Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
The God of Israel had a long history as a God of power. The God of the Exodus from Egyptian bondage was determined to be the God of the Exodus from Babylonian bondage to His people Israel. But the human factor had to be reckoned with. The people of Israel must prepare for their deliverance from captivity. A part of their preparation was to let go of the old in order to have faith for the new.
So today, the God of Pentecostal revival is determined to be the God of Last-days revival. But the human factor is still a part of the equation, so that even our Sovereign God cannot give revival until His people have met His conditions. While His great loving heart yearns for the salvation of the lost billions of earth, that same loving heart must be grieving deeply over the deadness and disobedience and bondage of His Church. But let us not mistake His purpose – He will build His Church; He will produce a Bride for His Son; He will yet prepare His people for the revival that will cover the earth with His glory as the water covers the seas and reap an evangelistic harvest unparalleled in the history of His Church.
How will He do this? By drawing His people back to His ordained age-long plan of intercessory prayer. For as His people pray, they will be delivered from the bondage of the world and the flesh and an anointing will be released upon them for the spiritual harvest that is more than ripe. Oh, let us allow the Holy Spirit to align our hearts with God’s purpose at this very hour to do a new thing and break us out of our carnality, our unbelief, our paralysis, our spiritual pride, our division, our irrelevance, our indifference!
Forgetting The Old
Our churches across America and Canada are filled with members fattened on biblical truth but starved for life and power in the Spirit. So many can cite the time and place of being born again but they have never come to a time or place of being “crucified with Christ.” They go to church regularly but they know nothing of offering up costly sacrifices of praise consistently throughout the week. They say prayers and read their Bibles, but they know nothing of weeping over the lost and lukewarm in nights of passionate prayer and fasting. They quote glibly what God has said, but they don’t have a clue as to what He is saying today. Some of us are so fixed on what God has done in the past that we can’t shift our focus on what He wants to do for us today. But in order to bring in the new, God has declared an end to the old. “Don’t consider the former things,” He orders. So many of us are so hung up on the old familiar, comfortable, traditional patterns of the past that even if we were to experience something of the new we would condemn it as being of either the world, the flesh or the devil.
All through the wilderness journey, the Israelites were supposed to have been in preparation for the new land they had been promised. But after a time the wilderness did not seem such a bad place, and some even opted to stay on the wrong side of the Jordon. So much in bondage to the old ways were most of them that almost none of them passed into the new land. Only such as Joshua and Caleb crossed over because their hearts were set on the new!
Pressing Toward The New
We need to go back to Jesus’ final instructions to His apostles and see how He prepared them for the new. He spent more time during their three-year training period speaking about the Holy Spirit at work in their lives bringing on the new than He spent on any other subject. So after His resurrection and at the very end of His time with them, He gives them final instructions (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 and Luke 1). He did not give them a list of seven or twelve things to do to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit. No, He left them with two things: (1) A Promise – The Father and I will send the Holy Spirit in just a few days; and (2) A Command – Go back into the city of Jerusalem and begin praying, and don’t begin ministry until you are clothed with power from on high. The promise was given on the condition that the command would be obeyed. Had the apostles not obeyed, there would have been no outpouring of the Spirit, no Church, no evangelistic harvest.
It is believed that approximately five hundred people heard Jesus’ final words and witnessed His ascension into the heavens from Mount Olivet. The apostles were so fixed on His departure, staring into the heavens, that two angels came and broke them out of their steadfast gaze and reminded them of what they were supposed to do. They remembered that they were to pray and so they pressed toward the city for this all-important task. Luke records that they returned to Jerusalem … And when they had entered they went up into the upper room … These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers … altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty …
Five hundred people had heard Jesus command them to return to Jerusalem and remain in prayer until the Holy Spirit came on them. Only 120 obeyed. One wonders where the other 380 were. But, thank God for the 120 who obeyed! They represent twenty-four percent of those who heard the Master’s promise and command. There would have been no Pentecostal outpouring if this twenty-four percent (a minority) had not believed the promise and obeyed the command. Be encouraged, pastors and layleaders. There is good news! The majority (76% or whatever it might be) in our churches cannot prevent an outpouring of the Holy Spirit if we can see a committed minority (24% or whatever) become as devoted to intercessory prayer as the original 120 believers!
For a long time I prayed that God would raise up some John Wesleys, George Whitefields, Jonothan Edwardses, Charles Spurgeons, Charles Finneys, D. L. Moodys, Evan Robertses, Andrew Murrays, D. L. Moodys, and Duncan Campbells.
I realize now that God has raised up thousands of leaders in our day who are as morally and intellectually and spiritually qualified for ministry as were these spiritual giants listed above. But they are failing to match these mighty men of God in one particular area:
While they believe in prayer, and even pray, they have yet to understand that God does not give revival except where there is prolonged, passionate, sacrificial, believing intercession. In this they are lacking, not pressing toward it for themselves, nor leading their people into it. Meanwhile, they go on presuming that God in His mercy might just make an exception and give revival anyway. This is why revival tarries!
Consider the urgency of George Whitefield’s pressing when he wrote, “Whole days and weeks have I spent prostrate on the ground in prayer that God might pour out His Spirit on the people.” Or the pushing forward in Charles Spurgeon when he wrote, “The Kingdom comes, and the work is flagging. O, that You would send the wind and the fire! And You will do this when we are all in one accord, all believing, all expecting, all prepared in prayer.” Or the sacrificial praying of David Brainerd when he reported, “About nine I withdrew to the woods for prayer. My soul was exceedingly enlarged and drawn out. I pleaded with such earnestness that when I rose from my knees I could scarcely walk.”
Just how badly do we want this new thing (revival)? Where are those who will realize that just believing in prayer, just preaching on prayer, just praying a little, is not enough? But where are those who will stir themselves up to take hold of the Lord and call on His Name (See Isa. 64:7). Such warriors will no doubt have to overcome a trilogy of evils – the world, the flesh and the devil. The world scoffs at the idea of such serious praying. The flesh draws back from such intense spiritual experiences. And the devil sees frantically with all kinds of schemes to prevent this all-important weapon of prayer from being released on his kingdom of darkness.
But the faithful Holy Spirit stands ready to enable the true warrior for this kind of battle that is essential if we experience the New Thing God has planned for our day.