Xiamen, Fujian Province
Sunrise last Christmas in Haerbin. There are few images more powerful than seeing the sun rise over a snow-covered landscape, knowing that even a night 30 degrees below zero cannot stop the sun from rising. God’s revivals are as inevitable as the sunrise.
The Earth created with a purpose
God created this earth with a purpose, and we see very early in the history of mankind an attempt to subvert this purpose, as the Man and his Wife are led astray, learning through disobedience to know not only good, but good and evil.
However, the core design of mankind remains intact.
Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. (NIV)
Created in the Image of God, he remains a creator and a ruler, but having learnt to know good and evil, he now begins to create good and evil, and his government now results in both good and evil.
Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. …” (NIV)
Sometimes more good than evil; and sometimes more evil than good.
The battle for creation rages on
From that moment onwards, as the Words, “you shall bite his heel and he shall crush your head” ring through the centuries, a war is waged – a war for which the prize is no less than creation itself, and at the head of this creation, the crown – mankind, the very image of the Creator Himself.
For reasons that we can only philosophise and build theologies about, God elects to let mankind be the primary instrument through which He wages this war. However, we see through history that the level of God’s involvement in this war seems to increase and decrease in what seems like a wave-like pattern.
History punctuated by God's interventions
Through the Old Testament we see major events, driven through leaders obedient to God having a powerful impact on human history, such as the flood and Noah, the exodus and Moses, a restoration to worship and King David, a revelation of the power and purpose of wisdom in Solomon, Ruth, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and many others. These women and men of God all had this in common: They received the Word of God, and as they chose to obey that word, they saw the power of God manifested. As people, however, they could not create full restoration between God and man, for the barrier of sin remained immovably in place. Still we do see in the Old Testament that as history progressed, and these people recorded what they heard, saw, experienced, and came to understand, there is a building up of an understanding of the knowledge of good and evil as mankind grapples with the results of its own actions, and as some people seek and find God, and others live lives of wickedness and destruction. As these things are written down in the books of history and the Bible, the story of God’s involvement in this history also gets written down so that it can be taught and transferred from one generation to the next. It becomes possible for us to look back over the centuries, and learn about what is good.
And people try. They teach, they listen; many of them learn these scriptures by heart. A well-structured and organised body of teachers and administrators is developed in the form of the priests, Pharisees and Sadducees. The knowledge of good could now supposedly be learnt and taught. Yet, the heart of man remained a far cry from that which God had intended, and the history of the world continued pretty much in chaos as mankind failed to turn these teachings into any lasting change for good.
A critical point in history as the word becomes flesh
Then there comes a moment in history where God decides that the progression of the knowledge of good and evil has reached a point where it is time to no longer just take His Word and give it to a man or woman to bring His impact once again powerfully to bear on this creation. It has become time to take that Word, and send the Word itself, in purest form, to this earth. And He chooses to do that by dressing the Word in the same form as that which He initially dressed the crown of His creation in – a human body.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (NIV)
We see what looks dangerously like a repetition of history as Satan once again makes every effort to twist the words of this living Word by quoting the words that have been written down over the ages – trying to take the known knowledge of good and use the very power of that, to again subvert and pervert the Presence of the Word of God amongst mankind. But this time he is not dealing with a man who has received the Words of God, but he is dealing with the very Word of God dressed in the body of a man.
Failing, this time, to pervert the Word, he turns to the tactic of trying to then destroy the human body in which the Word appeared to be contained, and makes the greatest tactical mistake of his career as master of evil, as he destroys this body in one of the most grotesque and drawn out executions possible, but fails to realize that the body is merely a dressing for the Word, and that in the very destruction of that body would be released the greatest miracle and intervention from God the world has experienced since creation.
And in a process of which we understand very little, as that body is broken, all God’s righteous judgement against the evil that mankind has chosen to know, is released, paid for, atoned for, and the Word is for a time separated from its very source as the Words spoken are,
“Father, Father, why have You forsaken me?”
