It's good to be with you, and it has been a true privilege and a delight to be ministering over this Convention weekend with you. I'm glad that tonight my job is done and I can have a rest tomorrow - some of the speakers can't say that, but it's good to have been with you, and particularly to have known the Lord's help bringing messages from His heart. I want to do that again tonight, let me just say before I launch in that often we as evangelicals pray - and I find this in Gospel Missions in particular - we pray before the event, and we pray during the event, and then we give up praying after it. I want to appeal to you to not just pray for these meetings after, but pray for the preachers after. Please do that, because I am quite afraid at times of after, when God has helped and God has visited. Sam Workman has already been mentioned tonight, and what a man of God if ever there was one - he said to me on one occasion: 'Make sure, David, that the devil doesn't get your victory'. What an important principle that is. Do pray for us please, that the Lord will protect and preserve us.
I want you to turn with me to Joel chapter 1, and we will be looking at chapter 2 as well. We'll not be reading them all, but a few verses from each - Daniel, Hosea, Joel; find Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, and then Joel. If you haven't been at any of the sessions where I've been preaching so far, we have been taking a theme right throughout, that of 'Solemn Assembly'. If you don't know what that is, you will by the end of the message. A solemn assembly appears to have been an integral part of biblical revivals, a vital preparation for when God was going to move and do something spectacular and supernatural. We've been applying certain factors, common traits in revivals, to four portions of Scripture and four Old Testament characters. The first on Saturday evening was that of King Jehoshaphat, then on Sunday afternoon we looked at Ezra the priest, this morning we looked - what did we look at this morning? - King Hezekiah, I was going to have to ask somebody there! Tonight we're going to look at God's man, Joel.
So we're looking at verses 13 and 14 of chapter 1 first of all, and then skipping over to verse 12 of chapter 2. So chapter 1:13-14, the prophet, inspired by the Lord, says: "Gird yourselves and lament, you priests; Wail, you who minister before the altar; Come, lie all night in sackcloth, you who minister to my God; For the grain offering and the drink offering are withheld from the house of your God. Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD".
Over to chapter 2 verse 12, and we're reading just down to verse 17: "'Now, therefore', says the LORD, 'Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning'. So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him; a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, 'Spare Your people, O LORD, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?''".
Now I've invited you every session so far to come to the Lord now in prayer. I want you to pray now, I want you to pray for yourself, pray for those around you if you feel that way, but I want you to pray that God might speak to you. I hope we have come tonight - I'm expecting God - and I hope that you have come to hear from heaven. You know, we do hear from heaven, but not often are our hearts tuned to hear. So let us come, and if you're not prepared, get prepared for God has something to say. So let's come to the Lord and seek His face now: Father, Abba Father, Holy Father, we bow before You in that all-victorious name of the Lord Jesus, and through the merits of His precious, shed blood. We thank You, Lord, for the new and living way that we have to come in boldness to the throne of grace, where we can find grace and mercy to help in time of need - and, Lord, we're in a time of need! A time of need, now, in this moment - but we're in a time of need as the church of Jesus Christ at this particular epoch of our history. We're in a time of need in our land, O God, on this island and in this group of island nations - Lord, we're in time of need, and we need grace, nothing but Your grace will do, Lord. Lord, You know the message that's on my heart tonight. I have sought not to be disobedient to the heavenly vision. O God, I pray tonight, that You will speak with the voice that wakes the dead, and make Your people hear. Lord, do something tonight, we're desperate - when shall we come and appear before God? O Lord, we long for You, our hearts thirst and cry after the Living God. Lord, nothing else but Your presence will do. Come, Lord, we pray - we're hungry, we're thirsty, we're longing for You, Lord. Come tonight and meet with us, for Christ's glory and for the good of His church, Amen.
Solemn assemblies have been an integral part of biblical revivals, a vital preparation for when God was going to do something. Just to recap where I've been for a moment or two: a solemn assembly is simply when God, by His Holy Spirit, says to the hearts of His people: 'Gather My saints together unto Me', and there is a move of God - this is not an orchestrated or human-organised thing, it is not based on effort or human ingenuity, it is a move of God where God births something in His people's hearts, sometimes independently. People who have not known one another, separately, never have their paths crossed, and God imparts something to them of a great need and a burden. It, in a very strange, supernatural way, brings those people together, and over a period of time a solemn assembly takes place.
