In Life Sketches, page 425, we read -- "'I have been deeply impressed by scenes that have recently passed before me in the night season. There seemed to be a great movement -- a work of revival -- going forward in many places. Our people were moving into line, responding to God's call. My brethren, the Lord is speaking to us....'"
Here is a forecast of a great movement, a movement that is to carry on a work of a successful revival in many places. Here it is also seen that the people will respond to God's call, and that this envisioned work of revival is to be carried by a Divinely organized movement, not by the Denomination though, and not by a man here and a man there. The movement is God-created, not devised by men.
We have through the years seen numerous persons and groups of persons in different parts of the Adventist world who at one time or another did stage what they termed a "revival and reformation," but not one of them have ever been able to accomplish much, if anything. One by one they end up by quitting in disgust. Rather than being revived and reformed for the better, they after each such effort slid away from God and closer and closer to the level of the
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Clear it must be to every open-eyed Truth seeker that the revival which Life Sketches predicts and pictures is this laymen's movement, for aside from this movement that is now on foot, slowly but steadily sweeping away the rubbish throughout the Adventist world, we have never as yet in the existence of the author's writings in Life Sketches seen another such an organized movement carrying such a revival as this.
The Bible contains the complete plan of salvation for all humanity. How do I know this? -- I know it because It's story begins with creation and ends with the earth made new. Between the first and the last pages of the Bible, then, lies the complete formula for man's salvation and redemption. And if such revival and reformation as here envisioned is to take place in the world between those two events (creation and the new earth), then the material and example of such a work must be found somewhere in the pages of the Bible.
Before we read what the Bible has to say on the subject, I think we should first concretely define the words "revival" and "reformation." For "revival" the dictionary gives: "To restore; to refresh; to renew; to re-awaken; to re-establish." And for "reformation" the dictionary gives this definition: "To make better morally; change for the better."
Christ Our Righteousness defines these terms of speech as follows: "'A revival and a reformation must take place under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening
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of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.'" -- p. 154, 1926 edition; p. 121, 1941 edition.
What is the difference between "revival" and "reformation"? -- Revival means to bring the spiritual qualities back to life; to quicken the mind and the heart to the upbuilding of the spiritual phase of life; to re-establish, to repair. And reformation means to change one's self for the better, to reorganize the moral powers under Divine guidance.
In the Bible there is but one example (type) of such a revival and reformation as the one here predicted. We find it recorded in the books of Haggai's and Zechariah's prophecies.
You remember that those ancient Jews were by Cyrus, king of Persia, released from their captivity as soon as Babylon fell. He made a decree that they should go back to their homeland to rebuild the desolations and the ruins. The king especially decreed that the rebuilding of the temple and the re-establishing of the worship of the God of Heaven should be done faithfully and speedily. A revival of the spiritual part of the nation (the temple and its system of worship) was their chief concern. But according to Ezra 4:24, Cyrus's decree and also another that was issued a few years later, were both frustrated, and in the second year of the reign of Darius, King of Persia, the work completely ceased, and apparently
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there was no hope of ever resuming again.
Then it was that the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were called to their prophetic office and commissioned to revive and to reorganize the builders for the deserted temple project. See Haggai 1:1 and Zechariah 1:1. The happy and surprising result was that within four short years the stately spiritual edifice was quickly finished, whereas all the previous and strenuous efforts of kings and people, covering a period of over thirty years, completely failed. (See Ezra 6:15)
Let us now realistically consider why the builders' efforts and the king's decrees at first failed, and why at last they succeeded: Before Haggai and Zechariah were called to the prophetic office, many of the Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, although the majority remained in Babylon; that is, the builders voluntarily went to build only because the captivity had ended, and because the king had decreed that the temple of God should be built. But both the builders' and the king's efforts were a complete failure -- all came to naught. Then it was that through His prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, God directed the work, and then it was that they quickly finished. In other words, not before the Lord took the reins in His Own hands through the Spirit of Prophecy did the work prosper. In fact, sacred history proves that nothing has ever prospered in God's work without the living Spirit of Prophecy in its midst.
For example, Moses understood from childhood up that his lot it was to deliver the children of Israel from Pharaoh's brickyards. And when he was fully grown up and thoroughly trained in the courts of Pharaoh, and saw himself strong and capable, he
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quickly undertook to deliver the enslaved Hebrew host: killed one Egyptian, got into an argument with a Hebrew, then deserted everything, and without hope of ever coming back he fled the country in complete defeat. Forty years later, after God endowed him with the Spirit of Prophecy, he returned and triumphantly led the Hebrew captives out of Egypt!
These special incidences make crystal clear that no matter how hard men may try to bring about revival and reformation among God's people, their efforts are doomed to failure even before they start if God does not Himself through His prophets take charge of the work.
Now, as to what took place in the way of reformation after the ancient house of God had been built, let us read
Ezra 6:19-21 -- "And the children of the captivity kept the Passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month. For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat."
Let us now connect Ezra's record with that of Nehemiah's.
Neh. 10:28-32 -- "And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives,
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their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding; they clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His judgments and His statutes; and that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons: and if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the Sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt. Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God."
