What is fallow ground?
Notice, there is a human emphasis here -- it says
that we are to break up -- you break up your fallow ground.
Now take another aspect of it here in Psalm 85:6 "Would Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee." So, there is an absence of joy, of vitality -- there is an absence of ecstasy.
The very word "revive" presupposes life. You can only revive what has already had vitality -- life that has become sick, weak, or apathetic. I think the nearest analogy I can give you is a recent case of a man who apparently drowned. He had been under the water for an incredible amount of time. Then somebody pulled him out and worked and worked on him, and eventually life came again.
This is actually what it means to revive,
In the Acts of the Apostles 3:19 we read, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Whatever else we say about revival we have to recognize this, that revival is an act of mercy in the sovereignty of God.
There is a vast difference between revival and evangelism. When we speak of revival in America we think of church advertising, "Our revival will begin next Sunday night at a certain time and it is going to finish the next Sunday night at a certain time." Obviously this is something purely mechanical, it is something which men have engineered.
I think that one of the offenses of revival, in the historic sense, is that it cannot be organized. As Doctor Tozer said, "When revival comes it changes the moral climate of a community."
Revival cannot be organized -- evangelism can be organized.
It may cost millions of dollars, as it often does, to have one of our huge,
modern, so called revivals. You have to pay vast sums of money
for time on TV, for example -- perhaps a million dollars a night.
That's incredible, that's unthinkable to me in
the context of Biblical revival, or even historical revival.
Why doesn't revival need to be advertised? For the simple reason, that fire is the most self advertising thing that there is, whether it is a physical fire or a revival fire. It draws people like a magnet.
To bring this down to modern technology -- revival cannot be computerized.
There are times when you go to a prayer meeting and the power of God is there.
There is stillness and you feel it is creative. You feel,
"Now something is building up around here, somebody is going to
come out shortly with a heart bursting... with some agonizing prayer..."
Revival cannot be rationalized. Again, one of the offensive things about revival is you can't put your finger on the spot, usually, as to how or why or where it began.
You can't predict and you can't organize revival. Why? Because you can't organize where the wind is coming from. The Spirit, the wind, bloweth where it listeth. If you say it's going to come this way, it comes that way. If you say God's going to use that man, very often He doesn't even bother with that man. Revival so often comes through unknown characters.
I don't think the world has ever been in a greater sense of turmoil than it is in this moment. I don't think our nation has. Whatever we shall say about revival we have to recognize this: There are three things about natural life: conception, gestation, and birth. You can't alter the program. There has never been revival, that I can trace, that has not been preceded by agonizing prayer. You might say, "I haven't got to that stage yet of agonizing prayer. How does is come?" Well, it comes through VISION.
If we are really going to get a concept of revival we have to get a vision of God's sorrow over sin. We have to get a concept of how, day by day, we offend God. As a nation we offend God in millions of ways.
Psalm 85:4 says, "Turn us, O God of our salvation and cause Thine anger towards us to cease. Wilt Thou be angry with us forever?" Psalm 80 verse 3, "Turn us again, O God, and cause Thy face to shine." Notice, it's repeated again in verse 7 and in verse 19, "...cause Thy face to shine." "...cause Thy face to shine." You know, I think one of the awesome tragedies of our day is this: the people of Israel could not live if God turned His face away from them and seems now we cannot live if God turns His face on us!
The awesomeness of God's presence... The awesomeness of God's majesty...
Isn't it amazing that with all the Iatola Khomeni has done, he has done some good things. He kicked liquor out of the country. Our president daren't do that. Last week he called his whole nation to five days of prayer and fasting. Do you think we have anybody in Washington who has enough insight to do that? With all the talk of spirituality they don't have enough sense to do that.
Joel speaks about the priests, the ministers of God. Look at Joel 1:13, "Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl ye ministers of the altar, come lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God." Go over to verse 12 of the 2nd chapter, "Turn ye now even to Me with all your heart and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments." Come down to verse 17, "Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people, O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach."
Now, how do you get to that state? There is no way you can jump to that level in ten minutes.
What God wants is not to fill up empty pews.
Have you ever thought about the enormity of the Jewish system? A great monolith of priests and Levites, and offerings and sacrifices, and new moons and Sabbaths, and Urim and Thumin. Then suddenly God puts one solitary individual there and he has one commission. "You go and prepare the way of the Lord."
Now think of the sorrow of God after Adam failed.
Think of the fact that 2000 years have lapsed since Jesus came and did
The human dilemma that we are in right now is that we have never been in a lower point. People say sometimes, "Don't worry, we have got out of situations like this." Oh, no! We haven't. Don't you fool yourself. We've never gotten out of situation like this. You know why? Because we have never been in a situation like this. That's why!
We've never had difficulties like this. We've never had this plague of divorce. We've never had a million girls under 16 becoming pregnant, like last year. What did they say the night before last on the news, "Tonight 20,000 girls over the nation will get pregnant." Sex is a sport. Immorality is an accepted way of life.
People say to me all over the country, "I am interested in revival." I say, "Yes, so are a million other Americans."
I remember as a little boy I used to go to bed at night with a candle... you never had that joy, did you? I remember thinking how many other candles you could bring and light off that candle? I wonder and I wonder. I never found an answer, but I often used to wonder.
It was Charles Wesley who wrote the hymn,
Jesus said, "To bring fire on earth have I come." Did you hear anybody preach on that text? What kind of fire? Well, surely not hell fire. Holy Ghost fire!
Everybody talks about the baptism. So what do you mean by the baptism? There is a baptism with the Holy Ghost and Fire. Not just with the Holy Ghost, but with Fire. When He comes He will "thoroughly purge His floor and burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Which, again,
There will be a thousand people who, if you get a heart and a vision, will say, "Oh, you've got tunnel vision." Hmm? Well, I think the one reason why the Apostle Paul conquered... and triumphed... and out-smarted us... and out-suffered us... and out-prayed us... and out-sacrificed us... and out-preached us was because he settled for one thing: "This one thing I do."
Well, what does this become? Well, I believe this thing becomes an obsession, as I was saying to a brother this morning. For fifty years I've wept, and I've prayed, and I've groaned, and I've read, and I've fasted, and I've met with guys for nights of prayer, and days of prayer, and days and days of prayer, for revival. There isn't much sign of it. Well, are you sure? You see, prayers never die.
Now again, the shadow of darkness and death is over this generation like nothing we've ever had before. And yet, the greatest tragedy of all is this: a sick church in a dying world. We have neither the vision nor the passion, nor at this moment, the intention of setting our house in order -- "to break the fallow ground" -- to prepare the way of the Lord.
My hope is that as we go on here we are not just going to gather information and statistics about revival, but that we are going to individually seek personal revival.
Copyright © 1994 by Leonard Ravenhill - http://www.ravenhill.org/