It was an arid day. The dry, balmy breeze cooled the lonely shepherd as he sat quitely upon the grassy knoll watching his flock graze lazily in the sun.
It had been forty years now. So long ago and yet it seemed in one way just like yesterday. At times the memory of Pharaoh’s courts was like a story so far in the past that he could scarcely remember the detail. At other times it seemed so vivid he had to pinch himself to be sure he wasn’t still there.
How could he have ever thought that he would be able to deliver his beloved people from the cruelty of Egyptian slavery! Sometimes at the thought his heart would still break in sorrow because of his people’s suffering. At other times the circumstances of his shepherd life, the remoteness of the wilderness, the cares of his family, the peace of the pastoral scenes that surrounded him caused such thoughts to be so remote that they were virtually nonexistent.
Today the memory replayed vividly in the sanctuary of his mind. Just now he was thinking of the times when as a boy he would slip away from the palace, without Pharaoh’s daughter knowing it and visit with his father and mother, his brother and sister. There he would sit and listen for hours of the story of his birth and his miraculous escape from certain death in the Nile River.
“Why was I in the Nile River in a basket, mother?” he would ask again and again. Over and over his mother would give him the same answer.
“The Hebrew people had grown mighty in number since they had been in the land of Egypt, “she would explain. “In fact they had become so great that Pharaoh was afraid that if war broke out we might join his enemies and escape from Egypt. So Pharaoh ordered that all the male babies be thrown into the river. I could not bear to see that happen. So I hid you as long as I could, then I made a little basket, put you in it and put it in the reeds along the bank of the Nile. When Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe, she saw the basket and opened it and found you. She couldn’t bear the thought of you being left to die, so she took you home to Pharaoh’s palace to be her own son. “
“Never forget, my son, the deliverance of God. I am sure that He saved you for a purpose. The time is drawing near for the fulfillment of the promise that God gave to our father Abraham.”
“What was that promise, mother?” Moses would always ask in boyhood curiosity.
“Our father Abraham had been speaking with God all day when toward the end of the day he prepared an altar unto the Lord and laid the sacrifice upon it. As the sun was setting Abraham fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.’ Then when the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the sacrifice. On that day the Lord made a covenant with our father Abraham and promised to give his descendants a land flowing with milk and honey.”
He didn’t know why, but when his mother told this story his heart would always burn within him so that he scarcely could contain himself. Even now as he recalled her words that same fire seemed to blaze again within his soul. She would always add, “Moses, that 400 years of slavery is just about up. It is the time of deliverance for God’s people. Don’t you ever think that you alone were spared from all the other Hebrew boys and that you are living in Pharaoh’s palace as his own son by accident!”
As he had grown up to manhood he somehow couldn’t shake his mother’s words. Perhaps that is why I am here, he had thought. Perhaps that is why I am being schooled in all the wisdom of Egypt, perhaps that is why I am becoming an expert in all the martial arts of war and leadership. Perhaps that is why I am next in line to Pharaoh’s throne. I am the one God has ordained to deliver Israel. As he meditated upon these thoughts his soul seemed to become engulfed in flames.
One day after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He became enraged as he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. Quickly he looked around and seeing that no one was around he struck the Egyptian and killed him and hid his body in the sand.
Sure, he had been a little nervous when he had returned to the palace, but he had consoled himself in the miraculous events that surrounded his life and in his certainty of God’s call upon him as deliverer of Israel. God would surely protect him now. As for the Hebrews, perhaps they would begin to realize that he was their ally who at the right time would overthrow Pharaoh and bring them deliverance.
The next day he had gone out and seen two Hebrews fighting one another. “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?” he asked.
The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing us as you killed the Egyptian?”
He could never forget the terror that struck his heart when he found out that his deed had become known. Learning that Pharaoh was trying to kill him, he had fled from Pharaoh and the land of Egypt and had gone to Midian. There he had befriended Jethro the, priest of Midian, and had married his daughter Zipporah.
Well that had been 40 years ago and now he wondered why he had ever in his wildest imagination thought that he, the boy of a Hebrew slave, could have ever stood alone against the most powerful Pharaoh and army in all the world and overcome them. The thought of all these things grieved him deeply. As he sat on the grassy knoll watching his sheep in the evening sunset he wondered why after all these years the memory on this evening came back so vividly in all its agony and glory.
As Moses drifted back to reality, he realized that he must be up and going before it got too much darker. Calling his sheep unto him, Moses turned once again toward the rocky path toward home. As Moses came near Mount Horeb, a strange sight suddenly captured his attention. A bush appeared to be on fire but was not burnt up.
“Now this is unusual,” Moses thought. “I’ll go over there and see why this bush is burning but is not being consumed by the flames.” As Moses approached the burning bush there seemed to be an unearthly Presence that pervaded the whole mountain side. He wanted to draw closer, and yet wanted to run away all at the same time. But the closer he got, it seemed as though an irresistible magnetic force drew him toward the flames. It was then that a Voice called to him from the flames and said “Moses, Moses!”
