God has always warned the world of coming judgments in order that they might return to Him. You will find, if you read your Bible diligently, that God always precedes judgement with mercy and grace. Grace is a forerunner of judgement.
When we study the Old Testament, we find that the Israelites sought God, repented, and prayed when things were not going well, and God in His grace and mercy heard and answered their prayers. But in prosperous times they forgot God and sinned— time and time again.
He warned Noah of the coming flood (Genesis 6:13), Abraham and Lot of the future destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18: 17; 19:14), Jeremiah of the destruction of the temple and Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 25: 1–11), Jonah of the destruction of Nineveh (Jonah 1: 2; 3: 4), and Amos of the downfall of Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, and Israel (Amos 1–2).
Hosea warned Israel about her apostasy in her covenant relationship with God (Hosea 6: 4–10:15). The prophet Joel also warned the people to turn to God in repentance (Joel 1: 1–11). Various prophets were told in detail about the final events in connection with the captivities of the chosen people, and in every case the warnings were startlingly executed.
The Destruction of Jerusalem
The awful destruction of Jerusalem, in 70 A.D., which resulted in the extermination of a million Jews and captivity of multitudes more, was preceded by the offer of divine mercy at the hands of the Son of God Himself. When Christ came to plead with the people in Jerusalem, it was their day of grace; but they mocked and laughed at Him. He then said,
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37).
The Bible says that while Jesus was being led through the streets to His crucifixion, and in spite of the fact that He was suffering so terribly, His heart was filled with compassion for these women who were weeping for Him. He saw their tears and He must have felt their broken hearts. He turned to them and said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:38).
The Lord saw what would happen into the not too distant future, around 70-AD in only about 40 years, Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed by the Roman army under Titus in a very cruel and ruthless manner. Jesus saw the terrible things that these women and their children would soon experience. Before that, the Bible also makes it clear that Jesus wept for Jerusalem as He was returning to the city for the last time. Luke writes that:
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44 NKJV).
Forty years afterward, thousands of people begged that their lives might be spared, and eleven hundred thousand perished in that city. Those that survived fled Jerusalem to a town known as Pella on the eastern side of Jordan. The Temple was completely destroyed that not one single stone was left upon another exactly as Jesus prophesied.
In the course of that war, two million Jews were killed and one million were sold into captivity as slaves throughout the Roman Empire. The lesson to learn from is this: The people who gave heed to the words of Jesus saved their lives and those that didn’t lost theirs.
The Great Awakening in Britain
There is no more devastating judgment than war. Historians tell us that when God sent revival or a Great Awakening in Britain in the eighteenth century, He saved her from the bloodshed that had happened in France during the time of the French Revolution. Thousands of people repented of their sins and began to live holy lives, spreading a spiritual and social revival. It touched and changed approximately one million lives.
This awakening was truly a reformation of the heart. The impact that this Great Awakening through both George Whitefield and John Wesley had on this country and its people was unfathomable; it had far-reaching effects and lasted well over a hundred years. In four waves, it crossed the Atlantic and brought conversion to of 20% of the population in America. However, although Britain was spared mainly because of Wesley’s preaching, most of the great revivals in history came before the war, not during or after.
Great Awakening in America
The first great awakening in America preceded the Revolutionary War, which terribly devastated the cities and countryside of America. The Second Great Awakening preceded the Civil War, which was the most devastating war in America’s history.
In 1857-59 a great revival wave visited the United States, sweeping a half a million souls into the fountain of salvation. This revival swept over America in the east and on to the western cities, and over to the Pacific coast. It was God calling the nation to Himself. Immediately the terrible carnage of 1861–1865 the Civil War followed. Americans were baptized with the Holy Spirit in 1857, and in 1861, they were baptized in blood. It was a call of mercy preceding judgment.
Azusa and Welsh Revival
The Welsh Revival, which greatly impacted the whole world, but especially Europe, preceded World War I. In 1904 the Welsh revival began. It created almost desperate hunger worldwide for such blessing. In Germany the evangelicals organized conventions and prayer efforts. The cry was, “Lord do it Again.” The revival visualized was a repeat of the Wesley-Whitefield-Edwards awakenings. But God wanted to do a new thing and waited.
In 1904– 1908, just six years prior to World War I, God poured out His Holy Spirit at Azusa Street in fulfillment of the prophecies of Joel that the Holy Spirit would be poured out once again. This Pentecostal outpouring spread through Florence Crawford to the Pacific Northwest of the United States, to the Midwest through William Durham, and eventually to New York through Elder Sturdevant.
