Revival: The Revelation of Resurrection!
Twenty-five years ago, my dear friend Joe Hammond wrote the following articles. We only recently rediscovered them. I believe they are still relevant to those seeking revival for themselves, their churches, and communities. -- Doug Reed
Revival. The very mention of the word brings a stirring in the hearts of believers. To some, the stirring is a deep hope for a return to an earlier day of glory. To others, the word brings memories of intense labor and strain to produce a religious experience that, at best, lasted for only a short time and then evaporated into disappointment and disillusion. To nearly all who hear it, the word Revival stirs the question, "How?"
Interestingly enough, the desire to "return to an earlier day of glory" and the question of "how" to initiate revival are both destined to produce frustration and disappointment. There is a strong movement among believers that desires to return to the "glory" of the early church. The reality is that God in His Wisdom did not cause us to live in that time, He brought us forth from His Heart for such a time as this; it is impossible to go back and what's more, He doesn't want us to go back.
If the Lord has no desire for us to rewind time, then surely, He must want us to DO something now! That may seem like the logical approach, but as you may have found by now, our Lord uses His view of logical as the Standard and is not at all impressed with what we may seem to feel is right in our own eyes. The formula for revival has been sought by man for generations. The tower of Babel was just such an attempt -- and so are similar attempts today. They have the same motive, man's not God's, and they provoke the same results, God's intervention to scatter and confuse the corrupted use of the power given to the soul of man.
What then is God's desire? How would He fulfill that desire? So often we have gone to Scripture to locate the "How to" experience and because we have gone with our motives in mind, we come away with a nice, neat, very logical set of procedures and principles that, if applied correctly, we think will produce Revival.
The Lord's Direction
The Book of Acts begins as Luke recalls what he witnessed,
What was the critical ingredient? Was it a series of "steps?" Or, perhaps it was a "purity of heart" brought by sacrifice and self-imposed abstinence. Apparently, it was neither. That which the Lord desires seems to be that He will have the liberty to initiate, to propagate and to consummate that which He has had on His Heart from the foundation of the world. It will be HIS work or it will not BE! The words after and seen and experienced in the above verses speak of a sequence, not a formula. The only thing that the apostles -- and we -- could do was to testify of what He has DONE. For us to think that we could initiate revival is to assume a most arrogant and dangerous stance; it is akin to offering strange fire as did Nadab and Abihu (Numbers 3:4). Surely there must be an example of God's heart for revival in Scripture; in fact, there are many. In the life of Elijah, God has given us a natural type or shadow of just such a spiritual truth and reality.
The Life of Elijah
In the first few words of 1 Kings 17: 1 we learn much about this man, Elijah. He was a Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead. The fact that he was a Tishbite tells us much in that it tells us nothing. No one seems to have heard of a Tishbite prior to that; and, it is not used again in any context other than "Elijah, the Tishbite." He was of a people about whom few knew anything at all; in other words, he was not from the "approved" group, sect, seminary or other identifying feature that causes us to accept or reject a person or their ministry.
The fact that Elijah was of the inhabitants of Gilead also tells us something. Gilead implies "a heap of testimony or witness" (Strong's 1568, 1587). It seems that Elijah was of a group that bore a specific testimony and, as we see in verse one, that testimony was
Elijah's testimony was of a living God, not just of a historical or future Deity. The testimony of his position relative to the Living God is also important: Elijah stood before Him - in His very Presence and yet at the same time before the kings of this earth. Elijah knew that he lived in two places simultaneously! It was from his heavenly dwelling that he brought the testimony of the Living God, not from his own, earthly, perception of how or why God was going to do this or that. He spoke for God from the Presence of God, not from the vanity of his own imaginations concerning God. Elijah simply said what he saw and did what God was doing. Sound familiar? (John 5:19, 20, 24-30) Oh, what a lesson for us in the church today!
Immediately after the declaration of the Lord to Ahab that there would not be dew or rain for these years, speaking of an appointed time of the Lord in which He was going to be quiet except for occasions that He would choose, the word of the Lord comes to Elijah commanding him to go and hide himself by the brook Cherith. His response is refreshing:
A Place of Commitment
Unlike most of us, Elijah asked no questions, nor did he appear to voice any complaints. Instead, he simply obeyed God. Note the attitude of heart that he apparently had in that obedience. The word Cherith implies "a place of covenant or commitment" (Strong's 3747, 3772). In going to Cherith, Elijah must have been aware that he was going to a place where demands would be made upon him to choose, with finality, between his own life and that which the Living God had for him. Scripture records that he dwelt there, that is, he went into what he likely knew would be a difficult, although temporary, situation with an attitude that he was to be there permanently; he was willing to be actively engaged by the now work of God and was not there to be entertained -- he was there to be changed, however long that might take!
