By Dr. Paul Jehle
On the global scene, the beginning of every century has seen some great move of God, beginning with the birth of Jesus Christ who changed the entire calendar!
1600 – The American Covenant
The two parent colonies of America, Virginia and Plymouth, had significant events occur in the year 1606. This nation was founded at the peak of the revival known as the Reformation. The Pilgrims and Puritans did not begin a revival, they came here at the peak of a revival that had been going on for nearly two centuries. On April 10, 1606, the first Virginia Charter was given, paving the way for the Jamestown settlers to arrive the next year. In the same year, the tiny band of believers known as the Pilgrims gathered in Scrooby Manor, England. The Scrooby covenant, ratified as the foundation for the Pilgrim church, became the seed of the Mayflower Compact in 1620.
1700 – The First Great Awakening
Jonathan Edwards was born in 1703. Many point to the 1730s for the origin of the Great Awakening, but I believe this is when the revival peaked. Jonathan Edwards, as a young boy, played “revival” in the woods with other children. With the use of a home-made wooden booth, a child would play the pastor. Jonathan Edwards was diligently playing revival with his neighbors around 1711 or 1713. Indeed, repentance is the seed of revival, as it was Edwards’ theme. Could it be that the deeper sense of the need for repentance means that true revival is upon us?
1800 – The Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening was born at about the turn of the century. Its setting was Kentucky, but its effects reached everywhere. People came from miles around preparing to camp. Crowds numbered 25,000 and several preachers preached at once facing in different directions. Hundreds were saved, and “circuit riding preachers” were sent in all directions. One of the divine purposes of this awakening, which was going full speed by 1800, was to bring the church to repentance for the sin of slavery. The proclamation of the Declaration was that “all men were created equal.” This was a Biblical proclamation, but it was not followed. As a result, the judgment of God was brought to bear and what the church failed to do (in dealing with the injustice of slavery), the civil government could not do. Our nation nearly split apart in spite of the Prayer Revival of 1857.
1900 – International Multi-Ethnic Awakening
At the turn of the century, the healing and rebuilding following the War between the States appeared to be only external. A more powerful central government, forcing upon the States what they had refused to do voluntarily, appeared to be failing in its mission of healing the soul of the nation. Then, God brought a massive revival through William Seymour, an African-American, one-eyed preacher who humbly opened himself up to what God wanted to do. In one communion service alone, more than twenty nationalities were present. The healing of the Lord was accomplished on the inside. The revival was both inter-racial and multi-ethnic. The Welsh revival of 1904 came upon the world as well, bringing with it the welcomed Spiritual power within the framework of reformed theology. Though many would take this revival as if the purpose was merely an individual spiritual experience, God did not intend it to be so. The effects of the Welsh Revival were felt worldwide. By 1906, England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, India, Burma and the United States were greatly affected.
2000 and Beyond?
In every revival there are aberrations and errors. This is because man is fallible. Some revivals, like the Second Great Awakening, if it had touched the culture properly, might have prevented much bloodshed and judgment. The dominant worldview in the mind of the believer often determines the extent to which a revival will impact the surrounding culture. What is in store for us here in New England? Is this a significant year? Let us pray that as the rising ride of intercessory prayer increases, so it will become strategic, covenantal and focused. New England, it is time to pray and expect great things from the Lord!
Paul Jehle is pastor of New Testament Church in Plymouth, Massachusetts.