Some of the factors that have preceded revivals, Richard Owen Roberts has highlighted four in particular, and I've applied them to all these four solemn assemblies. The first thing that happens is that there is a tragic declension among the people of God. Revival is preceded by a period of both moral and spiritual decline among the congregation of God's people. Joel's era is no exception among God's people. Joel is a pre-exilic prophet, that means he prophesied before Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity. We believe that most likely he prophesied during the time of Elisha, who was prophesying to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It was the time when Joash was the boy king of Judah, so that might be able to place it into some kind of chronological history for you, biblically speaking.
The people of Joel's day were guilty of flagrant sin that had to be confessed and had to be put away, and that's what happens at solemn assembly. God draws, by His Spirit, His people together for the main purpose of getting right with Him: repentance, confession, renunciation, forsaking of sin; and then a renewal of their faith and obedience toward God - that is a solemn assembly. Boy, did these people need to do it. Yet it's quite strange in a way, because the only sin that Joel the prophet mentions against the people is the sin of drunkenness. If you look at the passage, you will see that in verse 5 of chapter 1: 'Awake, you drunkards, and weep; And wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for it has been cut off from your mouth'. Now, does that mean that the only sin they were guilty of was drunkenness? Well, let me just say that that was a serious enough sin! As you look at the prophets, Hosea and Amos, we see that this was a sin that the prophets often condemned, and it's increasingly becoming a problem among God's people as social drinking becomes more acceptable, particularly in middle-class evangelical homes that have never seen the wreckage that alcohol can do to a family. I'm not being legalistic, I'm not telling you what to do, I'm just warning you of the danger of drunkenness.
But why did Joel, by the Spirit, home in on this particular sin? Here's why: drunkenness epitomised all the careless people in the land who just lived for pleasure. We are living in a similar generation. In fact, Paul the apostle gives us an insight into what it will increasingly be like in the last days, in 2 Timothy 3:1-2 and verse 4 he says: 'But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God'. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a killjoy - I love a good time like anyone - but we live in a society today, if ever there was one, and it would be applicable to say as Paul did of some in Philippians chapter 3, that their god is their belly. They live to satisfy the flesh, the sensual appetites, as if all there is is the physical, material realm. They are agnostic, gravely atheistic some, in regard to the spiritual realm - and so they just live for the things of the flesh. We were driving home over the M3 I think it was yesterday afternoon, passing the Odyssey last night, that great arena, and I told my wife: 'Just look over there at the cars, the myriads of cars there on a Lord's Day evening!'. I said to my wife: 'Barbara, that is the cathedral in Belfast tonight, that is where worship is going on'. Their God is their belly, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - just living to satisfy the sensual appetites.
This was a tragic declension that came upon the people of God that necessitated the prophet to announce a judgement that was upon them, and that is the second feature that is common, preceding each revival of God's people. There is a righteous judgement from God. Without exception in the Old Testament revivals have always been preceded by some kind of a righteous judgement from God. Some of them have been drastic, but many of them have been remedial, disciplinary, in order that God's people should awaken, that they should come to their senses, that they should be quickened, and they should return to the Lord. Joel's message grew out of such a judgement, in fact it was a national calamity for Judah. As we read this prophet, we find out that God visited a plague of locusts of such proportion upon the nation that nothing like it had ever happened before. Look at chapter 1 verses 2 and 4: 'Hear this, you elders, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land! Has anything like this happened in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? Tell your children about it, let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten'.
