Copyright © 20231
A Different Answer
Why does revival tarry? My answer to that subject, and the reason behind it, may surprise you; but if so, perhaps the surprise will challenge you. No doubt you’ve heard quite a lot about why revival tarries from preachers and teachers in the pulpit and the media. The general tenor of the message is this: It’s your fault. You are the reason revival tarries. You are not praying enough. My very dear brother, Leonard Ravenhill, would say that most certainly.2 And a chorus agrees with him — America is not praying with sufficient fervor, so God will not send revival.
I don’t believe that is true. That doesn’t mean we should stop praying; but we mustn’t ignore the sovereignty of God. The Most High God sends revival in His will, not ours. And the Most High God, our dear loving Heavenly Father, will send revival out of deep compassion. He has great compassion for every one of us, as if you were the only person in existence. But there is a special preparation for revival which the Lord wants to make within the Church. That preparation is something we will explore as we proceed.
First, though, let’s think of our marvelous opportunity in prayer — we can pray to God at any time we like. And all over the whole earth, there are individuals praying to the Most High God, and He’s listening as if each one were the only one who was speaking to Him. Speaking to the Most High God whenever we want! How different that is from earthly royalty and power! I’m an Englishman, and we English have a queen, our Queen Elizabeth.3 Yet I could not possibly get an opportunity of having an audience with her, because I’m not “high enough up the ladder.” Our American brethren have a president, and I guess there are very few of them, if any, that could have an audience with the President.
But with God, the Most High God — now think of it! — we can have an audience with Him at any time we like, without seeking it, without announcing it, without a special appointment time. You can wake up in the night and talk to God. You can get up in the morning and talk to God. Before you go to bed, you can talk to God. Isn’t it wonderful? It’s because He’s a God of compassion.
As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
– Psalm 103:13 nkjv4 –
Oh, we can and should pray for revival. But the reason God sends revival is because we need it, and because He’s compassionate. Revival is God visiting His people. Revival is God having compassion on the church of His beloved Son. You remember there are two special passages of Scripture which display God’s deep compassion:
- For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
- John 3:16
Isn’t that a wonderful thing! But wait a moment.
- 25…Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
- Ephesians 5:25-27
There were two sacrifices at Calvary that blend into one. The first was was the sacrifice of the Father in giving His only-begotten Son. And the other sacrifice was the Son offering Himself for the Church. God is deeply concerned about the Church, as is our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father yearns over it, as the Son yearns over it. And when that Church gets slack and needs revival, the Father knows; and in His will, not ours, not yours or mine, He will give revival — in His time. It’s of God.
This is something that every one of us should learn — the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God has been taught by the Calvinists for many years, and in that they’re right. Where they are wrong is in saying the sovereignty of God means that He is picking special ones to be saved, and other ones to be lost. That wouldn’t be sovereignty. God’s sovereignty is that He loves every human being that’s born to the world. And He wants every one to have an opportunity of accepting the salvation of His dear Son.
Now the idea that God will hear because we ask Him a long time, or that God will hear because so many millions of us would ask Him, is an insult to the majesty of heaven. He is not moved by the number of people who ask Him. Jesus, our great Teacher, laid bare that line of thinking when He pointed out the fallacy that (to use the old King James terminology) “They think they will be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7 kjv). And when you hear that if so many millions of us will ask Him, God will hear, I say again, it’s an insult to Him. He’s not like that.
The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
– Psalm 24:1 –
The Church belongs to Jesus Christ. Both the Father and the Son are passionately concerned with what is theirs. If you and I could share the concern of our Father for the Church of His dear Son, we’d be in tears, every one of us all the time, because theirs is such a burning love.
Yes, the Father will send revival in His will. But the question is this: When will the Father send revival? Why doesn’t He send it immediately? Why are there these long gaps before revival comes? You see, the charismatic renewal is over and gone. It was a semi-revival. It was a revival of spiritual gifts. And its purpose was to bring the various denominations together. So in every denomination there were those who were baptized in the Spirit.
I was one of those who had the privilege of sharing in the early days of it. And it was marvelous to see Roman Catholics, Protestants, Episcopalians, and non-Episcopalians, even Plymouth Brethren (and that’s something really wonderful!) rejoicing and praising God in the gifts of the Spirit. We were one.
