Revival | An Anointing to Endure
In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks on America and the free world, many people including Christians are asking the question, “Did God allow terrorists to strike America on September the 11th 2001 because our nation has not repented of its departure from our traditional Judeo-Christian values?” Let’s look for an answer in Jerusalem, America and the Church so that we may respond with Spirit-inspired “uncommon sense.”
The history of Jerusalem and the US reveals that citizens of both Jerusalem and America have been attacked in the midst of periods when they had heightened devotion to God. During the first century the inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem exemplified a commitment to Judeo-Christian values that would eclipse anything that America has ever known. The majority of Jews observed the Sabbath and participated in the annual feasts. Children prayed in school and received instruction from the Scriptures. Jewish fathers taught their sons a trade and their wives were stay-at-home-moms. Adultery, premarital sex, and homosexuality were strictly forbidden and offenders could incur the death penalty.
America’s history is punctuated with instances where tragic events have followed close on the heels of periods of renewed spiritual fervency.
The early church also enjoyed a period of monumental evangelism seeing converts from Judaism numbered in the tens of thousands (Acts 21:20). Many Christians attended public prayer sessions daily at the Temple of Herod. In the evenings they gathered in homes for prayer, teaching and fellowship. (Acts 2:42-3:1) These believers generously shared their resources with those in need and were circumspect in caring for widows. (Acts 6:1-4) No one could charge that Jewish and Christian children of the first century were subjected to any of the societal woes that we conservative Christians commonly decry. School violence, drug traffic, MTV and on-line porno sites were nonexistent. The environment of Jerusalem would qualify as godly in comparison with the standard of that which most conservative Christians would describe as an ideal society. Nonetheless, the exemplary values of the city’s inhabitants did not exempt it from experiencing a terrifying assault.
ADVERSITY IN SPITE OF GODLINESS
In 70 AD, as Jesus had warned, the Roman Emperor, Titus, led a barbarous campaign against Jerusalem. It was Passover time (Easter) and thousands of Christians and Jews had gathered from various points of the Mediterranean world to celebrate the occasion. The siege lasted 134 days; the temple was destroyed, 600,000 were butchered and 115,000 were deported as slaves. The streets of the city were lined with those that had been crucified. The Jewish Christians that survived the atrocities were those that fled as refugees to the city of Pella, which is located in present day Jordan.
America’s history is also punctuated with numerous instances where tragic events have followed close on the heels of periods of renewed spiritual fervency. Because of the Great Awakening between 1730-1750, churchgoers were smitten with inspired repentance. There were thousands of new converts and 80% of the population began to attend church, but twenty-five years later the nation was brutalized by the Revolutionary war.
When nations have revivals, it is more likely to be a preparation for national trials rather than a guarantee of protection from tumultuous times.
In 1806 the Cane Ridge revival hit the mountain communities of Tennessee and Kentucky. Crowds of 25,000 traveled by foot and wagon from the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States to attend brush arbor camp meetings. These gatherings were noted for an awesome atmosphere of prayers of repentance. While heaven’s dew still rested on the thousands that had been transformed during the revival, the English attacked America and the War of 1812 began. Washington, D.C. was put to flames and was nearly destroyed.
Over four decades later in September 1857, a businessman by the name of Jeremiah Lanphier started a businessmen’s prayer meeting in an upper room of the Dutch Reformed Church in Manhattan. In response to his first advertisement, only six people out of a population of a million showed up. But by March of 1858, every church and public hall in downtown New York was filled. A reporter that worked for the famous editor, Horace Greeley, visited twelve meetings in one hour and counted 6,100 men attending. Then a landslide of prayer began, which overflowed to the churches in the evenings. People began to be converted, ten thousand a week in New York City alone. The movement spread throughout New England, the church bells bringing people to prayer at eight in the morning, twelve noon, and six in the evening. The revival raced up the Hudson and down the Mohawk rivers so that in the year of 1860, out of the nation’s population of thirty million, more than a million people were converted to Christ.
There are more Christians praying for our nation now than at any time in our history.
