Why does revival tarry?
As far as God is concerned, He is not to blame because He has appointed for us seasons for the former and latter rains and seasons for the harvests (Jer.5: 24). Alas, no harvest is in the offing and the appointed harvesting seasons are almost past. But, God is still merciful and longsuffering.
Since there has been no latter rain, the fields have not yet brought forth their fruits in the seasons appointed by God. The rain season has to precede the harvest season. In the absence of the latter rain, the earth has become arid and the fields have begun to wither away instead of blossoming. Oh, the harvests are gone. In the event of failure of the seasonal rain in a year, there will be drought everywhere. And if it continues to fail in succession, this will result in colossal loss to the farmers in terms of both plants and crops, finally telling upon the economy of the country as a whole consequent upon famine, unemployment, etc.
You have to pay a heavy price if revival tarries. The strenuous labours put in by God’s labourers in His Vineyard, i.e. ploughing, sowing, watering, weeding, etc. would be in vain, because the green fields which were about to blossom as a result of the latter rain have withered. A nation will plunge into turmoil and violence; sins and iniquities will abound in such a gigantic proportion that the wrath of God is poured out on that nation as God destroyed the land of Sodom and Gomorrah “because their sin is very grievous”(Gen.18: 20).
If revival breaks out, there would be such an abundance of divine blessings, both material and spiritual, especially in the lives of the children of God that, on seeing their prosperity, the other people would glorify God. This world is to be blessed by God only through you but God has withheld the blessings due to the world. If revival tarries, it is none but you to blame. Heed to the prophetic message from God by His prophet Jeremiah who bewailed, “your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you”(Jer.5: 25). God’s eyes are upon all your ways; they are not hid from His face, neither is your iniquity hid from His eyes (Jer.16: 17).
Why does revival tarry? Why our prayers for revival have not yet been answered? Is God to blame for this? Is the Lord’s hand shortened, that He cannot save our nations from peril and disaster? Is His ear heavy, that He cannot hear our prayer for revival? No! Then, who is to blame if your nation is lost? It is your iniquities – the iniquities of the chosen people of God –, which have separated you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear (Is.59: 1-2).
The dictionary meaning of the word “iniquity” is “want of equity or fairness; injustice; wickedness; crime”. The word of God speaks not only about sins but also about iniquities. In this message, I confine myself to a few iniquities, which may not look grievous in our eyes. But these are the very iniquities, which led to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah as prophesied by Ezekiel. They are pride, fullness of bread, abundance of idleness and failure to strengthen the hands of the poor and needy (Eze.16: 49).
“Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Pro.16: 18).
Pride is the most horrible sin and iniquity abhorred by God. This is the very sin, which brought down the archangel Lucifer.
Prophet Obadiah prophesied:
“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down saith the Lord” (verses 3-4).
No doubt, by His abundant grace and mercy, God has made us sit together in heavenly places with Christ and our habitation is high. Though it is high, we have to hide ourselves in the clefts of the Rock of Ages. Dear minister of God, while God uses you mightily by signs and wonders, you ought to retreat to the clefts of the Rock of ages quite often. Don’t stand on the holy Rock of Ages to be seen by others but take refuge in the clefts. Don’t exalt yourself as the eagle by allowing others to praise you but humble yourself under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt you in due time. Don’t allow others to flatter you and, instead, accept valid criticism and words of open rebuke and warning from other members of the body of Christ.
Nowadays, this iniquity is manifest amongst many servants of God whose hearts are haughty that they would not be receptive to the correction and warning from the other members of the body of Christ whom God has set as watchmen unto the House of God. They would tend to think that they are infallible. They thus lack humility and simplicity, which are in Christ Jesus. As the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, their minds are also being corrupted by the same serpent “from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Cor.11: 3).
You may be too proud of certain Bible doctrines that you look down upon other fellow Christians belonging to other churches. You judge them saying that they have not obeyed certain commandments of God as stipulated by such doctrines, whereas you throw to wind the basic commandment of God. What is His commandment? “…This is His commandment, that we should believe on the Name of His Son Jesus, and love one another as he gave us commandment” (I Jn.3; 23). “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Gal.5: 14). If those, who overstress some doctrines of the Bible, do not “love thy neighbour as thyself” nor the Christian brotherhood, then they would be transgressors of the whole Bible.