I’m amazed at some of the things that happened in those days. In one of our united meetings where there were all sorts of people and denominations, I saw a dignified man coming to me in clerical attire. Someone whispered to me, “Oh, he’s from Chile, an abbot of one of the closed orders where they only speak to each other when they have to.” And he came to me, put his arms around me and kissed me and said, “Brother, I love you. I love your spirit.” Now, that’s remarkable. And you wonder what he saw in me. Well, it wasn’t my good looks! He felt something in me that was in himself. That was the charismatic renewal. But it was only a semi-revival.
In a full revival, two qualities are always manifest:
- A burning concern about holiness; and,
- A passionate confession of sin.
Those elements were both missing in the charismatic renewal, and it has receded into the shadows now, and is gone.
The real revival that some of us have been praying for for years has not yet come. Why? If God loves us, why? When I consider the heart of the Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep,5 the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep6 — and we are His sheep — why is it that revival tarries?
I want to remind you that there are two great principles on which God works. The first is this:
Surely the Lord God does nothing,
Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
– Amos 3:7 –
And here is the other principle:
“…I will yet for this be enquired… to do it for them…”
– Ezekiel 36:37 kjv –
The first principle is about God speaking to us through His servants, the prophets. But the second principle has to with the priests. Now, I’m not talking about Episcopal priests in vestments. No, we’re speaking of His people who are priests; these will ask for it. Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. And “…I will yet for this be enquired… to do it for them…” God reveals what He is going to do (i.e., His sovereign will) through His prophets; then “the priests” (i.e., those who pray) ask God to fulfill His revealed will.
Before every revival, you will find there comes a reformation, a certain desire of people to put things straight, an interest in coming together. And then prayer meetings are formed, where people will pray, often in spiritual agony, to God to send the Holy Spirit. All that is a part of the revival.
There are those now who know that God is going to send revival. I’m only a minor person in it. If in any way I am one of those Amos 3:7 “prophets,” I’m a minor prophet. But God spoke to me in the night seasons. And Jesus said to me, “I am coming TO my Church, before I come FOR my Church.” And those of you who think, “We’ll see,” that word is a promise of revival. For when He comes to His Church, it’s by the Holy Spirit. And when He comes for His Church, He’s coming in person!
“I am coming TO my Church, before I come FOR my Church.”
God Wants to Produce Shepherds
Why are there these gaps, then, gaps of years before the Lord sends revival? Now think, please. How long does it take to get a flock of sheep together? Very little time. You only need a few ewes and a couple of rams and in a year or so, you will have a flock of sheep. God can produce sheep. Why, God can produce a nation in a day!7
I mentioned earlier a special preparation for revival which the Lord wants to make within the Church. This is a practical but vital aspect which we commonly overlook, but we can easily bring into focus by answering this question: How long does it take to produce a shepherd? Many years, even a lifetime! We are all His sheep. Oh, but the shepherds who look after the sheep, who keep them from straying, who are burdened for the sheep — such shepherds take time to produce. The reason there’s a gap is because God has to take time to produce shepherds to look after the sheep. God could produce sheep in revival ever so easily. But He’s burningly concerned about how they grow, so that they don’t stray. As Isaiah puts it:
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way…
– Isaiah 53:6 –
Or as the old confession puts it:
“We have followed too much the devices and desires
of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us.”
In the Episcopal churches they’ve been saying that for many hundreds of years. And it’s perfectly true.
God is going to send revival. But at present He’s preparing shepherds, and you’re among them. And perhaps the reason you are reading this, and the reason God instructs you as He does, and the reason He takes trouble to send His servants to you (like your pastor and the pastor’s wife) is because He’s training you for when revival comes, so that you’ll be a help.
When revival comes, you won’t have to ask people to come to church. You won’t have to do a big come-to-church campaign. You won’t have to go door-knocking. They’ll come to you. And they’ll say, “What must I do to be saved?” You may say, “Well, why would they come to me?” Because they’ll read on your face that you’re a child of God, and that you know something about what they’re longing for in their heart. They will sense that you know the answer to “What must I do to be saved?”
Let me show you from the Scriptures some examples of shepherds produced by God.
Abram / Abraham
Abraham’s original name was Abram. He was one whom God called from the east, and he became a great shepherd. God called him from Ur of the Chaldees, a city near the mouth of the River Euphrates.8 So Abram was told to go forth to a country and destination that wasn’t revealed to him yet. “Keep going, Abraham. And when you get there, I’ll tell you.” His journey took him over a thousand miles. First he traveled northwestward up the Euphrates River, because near the riverbanks he could find food for his flocks and herds. So along he went, seeking, seeking, seeking till at last it was revealed to him to go one further step. “Now that you are here at Haran, go forward into Canaan.” There in Canaan, over the decades, he was a shepherd. Later, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, because God changed the names of men whose natures were changed as God dealt with them.
