Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Jeremiah and Revival

Over the last forty years, I have heard numerous and frequent prophesies that revival in New Zealand was just round the corner. My experience is not unique. Christians all over the western world are hungry for revival and the prophetic websites are full of prophecies that revival is coming and close. But despite all this hype, our hopes have been disappointed.

As I have pondered this problem, I have come to believe that we will not get the revival we are hoping for, because the leaders of the church are unwilling to follow the instructions that Jesus gave about his church should function. There is no sign of that changing, so I now doubt that revival will come in my lifetime.

I have been reading Jeremiah 5-8. It is relevant to our situation, because he was speaking to disappointed people. When troubles came, they had hoped God would rescue them from disaster and defeat, but instead things got worse.

Jeremiah would say something like this to those who are disappointed by lack of revival.

You hoped for things to go well,
but nothing good happens.
You are looking for light,
but you will find only darkness;
hard, cold, and lonely.
You are looking for revival,
but you will experience hostility,
because you have disobeyed God.
You hoped for a time of restoration,
but there was only fear and terror.
Jeremiah explained that God could not rescue the children of Israel from their troubles despite their desperate prayers. Their leaders had ignored the instructions that God had given to them.

The same is true of the modern church. The leaders of the church have ignored the instructions that Jesus gave about his church should function. The main reason our hopes of revival have been disappointed is not God is unwilling or slow to act. The reason for our disappointment is that we have not followed his instructions. It is as simple as that. You cannot ignore God’s wisdom and expect the blessing that it would bring.

A horrifying thing has happened: The prophets prophesy lies, the pastors manage according to their own ideas, and the people love it this way. But what will you do in the end (Jer 5:20-31)?
The leaders know the way of the LORD, the requirements of their God.” But with one accord they have broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds (Jer 5:5).
From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain;
prophets and pastors alike, all practice deceit.
They have treated the brokenness of God’s people as though it were not serious.
They say all will be well, things will be well, when they are not well (Jer 6:14).
They have not heeded God’s words. They rejected his instructions (Jer 6:19).
They don’t listen to him, but they walk in their own wisdom and their own inclinations (Jer 7:24).
Jeremiah worried,
To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed, so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it (Jer 6:10).
Jesus gave his disciples clear instructions about how he wanted his church to operate, and he showed them how to do it. The letters to the churches clarified some issues that were not covered clearly in the gospels. The early church applied Jesus’ instructions and had amazing success in reaching the world. However, once the church was successful, it gave up many of things that Jesus had instructed it to do, and replaced them with some human ideas about how it should operate.

Although, the human way of doing things has rarely given the church the success that it had when it complied with Jesus’ instructions, it has continued to ignore them and continued to follow human ideas about how it should function. Some of these human ways of operating have become so much part of the way the normal church operates that they now seem to be non-negotiable (idols). Most Christians would find it hard to imagine the church without them, but unless we give them up and choose to apply Jesus’ instructions for the church, we will not see the revival that we are longing for.

We make excuses for our lack of success, such as secularist thinking, materialistic culture or social media, but the reality is that sharing the gospel was much harder for the early church than it is for us. The reason for our failure is not due to the hard conditions that we face, but because we don’t apply Jesus’ instructions.

Several human constructs, which are contrary to Jesus’ instructions for the church, make it impossible for God to send revival to the western church. No prophets are challenging them, but these idols will need to be removed before we can experience the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

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