HOW TO STEWARD A REVIVAL
The stories of what god did on the Hebrides Isles in the revival of 1969 – 1972 became part of the annuals of revival history. Many years after the revival had ended, a man journeyed to the Hebrides in search of its spiritual history. He came across some of the “Fathers of the Revival.” Just six of them that fathered the revival were still alive. They told him that they would meet occasionally, late at night to recount the stories of what God did. The stories would cause them to weep.
Mid way through their time with this man, one of the men looked at the man and declared, “The reason that the Hebridean Revival failed was this: The leadership didn’t know what to do with it. We didn’t know how to structure it. We didn’t know how to prepare a wineskin for what God was doing. And we faulted at that.”Finally this elderly man reached up toward the younger man and grabbed him by the collar of his shirt. He peered into his eyes and declared something that continues to resonate in the chambers of the heart, “Son, when you get it, whatever you do, don’t let go of it.”
In other words the fathers of the Hebridean Revival they didn’t know how to steward the Revival.
God’s Presence as Fire
I shared with you last Sunday how the one key element that repeatedly marked God’s Presence with God’s people was fire.
- When God appeared to Moses in the wilderness He appeared in the burning bush.
- When God led Israel in the wilderness, He appeared as a tower of fire.
- When God set up home amongst Israel, He came with fire.
- When God came in Pentecost, He came with fire.
- Fire also is synonymous with revivals.
During the Azusa Street Revival in 1906, The LA Fire Department was called on numerous occasions to put out a ‘fire’, which people in the neighbourhood saw on the roof of the building when meetings were taking place. On their arrival the Fire Department discovered it was no ordinary fire but rather the flames where the visual manifestation of Holy Spirit who was so manifestly present at these meetings.
The Coming of Fire in the Bible
If fire is a symbol of God’s Presence with the people of God and also revival does the Bible show us anywhere of the coming of the Spirit and how we steward the fire when it falls.
After giving the priests the instructions about the temple set up, and the priestly duties, and the responsibilities of the entire people of Israel, Leviticus 9 describes how the people of Israel come to the tabernacle on lift off day:
- The priest being to offer sin offerings
- The people begin to offer their peace offerings
Then we read:
1 It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel. 2 And he said to Aaron, “Take for yourself a young bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the Lord. 3 And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying, ‘Take a kid of the goats as a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering, 4 also a bull and a ram as peace offerings, to sacrifice before the Lord, and a grain offering mixed with oil; for today the Lord will appear to you.’ ”
5 So they brought what Moses commanded before the tabernacle of meeting. And all the congregation drew near and stood before the Lord. 6 Then Moses said, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded you to do, and the glory of the Lord will appear to you.” 7 And Moses said to Aaron, “Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the Lord commanded.”
8 Aaron therefore went to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. 9 Then the sons of Aaron brought the blood to him. And he dipped his finger in the blood, put it on the horns of the altar, and poured the blood at the base of the altar. 10 But the fat, the kidneys, and the fatty lobe from the liver of the sin offering he burned on the altar, as the Lord had commanded Moses. 11 The flesh and the hide he burned with fire outside the camp.
12 And he killed the burnt offering; and Aaron’s sons presented to him the blood, which he sprinkled all around on the altar. 13 Then they presented the burnt offering to him, with its pieces and head, and he burned them on the altar. 14 And he washed the entrails and the legs, and burned them with the burnt offering on the altar.
15 Then he brought the people’s offering, and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and killed it and offered it for sin, like the first one. 16 And he brought the burnt offering and offered it according to the prescribed manner. 17 Then he brought the grain offering, took a handful of it, and burned it on the altar, besides the burnt sacrifice of the morning.
18 He also killed the bull and the ram as sacrifices of peace offerings, which were for the people. And Aaron’s sons presented to him the blood, which he sprinkled all around on the altar, 19 and the fat from the bull and the ram—the fatty tail, what covers the entrails and the kidneys, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver; 20 and they put the fat on the breasts. Then he burned the fat on the altar; 21 but the breasts and the right thigh Aaron waved as a wave offering before the Lord, as Moses had commanded.
22 Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
So in verse 24 we read how the fire of God falls. Now God had given Moses some pretty key instructions.
I want you to see that God lights the fire on the altar, like He lights the fire of revival. Revival is always initiated by God.
I want you to note this. Back up three chapters. God gave Moses some pretty specific instructions about what to do when the fire falls.
9 … the fire must be kept burning on the altar. …12 The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 13 The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.
What does God tell Moses to do once the fire has fallen? To make sure that the fire doesn’t go out.
God lit the fire on the altar, it was the priests responsibility to keep the fire that God lit burning.
How do wee keep the fire of revival burning once the fire has fallen?
1. Fire Fell on the Altar
Bill Johnson one noted:
When the Lord touched me in 1987, that move of God would come and go over the next seven years. I didn’t realize it was a priest responsibility to keep the fire burning. After he touched me [again] in 1995 I just purposed in my heart I would try to discover what that looked like, … to be the sacrifice … that the fire of God continues to falls on.
What does Bill mean by this? I think he is talking about Hebrews 12:1:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
I think Bill had the Leviticus and Hebrews passages in mind:
What was it that the fire of God fell on in the Leviticus passage? In ancient times, sacrifices of burnt offerings to a deity were placed on an altar. Altars were erected where the name of the deity was honoured, and where the presence of deity and his blessings were expected to appear.
Another aspect about altars is that altar stood raised on a mound of earth, higher than its surrounding furniture. In fact the Latin word ‘alta’, from which we get the altar, means “high.”
The Hebrew word for high place is bamah—mountaintop, open-air altars on elevated knolls near towns.
The term bamah can mean back, hill, height, ridge or cultic high place.
High places played a major role in Israelite worship:
- Genesis 12:6–8 where Abram built altars to the Lord at Shechem and Hebron.
- Abraham built an altar in the region of Moriah and was willing to sacrifice his son there (Genesis 22:1–2).
- Jacob set up a stone pillar to the Lord at Bethel (Genesis 28:18–19),
- Moses met God on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:1–3).
- Joshua set up stone pillars after crossing the Jordan (Joshua 4:20) and considered this a high place of worship because the Israelites “came up from” the Jordan onto higher ground.
- The high places were visited regularly by the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 7:16).
What does this speak to us?
If we want the fire to fall out lives need to be a “high place” for God.
Our lives need to be consecrated to God:
Con = with
Secrated = sacred
When our High places are Low Places
Increasingly as you journey through the story of the Bible you will see that God speaks against the high places. When the Israelites first entered the promised land, they were told to destroy the high places (Num 33:52).
52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places
When our high our places have pagan overtones.
The problem with the high places was that they became synchronistic. They worshipped Yahweh and Baal, or Yahweh and Ashtoreth.
Today we also become synchronistic in our faith when:
- We mix our worship = Baal + Yahweh = One piece of the world + One piece of astrology, money, status, sex, status + God on Sundays + meditation + Buddha (syncretism)
- When we worship to get God to do something approach (manipulation) = When I do this God will pour out rains on the land
- The I owe u to get you to do something for me = (works)
- When I worship you on my terms verses come to my temple (Independence)
We desecrate our altars when they are about getting, not giving.
De = do the opposite of
Secrated = sacred
The altar is the plce of Lordship.
2. Fire fell on the sacrifice
But it was not just the altar the fire of God fell on. God’s fire fell on the sacrifices on the altar.
24 the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.
Then he shall offer from it his offering, as an offering made by fire to the Lord. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, 15 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall remove; 16 and the priest shall burn them on the altar as food, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma; all the fat is the Lord’s.
17 ‘This shall be a perpetual[b] statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall eat neither fat nor blood.’ ”
In Biblical times when an animal was offered up to God, the part of the sacrifice that was placed on the altar was the fat.
Health-wise the experts tell us to eat trim meat. Meet with a low fat quantity. Fat, though, is the tastiest part of the food.
In Hebrew thought the word for fat (cheleb) became metaphorically to mean “the best”.
Bring your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land. (Genesis 45:18)
And in this mountain
The Lord of hosts will make for all people
A feast of choice [cheleb] pieces,
A feast of wines on the lees,
Of fat things full of marrow,
Of well-refined wines on the lees. (Isaiah 25:6).
Here’s the point. God wants the best. Our first portion. The choicest part of our lives. Not the scraps.
Why? He is looking for His image in us. It is only His image in us that attracts fire.
The widow’s mite
1And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”
What was it about the widow’s mite that excited Jesus? It was a gift comparable with Himself. He saw Himself in her.
Our devotion to the Lord has got to cost us.
- Giving up of your time
- Fasting = I want you more than I want my food
3. Fire fell on confession
The Altar was a place of confession to God.
7 And Moses said to Aaron, “Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the Lord commanded.” (Leviticus 9:7)
God loves raw honesty.
Come confess honesty to God. It was the place of honesty.
Adam hid himself in the trees. The trees symbolized self righteousness.
Jesus hung naked on a tree. Bared his soul.
Jacob wrestled with God (Genesis 32:22-31).
22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” [He Will Supplant, A Heeler, One Who Trips Up or Takes Hold By The Heel.] he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel [He Will Be Prince With God. He Has Become A Receptacle In Which God Can Be Received And Retained], because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
God is asking, “Are you still Jacob, the deceiver, or are you ready to become Israel, the person of conscience?”
God could only bless Him when the foundation (character) of his life as in place.
I feel afraid. I feel undone. I feel ashamed.
God wants to meet us there, but will only meet us there when we are honest.
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.
Jacob asks God His name, but actually got a blessing. When we seek the Face of God and not the gift we get the gift.
Other Sermons In This Series
December 10, 2019