Shortly, we’ll look at the shepherd qualifications of Abraham’s son, Isaac (whose name God never changed) and Abraham’s grandson, Jacob (who did receive a famous name change). But first we’ll look at two other God-ordained shepherds.
“Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). If you’ve studied anything with regard to Egyptology, you will be astonished at the wisdom and the amazing skills the Egyptians had. They even knew how to powder gold. You say, “That should be very easy.” No, it’s hard. You can hammer gold until it’s a thousandth of an inch thick, and spray it on paper and call it gold leaf. But to make it into grains of gold is exceedingly difficult. And Moses knew how to do it. Do you recall when those foolish, wicked, backsliding Israelites got Aaron to make them a calf of gold (Exodus 32:1-19)? When Moses saw the calf he ground it up into powder, mixed it with water, and made every Israelite drink it (Exodus 32:20). Gold ingested this way produces an awful stomach ache. Moses knew how to do this because he had “the wisdom of the Egyptians.”
Oh, and wise Moses was a great general. He fought against the Ethiopians on behalf of Egypt and conquered them, making them subject to Egypt.9 You have only to read Josephus to find out what a wonderful man Moses was. So you say, “Did this make Moses so ideal to lead the children of Israel?” Not yet. He had to become a shepherd. So God took him out of Egypt, and for forty years Moses kept the sheep of his father-in-law in the desert (Exodus 3:1) — forty years of training, of testing.
Forty is a hallmark — Moses’ forty years of training; Israel’s forty years in the wilderness; Jesus’ forty days of testing in the wilderness. Look back at the “forties” in the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and you will find how they deal with training and preparation. And here’s Moses; he could have been a king. In fact, he was a king, says the Bible, in Jeshurun — a king of the people.10 But he needed to be a shepherd before God could use him to lead His people. It wasn’t sufficient, then, for Moses to be the great man he was; he had to be a shepherd.
King David started his shepherd-training as a young boy. The Bible says of David that God…
70…also chose David His servant,
And took him from the sheepfolds;
71From following the ewes that had young He brought him,
To shepherd Jacob His people,
And Israel His inheritance.
72So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,
And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
– Psalm 78:70-72 –
When we think of David, we realize that he was in training from childhood to be a shepherd. In that everyday occupation, he conquered the lion and the bear (1 Samuel 17:34-36).
It was to David’s occupation as a shepherd that we can attribute his great skill with a sling. In those days, when shepherds saw their sheep wandering, they didn’t run after them, and they had no dogs. With their great skill, they’d sling a stone that hit the rock just in front of that sheep; the sudden, unexpected crack! of the slingstone hitting the rock would alarm the wanderer and turn it around. That process might be repeated until the sheep returned to the fold.
That precision with a sling is what David brought to his encounter with Goliath. I heard it said by one of the great old Methodist preachers that “when David slung that stone at Goliath, the giant was greatly, greatly surprised. Nothing like that had ever entered his head before!”11 That was a skill of David, a shepherd whom God was forging to be a shepherd of His people.
Many Shepherds Needed
The New Testament translates the same Greek word as both shepherd and pastor.12 So pastor is another word for shepherd. You don’t have to be an ordained person to be a pastor, a shepherd in the congregation. That three-letter abbreviation “Rev.” in front of your name may give you some sort of standing with the government, so that you’re able to marry people and bury them, etc. It may take many years of studying and passing examinations to get ordained and have the title “Reverend.” But dear friends, that “Rev.” title doesn’t make you a shepherd. Do you want to be a shepherd? Do you want to help people in the coming revival? Revival is coming. God is going to do it. He’s full of compassion and is now preparing many of us as shepherds for the coming of the revival.
Revival in Scotland
I think of when God sent revival to us up in the Scottish Highlands, some few years back13 in the Isle of Lewis, which is in the Outer Hebrides.14 God put His burden upon two aged ladies. They were burdened by God for revival, so they prayed year after year in agony that God would send revival to the highlands of Scotland. And at last the revival came, but there was no shepherd there — yet God had prepared one! Those same ladies prayed, “Lord, would You please send a man who speaks Gaelic to lead this revival?” (Gaelic was the language of the people there.) And the Lord spoke to a man of God, a shepherd whom He had prepared, the Reverend Duncan Campbell.15 He was sent there to that revival to lead it. I knew him, I’ve spoken with him, and I’ve asked him many questions. Duncan Campbell was often called the leader of the revival, but he was careful to tell everyone, “No, the revival came first. I came afterwards.” He was an example of God’s perfect preparation of a shepherd for a time of revival.