Now some translations would give us the impression that there are four different insects that are described here - the canker worm and so on - but it's not the case. These are not four different insects, rather they are four different stages in the growth of the locusts. What is probably trying to convey is the idea that there were successive swarms of locusts that came upon Judah destroying what the previous battalion of locusts had left behind, successions of destruction. I'm led to believe that there are 90 varieties of the locust, and any is well able to destroy a nation. In fact, in our modern age in some parts of Africa, locusts have been known to cover the whole surface of the ground over areas of more than 2000 square miles. Do you know what that is? That's an area about half the size of Northern Ireland! Their excrement can be smelt 150 miles away, and they are a source of pestilence because of the putrefaction of their accumulated bodies. God sent this locust swarm upon His people. If you look at chapter 2 and verse 2, you will see it suggests that the great swarm was so dense that it blotted out the sun and the moon. If you look at verse 11 of chapter 2, you will see that God actually calls these locusts 'My army', they were like horsemen. He repeats this in verse 25 as well: 'My army' - so right away we are aware where this judgement is coming from, it is divine chastisement! Does God want to judge His people? No. Does God want to chastise us? No. But because we do not dwell in covenant with God, and when we are disobedient we move from out of under His blessing and we move into an area where He must - by covenant right as sons and daughters, and as His bride, the church - He must deal with us. So He withdraws His gracious influence and allows such judgement to take place.
Judah was not abiding in covenant. In Deuteronomy 28 we have the covenant, verses 38 and 39 read thus, listen carefully: 'You shall carry much seed out to the field but', because of your sin, the implication is, 'you will gather little in, for the locust shall consume it. You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them'. Israel and Judah knew the consequence of not abiding in covenant with God, and so God allowed this plague to come upon them. In fact, it's called here: 'The Day of the Lord'. Now, of course, there is an end-time interpretation of an army that will invade Israel in the last days, but there is a sense in which, as Campbell Morgan said, it is always the Day of the Lord. No matter what calamities may come to men and nations, God is God, and He is always in control. Do you know what 'Joel' means? 'The Lord Is God', and these calamities reminded the people that there was a judgement coming, that there is an end-time, that there was a God with whom they had to do, whom they were in covenant with. As you read through this book, in addition to the terrible plague of insects, there was a fierce drought that inflicted the land. The fields were ruined, the drunkards, we read, wailed because they had no wine to drink. The priests mourned because no one could bring the grain offering and the sacrifices to the house of the Lord.
I want you to see that, because of the sin of the people of God, the actual land itself mourned! It was as if the land was wailing and weeping because of a lack of God's blessing in their midst. The vinedressers wailed, the beasts groaned while the herds of the cattle wandered aimlessly because there was no pasture for them. The people themselves, it says, wailed like a virgin girdled with sackcloth for the bridegroom of her youth. What I want you to see, and it's all very profound, but this is the message: the whole land, whatever land we're talking about tonight, suffers when there is an absence of the blessing of God upon His church - the land suffers! Even the national economy was devastated - does that ring true at all? All these were signs of divine displeasure, God was trying to get the attention of His people.
A righteous judgement from God because of their tragic declension, but we have also seen a third common factor preceding revivals: the raising up of an immensely burdened leader or leaders. Here we have Joel, and he's given divinely inspired instructions for such an hour. Look at verses 1 and 2 of chapter 1: 'The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel. Hear this, you elders' - that was his message, 'Hear!'. What he was really saying was: 'Let the Lord interpret these events for you, hear the word of the Lord!' - that was Joel's ministry, 'This is how you need to interpret the events that are taking place, this awful devastation upon your land'.
Now, I want to ask you tonight: how do you interpret world events? How do you interpret what's going on in Western Europe? How do you interpret what's going on in the so-called developed, civilised world? How do you interpret what goes on in the British Isles, and what is going on here in our province and our island of Ireland? You see, we're not to seek understanding from listening to political or religious commentators - no, no! Neither are we to look to sociologists or even theologians, we are to look to the Lord - and that was Joel's message: 'Hear the word of the Lord! Hear what God says about this!'. That was one role of the prophets in general: to interpret historical events in the light of the word of God in order to help the people of God understand the mind of God and the will of God, what needed to be done.
Well, how do you interpret things? Joel wanted Judah to understand what God was saying to them through these calamities, and no doubt he had to wait upon God for the word from God to know what God's mind was. I want to ask you tonight, and be very pointed in my application: in the light of global and national events, are we asking, is the church asking, are you, believer, asking, 'What is God saying to us?'? In this recession, this financial crisis - read the prophet Haggai, in his day they were earning money, and he said: 'You will earn money, and you'll put it in a bag with holes. It will come to nothing, I will blow on your produce. Consider your ways! My house lies waste, but your houses are the best palaces available!'. He was trying to get their attention, that's how Haggai interpreted his recession. What about the wars? I mentioned that our nation is fighting a series of unwinnable wars, how are we to interpret this? How are we to interpret the crumbling of the institutions, such as marriage, that have endured millennia, and yet to our generation they are falling to such ungodliness that is unprecedented? How do we interpret this?
