Pastor Tom’s Note, August 28, 2017
A WAKE-UP CALL
Spiritual revivals throughout history have taken different forms and affected many areas of the world. In French, the word revival is “réveil” which is the same word for an alarm-clock. This imagery works because prior to a revival, people are asleep and indifferent to God. A revival is an intrusion into the established order, a wake up call from Heaven. The one constant trait is that people experiencing revival are gripped by an overwhelming sense of the Holy. In the 1949-53 revival in the Isle of Lewis (northern Scotland), Duncan Campbell recounts:
“A crowded church, the service is over: the congregation, reluctant to disperse, stand outside the church in a silence that is tense. Suddenly a cry is heard within: a young man, burdened for the souls of his fellow men, is pouring out his soul in intercession…..The congregation, moved by a power that they could not resist came back into the church, and a wave a conviction of sin swept over the gathering, moving strong men to cry out to God for mercy. The service continued until the small hours of the morning, but so great was the distress and so deep the hunger which gripped men and women, that they refused to go home.” (If you prefer a dramatized version in his own words, you can listen here)
WE ARE THE FACE AND SHAPE OF GOD TO THE WORLD
This sense of the Heavens being opened (a phrase Campbell readily used, see Isaiah 6:1-6) is the concluding image of freedom from the book of Exodus. God has now pitched His tent (= His Glory) among the Israelites in Exodus 40, when the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. They are now free to worship Him because He is in their midst. In Christ, a far greater glory has been manifested. Lasting freedom has finally come to us, when He pitched His tent and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Paul takes the idea even further: we as followers of Jesus have pitched our tent in the world, reflecting Jesus’ glory to the world. We have become the face and shape of God’s glory to those around us (read 2 Cor. 3-5)
A TRANSFORMING GLORY
Another constant about revival is the wake up call from the deadness of moralistic religion. Jonathan Edwards, in his classic account of revival in Northampton, MA in the 18th century spoke of it. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:
Moralistic religion is a ministry of death and condemnation. A fading glory (which is no glory at all in comparison with the Glory of Christ). This state of affairs has been “brought to an end” (2 Cor. 3:11-14). In contrast, in Christ we have the ministry of the Spirit, true and lasting freedom, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!” (2 Cor. 3:17). Whereas the glory of Moses faded, the glory that is in Christ is permanent. Paul breaks it down for us with the powerful imagery that reminds us of the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-8). We are being (ongoing action) “transformed” (metamorphosis is the related work) into his image, from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18).
A PERMANENT GLORY
The sad thing about revivals in history is that they do come and go (like the moment of Christ’s transfiguration on the mountain; for a full dosage of glory, see Rev. 1:12-17; 19:11-16). However, as we dream for these revivals to come to our parts, you and I don’t have to wait to see the Heavens open. As we put our trust in Jesus, we have a lasting and permanent glory within us that will never fade and go away. Imagine that! even as we are aging and seeing the sometimes devastating effects of the process in our bodies, we are “being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
In these dark days where terrorist attacks are routine, there is a song that has become a sort of go-to hymn in times of national grief, John Lennon’s Imagine. It was sung on the streets of Paris and more recently in Barcelona. “Imagine, there’s no Heaven…no religion.” I can understand that! Religion as moralistic religion is just dead and hopeless. But with Jesus pitching His tent with us, we sing another “Imagine,” there is a God in Heaven, who is gracious toward us to heal and forgive us and who has pitched his tent with us. “I know I am a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
Have you had this ‘wake-up call from heaven?’ Are you feeling the weight of moralistic religion on your shoulders? The Lord is calling you and me to true lasting and permanent glory, which is the Presence of His Glory (His Spirit) within us. It is in this place, in Him that we will find true freedom.