The following leaders came to the Azusa Street Mission and spread the Pentecostal message in individual states: G. B. Cashwell in North Carolina, Glen A. Cook in Indiana, C. H. Mason in Tennessee, Samuel Saell in Arizona, and Rachael Sizelove in Missouri. And R. E. McAlister took the message to Ottawa, Canada.
In 1907 T. B. Barratt, a Methodist Norwegian pastor held revival meetings in Oslo, which attracted international attention. Jonathan Paul from Germany came to those revival meetings and was convinced this was truly the work of the Holy Spirit. He began experimental services for the baptism in the Spirit, which drew a mixed multitude of wonder seekers, many of dubious religious stock. That same year he returned from Oslo to start revival meetings in the city of Kassel in Germany, the result of which was the formation of a German Pentecostal Denomination.
In 1908 T. B. Barratt, on tour in the United States during that time, took the message in Monkwearmouth, Sunderland in England, and the people were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
By 1909 the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was reaching the whole of Europe and spreading throughout the world. The message spread to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France, and Germany. However, things did not proceed well in Germany, and two experienced Pentecostal women brought from Norway to help went home disgusted.
The Berlin Declaration (Die Berliner Erklarung)
That same year in 1909 the revival prompted the evangelical churches in Germany to a meeting in Berlin to discuss the disputed manifestations of the Holy Spirit. They issued a statement, known as the Berlin declaration, a theological statement by fifty-six leading evangelical theologians that condemned the Pentecostal experience.
The declaration stated that the Pentecostal movement was “not from above, but from below,” and that speaking in tongues, healing miracles, and all manifestations of this revival were of the devil. This short document was merely assertive and contained not a single argument, scriptural or otherwise. Most German evangelicals, under threat of disfellowship, had to toe the line it laid down. Thus the Declaration rooted itself deeply and bore bitter fruit.
This history of speaking in tongues from the beginning of the first day of the twentieth century is full of spiritual significance. It has produced the greatest soul-saving witness in the entire Christian age. However, the evangelical world conjured up a real fear of tongues, and leaders massed their weight against it. That was tragic and had far-reaching consequences.
“Enlightenment” and the Two World Wars
What happened after that is either a coincidence or something else entirely. The witness of the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives was for the most part silenced and God’s Word became a human theory rather than the living, breathing revelation of the eternal Triune God.
Since then, Western thinking has been dominated by secular and godless theories. Satan has planted agents in the highest educational establishments and even theological seminaries. Everywhere the effects have been frightening. The biblical grounds of morality are being destroyed. Without any inner light each decade ever since has brought a worse wave of heathenism, evil for evil’s sake destruction, and even murder for the sheer pleasure of it, both by governments and devil inspired individuals.
Anti-Christian concepts have destroyed the spiritual backbone of nation after nation, beginning with Europe, where the Bible-doubting cult of intellectualism was hatched during the eighteenth century with the so-called Higher Criticism or Enlightenment, which spawned the evils of revolution and war.
Along with the higher criticism movement that had destroyed the concept of divine revelation, this event spiritually prepared the way for Hitler and the Nazis. Subsequently, the German church and most of Europe gave the world the bloodiest century in the history of humankind.
The hills and valleys of this continent are still stained with crimson from more than 50 million lives lost in two world wars and a set of related conflicts. Most historians find it hard to believe that Europe will ever fully recover from this setback.
God had sent revival, but it was rejected by millions of biblical Christians. Apostolic-style revival made its own way mainly without evangelical encouragement. When George Jeffreys, the greatest, and earliest of British Pentecostal evangelists went through the United Kingdom like a flame of fire, warnings against him went out from almost every church pulpit.
In Britain second largest city Birmingham, ten thousand people received Christ, and one thousand testimonies of healing were received, yet a leading free churchman tried to organize a counter-attraction against him. That position only changed when the era of the charismatic renewal began in the 1950s and ‘60s. The nations, which could have been swept by revival if the moving of the Spirit in this new way had been accepted by evangelicals, were swept by war.
The East African Revival
Another example is from Uganda East Africa. A revival movement, which began forty years before Idi Amin’s reign, which revolutionized the lives of many barren Christians, had swept the country. It was called the East African Revival and followed a time of spiritual dryness in the Ugandan Church.
The movement began in 1929 when an English missionary doctor Joe Church, sat physically and spiritually exhausted with an African friend, Simeoni Nsibambi, a government official. A terrible famine had swept Rwanda and thousands had died. They together with many others, lamented the tragedy of a lukewarm, nominal Christian church that seemed as powerless to energize its own members as it was to evangelize the untouched tribes beyond Lake Muhasi.
