Earlier this evening, I had a discussion with a beloved brother in Christ in which my brother lamented the misconception some of his local churches seem to have concerning revival. My brother was feeling broken in spirit at the thought that a church seemed to think they could ‘schedule’ a revival. Sadly, I agreed with him. Believers have absolutely no control over when or even if revival will come. A revival is entirely the work of God and His Holy Spirit. It happens only if God wills it, and even then, it happens in His time. But our conversation reminded me of something else believers seem to have forgotten, and that is that there is another possibility besides revival, and this other possibility is far more dreadful.
A revival, or awakening, can lead to wondrous things. The First Great Awakening lead to the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. The Second Great Awakening lead to the Civil War and — eventually — equality for blacks and women. However, in both cases, we — as a People — slid a little farther toward the edge of the Abyss. With each awakening, we tried to turn something that belongs to God into something of our own making and control. By the time our nation entered into the Twentieth Century, a time that some believe saw a third awakening, we were using the name of ‘revival’ and ‘great awakening’ to justify things entirely of our own making: things which had little to do with God and more to do with man making himself out to be gods. This is when we started to accelerate toward the edge of the Abyss, and, by the mid-1960’s, we had kicked God out of the public square all together. For anyone with spiritual eyes, it is clear to see that we are now suffering from the fruit of our pride and arrogance, and yet, we still refuse to repent and turn back to God. This is why I fear we may soon see the other option I mentioned earlier.
If we bother to read Scripture, we will see that, every time God restored Israel, and the Nation became prosperous, Israel started to turn away from God. Rather than remain humble and grateful for what God had done for them, Israel chose to credit themselves for their prosperity: to boast in their own works. And every time they did this, God wiped them out and started over with His faithful remnant. This seems to be a habit with Israel, and God repeatedly refers to them as a ‘stiff-necked’ People as a result. Well, this is the other option I fear: that God will wipe us out and start all over with His remnant. And the reason I fear this possibility is because of the current condition of our Nation’s heart.
If we were wise, we would consider the book of Jonah. If we will remember, God sent Amos and Hosea to tell Israel that He would spare them no longer. They had grown wicked and rebellious, so the Lord was going to wipe them out by exiling them into Babylon. At the same time, God sent Jonah to warn Nineva that He was going to destroy them for being wicked, as well. For those of us who may not be aware of this, Nineva was the capital of Assyria, an historic enemy of Israel. Jonah had no desire to warn his enemy lest they actually repent and be saved Instead of doing as God commanded, Jonah tried to flee to Tarshish, as far away from Nineva as he could get in the known world of his time. Well, we should know the rest of the story: Jonah was delivered to Nineva by way of the belly of a fish where Jonah dutifully warned Nineva and Nineva repented and was spared. But what of Israel, God’s ‘chosen’ People? Had they repented, as well, it is possible that God would have spared them, but Israel refused to repent. The Northern Tribes remained arrogant and rebellious and they were carried away and remain lost until this very day.
What can we learn from the story of Jonah, Nineva and Israel? Well, for one thing, the heart of the People has a lot to do with how God deals with a Nation. In the case of Nineva, we are told they were every bit as wicked as Sodom, Gomorrah and even the Norther Tribes. But, when God called them to repent, they humbled themselves and repented and God spared them (at least for a while — until they back-slid). However, in the case of Israel, the People remained defiant and, as a result, they were destroyed.
In both cases, what was in the heart of the People of each Nation held the key to God’s actions toward them. So what of us, today? What of the United States? Well, God’s Word tells us that God is unchanging, so we can expect that He might well deal with us much the same way He dealt with Nineva and Israel. This suggests that, if we are of the right heart, a heart willing to humble ourselves, acknowledge Him and His authority over us, and to beg His forgiveness, we may well receive His Spirit in return. In this case, it is likely that God will spare us, at least for a while. It is even possible that we would experience another Great Awakening, which might then lead to another mighty work of God that advances the fortunes of this world. On the other hand, if we chose not to humble ourselves, if we remain proud, arrogant and defiant, then it is very likely that God will send judgment upon us instead. If this happens, it is doubtful we will survive and, if we do, it will most likely be only that remnant that has remained true to Him that survives. This leaves us with two questions we should be asking ourselves.
What is the state of our National heart?
And will God send us a Jonah to warn us to repent, or a Amos or Hosea to tell us that it’s too late?