But in 1861, while millions of Americans basked in the joys of renewed faith, the Confederates bombarded Ft. Sumter and the War Between the States began. Scores of cities were burned and countless homes were pillaged. Union and Confederate concentration camps housed over 400,000 prisoners of war under the cruelest of conditions. The abuses of brother on brother were so severe that war crime trials were held after the war. Around 620,000 men lost their lives as Americans fought their fellow Americans. It is apparent that when nations have revivals, it is more likely to be a preparation for national trials rather than a guarantee of protection from tumultuous times.
WAS AMERICA PRAYERLESS BEFORE SEPTEMBER 11, 2001?
So could the recent attacks on America have been avoided had more Christians been in a mode of repentance and prayer for her? The fact is that there are more Christians praying for our nation now than at any time in our history. In the late ‘90s Campus Crusade’s founder, Dr. Bill Bright, led a prayer movement that stirred 100,000 North American believers to prayer and individual forty day fasts. At this writing over 500 churches nationwide join Mahesh Chavda Ministries of Charlotte, NC in weekly all night prayer vigils. Since Intercessors for America was founded in 1974, hundreds of related prayer and repentance movements have been organized. Many of the aforementioned organizations have routinely engaged in prayer of spiritual warfare against the spiritual powers that motivate terrorism in attempts to thwart the eventuality of attacks. People are praying in every level of the government and throughout the country’s general population. In the last seven years millions of people from America and the free world have traveled to revival sites such as Toronto and Pensacola to seek and soak in God’s renewing presence.
Why have hundreds of policemen and firemen demonstrated the Spirit of Christ as they paid the ultimate sacrifice to rescue strangers?
So why did this happen when we are so actively responding to the scriptural admonitions to humble ourselves and pray for our nation and its government? Were the terrorist attacks on the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. evidence of His absence from the hearts of Americans? If so, then why did a Christian man, Todd Beamer, call 911 asking for prayer and recite the 23rd Psalm before leading the passengers of Flight 93 to wrest control from the hijackers in order to save perhaps hundreds of other lives as their own flight went down near Pittsburgh? Or why then have hundreds of policemen and firemen demonstrated the Spirit of Christ as they paid the ultimate sacrifice to rescue strangers? (John 15: 13) Or why have hundreds of others worked tirelessly in the recovery efforts? Scores of secular corporations and thousands of individuals have given millions of dollars to aid the hurting.
SIGNS OF THE BLESSED HOPE
There is no biblical or historical evidence that the righteousness of a nation guarantees a hedge of impenetrable protection against natural disasters, wars and the exploits of wicked men. To the contrary, Jesus said that wars, natural disasters, and troublesome events would continue until His Second Advent. (Luke 21:8- 11) This is one of the reasons His coming is called “the blessed hope.” Only His personal presence can end the adversities of this present age.
God does not change in His character and loving care.
God does not change in His character and loving care for the temporal and eternal good of mankind, yet His manner of dealing with us has. (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 1:1-2) Ancient Israel was under the Mosaic dispensation in which the nation's government and religion were inseparable. Israel was divinely commissioned to exemplify the power and love of Jehovah to the surrounding societies. As long as it was devoted to the Lord it prospered, but when Israel embraced idolatry and national practices that were in direct conflict with God’s laws, they reaped God’s wrath.
Let us seize the opportunity the Holy Spirit is giving us to draw people to Jesus’ love
The Christian dispensation is far different. There is no nation that has ever served as God’s singular representative to the earth in the same manner that Israel once did. The Church is now God’s holy nation. (1 Peter 2:9) Its citizens are of every ethnicity and are scattered as ambassadors among the nations of the earth to call the spiritually hungry to Jesus Christ. All the nations of the earth, including America, will experience the calamities that are indicative of the end- times because of the sin of Adam. When nations or individuals — even Christians — are traumatized by tragedies, it is not the signal that they have invoked the wrath of the Almighty. Rather these things occur simply because sin and death still exist in the earth.
Instead of becoming vessels for pronouncing judgment, let us seize the opportunity the Holy Spirit is giving us to draw people to Jesus’ love during this period when hearts have been sensitized through this terrible misfortune. We will make His job far easier if we represent God as One who heals the brokenhearted rather than one that crushes bruised lives.