…God indicts the whole population:
“No one is faithful. No one loves.
No one knows the first thing about God.
All this cussing and lying and killing, theft and loose sex,
sheer anarchy, one murder after another!
And because of all this, the very land itself weeps
and everything in it is grief-stricken—
[animals in the fields and birds on the wing,
even the fish in the sea are listless, lifeless.]
….“But don’t look for someone to blame.
No finger pointing!
…. My people are ruined
because they don’t know what’s right or true.
Because you’ve turned your back on knowledge,
Because you refuse to recognize the revelation of God,
I’m no longer recognizing your children….Hosea 4: 1 – 10 (Msg.)
I recently came across a quote defining the word ‘stupid’ – “knowing the truth, seeing evidence of the truth, but believing the lie”. This surely describes Israel’s beliefs and behaviour not only in the time of the Judges but also the Monarchy and indeed throughout the Old Testament. A downward spiral of disobedience and rebellion. Consequently, God judges them giving them up to foreign invasion, even exile, resulting in severe repression and suffering. The people then cry out to God in repentance who rescues them. God forgives His rebellious people and restores them. But tragically any revival is progressively short-lived. When we look through scripture and scan the pages of human history, we can clearly see this pattern repeated by individuals, groups, cultures, nations, and whole civilisations. Memories are short, lessons are not learnt and passed onto succeeding generations.
In the New Testament Jesus comes to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) to refute Satan’s lies (Matt. 4: 3-10) and lies of the then Jewish religious establishment. The Gospels are packed with examples of Jesus healing the sick and broken-hearted, restoring sight to the blind, feeding the hungry, preaching the good news to the poor, casting out demons, bringing hope to the hopeless and freedom to the captives and oppressed, re-establishing justice and righteousness. He commissioned the disciples (the church) to continue what He had begun locally, regionally, and globally. Indeed, we are told we will do even greater things (John 14:12).
Now fast forward two millennia, what is the situation on these islands, in Europe and beyond? We could write a vast library of books to describe the sorry and depressing state of our nations and the prevailing postmodern culture. To do it in a more concise and reflective way I am using the words of Noel Richards and Gerald Coates well know worship song, “Great is the Darkness”.
“Great is the darkness
That covers the earth
Oppression, injustice and pain
Nations are slipping
In hopeless despair
Though many have come in Your name
Watching while sanity dies
Touched by the madness and lies”
Surely the first verse accurately describes the position we on this island and the people of the world find themselves in today. Our society, broken and fractured like never before, has an alphabet-soup of ‘isms’ and ‘ologies’ each promising an enticing utopia, which they are incapable of delivering. Our culture values style and emotion over substance and truth. Crises and emergencies be they climate, economic, political, or pandemic seem to perpetually dominate people’s thinking today. But the real crisis is a spiritual one, it’s about the truth and involves infinitely much more than the here and now.
May now Your church rise
With power and love
This glorious gospel proclaim
In every nation
Salvation will come
To those who believe in Your name
Help us bring light to this world
That we might speed Your return
The second verse is the great challenge to today’s church, to remember whose she is, and the purpose Jesus commissioned us, His witnesses, to undertake. The rebukes of the first century AD churches in chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation could equally and appropriately apply now. Yet we are the hope of the world – in that we are not alone but have been given the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us. Revival must come first to the church (God’s people), but scripture makes it crystal clear that we must first humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s presence, and turn away from our wicked ways. Only then will God listen from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal the land (2 Chron. 7:14). Our task then is to work with the Holy Spirit to awaken people to their true identity and the sure and certain eternal future they have as faithful followers of Christ.
On that final day
When out of the heavens You come
Darkness will vanish
All sorrow will end
And rulers will bow at Your throne
Our great commission complete
Then face to face we shall meet
The final verse gives us a stirring vision of Christ’s return and our eternal future. Do we really need a revival today – for sure we do, and we know it! So let us pray
Come Lord Jesus, come Lord Jesus
Pour out Your spirit we pray
Come Lord Jesus, come Lord Jesus
Pour out Your spirit on us today. Amen