Robert Wurtz II
Our passage in Isaiah 55 has a clear context wherein God is dealing with His people by His grace to bring about His purposes with them. However, there is a timeless truth here that we do well to grasp. Isaiah admonishes us to seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. The repeated key word is “while.” The implication is that God draws near at unique times bringing opportunity to restore or establish a meaningful and experiential relationship with Him. People become, “God conscious.” Some simply say that there is an “awareness of God.” This means we are suddenly aware that God is near and dealing with us.
Once we know that God is near, we must respond to His dealings. He has created us in such a way that we know (on the inside) when this is happening. Theologians sometimes call this faculty an “a priori” knowledge of God. When God comes near we become conscious of our sinfulness and our need for forgiveness. There are a number of times when God was moving in the book of Acts, and it was said that “fear” came upon the people and that they walked “in the fear of God.” When the Holy Spirit healed and delivered people it was said that “great joy” was in that city. When God is near both the fear of the Lord, and the joy of the Lord can coexist without contradiction.
God works to change our minds to agree with Him and His ways. God and man cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. (Amos 3:3) This is axiomatic. Individuals must turn away from their wicked and unrighteous ways and acknowledge their sins. In other words, they must return unto the LORD. If a person is willing to do these things’ God will have mercy upon him (…) for He will abundantly pardon.
It is one thing to recognize what happened to Jerusalem, but it is quite another to see ourselves in Luke 19:43-44. When God decides to come near, who can say whether He will move in that way again? The book of Hebrews warns us that if we hear His voice, we must not harden our hearts. We cannot risk passing up an opportunity to seek the Lord during the times of His unique visitation.
This is not to say that we cannot go on preaching the Gospel and God will honor His word; but there are unique times when God visits people with what some have called “revival” and they must respond.
When God begins to move, the enemy springs into action. He uses all kinds of means to stop a revival. This is a primary reason why we see so little revival in our times. Either men are worried about who is going to “get the credit” for what God is doing; or they try to use revival to promote themselves or “their ministry.” That is how utterly corrupt things are in our times. What did God say? For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it.
Carnal people are a great hindrance to revival. Pastors fear how their congregations will respond if God chose to use some other person other than them to speak to the people. Church members sometimes view revival as God’s approval of a minister and may seek to replace the former pastor. These are the types of reasons why God and churches are often at an impasse. Politics is one of the primary reasons churches have lost out with God in modern times. Leaders and carnal church members simply refuse to get out of God’s way.
Sometimes the church members seek God in repentance… but the leaders remain in carnality. In fact, “spiritual leaders” are often the last people on earth to repent. They are determined to keep up appearances (to make things look all right whether they are or not). Again, this is often because of politics. No minister wants to give people ammunition that can be used against them at election time — so they cover their sins and carnality. This is quite different than men like Daniel who would cry out to God on behalf of the people and number himself among those who need revival.
Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land. (Daniel 9:4-6)
Eugene Bartlett, author of the Gospel hymn, Victory in Jesus, penned the famous line:
“I heard about His healing…
of His cleaning power revealing…
how He made the lame to walk again
and caused the blind to see.
Then I cried dear Jesus
come and heal my broken spirit…
and somehow Jesus came and brought
to me the victory.”
At the time of this writing Bartlett was paralyzed over half his body from the stroke that would soon take his life. I have to ask, with our nation going down the toilet; with our churches cold and carnal; do we really need a healing revival? Do we really need a personal prophesy revival? Do we need a prosperity revival? What did God say? Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. This is what God is after. Unfortunately, for Israel, they rejected God’s dealings until there was no hope. I’m reminded of the sobering passage:
The Romans will leave no continuity between the Jews former way of life and their future life. We know this event as the first Jewish revolt of 70 A.D. For most Jews their lives were already in a state of flux. Jesus Christ came on the scene around 30 A.D. challenging the Jews sincerely held religious beliefs. Prior to that time, a new order within Judaism known as the Zealots began terrorizing the Romans and strong-arming the people. They held to the “sold rule of God” doctrine. While trying to throw off Roman rule, they caused so much trouble that Vespasian was ordered to Jerusalem to handle the problem. When the people refused to cooperate, the Romans besieged the city as we have already discussed.
I have often wondered how the believing Jews went forward in their faith. Everything was changing (shaking), to the point that many lost everything (family, friends, possessions, careers, reputation, etc.). When it was all said and done, some Christians fell away. These times tested peoples’ faith and experience in God. Some frauds were discovered. They went out from the assembly because they were not of the assembly. This is what John tells us. They went out that it might be revealed that they were not all of us.
A Modern Shaking
In the 21st century we are experiencing shaking as well. We have it on a global, national, and local level. Families are being shaken; churches are being shaken; and Christians are being shaken. Moreover, relationships are being shaken. Life events are also shaking us. Why? That the things which cannot be shaken may remain. The shaking reveals what cannot be shaken. It is a test. It seems that God is determined to destroy everything within our lives and within the kingdom of God that is not of Him. Only the things that God establishes cannot be moved. The works of men are to be shaken off as unprofitable and unholy.
Sometimes we try to hold things together that God is trying to take apart. Nostalgia, sentimentality, tradition, all have a way of causing us to hold on to things that God may be “shaking off.” We prop things up because we like them, but many things have no place in the kingdom. God shakes our lives until we are willing to let them go. A wise man once said, “Sometimes when we won’t move — God will move us.”
Winds of Change
People generally resist change unless it is something related to popular culture (pop culture). Some change comes, and we have no say in the matter. For example, in 2015 four people passed away that regularly attended our outreach church services. Six people passed who at one time or another attended an advanced Bible class I taught. Those are ten people who I will never get to minister to again — this side of heaven. I lost my mother to cancer; an uncle to diabetes; a former co-worker to a gun shot; and several other family members and friends. All total, seventeen people I know passed away this year. That is a gaping hole in my life. That is radical change. That is significant shaking.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
The time would fail to tell of everything that was shaken this year. Nevertheless, grace is the one thing that we cannot afford to live without. The writer tells us, let us have grace. When the world is changing, and terrorists seem to be running rampant everywhere; let us have grace. When politics threaten to undermine the foundations of the government and the churches; let us have grace. When we look up and seventeen friends and family have passed away; let us have grace. When our lives are changed to the point that we don’t recognize them anymore; let us have grace.
Serving Acceptably During the Shaking
We need grace if we are to ever serve God acceptably under conditions that we never expected to be in. Some Christians have watched their whole lives turn upside down. If we are depending on something or someone that’s now gone, what can we do? Let us have grace. Only God can empower us to continue in His will in a way that is well pleasing to Him — when everything around us seems to have shaken apart. God has a very special grace that is tailor made for our situation.