Surprised at Yale
It was the last of a week-long series of meetings scattered in cities throughout New England. A team of us had been visiting a number of the prayer movements in five states, encouraging and training leaders, meeting with pastors in various communities, holding evening citywide prayer rallies, and generally planting a vision for revival everywhere we went. Our trip concluding with a gathering of local leaders at the chapel of Yale University.
At the conclusion of the afternoon we united in prayer, seeking God for a greater work of his kingdom on that campus which asking him to seal our many other ministries for Christ during the previous week. Finally there came a time of absolute silence as the sense of God’s presence came upon us. It was during that period that a passage of Scripture leaped into my mind, one I had not read for many years: 2 Samuel 5:1-12. I could vaguely remember the account, so I quietly slipped out my Bible and turned to read the passage in full. Before long I realized that God was providing me a most intriguing analysis of what he ultimately has in store for this generation throughout New England, and of what true revival always looks like when it full comes.
Deciding to share my insights with the others, I rose to speak. But immediately I found myself in tears that flowed wave upon wave. The understanding what God gave me in those moments simply overwhelmed me. I saw the glories of the coming world revival captured in this one story. Since that afternoon, the text has become a major touchstone in my thinking on the hope at hand.
Dress Rehearsals of the Coronation
Throughout this book one way I have defined revival is an approximation of the consummation. Scripture foretells that the consummation deals ultimate with the open, visible coronation of Christ by all heaven and earth—a cosmic coronation. Therefore it should come as no surprise that every approximation of that final revival will also carry a strong sense of coronation—a dress rehearsal of it.
For example, in the final revival the elders, who have already cast their crowns before the throne, fall down before the Lamb because he has redeemed people from every tongue, tribe, and nation to make them a kingdom and priests for God (Rev. 5). In a similar way, in every revival we taste of this preeminent coronation. Confronted with the manifest presence of Christ the King, the church in every revival surrenders afresh to him, renouncing our many other allegiances, abandoning them to give all of our devotion to the Lamb on the throne. In a sense we crown him with our prayers that pursue revival, and then we crown him with our obedient responses to revival when it comes.
It is this same drama that we witness in 2 Samuel 5 when David was finally anointed king by all of Israel. I’d like to conclude this book by describing some of the parallels between David’s coronation and the coming revival for the twenty-first century—when Christ will assume more openly by the outpouring of the Spirit his role as Lord of the church and hope of the nations.
Pictures from 2 Samuel 5:1-12
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”
When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a compact with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel…
The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, “You will not get in here; even the blind and lame can ward you off.” They thought, “David cannot get in here.” Nevertheless, David captures the fortress of Zion, the City of David.
On that day, David said, “Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those ‘lame and blind’ who are David’s enemies.” That is why they say, “The ‘blind and lame’ will not enter the palace.”
David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him…
And David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.
I see in this coronation event the following characteristics of all true revivals:
- They had to come to the end of themselves. The tribes of Israel had tried everything else to bring forth God’s purposes for the nation. There were at a crossroads. The nation as disintegrating. Everything looked hopeless. They were defeated. It was time for a new beginning. Is not the church in general at such a point of need in this hour? Are we not in the thick of dark prospects on the outside and disturbing paralyses on the inside that render us helpless in so many ways?
- Te pursued the one hope they had, and they did so in unity. They knew that the national revival David could give them would come only as he assumed leadership for all the tribes—for the whole people of God. Whatever future there was for the entire nation, it was for all of them together. No tribe would survive long by itself. In the same way, we must seek Christ together as our only hope in the full expectation that when revival comes, it will bring blessing upon the whole body of Christ and lead us as his people into the mission he can only fulfill as he rules over us together.
- The leaders led the way. It was the leaders who needed to take the initiative. Only as they came to their senses, embraced the hope David held 0out to them, and set the pace in the pursuit of his manifest kingship among them would the rest of the nation be rallied to David in readiness for the answers. This is how it must ultimately be in every revival. Determined people who see the hope at hand become pacesetters who incite, unite, and invite. But the elders and spiritual leaders at all levels of the churches must comprise the frontline advance by their prayers and by how they proclaim the hope toward which we are praying. To God’s glory we see today a groundswell of such leadership.
- Their focus was on David alone. They were hopeful that David would be sufficient under God to reverse their fortunes as a nation—to heal the divisions and to lead them triumphantly against their enemies. They had nowhere else to turn. He was their only hope, their only life. He was, they said, “bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh.” They reflected on what David had been for them in the past, the ways he had given them victory in other times. And they longed to see it happen again, but in an even more comprehensive way. And so it is in all true revival: There must be a singular focus of God’s people on the One who is our Leaders, who is bone of our bone, our life, our health, our hope. The centrality of Christ in revival as well as in the pursuit of revival is nonnegotiable. He and he alone is the answer to all of our cries for a worldwide spiritual awakening.