An apparent defeat becomes the greatest victory yet achieved!
However, the relative unimportance of the body, compared to the Word, becomes clear as, three days later, the Word returns, simply fills that body again, and uses that body to finish the process of setting up His Church – an organisation that would be entrusted to continue the process of being carriers of God’s Word, and the power of restoration that come through that word to this creation.
Jesus returns to His seat of glory to where He had come from, but He sends His Spirit, to fill the church, and we see the first of a kind of event that we would later see repeated in history over and over again. The Spirit of God is poured out, and the church receives a series of manifestations of all sorts of forms as God’s Spirit fills and works through people.
But the most important impact of this is not the manifestations, but the change that takes place in the hearts and the lives of people, and the growth in our understanding of the knowledge of aspects of God as ultimately and perfectly good, and how to practically live out that good – how to be the rulers of this creation that God initially intended for us to be.
The progressive building of the knowledge of God
Pentecost happens, and then we see the church slowly cooling down, but only to begin a pattern whereby the church would cool down, and then receive a strong visitation – revival would break out, there would be tremendous growth in the church, often a new “church” would be born – which is just a new group of people who understand God’s latest move better than others, as some reject what God is doing.
And then that group would “cool down” again, and at some point another revival would break out.
This has been happening roughly at least once every century, from the time of Pentecost, until today, and it appears that these waves are becoming shorter, with several such revivals of various intensities being recorded through the 20th century.
Our ability to keep records of these revivals and their consequences have been becoming better and better, and we can now begin to see very clearly as we look over history, that from that very first battle, there has been a systematic progression of the knowledge of good as God has come close to us, time after time. With every revival there was a certain focus of revelation. Sometimes the focus was God’s righteousness, at other times His mercy, at other times His love, at other times His holiness, and so it continued.
Sometimes the revivals were primarily marked by activities within the church, other times in the streets, and at other times in houses, and sometimes just everywhere.
Revivals are marked by the willingness of men and women of God
One of the key characteristics that we find present in every revival is similar to what we saw in the Old Testament’s records of where God intervened in human history: Men and women who were willing, even desperate to receive God’s Word, act on it in total obedience, and see Him honouring His Word as He starts doing things that seem impossible to us as humans.
As I’ve been reading about revivals, it appears to me that a pattern has been emerging. It seems to me that there has been a progression in this story of God and Man’s history here on earth. God is systematically and deliberately building in mankind a knowledge of “good” that is continually growing, and as we study the “good” that has been revealed to us until now, He is building on that to reveal the next piece of “good” which will be one more building block to His prayer that He has asked us to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven.” These revivals are not just random events. God is restoring to the human race the ability to live out our original design, one revelation at a time. He is building and refining His bride.
Another characteristic of revivals is that they have always happened through the church. Who is the church? The church are simply all people who confess Jesus Christ as Lord, acknowledges that He is the Son of God, has come to live amongst us as a human, died at our hand, was raised again, and sits today at the Right Hand of Father. It doesn’t matter whether you call yourself Catholic or Protestant, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Charismatic or whatever else there may be. Those who make Jesus their Lord and Captain, those are the church – the ambassadors of God in this earth. As we continue looking at this concept of the Workplace Revival , whenever I refer to “the church” I am not referring to a building, or a specific group of people who gather in a specific way in a specific place at some specific kind of regularity. I am simply referring to all people around the world who call on Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
The next revival is upon us
My purpose for this summary of God’s work in our history, is to lead up to showing that if God suddenly starts giving us lots of revelation around the world about how we as Christians should be doing our day to day work, then it is not something new or different, or out of line with the way God has worked in the past. I believe that the next move of God will be in the workplace, to restore to us the blessing that He has designed work to be. It will be just another step in restoring the crown of His creation into the fullness of his purpose in this creation.
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Blessings to you
Xiamen, Fujian Province