Isaac and Jacob
We promised to look at the shepherd qualifications of Abraham’s son and grandson, Isaac and Jacob. What a contrast there is between this father and son!
Isaac was faithful to the God of his father; he even had at least two personal encounters with God in his manhood (Genesis 26:1-7, 23-25). He had vast flocks of sheep, as well as incredible wealth, all inherited from Abraham, not from any effort of his own. Isaac didn’t need to seek a wife; one was sought for him. His life was not marked by the trials and testings required to be made into a shepherd of God.
Consider one of Isaac’s last recorded acts. In Genesis 27:1-4, the Bible tells us:
1And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old,16 and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, “My son.” And he said unto him, “Behold, here am I.” 2And he said, “Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death. 3Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison, 4and make me savory meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.”
“Get me savory meat such as I love… that my soul may bless thee.”17 “Such as I love.” Isaac, it seems, went by feeling and not by faith. If he felt like blessing, he could do it. And do you remember what else he said? “I know not the day of my death.” When did he die? Several decades later!18 Isaac — born into great wealth, provided a wife, a man of feeling, not faith, who spent decades in “dying” — does not seem to be a man prepared to be made into one of God’s shepherds, the shepherd of a nation.
So God chose Jacob. What a contrast between father and son! As we mentioned, Isaac was exceedingly rich. But when Jacob left for Paddan-aram, he owned nothing, for afterwards he would say to God, “With my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands” (Genesis 32:10b). Poor Jacob! He had to serve fourteen years for the wife that he loved, Rachel. He had his wages changed ten times by Laban (Genesis 31:7, 41), because Laban used him to get more and more wealth. All the time, Jacob was being trained in hardship and suffering. He said to Laban: “In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes” (Genesis 31:40) as he served his father-in-law while looking after the sheep. Oh, there can be such hardship and difficulty in looking after the sheep! But Jacob was being made and forged into one of God’s shepherds.
Consider that God did all this with Jacob, the man of guile, the man whose name meant supplanter, deceiver. This is the Jacob who was used by his mother, Rebekah, to deceive his father. You know the whole story in Genesis 27, how those two plotted to deceive Isaac so that Jacob would receive his twin brother’s firstborn-blessing: Rebekah’s specially prepared food, Jacob wearing Esau’s clothing, and donning artificially the hairy skin for arms and hands to complete the deception. Dim-sighted Isaac was taken in by the smell of the clothing, the feel of the hairy skins, and the taste of the food, even though Jacob didn’t sound like Esau. Jacob must have been a very good actor, because the ruse worked. His father Isaac was deceived, until the real Esau returned.
Yes, we are talking about that Jacob, the deceiver. Nevertheless, out of that raw material, the Lord produced a man of God. Isn’t there hope for every one of us! God can choose whomever He wills. I hope we’ve at last come into a measure of intelligence in the church, realizing that God doesn’t only choose men. When people ask me, “Do you believe in women’s ministry?” I say, “I don’t believe in men’s ministry! I don’t believe anyone has a right to decide, ‘I’m going to be a minister and be trained for it.’” You have to have the inward call of God.
God gave me that call years ago. I lost the job for which I was being trained, because I preached in the open air in my lunchtime. I worked in London and became part of a little group of young Christian fellows. We decided we’d have an open-air meeting in the middle of each week in the very center of London. Nearby there was a great big open place which was often the scene of political meetings. And so we started our open-air preaching.
Not long after, I was told through the grapevine that if I continued to speak in the open air I would be demoted. At that point, I was in the process of being trained for the general managership of a very large Christian firm. In fact, it was Methodist; and Methodism was born in the open air! But because I preached the gospel in my own time in the open air, I was told by the Reverend So-and-So, who was the head of the firm, appointed by Methodists, that I would be demoted for doing it.
And that’s exactly what happened. I was demoted. Hallelujah! Looking back, it was an honor, wasn’t it? (And what a disgrace to Methodism!) But you see, that’s how God tests and tries us all the way along. He has tested you and tried you when you lost your job. You had to come home and tell your wife or the wife had to tell her husband, that you’d lost your job. God was in it, testing you. I’ve been through that, you see. I know what it feels like. I also know that if you look up and trust the Lord, there’s a wonderful opportunity of seeing how the Lord works and provides for you. Because He’s got you in his mind all the time, as if you’re the only one in the world to look after.