- The Word of God was the basis of their faith. They knew what God has spoken previously about the role David was to play, and they would settle for nothing less. Even so, in all revival God’s Word must be proclaimed throughout the body of Christ, particularly the message of who Christ is in our midst, as the hope of all the glorious things to come (Col. 1:27). Only then will a vision be stirred in us that is sufficiently compelling to drive people to pray and prepare for revival with confident expectation and perseverance.
- The called on David to fulfill one purpose and one along: to be ruler over them. They were ready to submit to the full scope of his lordship, whatever that would mean. As the Scottish reformer Samuel Rutherford described his prayer for revival, they were saying, “Come and conquer us!” Then they waited for his response. They consecrated themselves to him as king, even going so far as to enter into covenant with him. In essence they said if he would come and rule over them, uniting them and leading them to victory, they were willing to follow him wherever he may lead and whatever it might cost. They put their lives on the line and they said so boldly.
Then came the coronation. They anointed him with oil. Even more, they anointed him with their longings toward him, with their love for him, and with their faith in what God would do through him. They confirmed him king as they threw open the doors of their hearts and of their individual tribes, inviting him to take center stage for the whole nation. And he did so. He assumed his full right and role as king, manifesting himself to them as the focal point for the future of the nation. In fact, the very covenant that was made was at the king’s initiative. And this may be the most vivid application of this passage to all spiritual awakenings: It is only when the King sovereignly initiates a new relationship with his people that revival comes upon us.
Of course, every one of the other steps are equally true when revival comes. We precede revival by prayers that call upon the Father to have Christ reign over us in new and more powerful ways. Those very prayers are actually an anointing of our King. Have you ever thought of that? Our lives poured out in prayer are a very special way in which we crown him King of Kings. So are all the answers God gives to our prayers for revival. As we seek his face, God draws us into covenant with his Son to be fully his in the revival that is coming and in all of its implications for the nations.
- They were no longer paralyzed before their enemies. Immediately God began to answer their many other needs. They marched forth to fulfill God’s purposes for their generation. They were no longer on the defensive. They were no longer intimidated by the jeers of the enemy. They were on the offensive, and they attacked the situation with boldness and courage. All because David was king in their midst, uniting them, filling them with his presence, and going before them into battle. The parallels to revival are obvious: In true revival God liberates and galvanizes his people for nothing less than the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
- Destroyed were the strongholds the enemy had raised up against the work of God. The fortress of Zion was so thoroughly divested of the dark forces that had held it captive that its name was changed in honor of the king who had brought these victories to pass. Even so, revival is the greatest act of spiritual warfare the world can ever witness! Through the manifest presence of Christ in his church, God breaks down the strongholds that have been exalted against the knowledge of Christ and brings many thoughts (as well as institutions and peoples) into captivity to Christ.
- The city (and ultimately the nation) began to be transformed. It was built up to be what God intended in the first place. It was restored; it too was revived. David took up permanent residence within the city, manifesting his presence throughout the entire population in such a way that Zion came to be know as the “City of David,” that is, the city where David dwells, where he is active, where he is the central issue.
God has the same desire for our communities, that Christ would become such a focus of attention in answer to our prayers that his coronation by revival would literally transform our cities to become the places where Christ dwells, acts, and prevails.
- God vindicated the coronation before nations. God worked through King David to expand his kingdom throughout all the land and beyond. Pagan powers submitted to him, honored him, joined him. This foreshadows the many ways that Christ’s kingdom has triumphed worldwide in the great revivals of the past, especially through the launching of renewed missionary endeavors and through social reforms. God has no less in mind for our generation—in fact, many feel the mission thrust that is coming may be the final advance.
Awake and Crown Him King
Every one of these steps in the coronation of David has parallel applications to the kind of coronation that takes place in all true revivals. It is exactly what we are waiting for in this hour, with longing and anticipation. This is the hope at hand.
Let us determine in our hearts that we will settle for nothing less than a reenactment of the coronation of David—and beyond that an approximation of the coronation of Revelation 5. May world revival for the twenty-first century be such a dynamic dress rehearsal of the ultimate coronation, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that it mobilizes leaders with new resolve to lead out in the cause of Christ. May it unite the body of Christ in oneness of devotion and purpose. May it bring us to full consecration and obedience to the Lord, worshipping and serving him with one heart and one voice. And may it give us new marching orders in the mission of Christ, tearing down the strongholds of darkness, manifesting the presence of Christ in our cities and throughout the nations, and brining the testimony of his saving work before all peoples. Together let us sing:
Crown Him with many crowns, The Lamb upon His throne;
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own!
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as they matchless King through all eternity.
The Hope at Hand: Appendices and Notes
Not available in online edition. The Hope at Hand paperback is available from various book dealers through Amazon.com.