I touched on Irish history earlier, how do we interpret the history of Ireland? Most of us think we know it, and we don't, and I'll be the first to admit that I'm far from an expert - but all I had to do recently was take a bus tour around Belfast, and I realised that the problems of Belfast were far more than just Protestant and Roman Catholic, that's for sure. How do we interpret these things, the history of Ireland? How do we interpret where our province is today, the political settlement that there is today? I'm not commenting on what this party, or that party has done, I'm not terribly interested in that, I'm interested in what God thinks! What God is trying to do and trying to say to His people in the midst of such a situation as this! In the light of God's word, what does it all mean? Not in the light of political ideology or religious dogma, but in the light of the living, proceeding word of God from the throne of God now - what does it all mean?
I'm sure you've heard the expression that Ireland was the land of saints and scholars - well, it used to be known that way. But have you considered, when you look at our history, even at a glance, that our people have unusually had God's hand upon them down through the years. Take Patrick, for instance, the apostle of Ireland who was said to have baptised perhaps around 120,000 Irish men and established as little as 300 churches, some figures go up to 600 churches on this isle - a mighty man of God, blood-washed, a great evangelist - you read his confessions. But it doesn't stop with Patrick, in the sixth century there was Columbkille and Columbanus - who, incidentally, trained in Bangor - aye, this Bangor. Both Columbkille and Columbanus established monasteries, really like modern-day Bible schools, and they sent missionaries all over Europe to evangelise the pagans. In fact, Columbkille believed in people - and this is a quote from him - 'becoming exiles for Christ'. It is reputed that he was the missionary who Christianised Britain. He went to the Isle of Iona in Scotland, and eventually over to Northumbria in England and settled monasteries there, and moved right throughout the British Isles evangelising. Columbanus, a native of Bangor, went to Gaul in 591. He founded two monasteries in France before travelling through modern Germany, Switzerland, and Italy - do you know this history? Do you? This is your spiritual heritage! It was the Irish, the early Celtic saints, who blazed a trail for Christ, and it is not an exaggeration to say that it was from these shores that Christ was preached to much of Western Europe. Might I say, long before there was a Roman Catholic or Protestant church, God's hand has been unusually upon this isle. There was once a great missionary commission upon this nation.
Of course there have been several revivals throughout our history, not least 1859, but that was only one. To come back to Bangor in the 1920s, of course Northern Ireland politically was in a state of chaos, and politicians were at their wits end - murder and mayhem seemed to be inevitable, but another native of Bangor - Bangor is a very blessed place - W.P. Nicholson was raised of God. Some believe that through his ministry the nation was saved from Civil War. Now, of course, we all know very well that there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then, and a lot of blood spilt - but I want to tell you here tonight, and I believe from the heart of God, that God is not through with this nation yet. The heart of God is to do a new thing. Isaiah said it, and it's burned upon my heart in these days: 'Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert' God is putting into the hearts, particularly of many young people, a remnant, a freshness, and a vigour for God to move again - and it's exciting! It's exhilarating! I believe it's a good time to be a Christian!
But I'll tell you: it'll not come easy. Something radical needs to happen, and that's what happened during these revivals. You've been with me, or if you have you must know this as well as I do: a tragic declension, a judgement from God, raising up of a leader or leaders who are burdened, and then some extraordinary action that takes place - and the most common was the solemn assembly, that's what he calls Judah to in chapter 1 verses 13 and 14. In chapter 2 verses 12 to 17 Joel called a solemn assembly, and all the people were required to attend - and that speaks of unity, and that's what we need in the church! Now I'm not naive enough to believe that denominationalism will cease, though I would love it to - but I believe we're moving into an era, particularly among young people, where denominations are less important than they have ever been. Praise God for that! Those in whose hearts God is moving need to unite together, those who are being imparted a vision from heaven need to come together. They were all required to return to the Lord with all their hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning - and it was for a protracted period of repentance, that's the solemn assembly.
