In Luke 19:41-44 Jesus berates Jerusalem (and arguably the Jewish leaders of his day) for not recognising the day of God’s visitation with them,
And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you andsurround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. Andthey will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (ESV)
I only looked up the passage above because I was speaking about the birth of Samson (Judges 15) and my attention was drawn to the fact that Manoah (Samson’s father) didn’t recognise God when he was face-to-face with him.
I suggested to my students that Manoah was not alone:
- Herod was just a few miles away from the birth of the Saviour of the World but chose not to go and see
- The Jewish leaders in the time of Jesus did not recognise and rejected him
- Jonathan remained loyal to his father (Saul) even though he knew that David was God’s chosen leader for the future of the nation
- Eli missed God because he was so busy honouring his sons that he lost the ability to see and hear the voice of God, who in turn then used a young child to save his people.
In fact there are potentially many biblical examples, I imagine you might think of a few for yourself. In the midst of examining the Bible, I wondered about my ability to miss God’s visitation which in turn led me to wonder about historical examples. A quick internet search surprisingly revealed the name of Andrew Murray. Murray’s father had been a minister who had for many years prayed for revival, and it appears Andrew Murray Jr was a man of the same passionate desire. Yet it appears that when revival fist came to his locality he did not recognise the Hand of God within it. I read this account by Nigel Tomes,
In 1860, the Lord brought Murray into a new stage when he moved to Worcester (S. Africa) to begin a new sphere of service. His first message coincided with a conference of ministers from congregations throughout South Africa. Before hundreds of delegates, Andrew Murray preached a powerful message on 2 Corinthians 3:8. His subject was, “How shall not the ministry of the Spirit be more glorious?”
Soon after the conference, 60 young people gathered at the meeting hall. They sang several hymns and offered prayers. Then a 15-year-old black servant-girl stood up in the back row. She asked the predominantly white group if she could pray. The youth leader hesitated at this breach of social norms, then gave his assent. The young black sister read a hymn stanza and then began to pray a heartfelt prayer. The youth leader recalled, “While she was praying, we heard, as it were, a sound in the distance, which came nearer and nearer, until the hall was shaken; with one or two exceptions, the whole meeting began to pray, the majority in audible voice, but some in whispers. Nevertheless, the noise…was deafening” (Choy, 84). The Spirit’s outpouring was manifested in fervent, spontaneous, and simultaneous prayer.
While the young people knelt in earnest prayer, one of the church elders passed by. Hearing the noise, he ran to fetch the new pastor. When Andrew Murray entered wearing his clerical robes, he found the room alive with spontaneous prayer. The young minister was clearly agitated. He paced the room, calling loudly, “People, silence!” But the prayer did not stop. Murray shouted again, “People, I am your minister, sent from God! Silence!” It was as if no one heard him. Everyone continued praying and calling on God. Murray directed the leader to call a hymn. No one sang the song. The young people, traditionally obedient and respectful, could not be silenced. Prayer continued unabated. Andrew Murray then proclaimed, “God is a God of order, and here everything is confusion!” With that, he left the room.
The good news is that Murray was soon led to see this as a move of God, embraced it as such, and was greatly used in its furtherance.
There appears to be much that is spuriously talked about in terms of modern day revival. I don’t wish to comment on that. I do want to be ready and willing, eyes open, ears peeled, heart unencumbered and pure, for any time that God chooses to come and move in glory.
Come Lord Jesus.