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THE GOD OF REVIVAL

(SERMON NUMBER 14 ON REVIVAL)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, November 2, 2014

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1-3).


The people of Israel were in a bad condition. They were afraid and sorrowful. But the prophet prayed for God to restore them. He reminded God of what He did for them in the past. He asked God to do it again. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What He did in the past He can do again today. Thus, the prophet reminded God,

“When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:3).

From this text we see three things.

I. First, the presence of God is our only hope.

Isaiah saw this when he prayed, in verse one, “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens and come down” (Isaiah 64:1). A little earlier he prayed for God to “Look down from heaven” (Isaiah 63:15). But his prayers grew. He began by asking God to look down. But now he cries out, “come down.” Now he prays for God to tear the sky in two – and come down from Heaven to help His people.

Christ opened the way for us to come to God. He did not lift the curtain of the Temple. No! He tore it in two, from the top to the bottom. So the way to God was left open forever! Christ went up through the open heavens into paradise! And through the open heaven the Holy Spirit descended on the church at Pentecost.

We should pray for the Spirit of God to come down to us again! Today let us pray with all our hearts for God to come down and be present among us! My long-time pastor at the Chinese church was Dr. Timothy Lin. Dr. Lin said,

      In the Old Testament times the [requirement] for God’s people to be blessed was to have God’s presence...
      A good example is Isaac. During his [time] in the land of the Philistines he was able to reap a hundredfold amidst racial discrimination and persecution – because of God’s presence... Even the king of the Philistines said to him, “We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee” (Genesis 26:28)...
      The same was true of Joseph. Having been sold to a foreign land as a slave...and unjustly imprisoned, Joseph was ultimately able to throw away his prison [clothes] for fine linen and rule over the whole land of Egypt. The [only] reason for such a dramatic outcome was that God’s presence was with him. “The Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper” (Genesis 39:23)...
      The importance of having God’s presence became even more evident in the Early Church period...the secret of church growth during the Early Church period was God’s presence, and the work of the Holy Spirit was sure evidence of His presence. The Church of the last days must have the presence of God if she wants to grow, or all efforts will be futile (Timothy Lin, Ph.D., The Secret of Church Growth, FCBC, 1992, pp. 2-6).

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down...” (Isaiah 64:1).

The presence of God was with Moses – and God freed His people from slavery in Egypt. The presence of God was with them as they wandered through the wilderness. He was there in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire that led them on their way. When “God with us” was written on Israel’s banner, they conquered from sea to sea. But when they grieved God they became a feeble nation. They were taken into Babylonia as slaves. God’s presence was Israel’s glory. But without God’s presence they could do nothing.

These are dark and terrible days. Our churches are weak. Our preachers are powerless. We are here in the heart of this great and wicked city – this dark and pagan Sodom of the Western world! The very forces of Hell have done their worst to stop us. But God was with us! Now our church building is paid – which took a miracle! God was with us and now these sermons go out on the Internet to 80,000 people every month! God was with us. But now we must bring in many young people and build up the church. You say, “It seems impossible.” Yes, I know the feeling. But that feeling comes from our carnal nature and from Satan. We must remember what God did for us when He saved our church building. And, young people, you must pray as you have never prayed before, for the presence of Almighty God in our evangelism, and in our services!

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down...” (Isaiah 64:1).

The presence of God is our only hope! No one will stay. No one will be converted. No one will become a strong member of our church – unless God comes down from Heaven in our midst!

II. Second, the presence of God creates surprises.

The text says, “When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down.” The modern versions translate “terrible” as “awesome.” I don’t care for that word because it has been worn out by overuse. It might be better to think of this as “surprising things that we looked not for.” The Israelites often said, “Thou art the God that doest wonders” (Psalm 77:14).

Do you think that the Israelites expected to walk through the Red Sea, with the waters heaped up on both sides? Yet they did – and the Egyptians chasing them were drowned when the waters came back together. Do you think they expected their camp in the wilderness to be lit every night by lights better than our electric ones? Yet it was lit by a flaming column every night. When they were hungry did they expect to eat manna from Heaven? When they were thirsty did they expect water to suddenly gush out of a rock? When they marched around Jericho did they expect the walls of that city to fall down when they blew a ram’s horn and shouted? No, the history of Israel is filled with terrible, awe-inspiring things like that “which we looked not for” when God came down.

Whoever expected God to come down in the person of Christ? Whoever expected that He would die on the Cross “the just for the unjust,” to bring us to Heaven? (I Peter 3:18). Whoever thought that those frightened Disciples, hiding in a locked room, would take the Gospel of Christ throughout the Roman world? Whoever thought that a little, poorly armed island, led by an old man who had to use a cane, would battle Hitler and his mighty army – and win? Whoever thought that the Jews, scattered throughout the world, would return to Israel after two thousand years in exile? Whoever thought that tiny nation of Israel could stand against a sea of fanatical Muslims for more than sixty years? Whoever thought that a few Chinese Christians would go on for more than half a century under extreme persecution from Mao Tse Tung and his Red Guards? Whoever thought that from their little “house churches” would spring the greatest revival in the history of the world? Whoever thought that a great ingathering of souls would come to half naked, dope smoking Hippies in the late 1960s and early 70s? Whoever thought that our church would survive the worst church split I have ever heard of? Whoever thought that thirty-nine people could raise sixteen thousand dollars every month for twenty years to pay for this building? Whoever thought that God would send me the most wonderful pastor’s wife in all the world? Whoever thought I would have two strong sons with me in church every Sunday? Whoever thought God would send us a man with two Ph.D.s, and a medical doctor, to help lead our church? And whoever, in their wildest dreams, would have thought that my poor, old defeated and depressed mother would have become an outstanding Christian at the age of eighty?

