20 years had passed

Is now the time?

In our day, many cry out for the Lord to intervene, yet there will be no revival without a renewal of the holiness of God.1

When we say renewal we do not mean that His holiness has waned, simply that we have forgotten.

We have remembered holiness as a vague term we use in our worship songs, but otherwise, the word sits dry and dusty from unuse. We have remembered holiness as a general attribute of God but neglected to understand the implications of this fact.

If God is holy, then how can sin remain and “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?”2

Therefore we can say, there will be no revival without a renewal of the holiness of God, and this renewal of holiness must lead to a revealing of sin, a seeing of sin as sin, and our personal sin before a holy God.

An early story from the beginnings of the revival on the Isle of Lewis in 19493 does well to explain this point:

“One night while they were waiting on God in the barn, Kenneth rose, opened his Bible to Psalm 24 and read, ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.’ He then said, ‘It seems to be worthless to be gathered here night after night seeking God as we are doing, if our hands are not clean and our hearts are not pure. O God, are my hands clean? Is my heart pure?’ At that moment the presence of God flooded the place.

At that moment they all became aware that the holiness of God and revival were inextricably linked. God came, and when He came it was in a revelation of His holiness.”

When holiness is renewed and sin is revealed, we are led to a deeper sense of the fear of the Lord and a more potent need for a Savior. From this place, we understand what it means to plead for mercy and undeserved grace. We see the judgment of the wicked as just and we count ourselves as one also deserving of such punishment.

“God struck down the people of Beth-shemesh because they looked inside the ark of the Lord. He struck down seventy persons. The people mourned because the Lord struck them with a great slaughter. The people of Beth-shemesh asked, ‘Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord this holy God’”4

Let us learn from these examples, and remember the words of the Psalmist, recounting the days of wandering in the wilderness, “When he killed some of them, the rest began to seek him; they repented and searched for God.”5

With one eye fixed on just judgment, keep a firm grasp on the promises of God. Repent and search for God!

20 years had passed

Nearing the end of the time of the judges, the ark of the covenant had been captured and then returned, passing from city to city until it came to rest temporarily in Kiriath-jearim. As many of you will remember, this was a time when every man did what was right in his own sight and, “in those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread.”6

It was a time when the people had lost sight of the holiness of God. They could not see it as David did, “It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.”7 And I’m certain we would have to admit the same today.

In 1961, A.W. Tozer published a book titled, ‘The Knowledge of the Holy.’ The preface contained these words, “The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us.”8

The times were bleak, the word of the Lord was rare, the Israelites had recently known great defeat, pain, division, and unrest. Then, we read this line:

“Time went by until twenty years had passed, then the whole house of Israel longed for the Lord.”9

And then, as the whole house lamented, wailing and searching for the Lord with weeping, “Samuel told them, ‘If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart get rid of the foreign gods…dedicate yourselves to the Lord, and worship only Him.”10

“So the Israelites removed the Baals and the Ashtoreths and only worshiped the Lord. They fasted that day, and there they confessed, ‘We have sinned against the Lord.’”11

Friends, I bring up this story as a way to ask - have our twenty years passed yet?

Have we recognized the absence of the word of the Lord, the vast unrest, and repented as we long for, lament, wail, and search for the Lord with weeping?

How much longer? How long until You rend the heavens and come down? Let us not wait in vain and may You not tarry forever.

Revival will come, but not without a renewal of the holiness of God. Therefore humble yourself, pray, seek Him. Ask to see His holiness, knowing that He will show you your sin, and so quickly after, the beauty of this perfect Savior.

For as sure as His judgments are, so too are His promises and swift is His love. “He delights in faithful love. He will again have compassion on us.”12

If He says come, and we are able, we must come. If He says My sheep will hear My voice, and we hear it, we must respond. If He says the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out, we must approach with confident desperation. I am not worthy, nor deserving of mercy, but You are my only hope, and do not even dogs eat the scraps that fall from the master's table?

Then His assurance comes in like a flood, washing away all guilt, shame, condemnation, worry, and the stronghold of sin, and we know joy, peace, freedom, and love. Especially love.

For from this place of forgiveness much we can finally see the depths of the love of God poured out, not in light of our inherent worth but His great mercy, according to His pleasure and purpose to produce a people for Himself. A people called by His name, known, loved, and kept by Him.

We begin to love the plans, purposes, and pleasures of God. We used to delight ourselves in the things of this world, but now His is our chief delight. We speak often of Him and meditate on His words as they transform us.

We come to a better understanding of the work of the Spirit as well, for we have now personally felt His drawing and stirring. His wind has blown, His fire has kindled, and His baptism has come. He is the sign and the seal of the new covenant that we have now entered into. A covenant based on the righteousness of faith for all who believe.

Yet how can we believe if we have not heard and how will we hear without preachers who once again preach the whole counsel of the word of God?

Therefore, we who carry about as the witness must ask ourselves, what do we preach about?

Holiness, sin, the fear of God, and coming judgment for the wicked? Mercy, grace, justification, and assurance? True freedom from the slavery of sin? Love that can only be grasped in light of forgiveness? The plans, purposes, and pleasures of God? His sovereignty to draw, call, and keep? Sanctification through the wind, fire, and baptism of the Holy Spirit? A baptism that is much needed for this life, for our power, our witness, and our edification and building up of the Church.

We must get back to the whole counsel of the word of God again. We must know Him as He truly is. We must remember His holiness. We must humble ourselves and longingly search for Him with weeping.

Then revival will come.

Perhaps our 20 years have finally passed.

In love,

Derek

1

(What is meant by revival? Here is an explanation)

2

(1 Samuel 6:20)

3

(Sounds from Heaven, Peckham, p.112)

4

(1 Samuel 6:19-20)

5

(Psalm 78:34)

6

(1 Samuel 3:1)

7

(Psalm 139:6)

8

(I wrote about this in more detail here)

9

(1 Samuel 7:2)

10

(1 Samuel 7:3)

11

(1 Samuel 7:4,6)

12

(Micah 7:18)