They were required to rend their hearts and not their garments. In chapter 1 verse 11, Joel calls the farmers to lament. In verses 13 and 14 he calls the priests to repent. Do you know something? This is costly, and I'll tell you more: it might cause inconvenience for us. I said this morning, as I spoke of Hezekiah, and they had to postpone the Passover because there was rubbish in the house of God that needed cleared out and sent to the rubbish tip. They were prepared as Jews - imagine it! This was a sacred thing that they would never dream of missing, but there was something more important, and that was to get their hearts right with God. They had to suspend the program - I believe that's what God is saying to the church here in the North! You've got to stop going through the motions and admit that there is something drastically wrong, and you need to seek the Lord's face and ask: 'Why has this befallen us?'.
Here we see the same, the farmers who wanted to earn money have to suspend their labour. Boy, even the honeymooners had to leave their honeymoon. Look at chapter 2 verse 16, at the end: 'Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room'. Oh, how many times do we hear: 'It's the most important day of your life' - sure the law of God even allowed a soldier to miss war for a full year because of marriage. But do you see the seriousness of the predicament among God's people: this was more important than the most important day of your life. You see, this is the heart of God that is being imparted to the people, and it changes everything. The value system is completely opposite. Even the mother with a suckling infant at her breast was required to be there, for it was time to seek the Lord. I ask you tonight from the depths of my soul: is it not time to seek the Lord? They were not to weep because of the consequences of the judgement that their sin had brought on the land, but they were to weep over their sin.
In verse 13 of chapter 1 he calls them to gird themselves, that simply means 'Put on sackcloth'. Now let me inform you of how the Hebrew mind would have worked here: immediately he would have called them to gird themselves, these people who knew God's covenant instinctively would have went to 2 Chronicles 7:14, 'If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land'. They knew that this is the process that was beginning, that's how they would have understood it: it's time to seek the Lord! Is it not time, I ask you? I'm sorry for folk here who aren't from Ireland, but I, in these messages, have such a burden - and yet it's our isles really, we're all so connected and intertwined - but I ask you, people of our nation: is it not the case that Ireland has been manipulated long enough by Satan? He is the murderer, he is the father of lies and propaganda, and his princes in heavenly realms have bound our people in spiritual fetters long enough: political and religious fetters. The tragic thing is that the church has joined in with it! We must repent! We must purge ourselves of all idolatry, but will we? Will we?
There's nothing more that I would love to see happening in Ulster in particular - not because the rest of the island is unimportant, but because there needs to be a real work done up here, because there is a hardness here that there isn't elsewhere. We're like the Jews, you know, in blindness. I would love to see a stadium, I would love to see the Odyssey, I would love to see a public place filled with the people of God not for a convention, not for a concert, but for a solemn assembly to seek the Lord as to why this has befallen us!
I want you to know that the solemn assembly was not wishful thinking, it wasn't a haphazard hope that God would hear them, but it was upon the basis of God's covenant. They understood that God would hear and answer their prayer if they engaged with God's covenant promises. God promised to answer, it's His covenant-keeping character. It's mentioned here in chapter 2 verse 13, look at it: 'Rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm' - that is a description of the attributes of God that were recited to Moses when he met with God on Mount Sinai, when he interceded for the sins of the children of Israel. God revealed to him that He wants to forgive, He wants to restore, He wants to revive, He wants to renew - what an encouragement! There is no reason why we should stay under the judgement of God for one more moment, if we will choose to seek God's face!
I do want to end on this positive note in my messages: that the Lord might wound, but He also heals. Hosea said: 'Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up'. Look at verse 20 of chapter 2, we see it here, the healing of the Lord: 'But I will remove far from you the northern army, and will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea; his stench will come up, and his foul odour will rise, because he has done monstrous things. Fear not, O land; Be glad and rejoice, For the LORD has done marvellous things!'. Do you see this? In verse 20 the enemy has done monstrous things, but those monstrous things of our history will be replaced with marvellous things; and joy will take the place of fear. Look at verse 25: 'So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you' - I will restore! Glory to God!