But something stirred in the doctor’s heart as they sat under a tree on Namirembe Hill while on holiday in Kampala. They spent three days reading the Bible together. Patricia St. John tells the story in Breath of Life:
He prayed passionately for the scattering of the mists of superstition and sin, and the shining forth of the light of the Gospel, and the site of the beautiful spreading acacia tree seemed like holy ground to be claimed for God.’ Soon others realized that their lives had changed. Their fervour spread; the hills and valleys echoed to gospel hymns. Whole communities were told the New Testament message by small groups of believers. Many people saw visions and came crying to the churches. Converts returned stolen property and forgot old feuds.
One of those whose lives were changed was Festo Kivengere. The revival reached him in 1941. An element that stamped the East African Revival as a genuine New Testament experience was its ethical aspect. In every great move of the Spirit there has been understanding of the nature of sin. Mistakes and excesses there may have been, but ethical standards have leaped upwards and restitution been freely made. Willing admissions, too, have been made for wrongs that were committed.
James Katarikawe (a Ugandan who studied Theology, Anthropology, and History at Oak Hill Theological College, London) in a thesis on the Rise and Progress of the East African Revival Movement wrote:
As the Holy Spirit began to work in many people’s hearts, there was deep conviction of sin. Many spent sleepless nights as they began to realize for the first time their spiritual destitution; many hidden sins were repented of, and hypocrisies revealed. Nothing could escape the searching light of the Holy Spirit.
He mentioned one big lesson that came out of the revival.
We have come to learn from all this that where Jesus is, there is no room for tribalism, or denominationalism: all colours of people look beautiful and racialism has no room either. They are all one in Christ Jesus.
Yet, not withstanding this flourishing time, a problem continued to exist. The churches found their Lord but not one another. One Ugandan minister said, “The wonders of God were attributed to the Holy Spirit by one group but to the devil by another group. The result was quarrels and divisions.” When Idi Amin became president, he was able to exploit these differences between believers in Uganda.
Revival in Kenya
When revival broke out in Kenya under the leadership of Bible teacher Derek Prince, Kenya was spared whereas Uganda and other countries bordering Kenya experienced serious problems. According to Derek Prince, Kenya enjoyed more freedom to worship God in the way a person is led, than the other neighbouring states.
To the south, in Tanzania strong communist influence brought about various limitations of political problems and limitations of political freedom. Religion—and especially Christianity was being suppressed. Open-air evangelistic meetings were not allowed unless one has a valid permit from the authorities.
To the west, in Uganda, the military government which was led by General Amin, a Moslem was urging all religious bodies to become ecumenical. At one time he made a mixture of worship–Moslem prayers were conducted in a Christian church, and the General himself attended the prayers.
Many thousands were deeply affected by this great move of the Spirit in East Africa. This was part of God’s preparation for Idi Amin’s persecution that was yet to come. God did not allow the Ugandan Christians to suffer under Amin’s satanic regime without spiritual weapons to defend themselves.
When you examine the history of wars and persecution in every nation, the hearts of people will have to be prepared for the conflict just ahead that would determine their eternal destiny.
What’s the Main Lesson?
True even in our time, mercy rejected means judgment, and on a corresponding scale. In all of the history of God’s world, there has always been first the offer of divine mercy, then judgment following.The prophets ceased not day and night to faithfully warn Israel, but their tears and entreaties for the most part proved in vain. As Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke puts it,
These prophets of Israel often spoke to the whole nation. The New Testament prophet does not. The Hebrew prophets, before Christ, spoke to the nation as God’s people, and the Christian prophet speaks to the church as God’s people. No New Testament figure after John the Baptist went as Jeremiah or Amos did with a commission to address national affairs.
In the time of the kings of Israel some prophets, such as Nathan, were retained in some kind of official capacity for this purpose of national guidance. Samuel and the charismatic judges acted as national leaders, but there is nothing like this in the Christian dispensation.
The voice of God to the nations today comes through the whole body of the church. What Isaiah was to Israel, the whole church is to Britain, Germany, or America. The church’s existence, way of life, and principles of service should be a constant challenge to the ways of nations.
The world is at a tipping point by virtually every measure. We are now witnessing a worldwide political, moral and social bankruptcy where America has become an empire of lies, and where ‘truth-tellers’ are guilty of treason.
And so, as we anticipate the coming revival, which is already assuming rapidly world-wide proportions, we wonder if judgment will follow mercy, as other times. And judgment in proportion to the mercy extended. The good news is, God is holding up His justice because of His mercy and because a Savoir died.
It is only by grace that we are saved, and that is why Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (see Genesis 6:8). No one was ever saved in any other way other than by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.