the holy place?” In another place, this level of prayer is made perfectly clear:
Psalm 46:10 NKJV
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
There is a depth of revelation, of personal growth in our relationship with the Lord, that comes only in stillness. In our hurried hearts and our treasured momentum of sequenced events there is a stillness that eludes us. The students who gather for prayer and linger there are learning the value of stillness. Their minds are being filled with faith and their hearts are being strengthened for the tasks ahead of them that only God can see. The peace that Jesus promised those who would dare to follow Him is reinforcing the fabric of their lives. We who have run our race dare not discourage their season of stillness.
For more on this I recommend the essay I wrote just before this historic renewal began:
Another Historic Revival
On Fathers’ Day of 1995 another world-changing revival took place, The Brownsville Revival. When it was still going more than a year after it began, I was sent by Southeastern College in Lakeland, FL, to observe the revival and write a paper on it. We have yet to see the extent and nature of the influence of this new revival but time has given us a perspective on the Brownsville Revival. Here, with some contemporary notes, is my paper from 1996.
If you are one of the countless Christ-followers who are praying for the Last-Days Revival, the promised universal outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the Renaissance of the worship arts to follow, do not shrink back from this move of God. Take the advice of Gamaliel:
Acts 5:38 NKJV
And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it — lest you even be found to fight against God.”
Also, be sure you have taken the 3 Steps and are following the words of the Lord to King Solomon.
Oh, one more thing: Don’t worry about the clock!
© 2023 by Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved