NUMBERS 17:12-13: “Then the sons of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, we are passing away, we are perishing, we are all perishing! Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the Lord, must die. Are we to perish completely?” NASB
OBSERVATION: Is my heart hard? Have I grown callous to the moving of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God? Am I positioned for a new move of the Spirit in my life, the church, and our land?
Over the past several weeks all eyes have been fixated on what is happening at Asbury College and a host of other colleges across our nation. It was no coincidence that the movie “Jesus Revolution” was released in theatres during this unplanned news cycle. As one who lived through the Jesus Movement, I was eager to see this movie and relive these days.
What I am about to reflect on will not be a spoiler to any who have not already seen the movie. Most are aware that in the Jesus Movement people in the established church did not respond well to what God was doing in the heart of these hippies and youth. The music and dress they embraced was something the church had never seen.
At the beginning of this Movement I was part of a church that did not embrace it at all! Today, I am a Foursquare pastor and minister. I have served as a pastor and am now a District Representative for Foursquare Missions Press. I love our Foursquare family and their emphasis on Jesus as our Savior, Baptizer in the Holy Spirit, Healer, and Soon Coming King! Yet, many do not know that Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel began as a Foursquare Church.
In the movie, one of the pivotal moments was the struggle the leading members of Calvary Chapel had with these new hippies attending their church. The staunch church members who rejected these young people were not part of a dead church – they were part of the Foursquare Church that had its roots in the Pentecostal Movement and the evangelistic and healing ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson.
This struck me in a profound way. It does not matter what our background is, or our heritage, we all can develop callous and hard hearts to the moving of the Spirit of God. This was true of these few believers in the movie, it was true in the nation of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness and when Jesus walked this earth, and it can be true of each one of us if we do not keep open and tender hearts to the winds of change that come from the Holy Spirit.
One of the most devastating things that we can say is – “That is not how we did it back in the day!” More churches have split and died over this statement than any other. Have you ever said any of the following?
The music just isn’t the same!
The preaching lacks power and conviction!
There is no respect for God among the youth!
These people will not be able to support the church!
I wish we could return back to the glory days of the past!
Imagine the closing statement from the children of Israel in Numbers chapter 17.
- “Then the sons of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, we are passing away, we are perishing, we are all perishing! Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the Lord, must die. Are we to perish completely?”
This statement followed three important events. They are:
- Aaron and Miriam’s challenge to Moses’ leadership.
- Korah, Dathan, and Abiram’s challenge to the Aaron and his sons. (This included 250 who challenged the right to exercise the duties of the priesthood.)
- The challenge of tribe leaders to Aaron’s leadership symbolized by the 12 staffs placed in the Tabernacle and the budding of Aaron’s staff.
In each of these situations there was a desire to control the moving of God’s Spirit. God was clear, through the commands of Moses, who He had called and established to serve in His presence. Yet, out of jealousy and the hardness of their hearts the children of Israel, including also Aaron and Miriam, challenged what God was doing.
God’s presence was manifested in their lives to bring His blessings, protection, and victory to the entire nation. When the Holy Spirit moves in the church it is for the same reason. Yet, when our hearts are not positioned to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit we can find ourselves fearing the very provision of God! This is what happened to the nation of Israel.
What was meant to be life – became a fear of death. This was not because God’s presence was at fault. The fault lay totally on the hearts of those who challenged God’s authority and the way He had designed and desired to manifest His presence among them. What was meant for life became death because of the condition of their hearts. This is exactly what Paul writes about in Romans.
- “…And this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it, killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” Romans 7:10-12
The movie never showed what happened to those who left the church. The winds of revival no doubt touched the life of the Foursquare church as a whole, but even those who claimed to be Spirit-filled missed the intent of what God was doing. What was good and righteous was seen to be a threat. Like the children of Israel, fear kept many from receiving the good that the Holy Spirit was doing.
The Asbury Revival, the Jesus Movement, and the movie “Jesus Revolution,” have all come at an important time to my life and the life of the church. I pray that my heart will not be like those who resisted the presence of God in the Old Testament, or those who walked out of the church during the Jesus Movement. Rather, I pray that my heart will remain tender to a new work of the Holy Spirit in our day and that I too will be transformed by the winds of revival.
Come Holy Spirit and move upon our hearts, our churches, and our land!
In Jesus’ Name!
I haven’t seen the movie nor know anything about it, except what I have read in this post.
My brother-in-law is a somewhat well-known Foursquare pastor and minister here in the Philippines. He asked me to speak/preach a few times for his congregation. My wife, his sister, had spent a number of years living with his family. The Godly woman she turned out to be, was greatly influenced by his instruction.
It’s a bit humorous why she ended up living with Pastor Rey for a while. Her mother sent her there, for her mother didn’t like the suitor who was trying to court her. And as it turned out, I ended up being her only real “boyfriend” and first fiancé.
It is a small world!
And she was a small woman, just 4′ 10″ and 98 lb. I was so blessed to have her during our short 17 years of marriage. She passed away a short time ago due to heart problems at just 44 years of age. O how I miss her. If you would like to read the eulogy I gave, please let me know and I will send the PDF file.