“When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down...” (Isaiah 64:3).

When God comes down He does surprising things that no one expects!

My God, how wonderful Thou art,
Thy majesty how bright;
How beautiful Thy mercy seat
In depths of burning light,
In depths of burning light!

How wonderful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be;
Thy endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awful purity,
And awful purity!
   (“My God, How Wonderful Thou Art” by Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863).

I am giving you some of Spurgeon’s sermon on Isaiah’s words this evening. I am just using his outline and a few of his thoughts. The great “Prince of Preachers” said,

When God comes down among the people He does things we did not look for...He can save the most obstinate, and bring opposers to the feet of Jesus. [Pray] for Him to do so (C. H. Spurgeon, “Divine Surprises,” MTP, volume XXVI, Pilgrim Publications, 1972 reprint, p. 298).

III. Third, the presence of God overcomes great problems and obstacles.

“When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:3).

That is a wonderful phrase, “the mountains flowed down at thy presence.”

When God came down to Israel, powerful enemies, that towered over them like great mountains, were conquered, and these mountains came down because of God’s presence. When the Holy Spirit comes down in revival, hardened hearts will flow down at God’s presence! We have some people among us with hearts as hard as rocks. We pray for them, we preach to them, but nothing happens. It seems that they will never be converted. But when God comes down, the hardest hearts will be broken. They will suddenly feel their sins. They will suddenly see that only Jesus can save them. When God comes down they will feel their need for Jesus’ Blood to cleanse them from their sin. Tears of conviction will soften the hardest hearts. They will then know what this little poem means,

Dissolved by Thy mercy, I fall to the ground,
And weep to praise the mercy I’ve found.

That is what always happens in revival. Dr. Lloyd-Jones gave this definition of revival,

Revival is an outpouring of the Spirit of God...It is the Spirit descending upon people.

Then he spoke of Howell Harris, the great Welsh preacher. Howell Harris was converted at a Communion service. He had been going through an inner struggle for a long time. The Devil was trying to shake his faith in everything. But when he came to take the Lord’s Supper “the mountains flowed down at [God’s] presence.” Howell Harris said,

Christ bleeding on the cross was kept before my eyes constantly; and strength was given to me to believe that I was receiving pardon [for my sins] on account of that blood. I lost my burden; I went home leaping for joy...Would that I might remember it gratefully for ever more (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., “Howell Harris and Revival,” The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors, Banner of Truth, 1996 edition, pp. 289, 285).

Howell Harris became one of the most powerfully used preachers in the First Great Awakening. If you read his diaries, you will see, over and over, how revival came. Lost people were converted when the Holy Spirit came down in power. Harris said, “The great gale [strong wind of the Spirit] came down when I showed our Saviour’s infinite death.” “The Lord came down in power.” “A strong gale came down when I showed the greatness of salvation.” This simple man preached and literally thousands were converted in England as well as in Wales.

Can we have revival in our church? Yes, but we must really want it. I’ve been reading a wonderful little book by a Norwegian lady who was a missionary to China from 1900 until 1927. She prayed for revival year after year. She fasted and prayed. In 1907 she read about the great revival going on in Korea. She wanted revival to come to China. She really wanted revival. It came very suddenly, among a group of Chinese women. Then it spread, and hundreds were converted, just before she left China and went back to Norway.

Can we have a little of that here, in our church? Yes, but we must pray like we have never prayed before. We must pray like Isaiah prayed in the first verse.

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).

If you are not yet converted, we will be praying for you. We will be praying that God will convict you of your sin, and that He will draw you to Christ.

Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He rose from the dead and is alive up in the Third Heaven, praying for you. But you must repent and trust Him to be saved from your sin.

You may say, “I’m not a sinner. I’m a good person.” But the Bible says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:10). We are praying that the Spirit of God will show you your sin, and then draw you to Jesus, for cleansing by His Blood. Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Isaiah 64:1-3.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“My God, How Wonderful Thou Art” (by Frederick W. Faber, 1814-1863;
to the tune of “Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned”).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE GOD OF REVIVAL

(SERMON NUMBER 14 ON REVIVAL)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1-3).

I.   First, the presence of God is our only hope, Isaiah 64:1; 63:15;
Genesis 26:28; 39:23.

II.  Second, the presence of God creates surprises, Psalm 77:14;
I Peter 3:18; Isaiah 64:3.

III. Third, the presence of God overcomes great problems and obstacles,
Isaiah 64:3, 1; I John 1:10.