There would be a bumper harvest. He promises that the crops would be there for all, everything that they have lost would be restored, all that had disappeared in drought, famine, and the locust plague. Now listen, let's be real: you cannot literally recover years, that can't be done - but God has a strange and mysterious, supernatural, wonderful way of giving back wasted fruit, missed out years of blessing, even centuries of barrenness; God is the eternal, benevolent compensator! 'I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten' - is that a personal word to someone here tonight, someone in the situation that Paul had been in? You think you've burned your bridges, and you've lost credibility, and you can't go back, you've messed up - please listen to the word of God to you tonight: 'I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten'.
There is a corporate word here, is there not, to the church and to the nation. Listen: these successive waves, swarms of locusts, destruction - one, two, three, four - what one wave left behind, the next destroyed, but God will restore it all. How will He do this? It seems a tall order, doesn't it? Well, He will do it the way He always does it, by an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 28 of chapter 2: 'And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days'. Can I ask you tonight: have you had your own personal Pentecost? This isn't preached today, I didn't preach it for years because I didn't know it. Some people call it 'the baptism of the Holy Spirit', 'the fullness of the Spirit', 'a crisis', 'a perfect love', 'a sealing of the Spirit'. I agree with Billy Graham in this much, he said: 'I don't care what you call it, just get it!'. I have my own convictions about what to call it, but wait till I tell you this: times have changed, but the need for the Holy Spirit's power has not. I think because of our increasingly secular and pagan society, we today need more of an apostolic demonstration of power in the Holy Spirit - I really do believe that. We know that these verses are partially fulfilled at Pentecost, but we are still in the last days - they started at Pentecost. These verses can be fulfilled now, and I believe they will be fulfilled more as we approach the return of Jesus Christ. O, for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Ireland! O, for a nationalist Pentecost!
In response to the corporate repentance of the people, through the use of their divinely ordained means of a solemn assembly, the land rejoiced. The land was made glad, the pastures of the wilderness turned green, the trees and the vines bore fruit because God was in their midst again.
'O for the floods on the thirsty land!
O for a mighty revival!
O for a sanctified, fearless band,
Ready to hail its arrival!'.
Are you ready? I've never been in the Faith Mission, I've never studied at the College - they'll maybe never have me back after this, I don't know! But Duncan Campbell is a man who has had such an impact on my life, he's already been mentioned tonight, but what many do not know is that while the Lewis revival was still going on Duncan Campbell came to the Faith Mission Bible College to address the students. He told them of a midwife who had a vision of Ireland. Her vision was of Ireland in darkness, but then all of a sudden the light came breaking out in the South, and then filled the whole land. In 1964, while preaching at a conference in Northern Ireland, it may well have been the Bangor Convention, Duncan Campbell prophesied - I quote him: 'Ireland will have riots, and revival'. In the light of this he came aside to seek the face of God, during which he received a vision of the coming revival to Ireland. He described, and I quote him again, how God would visit the island through small bands of praying people in the country districts. That evening, after preaching his last message at the convention, he just said: 'God took over'. The people were gripped with awe and no one could move for the next best part of a half an hour, during which there was a divine stillness and a quietness. At least four people heard indescribable sounds from heaven, and then they all began to pray and weep.
In verse 20 of chapter 2, God said: 'I will remove far from you the northern army, and will drive him away into a barren and desolate land, with his face toward the eastern sea and his back toward the western sea; his stench will come up, and his foul odour will rise, because he has done monstrous things', and then verse 21, look at it, 'Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the LORD has done marvellous things!'. This army from the North would be driven away just like the locusts, they would be driven away - and do you know what many believe the fulfilment of this was? In one night, only one night, God killed 185,000 Assyrians who came against the people of God - the Lord did marvellous things for them. Does that sound familiar, that statement? 'The Lord did marvellous things for them' - do you know why it sounds familiar? Because, most likely, out of that event this was written: 'When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, 'The LORD has done great things for them'. The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad. Bring back our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him'.