Returning to Jacob, we see the man of guile becoming the man of truth and faith. God tested him. Jacob seems to have started out the exact opposite of Nathaniel, about whom Jesus said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (John 1:47). But after Jacob had been through much tribulation, and the final meeting with God, God changed his name to Israel. At that final meeting, when God wrestled with him, Jacob gave in to God completely.
God touched him so that forever after he limped. If you asked him why he limped, he’d say, “Well, God touched me. He put a mark upon me that I was going to limp for the rest of my life, to mark me out as one of His children whom He has chastened and brought through.” So, at last, Jacob became Israel, “a prince with God,” and the father of a great and mighty nation.
God’s Dealing: Preparation
Jacob’s limp was a “mark” of God’s dealings with him and of his total surrender to God and His will. In the book of Revelation, we encounter a “marked” host following the Lamb of God:
- 1Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
- Revelation 14:1-5
Biblical numerology is an interesting subject by itself, but we don’t want to lose our focus. Let me just say that 12 times 12 represents completion in government. That product yields 144, the basis of 144,000. But please understand that we’re talking about a suggestive number. These are chosen by the Lord because they “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.”
Any one of you could be part of that group. If you are one who says, “I’m not willing to pay the price,” then in that case you can’t be. Or you might be one who says, “I’m willing to pay the price, but I’m afraid. However, I’ll do it if the Lord helps me.” Oh, yes, He will help you! What marks these people? They’re virginal; that doesn’t mean they never married, but it means they live in purity. “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.… And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” That’s how He wants to make you.
Are you willing to be made like that? You’re not made like that by listening to me and believing what I say. You’re made like that by saying to Jesus, “Have your will in me in everything.”
That’s what Jacob had to do, in the end, when he wrestled with God. Oh, friends, what a difference there is between Jacob’s end and Isaac’s end! Isaac’s end is having “savory food such as I love,” and then he’ll give a blessing. And then he’s decades “dying.” If I had to wait decades before I died, I don’t know what would happen. Since I’m 84 years old,19 I’d be… well, you work out the math! So I’m so glad I can leave it to Jesus day by day, hallelujah! So can you. If we are God’s children, our end is an “expected end,”20 and there’s no chance about it. That’s how the Lord does it with every one of us.
At my age, I may be sharing with you for the last time. (I don’t know — I’ve no suggestion from heaven that it is so.) So I’ve got to be absolutely certain that I leave God’s message with you — God is preparing shepherds for the coming revival, and you can be among them. You haven’t got to be a “minister” to be so. You could just be who you are. My dear brother, can’t you be a shepherd to your family? My dear sister, can’t you be a shepherd in your family, whether you are a daughter, wife, or mother? Of course!
And as God is choosing you for this purpose, He’s preparing you. That’s why you’ve been through pain. That’s why you’ve been through suffering. That’s why you’ve been misunderstood. That’s why you’ve been talked about. That’s why lies have been told about you. That’s why you’ve had deep soul-agony.
I’ve been through all that. And Jesus has given me grace to recite my “favorite text”: “Hallelujah anyway!” I tell you, friends, when it comes, the thing that you dreaded… Well, I used to dread, and wonder how ever the early saints of God in Scripture took joyfully the spoiling of their goods (Hebrews 10:34). Could you do that? The home that you really labored for, and really saved up for — Could you take “joyfully the spoiling of your goods”? One of the things I valued most was my magnificent library, carefully chosen, over 5,000 volumes. I’m a thinker and a reader, so I thought I could never part with those books. I didn’t know how to do it. So the Lord taught me — He wiped them all out!21 And God gave me grace. Then I knew how you can take joyfully the spoiling of your goods.
It’s by grace. Do you see? Don’t expect grace ahead of time; expect grace when it’s needed. You’ll have dying grace when it’s time, if your heart is wholly toward God. You can have living grace meanwhile. You can have grace for all your need. But when the time for dying grace comes, you’ll say, “Hallelujah anyway! Lord, carry on, I’m your child forever” — “ever, only, all for Thee,”22 as Frances Ridley Havergal puts it.