You may be too proud of your self-imposed holiness that you either magnify the faults or sins of other children of God or criticize them passing judgment over them. You may go on adding certain “do’s and don’ts” to the existing lists of Old Testament commandments and laws and thus “bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Matt.23: 4). While doing so, you merely look at their outward appearances and judge them, whereas God looks at their hearts. You yourself appear outwardly righteous unto men but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matt.23: 28).
You may make a boast of certain supernatural experiences you have had in the Spirit realm and insist that others too have the same experiences. Please note that there are diversities of operations by the Holy Spirit but it is the same God, which worketh all in all (I Cor.12: 6).
The great apostle Paul did not glory in his personality, his marvelous ministry and the visions and revelations given by God. He rather preferred to describe himself as “one born out of due time”, as “the least of the apostles not meet to be called an apostle”, as one who was “less than the least of all saints”, as the chief of sinners (I Cor.15: 8,9, Eph.3: 8, I Tim.1: 15).
Let us turn to the book of Acts. When Cornelius fell down at the feet of Peter and worshipped him, Peter said, “I myself also am a man” (10:26). Paul and Barnabas, when glorified by the people of Lystra who had even brought oxen and garlands for sacrifice before them, told the plain truth: “Why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you” (14:8-15).
Fullness of bread
You may say that you have been saved and filled with the Spirit of God. You feel quite content with your own salvation and blessings received from God from time to time. Alas, you have become so selfish that you have no concern for the lost souls nor for the hapless ones who have not received similar blessings from God and that you don’t bother to share your joy and good things with others. You have also become so selfish that you have not shared the material blessings received from God, with the other members of the universal body of Christ who were needy and poor.
Abundance of idleness
The spirit of idleness is very active nowadays amongst God’s people with the result that they go on postponing the things pertaining to God and His Kingdom, in preference to their own affairs. So sluggish are they that enough time is not spent in intercessory prayers. Neither do they take pains to preach the gospel nor do they engage themselves in the King’s business in any manner.
We should not be slothful in our King’s business but be fervent in spirit serving Him (Rom.12: 11). Our King’s business is to be done today itself with utmost urgency as we do not know what would be in store for us tomorrow. Let us not give sleep to our eyes or slumber to our eyelids. Please read Proverbs 6:4 – 11 in this regard.
Strengthening the hand of poor and needy
In many churches, emphasis is laid only on praying for the sick, and not on helping physically the poor and needy. The parable of the good Samaritan constantly reminds us that we need to help others physically, especially strangers. The Levite and the priest, the special people chosen and separated by God for His service, chose to pass by on the other side, although they saw the wounded man (Luke 10:31-32). It appears that these two servants of God were so busy with the affairs of the Lord’s temple that they had no time to spare for helping the wounded man who was merely an individual. The Holy Spirit is now reminding these churches, where emphasis is laid only on the aspect of divine healing and of the gifts of the Spirit, of the words uttered by Jesus, “Go and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37).
You may shout at the top of your voice to say, “Lord, I love you”, but at the same time, you may pass over a leper or a beggar standing at the gate of your church or your house. It is nothing but sheer hypocrisy. How can you love God for whom you don’t see with your eyes when you don’t love the poor (created in the image of the unseen God) whom you see with your eyes?
Are you taking care of the beggars, destitute etc. who visit your houses and churches? Sometimes, the angels of God also visit our houses and churches in the guise of strangers or beggars (Heb.13: 2). Do you minister to the poor saints in your church? “…Whoso hath this world’s good and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (I Jn.3: 17-18).
Why cannot we invite the poor and lepers to our churches on Sundays, and minister to them by feeding, clothing, etc? The churches representing the Son of God are supposed to manifest His love by deeds to the outside world. Let the strangers, the social outcasts, the downtrodden flock to the churches of God, not merely for hearing the long sermons but also for food and shelter so that they can practically comprehend the love of God through the body of Christ. If you have not taken care of the poor and needy, the Lord would tell you “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat…” (Matt.25: 31-46). The parable of Lazarus and the rich man also warns us against leading a life of self-indulgence and neglecting services to the poor and needy.