HOW TO REVERSE A NATIONAL MESS.
The book of First Samuel, and the life of the prophet Samuel, and all that happened in his life speaks to us directly. In fact it violently confronts us and the way we see things and think about issues. Israel was in a complete and utter cess pit morally, spiritually, politically and relationally with the rest of the world. In fact, as I see the nation of Israel in the book of Judges and the early chapters of First Samuel, I see the UK in exactly the same situation, only worse at this very moment. It is worse because every time we hit the rock bottom, instead of crying to God for deliverance and the raising of a man or woman to sort stuff out (that is what the Judges did, and who they were in the context of Israel), Britain hits the bottom, and then digs a deeper and darker hole, for the coffin of what was, “Great Britain,” to sink and drop even further. The issue is so untidy and huge as to defy proper definition of the parameters of the situation.
In 1 Samuel we read of a nation hitting the bottom 50 fathoms deep, and then burying itself even deeper under the sand. They had lost their social cohesion, their spiritual roots, they had forgotten the Godly manifestations of power that had brought them into being, and allowed their faith in God to become a whimpering withdrawal into their own proverbial shell. They defended their borders, but totally without the conviction, faith and determination in the promises of Yahweh. They sunk into atheistic, yet religious, powerless superstition. The Ark of the covenant was like some superstitiously held talisman, like some witch doctors power stick with which they thought they could shake at foreign invaders, in the hope that they would disappear and die. And when all that was “religious” about Israel, that could be seen and handled, was stolen and destroyed, they fainted by the wayside, and were left for dead. It was only the prophet Samuel that was to be their “Resurrection and Life.” That was their national revival.
Samuel means, “Asked of God”. It is my conviction we need to ask of God for the same. Whether the twenty first century “Samuel,” is just a return to first century Christianity, or the raising up of a new movement, stream or denomination – or whether it is a single man or woman of Samuel’s calibre, I do not profess to know. But we need an, “Asked of God,” to confront the issues that are sinking, and have sunk parts of western society.
We all like things nice and tidy in our minds. We all like to be able to cope with our own thoughts and concepts. We all remember “the good old days.” At least we think we do! I remember years ago when the Living Bible was newly released and selling like Apple computers’s in a production shortage, and one verse that literally stunned me. I have no idea or memory of the reference. I believe it was in Proverbs. It stated, “Do not keep asking for the good old days. Because if they returned you would discover that they weren’t really that good at all.” I am not going to talk about the good old days, even though many Christians might think of their own romanticised, made up memories when I tell you where I am going.
I am talking about a revival of Christianity and Godliness throughout the UK, as well as the rest of the world.
And no! I am not going to break out in a blood curdling appeal for prayer, Bible Study, fiery preachers or a successor to Billy Graham. Hold onto your seats and see where I am in this.
I have been a Christian for nearly 48 years as I write. To my mind, my home country and the state of the world as a whole has degenerated greatly. I have never seen a revival per se. So I am not going to rant here as if I am an expert and know all about definitions of revival. I have read as many books as I have been able to find on the subject, just as you probably have. I have seen films on revival. I have been in prayer meetings for revival where people have thumped the floor till their fists bled, cried to God till they lost their voices, and made victory whoops till the windows in the church cracked. I have been in meetings where I have honestly and seriously seen a cloud of glory descend and silence the people. I even thought I saw fire once, hovering in mid air in a prayer meeting, but as I am not sure about that moment I tend to keep quiet about it. But I have not seen revival. I want a revival that shakes us from our comfort zones, and breaks the barrier of people growing in Christ, in numbers, in grace, in power and in whole families. I would like Christ to be exalted and His values to be part of the warp and woof of the society in which I live.
There are two experiences that I have relished in my life, that when they occurred, screamed to me, “Revival is here!” But it wasn’t. No I wasn’t in hysteria. I wasn’t under the influence of some industrial level medication. I was in my right mind, and in a good place in my heart and walking in strong faith in God when the two of them occurred.
The first experience was the “March for Jesus.” I joined in the marches two, or even three times, but there was one that was extravagantly huge that took place in London. I was told there was a hundred thousand marching that day. To my eyes and experience, the marching line went on and on and on. It was like London had wall to wall people marching past Westminster, down Whitehall, past Downing Street and environs. There was no hysteria at all. (How is it possible, anyway, for thousands of people to rise into ecstatic hysteria marching on a freezing cold rainy day in the UK?) The march was one of the most powerful things I ever participated in, and I was convinced the secular world would never be the same again. We sure enough had reports that things improved financially, morally and in the general atmosphere of the Stock Exchange and the City of London business centres. But that only lasted for a week or two after the march. Incredible! Serious commitment by so many Christians. Perhaps I was naive to think that the March was the turning point for Britain. It was positively traumatic that day. Heavenly. Powerful. But no revival ensued.