Isaac never had to go through trials like his son, Jacob. His life was largely unremarkable in terms of spiritual development, though he did pass on God’s covenant promise, a link in the chain of “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
But Jacob — he became the father of a nation, a shepherd of renown, because God changed his nature; and so He renamed him Israel. And when God changes your nature, He changes your name, too. Although when we sing songs like,
“There’s a new name written down in glory,
And it’s mine, oh, yes, it’s mine,”23
don’t you be so sure about it! You’ll only have a new name when your nature has changed! Jacob was changed into Israel, meaning “prince with God.” Isaac’s name means laughter, but he never got a change in his name. Abram’s original name meant “high father.” Growing in faithful obedience, his name was changed by God to Abraham, “father of a great people, father of a multitude.” And we ourselves, we Christians, as Paul puts it, are by faith the children of Abraham, the man of faith. Oh, thank you, Father!
Blessings Bestowed by a Shepherd of God
As the Scriptures bring us to the end of Genesis and of Jacob’s life, we see the fruit of the change wrought in this man’s life. This Jacob, supplanter, chastened and tested by God, with his will now yielded fully to God, has become in his very nature Israel, a prince with God. See now the blessings which flow from such a life, and take heart as God changes us and prepares us to be among His end-time shepherds.
Jacob stood in Pharaoh’s presence as the honored father of the man who saved Egypt. Jacob blessed Pharaoh twice during that royal audience — once at the beginning (Genesis 47:7) and once at the end (Genesis 47:10). Those blessings extended beyond Jacob’s own family to all of Egypt through the person of Pharaoh. (And remember that the lesser is blessed by the better, according to Hebrews 7:7.)
Then in Genesis 48, Joseph brought his two children, Ephraim and Manasseh, to Jacob to receive a blessing. But Jacob doesn’t send for “savory foods such as he loves,” like his father Isaac had done. He doesn’t even ask for a drink. Jacob, now Israel, strengthened himself24 and sat up on the bed (Genesis 48:2). So his grandchildren were brought to him. But the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see (Genesis 48:10). Jacob/Israel wasn’t blind; he had cataracts. That’s what they suffered from in those days, and there was no cure for it. That’s why so many of the old patriarchs suffered from “dim eyes” in their old age.25 And so, because Jacob’s eyes were dim, he could see forms, but not features. As we say in England, he couldn’t “tell ’tother from which.” But he could see that there were two grandchildren there.
Under these circumstances, Joseph brought his two children for Jacob to bless. Joseph carefully positioned his boys, so that the greater firstborn blessing from Jacob’s right hand would be given to Manasseh, the oldest boy. Ephraim, the younger one, Joseph positioned to receive the lesser blessing from Jacob’s left hand.
Jacob couldn’t see the boys distinctly. But he didn’t go by feelings or by sight; he moved by faith, led by the Spirit — so he crossed his arms. Isn’t that marvelous! What a difference between Jacob and his father Isaac, who blessed only when his stomach was full and when he felt like it. And he blessed the seemingly “wrong” son, Jacob, because Esau, as the firstborn, would normally have received the blessing.26
But now, many years later, here is Jacob with Joseph’s two sons, “guiding his hands knowingly” (Genesis 48:14), blessing the younger above the older! And when Joseph says, “Not so, my father” and attempts to switch Jacob’s hands (Genesis 48:18), his father refuses the change, saying, “I know, my son, I know” (Genesis 48:19). He knew he was following God’s sovereign will.
Dear friends, I’m glad to tell you that Jesus is not only coming soon, but He’s going to come to His Church by the Holy Spirit before He comes for His Church. Revival is on the way. Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.27 And “…I will yet for this be enquired… to do it for them….”28 That’s why you will receive a burning desire to pray for revival, and you’ll hear of little groups meeting together to pray for revival. It’s the sign that God is getting ready to send revival.
Meanwhile, remember that God is preparing you now, by your life of hardship, by your trials, and by your sufferings together, to minister to His lambs when that time comes. When the Lord prepares you, He does it for a purpose. The Lord dealt with Jacob to make him a shepherd, a prophet, “a prince with God”29 indeed, as a pattern for our time and for us.
Let me close with a few verses of that wonderful poem which Charles Wesley wrote — Wrestling Jacob. It begins with Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32:24-32):
Whom still I hold, but cannot see;
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with Thee.
With Thee all night I mean to stay
And wrestle till the break of day.
I need not tell Thee who I am,
My misery, or sin, declare;
Thyself hast call’d me by my name,
Look on Thy hand and read it there.
But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou?
Tell me Thy name, and tell me now!
And as Jacob wrestled with God30 (in the intervening verses of the poem) he learned God’s nature:
I hear Thy whisper in my heart.