Likewise, it is important to note the location of Cherith. The brook Cherith is located before Jordan. Jordan speaks of the place of crossing over into purpose or inheritance. We can be assured that before any of us will pass over into that which the Lord has ordained as His full purpose in our lives, we will spend time with Him at Cherith.
During his time at Cherith, the Lord Himself saw to the sustenance of Elijah. The Lord gave of Himself, the Bread (John 6:35), and shared with him the mysteries of God, the flesh (Hebrews 5:12, 14). But, more than that, the Lord gave Elijah of His own Life as he drank of the brook (John 7:37). Isn't it interesting to note that
Remember we said that Elijah knew that he lived in two places simultaneously? Where did this brook dry up? In the land -- not in the heavenlies. God was finished with the work at Cherith and sent Elijah to a place to refine that which He had done in his life. The natural water had dried up because God had used the Cherith experience to accomplish His purpose and was ready for Elijah to move on with Him. As James has said, Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are ... (James 5:17a); one of those passions is an affinity for the comfortable or familiar. The Lord knows we often will not follow Him unless it is of necessity; He is quite accomplished at creating those necessities. Have you ever had a brook dry up in your life? If you haven't, and choose to follow the Lord, you will! Although the natural water had abated, the heavenly stream continued to flow, and Elijah followed the Lord's direction.
The Church: The Place of Refinement
As before, Elijah's response was immediate: So he arose and went ... There he found the widow gathering sticks. She had her gaze fixed on the earth -- and not on the Lord in the Heavenlies. When Elijah asked her for water and a morsel of bread, she told him what he probably already knew.
It is here that we see the heart of God in sending Elijah to the widow. She is a type of the church that we see so prevalent today: one who has no Husband, one who has a little meal -- a bit of the Word, and a little oil in a cruse -- a measure of the Spirit. Notice this, the Word and the Spirit are not joined together to make Bread; it is only the Bread of Life Himself that can give and sustain Life. Today it is much the same. There are so many who long for the Life of God but are unwilling to do as Elijah directed the woman.
In that Elijah was there at the direction of the Lord and as His representative, his request was not out of his own selfishness to eat before the woman and her son; he was asking her to give of the little that she had first to the Lord and then for herself and her son. As Elijah had displayed obedience to the Lord's direction to him, so he received the same from the woman.
The Lord is Zealous for His Purpose
In the same way, our Lord provides for us in the midst of our poverty of spirit and our lack of belief. Just as the woman acknowledged to Elijah that she knew that his God was alive, so we have done the same thing as we say "How wonderful it would have been to live in the days when ..." Paul spoke of the timing of the eternal purpose that God has purposed in Christ Jesus, when he said,
It is that intent on the heart of God to which we must yield. The Lord has provided for us out of His mercy and loving kindness and kept us from perishing; He has never let His Word nor His Holy Spirit fail, even in the midst of our unbelief (2 Tim. 2:13). Why has He kept us in the midst of what seemed like desperate situations to bring us to a place where it appears the only way things will change is through the dying of all that we hold dear in our lives? Let us look again to the woman and her son.
Whose Attitude: Ours or God's?
There are some in the church whose actions would give credence to the accusation of the woman against the man of God. That which has been brought forth by the church without a Husband has indeed been of her own strength and by her own power; she truly is aware of her sin and knows her need to repent. There are those who have made it their mission to point out that sin and to slay her son(s). Instead, let us look to Elijah's response.
Even in the midst of his own humanity and acknowledging it to God, Elijah prayed for the son to revive and not to die. We have shared the development of the life of Elijah and seen by what Life he lived. It is worth noting that he did not deal with the son on earthly terms; rather he, like our Lord with us, took him UP to where he abode. He took him to a realm that superseded the shortcomings and the imperfections of the son's attempts to be religious and the mother's attempts to foster them. As the Lord called John to come up hither and see what would be after the limitations of the church realm had run their course (Revelation 2, 3, 4), so Elijah portrayed that by type as he took the child to where he abode that he might receive the LIFE of that realm and REVIVE!
Our Purpose Must Be the Lord's
Make no mistake, if our purpose is anything less, we serve our own motives and not those of the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ LIVES by resurrection Life, not by some counterfeit that has been contrived to imitate it. Those that the Lord will use in this hour to bring His Life to the Church will have the same testimony as Elijah: They will come from out of nowhere; They will have a desperate desire for the Lord; They will stand in His Presence with confidence and genuine assurance; They will be intimately aware of the frailties of their own humanity; They will have the Lord's heart and the Lord's purpose foremost in their minds; They will, above all, come to give LIFE and to see the eternal purpose of God made manifest in this earth!
May the Woman, the Lord's Bride, say of us as the woman said of Elijah: