Many believe that we are now in the Last Days described in the Book of Revelation. In that apocalyptic letter we do not see “revival” taking place, but instead very difficult times for the world. Yet some are hoping and praying for “revival” in America. Of course we should be praying, but for what should we be praying?
I for one—with my background in world missions—am convinced that it is no longer the time for “revival” in America. The great revivals of the past in Great Britain and in America have come and gone. The predominantly God-fearing culture of those days has also disappeared. Today atheist and “freedom from religion” groups are relentless in opposing and removing every sign of Christianity in public areas. Satanists are also becoming more and more vocal. A group of Satanists from New York wants to put a 7-foot statue of Satan at the Oklahoma state Capitol (news article).
Morality in “Christian” America has plummeted so precipitously such that Rev. Billy Graham declared that “America is just as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah ever were.” But I do not think that prayer will turn the tide of history for America. To put it simply, it is too late. We are approaching the moment of the Second Coming of the Messiah, and “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8) In the mainstream culture of the West today, living together apart from marriage, adultery, and divorce have become virtually our way of life. The mayor of the fourth largest city in America is openly gay and married. The Democrat currently running for governor in Texas rose to prominence because of her pro-abortion position. She will not win, but her candidacy in a state like conservative, red state Texas is an alarming sign of the times.
Most recently the city of Houston, the largest in Texas, actually subpoenaed five local pastors for their speeches and email correspondence regarding their activity opposing the very liberal Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. The city will likely not prevail in this instance, but a precedent has been set and likely to be emulated by other groups of God-haters and Christian-haters in the United States.
“You will be hated by all nations”
Preparing us for the last days, Jesus said:
Matthew 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
We personally do not see revival coming here, but rather many turning away from the faith. Billy Graham’s son Franklin, commenting on the hate which he now sees directed against Christians, wondered publicly if the end times are near and we are in the last hours before Christ’s return.
An immutable cycle
What we are witnessing now in the West and in America in particular is an inevitable cycle we see repeated in the Old Testament with God’s people Israel. After the Lord graciously revealed Himself to His people, the first time in Exodus delivering them from slavery in Egypt, the people acknowledged Him as God and followed Him out of Egypt. But almost immediately at the Red Sea and in the wilderness the backsliding began with murmuring and rebellion against the One who had saved them with an outstretched hand from Egypt.
After the forty years of wandering in the wilderness the Israelites invaded and possessed the Promised Land of Canaan, the Lord graciously accompanying them with visible might and power. After Joshua led them in mostly victorious campaigns against the Canaanites, they succeeded in possessing the Promised Land. But afterwards the Israelites began to backslide from the Lord during the era of the Judges, and then suffering defeat at the hands of their enemies as a consequence. Eventually they repented and cried out to the Lord at which time the Lord would send someone a “judge” who would deliver them. This cycle was repeated time after time in the book of Judges. Yes, there was a Golden Era under King David, but it turned out to be only temporary. We see the cycle of revival, backsliding, painful correction, repentance, and subsequent deliverance repeated in I Kings and II Kings ad nauseam.
The pattern is a result of human nature. When times are difficult, a “Christian” nation will turn to the Lord in repentance. He is gracious to forgive us and deliver us. We will experience a season of blessing on earth. But with prosperity the following generation of “Christians”—who never endured suffering and then witnessed the Lord’s miraculous deliverance—will inevitably take for granted God’s gracious blessing. They will inevitably backslide, focusing on the material blessing and no longer on the Author of the blessing.
We in the West and in America in particular have arrived near the end of our “cycle.” We have enjoyed the greatest measure of God’s material blessing in the history of the world, and have come to take it for granted—even to the point of denying the very existence of (or in some cases even hating) the One who delivered and blessed us and who called us to live a life of righteousness.
But since we are in the end times, the cycle will not be repeated again. The terrible events prophesied in Revelation will be played out in full color in the lives our children. And depending on your view of the timing of the rapture, we may still be on earth when those dreadful events begin to unfold. We have had our chance, and now the Lord’s focus in terms of evangelism and mission has shifted elsewhere.
Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
We cannot continue to mock God. Eventually our nation will reap what we have sown. Our children, now adults and future leaders, have been educated in universities where an overwhelming majority of liberal professors have inculcated values in them which to varying degrees are based on lies from the mainstream culture.
It may be too late to pray for revival. We will reap what we have sown for over an entire generation. It is an immutable law. And God’s patience is not unlimited.
What then should we pray for?
Let us pray in accordance with the times we see around us—as Jesus taught us.
Luke 10:2. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Let us pray that we the Church will go into all the world to preach the gospel of the kingdom of God and to disciple all nations, especially the nations who have never heard the gospel. There are billions of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and idol-worshippers—the majority of the world’s population—who have never heard. They must hear the gospel at least once. We are now seeing that Hindus in India are especially open to the gospel when we present it as Jesus and his disciples did in the gospels and in Acts. It is now their time—the time for these “pagan” nations to come to know our Lord Jesus.
The time of America and the West has come and gone.
We in the West by comparison have been flooded with the gospel message. Hucksters have even perverted the gospel by luring hopeful crowds to their exciting meetings with promises of God’s material blessings and success in this life—often in return for a generous “seed offering” in the plate as it passes by. The world sees through these Elmer Gantry scams and has rejected the truth altogether. At the opposite end of this spectrum are the churches in which there is little evidence of the Living God, but only dead religion. And of course there are some churches in between these two extremes whose decisions are disappointing—like spending enormous resources to keep saved believers at home happy and content while ignoring relatively speaking the far greater priority of mission to those in the Third World who never heard and who are so receptive when hearing the gospel presented in a biblical fashion. Thus the Church itself is partly responsible for this hardening in “Christian” America and in the post-Christian West.
But it is all according with God’s timetable during these Last Days before the Return of the Messiah Jesus Christ.
Not that we should stop preaching the gospel in America, where of course not everyone has heard. But the results of prayer for “revival” and evangelism in the West will be only commensurate with the gleaning which follows the main harvest to ensure that no one whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be left out. In America and the West the main harvest has come and gone.
I hope I am wrong in this, and that it is not too late for America to repent. If “revival” indeed breaks out, I will be amazed at His wonderful patience and mercy. But in the meantime I will focus my attention on the Lord’s harvest field outside of the West.
John 4:35 I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.