From lockdown to revival: Biblical examples and a call to today’s Church

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Lockdown to revival, Bible examples and a call to today’s church

 

By Olufemi Emmanuel PhD

So much have been said and written on or in relation to the Covid 19 Pandemic especially as it relates to the Church. But it appears certain things are still waiting either to be said or to be further emphasized. One of such is how the Church could experience a spiritual awakening going through this challenging period.

This piece is being presented as a biblical perspective of how the current situation that has come upon the world, particularly the Church, can translate to revival that will not just be confined to the Church but to the society at large.

There are historical perspectives to the subject under consideration, perhaps such will be analyzed in the nearest future. But it suffices to first see from the scripture how the Church can leverage on the present situation to draw the attention of heaven for revival.

Does the Bible record any kind of pandemic outbreak during the period, and in the world of the people of whose history and theology it presents? There is no affirmative answer to this question. But similar situations in the Bible to the restriction being experienced today as a result of the current pandemic are recorded in scriptures. And amidst these restrictions, spiritual awakening took place.

The Prophet Isaiah in the 32nd chapter of his book seemed to be alluding to this as he addressed the women of Jerusalem in the 8th Century BC to wake up from their complacency and sense of false security because the harvest of fruits, of grapes and vines will fail; the pleasant fields they cherished so much would vanish and turn to desert places and will be overgrown with thorns and weeds.

Isaiah said the noisy city will be abandoned, watchtowers and citadels will become desolate; fortresses will become uninhabited and wastelands. This brings to mind the realities that the Covid -19 has brought upon the Church today.

The worship environments that used to be flourishing and bubbling with activities have now been forsaken; the functions that characterize corporate worship of church people have been laid aside. The tempo and hypes that use to typify religion have been seriously toned down and mostly laid to rest.

But in Isaiah’s prophecy, the desolations would not be the ultimate end. The situation will only last until there is an outpouring of the Spirit and then will the wilderness turn around to become a fruitful field. That is implying that the state of abandonment is only meant to serve as a basis for an outpouring of the Spirit which is the hallmark of revival.

A number of examples can be cited from the Bible to show how restrictions and difficulties which are similar to what Covid-19 has brought led to spiritual awakening in which the presence and power of God is brought alive again among his people and those who did not know him.

In the days of Elijah, when Jezebel was ravaging like Coronavirus against the prophets in Israel, Obadiah, Ahab’s chamberlain ‘quarantined’ one hundred prophets in a group  of fifty in two caves; he was feeding them with bread and water despite the severity of the prevailing famine ( 1Kings 18). Another example is the case of the disciples of Jesus who due to their fear of the Jews after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus restricted themselves behind closed doors just as churches today now have their doors closed (Jn. 20)

It is not unreasonable to imagine that the prophets in the two caves were not just eating bread , drinking water, sleeping and waking up to steer at each other’s faces; as prophets. They must have been connecting to the heavens and praying.

Their prayers which ascended to the heavens must have been what precipitated as fire and rain in answer to Elijah’s prayers. Most often, Elijah’s ministry is credited with the heaven’s release of fire and rains, that is alright, after all James mentions that in his fifth chapter, but the likely unknown prayer efforts of those Prophets in the caves and the seven thousand in Israel that the Lord left for himself, whose knees did not bow to Baal and whose lips did not kiss him, must not be overlooked. (1Kings 19:18)

It is also important to note that the disciples of Jesus behind the closed doors were not just sitting down, idling by or regretting their situation. The Lord’s appearance to them a couple of times must have spurred them to deep reflections and prayers which prepared the ground for the awakening that birthed the Church.

What could have led to the breaking of the lockdown for the Prophets in the caves and the disciples behind the closed doors? It was nothing but the outpouring that took place. The fire and the rains that descended must have changed the game for those Prophets. The release of the Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost actually threw them out of the closed doors to change their world.

It is important to ask what the Church is doing now in the caves to which she has been restricted due to the ravaging Pandemic. What is the Church doing behind the closed doors? It is good to explore modern technology to find the way round the restrictions.

There is nothing wrong in negotiating the release and opening of church doors with the government. But is the Church seeing this situation in scriptural light as an opportunity to witness another revival? Must the doors be removed by the government or by the Spirit outpouring? Perhaps God is pointing the Church to return to its knees and seek his face for another awakening that no restriction or doors could hold back.

 

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5 Comments on “From lockdown to revival: Biblical examples and a call to today’s Church”

  1. I loved it. I found it easy to read and digest straight to the point without appearing to be judgemental. I liked the way you used the biblical examples to gently nudge the reader to explore them without appearing to chastise or judge the reader’s ignorance. It’s a piece which invites you to reflect on past events to give hope of moving forward to a better tomorrow. I did not find it judgmental but there is an undertone of a mild rebuke for the spiritual establishments to realise that no matter how significant they thought of themselves to be covid-19 has humbled their sense of being untouchable. Best of all you give hope to those who might be feeling overwhelmed by what is happening currently due to lock down. Thanks I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. This is an interesting article, the last line speaks volumes to me
    “Perhaps God is pointing the Church to return to its knees and seek his face for another awakening that no restriction or doors could hold back.”
    The writer did not sound like one that his opinion cannot be challenge nor authoritative but as a learned fellow. Perhaps God is indeed pointing the church to what the author said.

  3. Sir, I see this as a great exposé, and as I know your style which I admire so much, is the application. This is always a mark to identify your work. Taking it from then and bringing it to our time.

    Indeed, you have without any sense of contradiction looked at our situation very constructively. As the Church we all need to see the prevailing circumstance from this perspective you have presented in order to properly articulate our place (where we were before the pandemic and where we are now). By this, I very strongly believe that at this time, we can attempt to fill up the space which we may have left behind, while through the appropriate spiritual and physical preparation focus on our purpose with renewed vigor knowing fully well that God is the one who is in charge of every element of nature.

    Thank you for the very subtle reminder. It is up to us as to decide which of the vessels (gold, wood, precious stones, etc) we would rather be.

    Well done, sir!

  4. Thank you Sir for this perspective. In the light of “All things work together for good”, the Church should see the good in the seeming bad situation. The pandemic period could help the Church consolidate on cell groups where prayers and studying the Word takes centre stage and like you pointed out, connecting to the heavens for revival. With the revival, even the Government will know the Church cannot be closed which answers your last question.
    This article is an encouragement to the Church as well as an advice. Not late yet, the Church can still awaken from it’s slumber.

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