My second experience lasted for slightly more than three years. I went to live and work in Africa. I was living on campus with the Pastor and his team in the Synagogue Church of All Nations, in Lagos, Nigeria. The pastor was a man named T B Joshua. I was part of the extensive ministry team. I loved him. Still do. I loved the work he did, his ministry, and was astounded on a daily basis at the miracles, the power, the restraint of Godly character in how he handled the adulation from man, as well as the grace that fell on him from God. There were astonishing wonders taking place, daily. Huge crowds regularly. Thousands upon thousands attending every time the doors were opened. And what happened was astonishing. Deliverances of phenomenal proportions and in large numbers, personal prophecy that was seriously personal, and always accurate, healings of some obscenely deforming diseases, as well as instant healings of mad people, blind people, deaf people and the crippled filled my life every day – yes – every single day. Presidents and politicians came from all over Africa to seek the pastor’s counsel. Everybody I met, anywhere in Nigeria, knew about him. It was a phenomenal experience. I was convinced it was revival of a kind that I had always hungered for. There was, definitely, what I would define as a revival, whereever the pastor was. But, no! From a distance the impact, though huge, was not what we are talking of as we read about Samuel. Even T B Joshua has not turned Nigeria around. Or perhaps it just takes many more years of such a life to be manifested to impacted an entire nation. He still ministers under what seems to me as an ever increasing anointing.
I am aware of the almost infinite differences when one compares Israel, just over a thousand years before Christ was born, with twenty first century western “civilisation”. I am au fait with the fact that Billy Graham in his lifetime has preached to 100 times the number of people that were even alive in the world in Samuel’s day, never mind how many Jewish people lived in little old Canaan. But I choose to suggest that the impact of one single Godly figure, whose character could not be impugned by his history, who moved in and around the miraculous with as much ease as the modern housewife moves around a supermarket, whose constant emphasis was character, Godliness and integrity, would do the same in the world today. A person who will be as savvy of the times we live in, with thorough “street cred” in the eyes of all, and with a knowledge of how to get things done in modern internet times, would parallel Samuel perfectly. Samuel had great “street cred” (Credibility on the streets for the uninitiated), knew the times, and was worldly wise – just as is TB Joshua, and the people that organised the March for Jesus in London.
I do not mean we have no men of God of this calibre today. Far from it. However, we are in a day when Christianity is laughed at, the role of pastor, minister or church leader is ridiculed in drama and the media. We live in a time and place where, in order to get God’s opinion on issues through “men of the cloth”, the men who are vague and unclear about their faith, and God Himself, are consulted and queried by the media simply because they wear clerical collars and have Academic letters after their names, and are called, “Canon,” “Reverend,” “Monsigneur”, “Archbishop” etc etc. Can they not see? Does the media not have its ear to the streets. Do they have no idea that some of the finest men of God in the country are simply called, Terry, Gerald, Adrian or Vic. Some of them have never been to Theological seminary or university …. “God forbid!” say the media moguls. “Such men might be biased God ward!”
So when a Television Interviewer states, “We have here today The Archbishop, reverend holy Father, Canon Thomas Whistlethwaite, to be interviewed on the Government’s labour policy,” all we see and hear is a man who has never done a day’s work in the commercial world, pontificating on relativities, and media clichés that are utterly nothing to do with the man on the street. The church, and the clergy are not seen as having anything relevant to say in the “religious” cosmos, never mind social and current affairs. After all, “Christianity is just for church people isn’t it?”
If the media were to interview a Samuel like character, with Samuel-like gravitas, not only would politicians rush to correct themselves before Samuel could speak about their activities, but I feel confident in asserting that he would be invited to the studios on the grounds of his own kudos and persona, and invited to speak his own mind. “If you could address Britain today Mr Samuel-like person, what would you like to present to them?” That sounds more like a man of God impacting the world.
We have, in Samuel, a man whose outlook, philosophy and aura turned a nation around. After he died, his legacy still oiled the machinery of society for the next eighty years or so. Government and societal influences that he had started functioning, without any official position, government officials, army or manifesto worked and satisfied the people for eighty years or so after his passing. Quite like Christ really!
It was an entire lifetime of solid hard work and persevering teaching. He obviously believed in and experienced the instantaneous and miraculous manifestations of the power of God, yet did not become so irrational as to expect God to do what he himself could do, energised by what God had put in his heart.
I have read of the 1904 revivals, and Duncan Campbell in the Hebrides and others, ad infinitum. I know of people in an entire district being touched by God and brought to faith by nothing but the mighty presence of the Spirit of God, and even without a preacher. I have read about it. I believe it. I would give a lot to see it. Samuel had such personal visitations of the Almighty. But after those things, he just plodded on and on and on, preaching, teaching, praying and advising. He did the miracle stuff, but take note, Samuel was master at the routine mundane stuff too.
To sum up, in contemporary terminology, Samuel was what we now call, “a very together person”. He was an all round, sane, Godly, intelligent, rational and forward thinking man. I do NOT mean that he would be loved and cherished by everybody. In today’s secular world, he would probably have death threats for his singular thoughts about the necessity of submission to, as well as reverence for God. But let us move on in our thoughts, and study a template that fits comfortably in our day, our times, and our twenty first century needs, personally, familially, communally and nationally as we read about Hannah’s son, and the world he was born into.
God send us, in our twenty first century morass of sin, a man like Samuel.
- Samuel: A Study In Character – “The Afterthought” (presbymusings.com)