When modern Christians think of revival, it is often forgotten or not understood that God has brought revival to man way before the movements of the Spirit at Pentecost and up to today. It is a widely documented fact that God, by His Spirit, has brought salvation to vast amounts of men and women, and girls and boys through various and widespread revivals.
Many might forget to include the revival of God’s people throughout the Old Testament. During the years of the judges, times of falling away from following God, or a spiritual deadness toward the One True God, would often be followed by periods of awakening.
You might recall when Israel demanded to have kings as neighboring nations had, God allowed such and chose leaders for them. During those years, a quickening of the spirit of the people spread across Israel under David and his son Solomon.
Later, the one nation became two, and in northern Israel, no revival activity happened, but in Judah, revivals of lesser degree came under the leaderships of Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. Through them, the Spirit of God moved God’s people to return to the Lord in faith and worship.
Tragically, both nations lapsed into idolatry forcing judgment from God on them by the Babylonians. Again, in His timing, God sent another awakening, as He captivated the hearts of Nehemiah and Ezra. God directed and used them to lead God’s beloved people back to their homeland to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple of God.
The period of the New Testament is framed around Jesus, the Logos, the Word, God’s only Begotten Son. He opened the way for the revival of man, as He stated He was “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and not one person can come to the Father (revival) except through Him. His resurrection was a kind of revival among His close followers and disciples lifting the sorrows of the crucifixion.
The Church was born and ordained from the Holy Spirit fires of revival at Pentecost subsequent to days of effectual, fervent prayer of about 120 faithful followers tucked away in an upper room (Acts 2:1-4). Revival has always been a move of the Holy Spirit as He awakens the need of, and desire for, a great move of God to awaken His Church, and the communities of the local churches, to new life in Him.
We of the church age, have longed for, and been blessed by the move of God’s Spirit to revival in many sections of the globe; some were small pockets of revival, while others on a grander scale, as we would measure. Four of the larger movements are briefly mentioned here:
The first I mention was a movement from1726 to roughly 1756. In this God used these notable figures of preachers: John Wesley, George Whitefield, along with Theodore Frelinghuysen, Samuel Davies, and Jonathan Edwards. Nearly 40,000 people came to Christ and about 150 new churches were formed in New England areas, while thousands more were saved in the south and between.
Then there was the revival brought by God using Charles Finney from 1821 through 1840. This revival was more widespread though not as long in time, as it seemed to have more organization and thought by Finney. It was reported that he would arrive in a town, carry on some gatherings, and often many in that town would be saved. Some have testified people would be under such conviction just hearing his speaking that they would begin to moan and weep. He was so empowered by the Holy Spirit that people would see him in passing and be moved to repent.
Another falling away from God took place from 1840 to 1858. This was followed by a national scale revival from 1858 to 1859 which rushed in to overtake many churches. This movement was dominated by countless lay persons and widespread prayer meetings held at many different hours of the day.
In the time period being 1904 to 1909, there was a move of God on a more international scale than any of the others mentioned. It is thought that there was a more wide spread hunger for God in the world at large, and so much prayer seeking His face, that God’s blessing was poured out upon many more nations. It is said that 100,000 persons were saved within a 6 month period in Wales under the prayers and preaching Evan Roberts. Later the revival converged in England, Ireland, India, South Africa, South America, and the United States.
Since that time we have only seen smaller moves of God, though powerful in themselves, in varied locations in America. This nation is overripe for a revival, and I will come back to this thought in a moment. But I want to give you a glimpse of the hope we in America can be inspired by if we are in the right spirit to receive it.
Let this sink in. I read that the nation having the most impact with new believers right now is the nation of Iran! Did you capture the power behind that? Jesus is visiting Muslims at a rapid rate causing hundreds of thousands of conversions.
Then, in another article read today the projection is that China may be the most Christian nation in the world in 15 years! Now, while this thought excites me, it doesn’t completely surprise me. Several years ago while prayerwalking throughout the nation of China, and visiting some underground churches, I received a promise from God while standing on the stage of a communist theater that the Gospel would be preached right there on the very boards on which I stood. I was humbled and proud to hear the promise of the LORD, and I claimed that promise as true and complete as I prayed the Gospel in that spot.
Beloved, God is still working and drawing peoples and nations to Himself. He is the only One Who knows the limits of His patience for this sin-sick world. He is not bound by time; He is Eternal! He has a heart to save! He has a heart to draw! He has the power to convict, to bring brokenness into the evilest man’s heart. What He seems to be awaiting, though I see evidence that He is already powerfully working here, I feel He is waiting for the American Church to humble herself, turn from her wicked ways, pray (in repentance), and seek His face once again.
“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)
Come on, believer; come on, Church, let’s get this finally right! Pray On!