When Revival Comes
Robert Wurtz II
The earth mourns and languishes, Lebanon is shamed and shriveled; Sharon is like a wilderness, And Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits. “Now I will rise,” says the LORD; “Now I will be exalted, Now I will lift Myself up. You shall conceive chaff, You shall bring forth stubble; Your breath, as fire, shall devour you. And the people shall be like the burnings of lime; Like thorns cut up they shall be burned in the fire. Hear, you who are afar off, what I have done; And you who are near, acknowledge My might.”
The sinners in Zion are afraid; Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, And shuts his eyes from seeing evil: He will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure. Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off. (Isaiah 33:9–17 NKJV)
There is a great Fire that’s coming to test the substance of all people on the earth. The question most important is, what are we made of? The sinners and the hypocrites fear the Fire because they are filled with sin and iniquity — a flammable substance if you will. Like chaff or thorns they will someday ignite into flames for all of eternity. They are nigh unto cursing and their end is to be burned (Hebrews 6:8).
Yet there is a group of people who will withstand this great fire, yea, will dwell in it. Isaiah asks the question, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Our God is a consuming fire and to dwell with Him is to dwell with the devouring fire… the everlasting burnings. Moreover Isaiah continues saying that the one who dwells with the devouring everlasting fire will dwell on high; His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; Bread will be given him, His water will be sure. Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They will see the land that is very far off. What an awesome promise. But who is this promise addressed to? Isaiah gives the list (similar to Psalm 15:1-5) for our consideration:
1. He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
Notice it is not enough to speak righteously; one must actually be righteous. Actions and words have to match. This is contrasted with verse 14 that speaks of Hypocrites; the type of people who “say” but don’t “do.” Whose words are in perfect agreement with his inward feelings and outward condition. (Keil and Delitzsch)
2. He who despises the gain of oppressions,
This type of person refuses to profit from the poor and vulnerable. They don’t hold back a fair wage — nor do they take advantage of people in business. He does not seek for any gain which injures the interests of his neighbour, but that he inwardly abhors it (despises it). (Keil and Delitzsch)
3. Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Lit. shakes his hands free from bribes. His judgment is not influenced by money. Politicians are bribed lawfully when contributions are made to their campaign. Ministers can be “bribed” covertly by tithe payers or contributors. These examples may pass muster with man; but not with God.
4. Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
5. And shuts his eyes from seeing evil.
He diligently closes his hands, his ears, and his eyes, against all danger of moral pollution. Bribery, which others force into his hand, he throws away (cf., Neh. 5:13); against murderous suggestions, or such as stimulate revenge, hatred, and violence, he stops his ear; and from sinful sights he closes his eyes firmly, and that without even winking. Such a man has no need to fear the wrath of God. Living according to the will of God, he lives in the love of God; and in that he is shut in as it were upon the inaccessible heights and in the impregnable walls of a castle upon a rock. (Keil and Delitzsch)
When John the Baptist came preaching he asked the people, “who has warned you to flee from the wrath that is to come?” This called to memory passages such as Isaiah 33 and in which the people are made to know that God has judged sin and will judge sin for all eternity in those who refuse to repent. Consider John preaching with passages such as Amos 9:1ff on the minds of the hearers:
I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence (Amos 9:1–3 KJV).
On the contrary, Heaven rejoices when one person repents of their sins. (Luke 15:7) Notice that Luke 15:7 does not say they “repeated a prayer” but that they repented. The pattern of the Old Testament is that people, even God’s people, must either repent, or they cannot remain in His presence. Even Paul asked, “And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:3 KJV)
When Revival Truly Comes
Since the 1950’s revival meetings in Pentecostal circles have often been a mixture of Billy Sunday type shallow sawdust trail conversions and Oral Robert’s and A.A. Allen’s emphasis on physical healing. This is one of the reasons why we have not seen a great awakening in America and are not likely to anytime soon. The emphasis of the preaching is completely wrong. Revival comes when the message of repentance and fruits worthy of repentance is preached in Holy Spirit power (what Paul told the leaders he preached all of the world in Acts 26); the people are pricked in their hearts, convicted of their sins and respond in faith. Are water baptized gladly (without a fuss), and genuinely receive the Holy Spirit in such a way that they are transformed into a new creature in the genuine article.
Moreover, we will know we are in revival when the leadership come clean with the rest of the saints and humble themselves before God repenting of their sins (if they have them). Jesus said that the people of Nineveh will rise up against the current generation and condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. What these pagan, blood-thirsty Assyrians did is Jesus’ definition of repentance. No need for a Lexicon or a theologian. Read how the Ninevites responded to Jonah. Having written extensively along this line in the past, I will only point out that they repented from the least to the greatest.
Even the king got down in sackloth and ashes. Today pride prevents many from humbling themselves and repenting and therefore it is a stumbling block to revival. No minister can call people to do what they have not done themselves. Nevertheless, The sinners in Zion are afraid; Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” We are choosing right now either judgment or revival and it all depends on the willingness to repent of all sin. As it has been said, the depth of repentance will determine the depth of the revival. Not miracles and not healings. Revival, as one old time preacher has said, is when the church gets right. Not just a few, but everyone as in the city of Nineveh.