Here you see a record of complete revival and reformation such as had never been. The things that were revived are these: (1) The house of God was rebuilt and the sacred services re-instituted; (2) the old wastes were rebuilt, and the city reinhabited. The reforms which took place were: (1) The priests and the Levites were all purified; (2) all the children of the captivity separated themselves from the filthiness of the heathen; (3) all "entered into a curse and into an oath, to walk in God's law," to observe His judgments and His statutes, not to give their daughters to the people of the land, nor to take their daughters for wives for their sons; (4) they made Sabbath observance a strict rule; and (5) they liberally pledged to support the work of God with their means. Such genuine and complete revival and reformation had never been launched since man fell in sin.
That the revival and reformation of that day is a type of revival and reformation to take place in our day, is principally noted from the fact that the prophecies
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of both Haggai and Zechariah intermingle dual events, one to take place in their day, and another to take place in our day. Says the Lord:
Hag. 2:21-23 -- "Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts."
Here we are told that in the day God destroys the strength of the heathen kingdoms, which event is yet future, He makes ancient Zerubbabel "a signet" of a Zerubbabel in the day the strength of the kingdoms is destroyed. Again we read:
Zech. 2:5, 11, 13 -- "For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.... And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be My people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee.... Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for He is raised up out of His holy habitation."
The wall which the Jews built around Jerusalem in Zechariah's day was of stone, but the one here predicted is to be "of fire," far superior, rendering absolute security to the inhabitants that are within. Moreover, no other people, none besides the Jews, were permitted to join the builders of Jerusalem in
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his day, but in our day many nations are to join. Furthermore, at the fulfillment of these prophecies the Lord requests that all flesh reverently and silently note that He is raised up out of His holy habitation -- that He is now visiting the earth.
Zech. 2:8 -- "For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory [after the church eternal] hath He sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye."
In Zechariah's day the Lord did not send anyone to the nations after anything, but in our day, He is to send antitypical Zechariah (interpreter of Zechariah's prophecies) to the nations that are ruling and exploiting His people, and those nations are to become a spoil and shall know that the Lord has sent him.
Zech. 2:12 -- "And the Lord shall inherit Judah His portion in the Holy Land, and shall choose Jerusalem again."
When the nations join the Lord in the Holy Land, then it is that He shall inherit Judah and again choose Jerusalem. And, most significant of all, He declares that He is already raised up out of His holy habitation to accomplish all these things.
Zech. 8:7, 20, 21 -- "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save My people from the east country, and from the west country;... Thus saith the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: and the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also."
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The prophet's attention was directed to a time when the Lord is to gather His people from both the east and the west; to a time when one city's inhabitants will invite another's to go to the Holy Land. This same prophecy appears in both Isaiah's chapter two, and Micah's chapter four.
Zech. 8:22, 23 -- "Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you."
Obviously, the ten men are a representative figure of universality as are the ten virgins of Matthew 25. If so, then the church as a body will speak all the languages of the nations. Their taking hold of the one that is a Jew, and saying, "We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you," definitely points out that someone, a descendant of the Christian Jews, will proclaim God's ingathering message in the time of the end, and that he will be recognized as such.
Let us now turn to--
Zech. 9:9 -- "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass."
In these prophecies is brought to view the first advent of Christ.
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Zech. 9:10 -- "And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth."
That is, God was to bring the ancient kingdoms, Ephraim and Jerusalem (Israel and Judah) to an end, and then turn to the Gentiles and speak salvation to them. Thus shall His dominion be over all the earth.
Zech. 12:3, 8, 9 -- "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.... In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem."
That is, after disintegrating the ancient kingdoms, Israel and Judah, He is again to re-establish and unify them as depicted in Ezekiel 36 and in other portions of the Scriptures. At that time Jerusalem, the city of the saints, is to become a burdensome stone for all the people of the earth. That is, they will hate the city and its inhabitants and will attempt to take it, but instead they will be cut in pieces; for the Lord will defend His people. Then it is that even the most feeble among the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be as willing, as daring, and as capable as was ancient David. And the house of David -- the kingdom that is to be set up, which is but the church purified, no sinners among them (Isa. 52:1), shall be as the angel of the Lord before the people.
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Since Zechariah's prophecy met only partial fulfillment in the days the Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, and since his writings speak interchangeably of another such movement, the which is to be greater than the former, there is, therefore, no doubt but that the latter is the antitype of the former. Hence, the revival and reformation of Zechariah's time is to repeat in our time. The builders' failure to continue with the work and to bring revival and reformation before Haggai and Zechariah were called to the prophetic office, and their success after God through the prophets took over, perfectly demonstrates that without the living Spirit of Prophecy in the midst no revival and reformation efforts can succeed, and that is why they all heretofore have failed. The type also perfectly demonstrates that since God has now risen from His holy habitation, and has taken the reins in His Own hands, revival and reformation is sure to triumph. It is, therefore, useless to agitate revivals and reformations while one knows not what and how actually to revive or to reform. It is commendable to hold up the standard but it certainly is not in God's order for one to "work up" something and to call it revival and reformation.
In conclusion, let us summarize the two main points which our study of the afternoon has definitely made clear to us: (1) That a work and movement similar to those of Zechariah's day is successfully to bring revival and reformation among God's people of today, that those who expect the promised blessings must whole-heartedly enter into it. (2) That without the living Spirit of Prophecy in our midst, there can be no success in any revival and reformation, and that the sooner we know it the quicker we shall achieve our goal.