In the book, The Call of the Elijah Revolution, which I co-authored with Lou Engle, I speak of three stages and types of the overall awakening. We can see these three awakenings—the gentle, the rude and the great—in world events and Church history as well as in the Bible.
If you have been a Christian for any length of time, you will know that the past twenty years or so have been marked with a growing awareness of God’s desire for intimacy with His people. God’s awakening process has taken the form of outpourings of His Spirit that are designed to help people fall in love with Him. These outpourings have been called “the River” or “the Father’s Blessing” or simply “renewal or even revival.” People across the earth have experienced God’s presence first-hand and have grown in their freedom to love and laugh and enjoy the goodness of the Lord.
Within the same time frame, an intercessory prayer movement of unprecedented proportions has risen up, one which it shows no signs of waning. It has taken many forms, from multiple prayer-oriented ministries such as 24/7, “harp and bowl”, worship and intercession, the Global Day of Prayer, simple, faithful, individual prayer and fasting to name a few. Our ministry hosts an Internet based Global Prayer Storm where people around the world enter into “The Hour That Changes the World” (see www.prayerstorm.com for more information on how to be apart.) Christians, especially those in the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Third-wave segment of the Church, have been awakened by their loving Father and are now devoted to “keeping watch” night and day.
This prophetic restoration has come in on the heels of the restoration of evangelism as an important task of the Church. Each of these—prayer, prophecy, evangelism—are aspects of God’s gentle awakening.
Alongside signs of revival in the Church, we have seen many developments among the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Messianic Jewish congregations are multiplying, even within the nation of Israel, and unprecedented waves of immigration from all over the world have swelled the population of that country.
Historically, the Jewish people have experienced waves of revival in terms of coming to faith in Jesus as the Messiah. The first waves, of course, were captured in the first chapters of the book of Acts. In more recent history, in the 1880s through 1900 (prior to World War I), a new wave hit Europe; some say that as many as 100,000 Jewish people came to faith.
Between 1967 and 1975 (at the same time that Jerusalem was being re-established under Jewish control), the charismatic renewal, which gave rise to many of the developments I mentioned just above, was burgeoning all over the world. This charismatic Jesus revolution scooped up many Jewish people across America. That’s when Jews for Jesus and other similar organizations were born, proclaiming, “Yeshua is alive!” The news was met with skepticism for sure, but a number of people, especially young people, became His disciples. Messianic leaders, “fathers,” if you will, rose up in fulfillment of Malachi 4:5–6 (nkjv):
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Not only did the “fathers” rise up, but the “children” took hold of the covenant that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as they learned how to honor the patriarchs.
In the early 1980s, the nation of Israel experienced a minor revival—which was major for those days. Perhaps fifty to eighty thousand Jewish people became believers in Yeshua as the Messiah. Subsequent to that, in the early 1990s, significant parts of the former Soviet Union (Russia, Ukraine and Belarus) saw stirrings and awakenings. Thousands of “people from the land of the north” emigrated to Israel (more about this later in this book). Wave upon wave of Jews has come (to faith, and/or to the Land), and they keep coming. While the exact meaning remains a mystery, Revelation 7:4 gives a specific number, 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel, who will be “sealed.” The fruit of that sealing is portrayed in subsequent verses:
[B]ehold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
The plan is underway. Gradually and gently, the Jewish people have begun to wake up. Gentile believers have been waking up too, becoming aware of their responsibilities toward their Jewish brethren even as they become yoked with God’s agenda. They have learned that praying for Israel means tapping into God’s purposes for the nations of the earth. World revival is coming and so is the Lord Himself—and all of it is connected to the Jewish people. Each of us has a role to play. We have to wake up to the global realities even as we act locally in obedience to the Holy Spirit.
These developments are part of what I am calling the “gentle awakening” where He woos His people. In His kindness and mercy, God wants to restore people to righteousness and true life. When they don’t respond to His repeated, gentle overtures, He—still because of his kindness and mercy—resorts to what I call “a rude awakening.”
When people turn their faces to the wall and refuse to wake up to the Lord’s gentler awakenings, they set themselves up to be shaken awake, rudely. Central to the Lord’s awakenings is holiness. The prophet Amos described how He drops His plumb line to see how the obedience of His people measures up.
Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. The Lord said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,
“Behold I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel
I will spare them no longer.
“The high places of Isaac will be desolated and the sanctuaries of Israel laid waste
Then I will rise up against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”
When God’s plumb line, which is His absolutely perfect standard of righteousness, exposes how sinful people are, He begins to set off alarms to get their attention. This can entail much shaking and quaking, often quite literally. Natural disasters fall into the category of rude awakenings, as do terrorist attacks and wars.
God wants to wake up as many people as possible in time for the global great awakening that lies in the near future. Time is growing too short for a merciful God to wait for everybody to respond to His gentle awakenings.
Rude awakenings often are not pleasant. In fact, they can feel like one disaster after another. And yet they can be effective. Rude awakenings drive people to their knees in surrender to their sovereign Lord. People repent, which is another way of saying they begin to line up with that divine plumb line.
Where Israel is concerned, the rude awakening can be used to drive people back to their ancestral land. It can give them a new heart a “heart of flesh,” to replace the old, stony heart of blind disbelief.
This is truly “life from the dead” for the Jewish people and for the world (see Romans 11:15). It will precede the greatest awakening of all time and the final return of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
The whole world is gripped in a war. Some, speaking prophetically of the days in which we live, term it “World War III.” It’s a war of terror and jihad in which radical Islam is out to destroy the West, including Israel. Threats are credible. Violent death occurs daily. And yet most Westerners are quite comfortable, relatively unaware of the situation and for the most part unaffected by it. They ignore the defiant threats of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the late Osama bin Laden while they concern themselves with personal matters.
This world war touches every continent. It features human rights abuses, genocide, corruption, and overt hatred, which are, more often than not, clothed in religious terminology. It’s a spiritual war with physical manifestations. Now hear me out – It’s going to get worse. The right response is not fatalism or denial, it’s prayer, and lots of it. Pray for protection and relief, and don’t forget to focus sharply on the real goal—awakening. Nobody should sleep through such a rude awakening. It’s time to wake up! Why? Cause God declares it is also going to get better! The dark will get darker and then light will shine and penetrate this temporary present darkness!
Global Great Awakening
On the other side of the gentle and rude awakenings lies the greatest awakening of all time! This awakening will affect all people, because it is the prelude to the climax of the ages, the return of Jesus/Yeshua, Christ and Messiah. No one knows fully what this awakening will look like.
But we do know how to prepare for it. What should our preparations look like? For starters, they should include a response to the voice of God, whether His voice is an inaudible whisper or He is shouting through our pain (to paraphrase C.S. Lewis).
Having gotten their attention, God is calling to action a large number of believers across the earth. These Christians are radical. They have heard His call to become modern-day Nazarites. They are single-minded and single-hearted, sold out to the task of reclaiming a lost world for the kingdom of God. Disregarding the high personal price, they have banded together and are willing to live sacrificially and to pray and fast and take a stand for righteousness and revival.
The goal of their prayers is the ultimate awakening of Israel. “All Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion; He will remove ungodliness from Jacob’” (Romans 11:26). The second part of that passage is quoted from the prophet Isaiah, who wrote, “‘A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 59:20).
The prophets pointed to this. Jeremiah wrote: “‘They will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.’”
This is a final awakening, a pronouncementof the story to God’s chosen people, the Jewish people. The last days are upon us. Whether you’re a Gentile or a Jew, wake up. Don’t miss the Day of His manifested presence and His soon-coming!