The morning breaks, the shadows flee:
Pure universal Love Thou art;
To me, to all, Thy mercies move—
Thy nature, and Thy name is Love.…
Lame as I am, I take the prey,
Hell, earth, and sin with ease o’ercome;
I leap for joy, pursue my way,
And as a bounding hart fly home,
Through all eternity to prove
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.31
His name is Love. Has God done something with you so you will never be able to be proud again? Are you ready for Him to use you as a shepherd to His flock?
God is preparing us, preparing you, for the revival. This needs to be our prayer: Lord, I yield myself to You. I give myself to You to do with me as You will; only make me a shepherd, a little one, but a real shepherd of the sheep. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen!
- Copyright held by Finest of the Wheat Teaching Fellowship, Inc. Transcribed, edited, and annotated by Jim Kerwin. Co-edited by Denise Kerwin. ↩
- Leonard Ravenhill (1907-1994) was a contemporary of Pastor Gutteridge, a fellow Englishman and a dear brother in Christ, whose most influential title, Why Revival Tarries, was first released in 1959 and is still in print. ↩
- Pastor Gutteridge shared this message around twenty-nine years before the death of Queen Elizabeth II. ↩
- Unless otherwise noted, Scripture passages will be quoted from the nkjv, the New King James Version. ↩
- Hebrews 13:20 ↩
- John 10:11 ↩
- The allusion is to Isaiah 66:8. ↩
- If we were left with only the Genesis 11:27–12:5 account, we might think that God’s call to Abram came only in Haran, some time after his father’s clan had left Ur. But Stephen’s inspired recounting of Abram’s migration makes it clear that God appeared to Abram “before (πρίν / prín) he lived in Haran” (Acts 7:2); and “from (Haran), after his father died, God removed him into this country in which you are now living” (Acts 12:4). Stephen’s latter point accords with Genesis 12:1-7.
So apparently, Terah, Abram’s father, moved his family to Haran (a city considerably “upstream” from Ur, roughly equidistant between the Euphrates and the Tigris) based on God’s revelation to Abram. (Remember: God considered Abram a prophet. See Genesis 20:6.) Even though the initial goal was apparently “to enter the land of Canaan” (Genesis 11:31), something required a period of “settling” in Haran for a time. (Was it a case of Terah’s ill health and impending death? Cf. Genesis 11:32.)
- See The Works of Josephus; Antiquities of the Jews, book 2, chapter 10 — “How Moses Made War with the Ethiopians.”
Curiously, in this non-biblical account of Moses’ life, Tharbis, the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians, was the means by which Moses was able to succeed in the siege of the Ethiopian capital. Once victorious, Moses married Tharbis. Perhaps this tale (credible or not) was meant to serve as the backstory for the incident provoked by Moses’ marriage to an Ethiopian (Cushite) woman, the narrative of which is found in Numbers 12.
- “Jeshurun” is one of God’s “pet names” for Israel. It means something like “the dear upright people.” (The Septuagint translators substituted the Greek word ἠγαπημένος / ēgapēménos – the beloved one – for Jeshurun. Yes, the root of the word is agápē.) The name appears in Deuteronomy 32:15; 33:5, 26; and Isaiah 44:2. Pastor Gutteridge offers an interesting interpretation of Deuteronomy 33:4-5:
4Moses commanded a law for us,
A heritage of the congregation of Jacob.
5And he was king in Jeshurun,
When the leaders of the people were gathered,
All the tribes of Israel together.
- Ah, the dry wit of British humor! ↩
- That New Testament Greek word is ποιμήν (poimḗn), usually translated shepherd, but in Ephesians 4:11 it is rendered in English as pastor. “Pastor” comes to us from the Latin word pāstor, meaning shepherd, literally, a feeder. ↩
- 1949-1953 ↩
- The Outer Hebrides islands lie off the northwest coast of Scotland. ↩
- Campbell lived from 1898 to 1972. The Lord had spent many years preparing him for this very role. He entered the ministry shortly after World War I, serving various missions and churches in Scotland, giving him nearly thirty years of experience before God used him in the Hebrides Revival. The Lord had seen to it that Campbell had been born into a Gaelic-speaking home!
This event is also known as the “Lewis Awakening,” a designation derived from the name of the island on which it took place — Lewis and Harris Island. (Lewis is the northeastern-most two-thirds of the isle.)
- We don’t know exactly how old Isaac was at this point, but we know he was over 100 years of age from the facts the Scriptures give us:
- Isaac was 40 years of age when he married (Genesis 25:19).
