The Grinch Who Stole Revival
There is one false belief concerning the End Times and the return of Christ that bothers me, probably because I believed it for so many years myself. It is more likely to be believed by Pentecostals than non. I’m still a Pentecostal—I’ve seen and experienced too many things in my forty-five years not to be.
The text in question is from Joel 2 beginning in verse 28: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your old men will see visions.” The takeaway from this by some, is that before Christ returns to take his Church, there will be a massive, worldwide revival resulting in millions of souls being swept into the Kingdom of God as well as a general reviving of our churches. There is much preaching on it, some Gospel music promotes it, and many books have been written that support it. So much so that if I didn’t know better, I would start to think I’m not a very faith-believing Christian myself.
But as glorious as this revival would be, this is not what the text is saying. This is where the Grinch comes in. Joel’s prophesied revival won’t happen while the present church is still on the earth, which is obvious when you read what Jesus said about the last day’s church. In Luke 18, he said, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?” And in the Book of Revelation chapter three, speaking to the Philadelphia church, the truest of the seven churches, he said to them, “I know that you have little power, and yet you have kept my word.”
This is not a picture of a last day’s church in bounce hopping off the chart revival, but a group of sincere, humble believers who understand their weaknesses and have drawn close to God and are not ashamed to depend on him for their strength and peace. It is not the kind of church that will be flashed across the glossy front covers of Christian magazines, but the kind that has endured through difficult times and has kept his word.
In reading the rest of Joel’s prophecy in verse 30, this false belief is further exposed. He continued, “There will be blood and fire and columns of smoke, and the sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood.” Perhaps Joel even saw this in a vision. These are not the signs in the sky that will be seen just prior to the Rapture, but they are the prophesied signs that will take place during the Tribulation period, probably toward the very end of it. At this time there will be a great revival where multitudes will come to Christ. And in verse 32, he clearly shows that these multitudes being saved, Jews and Gentiles alike, are survivors of the Tribulation. It reads, “For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape…and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”
This particular misunderstanding of scripture is not basic to salvation and shouldn’t be a cause for division among believers. Nevertheless, a misreading of this text from Joel will likely cause some sincere Christians needless confusion and frustration about the End Times.
Sorry to be the Grinch who stole revival, but better to live in a grounded understanding of truth than to live with a grand delusion that will leave many people disheartened and burnt out. But there is one thing believers can look forward to with certainty, and that is the Rapture of the true Church. The word “rapture” comes from the Latin word “raptu,” which means “caught away” or “caught up.” Paul promised in 1Thes.4:17, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
I believe we are living in a time when this is imminent as never before, even at the door, as the bride prepares to meet her groom. Not a time to fear about being good enough—if that’s your fear, you already are—
but a time to be expecting to look into the face of Jesus and to be surrounded by the saints of all Ages, with angels singing, the Father smiling, as we are welcomed into our eternal Home, never to be separated from Jesus ever again for all eternity.
And about that last day’s revival. After receiving our rewards and crowns and after enjoying the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, I believe we will be able to look down and witness that revival as it’s happening. And then, at the Lord’s command, we will join him, riding on horses, accompanied by a countless number of angels, in returning to earth and watching Jesus destroy the last vestiges and strongholds of Evil, simply by speaking a single word. There may not be a Nuremberg-type trial for this world’s evil players, but there will be a final judgment on them that will be far worse. There will be no place to hide for them, even if they’re circling above us in their silly rockets.