The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy, 2 Chronicles 36:15-16.
Doomed without Revival
Can there be a more sad, sordid description of a once great nation! Israel, the apple of God’s eye, the people with whom He had made covenant, those whom He had loved with an everlasting love, were invaded by the wicked Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar and taken away into exile. The final invasion came in 586 B.C. but had been going on for nearly twenty years. The northern kingdom of Israel was long gone, having been destroyed under the Assyrians in 723 B.C. The young men of Judah were slain by the sword, and Nebuchadnezzar showed no compassion toward young man or virgin, nor toward old men or the infirm. All the articles of the house of the Lord were taken, and they burned the temple with fire. Those who escaped the sword were carried to Babylonian exile and became slaves. Why? God had sent them prophets like Isaiah, Amos, Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, but they mocked His messengers. They despised the words of the prophets. So God’s wrath was poured out upon them until there was no remedy, until there was no way of escape.
John Winthrop’s coming to Massachusetts Bay in 1630 with his Puritan vision of a “City on a Hill” was being driven by strong gospel preaching by men like Thomas Hooker and Increase and Cotton Mather. But by 1675 this was already “going south” with worldliness, ambivalence, and spiritual infidelity. So, in judgment, God sent them Metacomet, chief of the Algonquian’s, who wrought havoc in Connecticut, wiping out six towns, killing thousands of settlers. In the eighteenth century God sent us more great prophetic preachers—men like George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and William and Gilbert Tennent; and we listened to them for a while, from around 1735 to 1760, but then we grew tired of their preaching, preferring a watered down, Deistic message. So, in judgment, God sent us the Enlightenment of skeptics like David Hume, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and the Marquis de Sade. America has never really recovered from the Enlightenment. In the nineteenth century God, in mercy, sent us many great preachers—men like Asahel Nettleton, James Henley Thornwell, and Daniel Baker; and for a while we listened to them too, giving us the Second Great Awakening from 1800 to 1840 and the 1859 revival as well. But we soon preferred Charles Darwin’s teaching (1859, Origin of Species) to gospel truth. So God, in judgment, sent us the War Between the States, resulting in the death of over 600,000 young men on the battlefields of places like Gettysburg, Bull Run, and Shiloh (by comparison we lost 405,000 in World War II and 53,000 in the Viet Nam War). And in the twentieth century God, in mercy, sent us great prophetic preachers like J. Gresham Machen, Francis Schaeffer, Billy Graham, and Martyn Lloyd-Jones but we refused to listen to them too. So God, in judgment, brought us the bloodiest century in the history of the world with millions dying at Somme, Iwo Jima, Auschwitz, Inchon, Saigon, Mosul, and abortion mills which continue to murder the unborn. And now, here we are in the twenty-first century, and where are the prophets? Where are God’s messengers who command a huge, nationwide audience, who can transform a single nation by their preaching? I am not saying we do not have many, many fine, popular and skilled preachers; but where are the prophets of old?
My brethren—God has always used revival preaching, and unless He brings it again I fear we are doomed as a civilization. Even if “your guy” wins the Presidential election this is certainly no guarantee that things are on the mend. I have often said, “Without revival, we are doomed,” but what specifically do I mean by this statement? Well, obviously I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, so anything I say here is speculation; but surely we can read the signs of the times and venture on what we now see. Surely without revival leading to wholesale repentance the judgment must come. How can God not judge the United States for our shameless murder of millions of infants, the utter disregard for the sanctity of marriage, and the perversion known as “same sex marriage.” If He judged Sodom then surely He must judge us! Often judgment in Scripture takes the form of calamity in natural catastrophes. The plague that killed thousands comes immediately to mind (Numbers 16:41ff). We have had unprecedented natural disasters in the last few years. Perhaps these will continue with even greater intensity and frequency. Then surely the rising threat of nuclear war in the middle east is upon us. Iran with nuclear weapons is an incredibly de-stabilizing force. And we must never forget Islam’s desire to conquer. The Muslims have no intention of peacefully co-existing with anyone of any other religious or political persuasion. They want to conquer America. They love to purchase dying church buildings and put mosques in them. They are all about symbolism. And when we pull out of Afghanistan within the next year or so the Taliban is surely to regain control; and all those sweet little girls who have been receiving an education will likely be killed by them. Perhaps you believe that I am overstating the case to say that Islam can overrun this nation. I am sure Augustine never believed something like Islam could conquer North Africa but it did within four hundred years of his death. Unless revival comes, yielding thousands of conversions among former Muslims, then Islam dominating western Europe is a foregone conclusion. The average western European family has 1.7 children while the Muslims have eight children. Unless the Muslims come to Christ, then western Europe will be Muslim within fifty years. Many in the Netherlands and Germany are speaking out against this but it may be “too little, too late.”
Then, unless there is a very quick reversal in the growing debt problem in our nation, an economic meltdown of unprecedented proportions is inevitable. This is mindless and utterly irresponsible. Recently the Federal Reserve quietly instituted round three of Quantitative Easing (QE3), a move to print more money to stimulate the sluggish economic recovery. This weakens the dollar and is one of the reasons for the increase in gasoline prices. The dollar is weak against other currencies. Without a significant reversal we are bound eventually to have hyper, hyper inflation and utter chaos. And then there is the problem of the “haves and the have nots” in our society. The friction continues to grow and I fear violence in the streets along ethnic, racial, and socio-economic lines.
What, then, must we do? We need an intolerable burden, an intense grief over the status quo in our personal lives, in the church, and in the world. This must drive us to revival prayer, asking God to raise up mighty preachers who can address our entire nation. They are likely to be “nobodies from nowhere,” probably young men, probably those totally unexpected. But we need them—men possessed by the Spirit, fearless men who love Jesus more than their lives, men upon whom the Holy Spirit rests with great power and authority. “O God, would you revive your work in the midst of the years. In wrath, O Lord, would you remember mercy,” Habakkuk 3:2).
Reverend Allen M. BakerPastor Baker is ordained in the PCA and has been in the ministry for over 30 years. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he received his M.Div. degree from...