- His wife went through almost 20 years of barrenness until Isaac prayed for her. Therefore he was 60 years of age when the twin boys were born (Genesis 25:26).
- Forty years later, Esau married two Hittite women (Genesis 26:34-35). At this point, Isaac would have reached the century mark.
- Sometime after Esau’s first marriages, we read in Genesis 27:1 — “Now it came about, that when Isaac was old….” We aren’t told how many years intervened between Esau’s nuptials and Isaac’s decision to pass along the blessing. (For that matter, the Genesis account doesn’t tell us at what age in his bachelor life “Esau despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34), nor are we told if Isaac was ever privy to Esau’s birthright renunciation.)
- In the original audio message, Pastor Gutteridge inserted a bit of British lighthearted humor at this point: “Sounds like a Full Gospel Businessmen’s meeting, doesn’t it? They always have to have a feed before they have the… well, I won’t go into that!” ↩
- Isaac lived to the age of 180 (Genesis 35:28). We don’t know how many years intervened between Esau’s first marriages (Genesis 26:34-35) and Isaac’s blessing (Genesis 27). Nor do we know how many years intervened before Isaac and Rebekah sent Jacob off to Paddan-aram to find a bride (Genesis 27:41–28:7). It’s common knowledge that Jacob served his Uncle Laban for twenty years before he returned to Canaan (Genesis 29-31).
After wrestling with God (Genesis 32), reconciling with his twin brother Esau (Genesis 33), and his misadventures among the Canaanites (Genesis 34:1–35:22), Jacob eventually returned to his father’s presence. (Genesis 35:27 makes it seem that there was only one such encounter before Isaac’s death. But surely this mentioned visit is merely to set the scene for Isaac’s death reported in the next two verses. Because of kinship ties and filial obligations in a patriarchal society, the norm would have dictated many visits over Isaac’s ensuing final years.
) So, other than Jacob’s twenty-year absence, we have no details for most of Isaac’s final eighty years on earth, although his death is recorded. ↩
- Pastor Gutteridge delivered this message in 1993, about five years before he died, as it turned out. ↩
- The allusion is to Jeremiah 29:11 kjv, where “expected end” is found in this context:
11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
- This had happened two years previously, in 1991. Having lost Ruth, his wife of many years, Pastor Gutteridge moved from Canada back to England to live with his eldest son and daughter-in-law. That son, Peter, wrote of the incident: “It was a terrifying explosion and fire… I think it was early 1991. It was very frosty, and the fire engines couldn’t get up the hill without putting chains on. The flames had just reached. the thatch(ed roof) when they arrived. God was good in saving us from the worst of it.” Praise God, the Gutteridges themselves were spared, but not so Percy’s library. Whether by flame or water (the latter from the hoses of the fire trucks), the books were lost. Special thanks to another of Pastor’s sons, Andrew Gutteridge, for providing this report. ↩
- This phrase is from that powerful hymn of consecration, Take My Life and Let It Be ↩
- This is from the chorus of C. Austin Miles’ A New Name in Glory. ↩
- The Hebrew has the idea of collected his strength. Remember that Jacob/Israel at this point was in excess of 140 years old! ↩
- As, for example, Isaac (Genesis 27:1), Eli the high priest (1 Samuel 3:2; 4:15), and the prophet Ahijah (1 Kings 14:3). It was common enough among the aged that the Bible makes a special note of the fact that when Moses died at age 120, “his eyes were not dim” (Deuteronomy 34:7). ↩
- Yet in two senses, it wasn’t “wrong” in God’s sight that Jacob should receive the blessing of the firstborn, despite Rebekah’s and Jacob’s machinations. Recall that the Lord had told Rebekah while Jacob and Esau were in her womb that “the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23). And, “stolen” or not, Jacob legally possessed this birthright from his brother, who had traded it for a meal (Genesis 25:29-34). In the end, Jacob was not the “wrong” recipient in God’s estimation. ↩
- Amos 3:7 ↩
- Ezekiel 36:37 ↩
- Genesis 32:27-28 ↩
- Recall that while Genesis 32:22-30 tells us that “a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day” (v. 24), Hosea further informs us that Jacob wrestled with none other than the Lord Himself, in the person of the Angel of the Lord:
3He took his brother by the heel in the womb,
And in his strength he struggled with God.
4Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed;
He wept, and sought favor from Him.
He found Him in Bethel,
And there He spoke to us—
5That is, the Lord God of hosts.
The Lord is His memorable name.
- The entirety of Wrestling Jacob can be found on our website. ↩