Let us pray. What is God saying to you? What is God saying to the Faith Mission? What is God saying to you, minister, pastor, elder, church leader? Something drastic needs to be done - we need, as Bible believers, to cut our ties with sectarian spirits and be done with any manifestation of sectarianism that taints the Gospel. I'll not make any friends for saying these things, but I don't care. I want to bring you tonight the heart of God: He is a jealous God, and He will not share His glory with another. Will you be a part of what God wants to do in our land? Do you need to repent of your sin, your own sin, you know there's baggage there and it's keeping you back? Do you need to come to the Lord tonight? Maybe you're not even converted, and you don't understand a word I'm saying, but your spirit has been touched by the Holy Spirit and you know you need Christ. Well, come out for Christ tonight and be born-again. You need to make right things before God - you're a believer, but you need to sever ties, you need to renounce practices. Well, now's the time to do it. Is there a better time than now? You tell me that. You leaders of God's people, are you all that? Have you it all sorted? Have you? I'm not talking down to you, I need the Lord! I need Him, I'm bankrupt, I'm empty, I need the Lord! Do you not? Do you not need to come out?
I hope there's no pride, pride has to go out the window. Maybe if you, as a leader of God's people, took the lead, who knows what would follow? Joel said for the priests to weep between the porch and the altar, to lie on their face all night. Is it hard to come out at a meeting? They were to lie on their belly for a full evening. I don't know what God is saying to some of you, but I know God is speaking, and I want you to respond to God. Are there those in our meeting tonight - and we're much more cramped than down the road - but are there are those who will stand and say: 'I'm repenting of my sin'? Are there those who will seek God for deliverance from things in their heart, bitterness and unforgiveness, and sectarian religious spirits that they have imbibed, and they think it's evangelical Protestantism but they've been sold a pup, for it's of the devil himself at times - it's nothing more than empty religion. Is there someone who doesn't know how to change, doesn't know what to do? Just confess, God will change your heart! Be real with Him, come into the light, He will do the work - if you're willing, He will do it! But you must come. Is God calling some of you to go to the harvest field? I don't know what God is saying to you, but I know He's saying something, and I'm going to ask you to stand as a public demonstration that God has wrought a work in your heart tonight. Just where you're seated, from that place rise to your feet - do it now.
Now I'm going to pray for these folk, if there are any others you can stand, just take your stand. There is a battle goes on, I'm telling you, in the spiritual. The thing I am touching upon, I really feel it is a high, demonic, spirit principality that has held our people for hundreds of years - and he's not going to give up lightly, but the power of the blood of the Lamb can deliver you. Plead the blood tonight and get to your feet. Now you talk to God from your heart where you are, say to Him what you need to say, repent of what you need to repent, forsake, renounce, commit, believe, obey - whatever it is, do it where you are.
Father, I pray for these souls who have acknowledged Your work in their hearts tonight. Lord, we thank You that You're still the God who speaks, You're the God who is and is not silent. We thank You that we're living in the day of open vision, we thank You that where there is no vision people perish, but we thank You that You're speaking to hearts so that people might be saved, that we might snatch some from the fire, that our land even might rejoice that the very fields, and the hills, and the valleys, the very beasts might rejoice at the presence of God in our midst. O Lord, let it come, we say, like the people in Ezra's day: 'Amen! Amen!'. We raise our hands in consent, let it be so Lord! Let it come, O Lord, we pray Thee, let the showers of blessing fall, we are awaiting and expecting, O revive the hearts of all. We pray for our Catholic neighbours - O God, revive Catholic Ireland. O God, send the fire! We thank You for what You're doing already, but Lord, may it completely consume the island for Jesus Christ and His kingdom. We thank You that Your vision, O God, is one new man, where the wall of partition is broken down. Lord, may we see it in our day and generation in this land. Lord, we're not underestimating the hurt and pain, and the tragedy and the heartache, and the desolation that this land and our people have known. I, Lord, pray for those whose hearts are aching tonight. I pray that You'll bring healing to their pain - but, Lord, that You would give us Your vision for true restoration. Lord, restore unto us the years the troubles have eaten - for Christ and His kingdom's sake, Amen.
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This sermon was delivered at the Faith Mission Easter Convention in Bangor, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourth recording in his 'The Solemn Assembly' series, entitled "Under Joel" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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