Spiritual revivals are not a new phenomenon. In fact, they date back thousands of years. For instance, the Old Testament books of Zechariah and Haggai contain God’s direction for the 50,000 Jewish people who were allowed to return from exile to Jerusalem. The prophet Haggai was commissioned by the Lord to inspire and guide the rebuilding of the temple under Zerubbabel, the governor of Jerusalem. And the prophet Zechariah was burdened by God to preach a revival message centering on repentance and rededication of the people’s lives to God.
Zechariah 4:6 is the key to understanding why Israel experienced a powerful, fresh revival after their Babylonian captivity. It is also why today, national church movements in dozens of countries are flourishing after many years of stagnant, “well-meaning” religious activity. God spoke these words through the prophet of God to Zerubbabel and it applies to believers today as well:
“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord of hosts.
The word “might” can be translated as: force, strong, army, wealth. And the word “power” means: human strength, firm resolve, personal determination, and resoluteness. As the people of Israel rebuilt the temple, they were to rely solely on the Lord’s provision rather than their own resources. God alone would receive the credit for the finished temple. This directive from God can also be amplified and applied to our situation today:
There will never be any lasting success in mankind’s endeavours to extend the Kingdom of God on earth, if they are pursued through one’s own bountiful resources, human abilities, or resolute determination. But if believers trust solely in the power of the Holy Spirit to build His Church—nothing will be impossible.
Over the past 11 months, you have likely sensed a theme in my messages to you. They have revolved around words such as—prayer, fervency, God’s Word, intensity, repentance, burden for the lost, and above all else, a mighty move and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This is because national believers are realizing their ineffectiveness in attempting to influence a revival through human resolve.
As I have tried to convince you during this pandemic, in countries such as China, Myanmar, Vietnam, India and Ethiopia, the march of God’s army to spiritual success has been conducted on its knees in relentless prayer. When the number of souls accepting Christ as Saviour slows down around them, pastoral leadership calls upon the Body of Christ to double and triple their prayers and fasting with increasing fervency. National believers are convinced that they must lay aside their humanly engineered programs, and simply “plead” with God for His intervention by a release of His Holy Spirit into whatever daunting situation lies before them. And this “pleading” inevitably involves repentance, as well as an abundance of “crying out to God in desperate prayer.”
The most thrilling aspect of what Empower is currently witnessing globally is the simplicity of God’s plan for His Church, that being for believers to stand back, pray and watch God work! Does this negate our part in evangelism and discipleship? Absolutely not! God will ignite the spiritual hunger within hungry souls, open the door of people’s hearts, and then we will be privileged to lead them to Christ. Traditionally, however, one of the sad outcomes of the Fall of man in the Garden of Eden has been the misconception (based upon pride) that human beings must be in control of every situation that develops. Mankind craves power. Self-importance and arrogance can grow so strong within us all that we find it nearly impossible to relinquish control and take a knee before The One who is ultimately in charge. It is refreshing and encouraging to see national believers, who have repeatedly tasted of God’s miraculous power, fully trust the Lord to work out the details of their lives and ministries going forward. For believers to sit, be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10) may be difficult, but when experienced and implemented is life-changing and church-changing.
Throughout history, this has always been where revivals are born—in repentance and prayer, followed by trust and obedience—and it is still that way in 2021.
My encouragement to you today, regardless of the situations surrounding us due to current events, is to stand firm in our faith and watch God move all around us. This verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (NIV) confirms this message:
“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
This is how the national Church around the world has discovered success in ministry, and peace in life. Let us follow their example.