Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.
~ Psalms 22:4-5 NKJV
We live in a time when people have stopped crying out to God. We trust in horses and princes rather than the Lord, but it should be the opposite of that! (Psalm 20:7) As the verse above says, our fathers trusted in the Lord and they were saved, but today people turn to governments and wars and drugs and sex to deliver them from their lives’ discord and despair. Even churches fall into that trap. Pastors and whole denominations trust what the world says rather than trusting what God says, rather than trusting what God can do.
In calling for revival, we are calling people to return to trusting God, return to the ancient paths where they will find Him and where the good way is (Jeremiah 6:16). Ours is not a new way, it is an OLD way…but it is an ignored way. Let us call out to this generation and remind them that the way of calling upon the Lord is nothing to be ashamed of, but rather it is the only path for their deliverance. Our fathers trusted in Him, and we should, too.
We all ought to know the story of Jonah by now. According to the book that bears his name, he was sent by the Lord to warn Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, that they had just forty days to repent…or else! (Jonah 3:4) Although Nineveh did repent and was spared, that was not the end of it, because Assyria continued to be an oppressor of God’s people. A hundred years later, Nahum took up the mantle of prophet and wrote down an oracle of Nineveh’s destruction that is both poetic and brutal. And yet, in the midst of his first few lines, while describing the Lord’s power to create and destroy, the prophet pauses to remind us of something very important:
The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.
~Nahum 1:7 NKJV
If you remember nothing else about the Lord our God, remember that! No, He is not good to those who harass and oppress His people, but He stands up for the righteous and punishes the wicked (Psalm 1:6).
In addressing the Jews who didn’t believe in Him, Jesus said they didn’t believe because they were not of His sheep, but His sheep know His voice and follow Him, and He knows them (John 10:26-27). Do you see the parallel? Our Shepherd knows those who trust in Him.
Yes, our world is a mess right now, and the need for revival is greater than ever. But in the midst of warning people about the ultimate choice they need to make between life and death, we must always remind them what Nahum said: The Lord is good, He preserves the righteous, and He knows those who trust in Him as Shepherd and King.
“So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.”
~ Numbers 15:40-41 ESV
The Muenster is a huge Gothic church in Ulm, Germany. It began as a Roman Catholic parish church built with funds donated by the 10,000 residents of Ulm in 1377. During the Reformation a hundred years later, while still under construction, it became a Lutheran church. It took another 400 years to truly finish building. It is a beautiful structure, but like similar gorgeous Gothic churches all across Europe, it is now little more than a tourist attraction, a glorious monument to humanity’s skill and persistence.
But God doesn’t ask for such monuments to His greatness like some proud king. In Numbers 15, God doesn’t tell Israel to build Him a humongous church, a giant statue, or a tall stone pillar with His name on it. Instead, the Lord asks for something small and personal: Israel is to tie tassels with blue cords on the corners of their clothing to remind them of Him and His commandments NO MATTER WHERE THEY ARE.
God asks the same of us. His Word is to be with us always, written upon our hearts (Deut. 6:6), and we are to remember and do His commandments all the time. No temple, no great church, no huge stadium can ever replace true revival through the Spirit of God. We don’t need another Muenster, we need a revival to fill it with worshippers, because, truly, no temple is more glorious than the heart of a single worshipper sold out wholly to God.
They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
~ Nehemiah 8:8 ESV
We who are in ministry have a weighty responsibility. As the Lord put it so well to the prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 3:17 ESV). How are we to act on this role? We are to share God’s Word. When the Jews returned from Babylon and rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem, they paused to gather together and listen to Ezra reading the Law. And then the remaining Levites and priests went out among the people to read from the Law clearly and, most importantly, to give the sense of what God had said. The people felt so convicted by what they heard that they wept!
We are watchmen and watchwomen, a royal priesthood, standing on the wall between life and death, and we are to warn those still living that the Lord has good news for them if they repent and believe. But in order to give the sense of God’s Word, we ourselves must understand the sense. That means we must spend time in reading the Word ourselves, studying it, discussing it, and most importantly, LIVING it. If we do not embody the gospel, how will others see the sense of what we tell them? Let our lives be worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:7-8), and let us then give the sense of that gospel to all the world.
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
~ Matthew 7:28-29 ESV
We live in a curious age. Some have called it the Age of Information, because we have easy access to so much information. I would contend that perhaps there is too much information! We have our smartphones and always-on Internet and an endless flood of 24/7 news and opinions. That is part of the problem: our access to the world is mediated by media and teachers and pundits we do not know. The Jews had that same problem when it came to the teachings of God. They had the scribes – essentially the religious lawyers of their day – telling them what God had said and what God meant by what He said. No wonder they were astonished when they heard the truth straight from the Son of God Himself!
Others have said this, and I repeated it to a friend recently: People these days are more than happy to read books ABOUT God, but precious few spend time reading the Book BY God. So many erroneous ideas have sprung up over the years about Christ because someone repeats a poor teaching and doesn’t bother to go back to the source, the Bible itself. That is why it is so important to spent time listening to God’s voice in His holy Bible.
Spend time with Him and His Word. You may be astonished at what you hear!