The Call of God
Somehow in the deepest recesses of his soul Moses knew that this was the Voice of God. At first Moses was so overwhelmed that he could not find words to speak. Finally he was only able to stammer out, “Here I am.”
God answered with a voice that was so majestic that it caused every fiber of Moses being to vibrate with awe. “Don’t come any closer. Take off your shoes, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
Moses took off his shoes and knelt before the Holy Presence in the bush.
God spoke again. “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” An absolute Holy fear engulfed his whole being and Moses hid his face because he was afraid to look at God.
“I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt, “ God continued. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached Me. I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
“What? Me?” Moses thought. “Me? When I was young and full of energy and well versed in all the wisdom of Egypt maybe then I could have done it , but now … now I am an old man. I have forgotten just about everything I have learned. I have no power, no army, nothing but a few docile sheep here on the backside of the desert. Surely God must be mistaken! No, I could never do it.”
Finally Moses was able to to get out a few words, “Who am I, Lord, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Now we see the self confident spirit of Moses completely broken as he realizes his own inadequacy for the job.
God answered, “I will be with you … Tell them Moses, I Am has sent you to them.”
This is the key that led to Moses success. He was only a man with a shepherd’s rod but through God’s anointing, through obedience to God’s commands, he was able to bring down the mightiest empire in the world.
In essence God said, Moses it really doesn’t matter who you are. It is who I Am that really counts. I Am that I Am. It was not who Moses was that mattered at all, it was who God was that was all that mattered! For God promised Moses that as he went forward at God’s command, all the power of heaven would back him up.
It was basically this same confession that Moses made at the burning bush that God had wrung from the lips of Job so many years before. During a great period of immense suffering, trial, and hardship, forsaken and misunderstood by all who had loved him, Job maintained the confession of his righteousness. But when he saw God, he cried out, “My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
It was the same realization that Peter came to when before Christ’s crucifixion, he had boldly proclaimed, “Lord, even if all fall away on account of you I never will. I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” But Jesus answered and said, “Peter, will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times?” And sure enough, as Peter stood outside the palace of the high priest, denying that he ever knew Jesus, that his eye caught sight of the Master, the rooster crowed for the second time and he went out and wept bitterly.
It was the same confession God evoked from Isaiah when in the midst of his ministry, after he had pronounced many judgements and woes to Israel, that He saw the Lord high and lifted up with his train filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him who was so Holy that even these Holy and worshipful creatures could not look upon Him, but covered their faces with their wings and cried out, “Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory”. As they cried out with a sound so grand and glorious that the door posts of the temple began to move and shake, the glory of the Lord began to roll into that temple like a cloud until the whole house was filled with smoke from His glory! When Isaiah beheld the Lord in such glory, he cried out confessing his sin and the sin of his nation saying, “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips!” That confession brought an angel with a coal from off the altar to touch and cleanse him. And brought an invitation of future service from the Lord.
These kind of experiences are unusual in America today. We live in a nation in which the mind set in the church and nation emphasize the need for self-esteem, a better self image, and an easy going quest for self preservation. Alan Bloom observed in his book Closing of the American Mind, “A few years ago I chatted with a taxi driver in Atlanta who told me he had just gotten out of prison, where he served time for peddling dope. Happily he had undergone therapy. I asked what kind. He responded, “all kinds – depth-psychology, transactional analysis … He said that he had found his identity and learned to like himself. A generation earlier he would have found God and learned to despise himself as a sinner.”
The Men and Women God Uses
There has always been personal revival before public revival in the men and women God uses. This revival has always produced basically the same effects. It convinces man of his total inadequacy and insufficiency before God. It convicts man of his self-life, of his own efforts. It reveals to man God’s glory, majesty, and power. It calls man to service, but at the same time convinces that man or woman that there is no way to perform that service apart from intimate fellowship and empowering from the Lord.
The men and women God uses have always had the testimony of a close walk with God and and have longed for a holy life. They are men and women with a sensitive conscience. John Wesley declared in 1734: “My one aim in life is to secure personal holiness, for without being holy myself, I cannot promote real holiness in others.”
Without exception they fear God and sin, and above all else fear losing that sense of God’s Presence. The Person of Christ is their center, their focus and He is pre-eminent in their thoughts and hearts. Men and women who God uses in revival know that sin will grieve and quench the Holy Spirit. Their zeal for God is equalled only by their fear of offending Him.
These revivalists were men and women who did not bring messages about God or salvation from Bible texts alone, but they were men and women who brought messages from God. Their messages moved men and women to repentance and a changed life. They did not preach about Christ; they preached Christ. And they held forth the cross as not only the path to salvation, but the only path to a deeper walk with God.
They were men and women who loved God’s Word. George Whitefield, revivalist of the First Great Awakening, wrote of his love for the word of God, “I began to read the Holy Scriptures upon my knees, laying aside all other books and praying over, if possible, every line and word. This proved meat and drink indeed to my soul. I daily received fresh light and power from above. I got more true knowledge from reading the Book of God in one month than I could ever have acquired from all the writings of men.”
