Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, "I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place."
Notice that I underlined "humble." The first requirement God put forth for an outpouring of His presence was humility—or heartfelt brokenness—followed closely by prayer, seeking His face, and turning from disobedience.
Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.
Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father,” for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
While maintaining personal humility, John came against pride and entitlement when he corrected those who bragged that they had Abraham as their father and therefore believed they should receive preferential treatment concerning God's standards. A parallel in today's world would be "Christians" who believe that merely saying a sinner's prayer followed by sporadic church attendance compensates for a proud, callous heart.
Like the scriptural examples I have just shared, God is revealing to millions of people around the world their spiritual poverty, breaking through their stubborn pride, and enabling them to see their position before an Almighty and Holy God. Buddhist monks, Muslim sheikhs, Hindu priests, Jewish Rabbis, devout communists and atheists, and ordinary, CONFUSED folks (who by far make up the largest number) are rejecting human wisdom and seeking God in desperation. They are sensing that the only true priority in life is to accept Jesus into their lives. Current world events no longer distract them from wholeheartedly confessing with their mouths, as Isaiah did,
"Woe is me, for I am ruined! ...For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." Isaiah 6:5 (NASB)
In the world’s spiritual hotspots, the people of God—true believers—are the prime catalyst in this great tidal wave of evangelistic growth as they humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways.
Consequently, nations, tribes, heads of government, spiritual and religious leaders are bowing before a merciful God and humbly repenting for their actions and attitudes. They are not demanding their rights, and they are not defending or minimizing their own sin or that of their family and countrymen. They know that religious affiliations or political beliefs will not save them, but rather Jesus, the promised Messiah and our Saviour. They are opening the Bible and, in wide-eyed amazement, realizing that they had missed seeing the Truth about Jesus in the Book they scoffed at. Now, they are boldly confessing these words: "We were wrong."
Now that is humility and brokenness!
In China today, untold thousands are turning to Christ and undergoing a powerful conversion experience. The work of the Holy Spirit is penetrating so deep and so quickly that when they talk with relatives and friends immediately after being born again, their new nature and humble spirit are shockingly evident to all. People comment repeatedly, “Why are you so different now? Why are you not afraid or worried about your future?” In complete humility they answer, "Jesus is now my Master, and He is rebuilding my life." They are not ashamed to confess allegiance to Christ, or that He now comes first in their lives. This quick growth spurt of sanctification is due to a new, born-again heart based in humility!
James 4:10 says to "humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." But how exactly do we accomplish this act of humbling ourselves? I asked this same question many years ago to one of the most humble individuals I have ever met. He was a leader and pioneer in the Chinese house church movement, spending some 22 years in prison for his faith. He told me this: "I discovered over the years that humility could not be acquired by human effort, but only by a deep work of the Spirit. When I set as the goal of my life to intensely study the Word of God and listen for the voice of the Spirit speaking to me, God began to show me in a spiritual mirror what I looked like. I didn't like what I saw! But as the years went by, the Spirit and the Word molded me as I repented and sought after Jesus. My years in prison were a time for God to break me, and then rebuild me."
If you were to ask me what the primary ingredient is in the massive turning to God we are witnessing worldwide, I would say without hesitation: brokenness, humility, contrition, repentance and tears of relief upon discovering the Truth before entering eternity. All of this needs to occur at every level of our society, from the top strata of government, through pastoral and family leadership, and to each individual—all of whom God sees as equal in value. Absolutely no one is above or immune to the pandemic of pride that has swept the world. There is only one cure for this virus. It cannot be found in human effort, political allegiances, or religious traditions, but only in the words of Jesus:
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29 (NASB)
In our next installment of Good News I’ll explain how compassion is a key element in revival. Until then, be safe and encouraged in Christ.