These were not extinct volcanos whose celestial fires had gone out. They were men and women whose inner fires erupted and engulfed the world around them in flames. They gave God the honor in everything He did through them. George Whitefield wrote in his diary, “ I Pray that I may be very little in my own eyes, and not rob my dear master of any part of His glory.” Those used in the revival in Scotland in 1921 were said to have “A humble idea of their own ability.”
A New Vision of Jesus Christ
Douglas Brown wrote, “Revival begins with a vision, and the vision begins with a new sense of Jesus Christ.” It will be noted that in each of these men’s lives they had come back to Christ – the true Center of everything. It was not their vision, not some aspect of the truth, not to some particular doctrine, but their inner being had returned to an all consuming vision and relationship with Jesus Christ. Many Christians are preoccupied with mere things. Some are leader centered, some message centered, some problem centered. It is God’s desire that we become centered upon the Person of Jesus Christ. It is God’s desire not that we come to know truth, but that we come to know the Person, the living Person of Jesus Christ who is all truth. And to be consumed with love and worship for Him.
Here is the test. What are you occupied with? What has become central? Is it some leader? Some system of truth? Is it some church and its ministry? Is it some experience we can obtain? It is possible to have been seeking all kinds of things, but to have missed Him. Our motive in praying for revival cannot be because we want to improve our reputation, vindicate our theology, have the biggest church in town, or just want an exciting experience.
Revival is returning to Christ as the true Center. It is setting aside all our hectic schedules, our better management, our better structures, our extravagant claims and glittering showmanship and admitting our true condition. And seeking instead that seeming unproductive and unnoticed sweet hour of prayer in which we seek our First Love and seek to be brought into intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Are we willing if necessary to break every habit, cancel every magazine or newspaper, sell our television, burn our novels, in short, to rid ourselves of everything that keeps us from drawing near to God in prayer and fellowship and make seeking God the greatest aim of our lives?
God Answers Prayer
When Israel cried out because of their bondage and oppression God answered in the “Burning Bush.” When Isaiah saw the Exalted Lord of glory and cried out in conviction of sin, God answered with a coal of fire from off the altar, and a new calling and anointing. When Job beheld the All Glorious One, he repented of his self righteousness, forgave his friends, and God restored the fortunes of Job and gave him twice as much as he had before. The latter end of Job’s life was greater than its beginning.When Peter caught a glimpse of his beaten Savior in the courtyard of the high priest, he went out and wept bitterly. The resurrected Christ appeared to him in forgiveness and cleansing and commissioned him to shepherd and feed His sheep.
On the Day of Pentecost 120 people had been crying out in desperate prayer for ten days in obedience to the commandment of the Resurrected Christ. God answered with tongues of fire and a mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit. As a result 3,000 were converted in a single day. When God’s people become revived, when Jesus becomes the true center of their lives, and when worship, commitment, and the whole life is unto Him, then the ungodly are converted, regenerated and transformed. R.A. Torrey observed, “Drunkards become sober, impure men and women become pure. Thieves become honest men and industrious citizens; and lazy people get down gladly to hard work. A true revival always begins in the hearts of Christians but it never ends there.” It extends outward to bring a lost and dying world unto God.
The Beauty of Jesus Christ
It wasn’t who Moses was, who Isaiah, Job, Peter, George Whitefield, or John Wesley was that really mattered at all. It was Who He was and is that is all that really mattered.
Who was He? He was the One who Daniel saw whose garments were like white snow, the hair of his head was like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames and a river of fire was flowing out before Him! He is the One whom the Apostle John saw on the Isle of Patmos as he was exiled for the gospel, Whose eyes were like a flame of fire, Whose feet were like burnished bronze as when it is caused to glow in a furnace, Whose face was like the sun shining in its strength.
Who was He? He is the One who said, “I am the First and the Last. I am He that lives and was dead, and behold I am alive forever more and I have the keys of hell and of death!”
Who was He? When John saw the heavens opened, He was the One who was seated upon a white horses whose eyes are a flame of fire. He is the One whose name is called Faithful and True who in righteousness judges and wages war. He is the One upon whose head are many diadems, for all the kingdoms He has conquered. And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood and His name is called the Word of God, and the armies which are in heaven follow Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword so that with it He may smite the nations and He will rule them with a rod of iron with which to rule the nations and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of Almighty God. And on His robe and on His thigh he has a name written – King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
He is the One who is crying out in Communist lands and in places that were once the great spawning grounds of atheism and the great breeding grounds of anti-Christian thought saying, “The time has come to gather all nations and tongues, and those who have not heard of My Name shall come and see My glory. For I will pour out My Holy Spirit on all mankind, and your sons and daughtesr shall prophesy and all mankind shall come and bow before Me.”
He is the One who is knocking at the door of the churches in America and crying, “You are rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing, and you do not know that you are wretched miserable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and fellowship with him and he with Me.”
Copyright © Bob and Rose Weiner 2007, All Rights Reserved