Over a two decades ago someone gave me an extraordinary little book. It was only fifty-six pages long, yet it ended up being one of the most insightful little books I have ever read. The author, Roger Ellsworth, had simply written Seven Short Meditations on Revival from Isaiah 63:15 thru 64:9, all of which focus on the key theme voiced in Isaiah 64:1: "O that you would rend the heavens and come down..."
The title of the book, "Come Down, Lord!" is taken from that verse. This week's selection comes from parts of chapter one and two, based on Isaiah 63:15-64:2. Enjoy.
"We are in desperate need of God's renewing and reviving presence. Let us even now begin to cry with Isaiah: 'Come Down, Lord!' Let us arm ourselves with the same arguments he used, and hoist our voices to heaven in such numbers and with such frequency and intensity, that God will be moved to visit us in mighty power. Let us unite our voices to make this a swelling chorus that will constantly bombard the gates of heaven. Let us resolve even now to give ourselves no rest and to give God no rest until the people of God be 'a praise in the earth' (Is. 62:6-7)...
Nothing was clearer to Isaiah that this--God was withholding His power from Israel... The people of God have often heard the world tauntingly say: 'Where is Your God?' (Ps. 42:3, 10; 79:10; 115:2). But it is a sad thing when the people of God have to ask themselves that question. We are happy if we can answer skeptics by pointing to present indications of God's power. But what are we to do when God withholds His power from us and there are no evidences to point out?
The church, in order to maintain credibility in the world, has to have the power of God. She is involved in a great spiritual warfare, and only God's power will enable her to prevail. Human ingenuity and wisdom are simply not equal to the task. Trying to do this kind of work without the power of God is like trying to break huge granite boulders with our bare hands.
The problem, as I see it, is that the church is trying to subsist on her own power. She is relying on her own abilities. Human wisdom can produce many things, and the church is trying to pass these off as the hand of God at work, but the world is not buying it. They still bombard us with the disturbing question, 'Where is thy God?' And if we will get alone and examine our hearts, we will be driven to admit that the many things we are producing are cheap and shabby substitutes for the real power of God, and we will be compelled to cry out to God: 'Where is thy zeal and thy strength?'...
God's people can become dangerously self-sufficient. Is the church today any different from Isaiah's people? Are we really conscious of how utterly helpless and hopeless we are apart from God? Or are we relying on our own wisdom and ability in our warfare against Satan and his forces?
If we are not careful we can think pushing all the right buttons will produce lasting spiritual results. We can reduce the work of the church to shrewd manuvering with statistical probabilities and psychological jargon. We can be guilty of doing the very thing David refused to do--fight in Saul's armour. We can have polish but not power. We need to realize that God can do more in one minute with His power than we can do in a lifetime with our strategies! Oh, that we could see our need of God and get a hunger for Him! God's people need His power... 'Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down.' "
Ellsworth is right. The people of God must display the power of God in and through their lives. If we do not, how can we possibly convince anyone that we are anything more than another merely human outfit or organization?
Yet for too long the church in America (and even moreso the church in Europe) has been content to subsist on mere human effort and worldly stategies often borrowed in full from secular organizations. And the saddest part is that the modern day church doesn't even realize (contra the people of Isaiah's day who at least did realize it) that God's power and manifest presence (in doing that which can only be seen as Him moving in their midst) is often absent from their gatherings and activities.
It's a condition which should cause us to, "hoist our voices to heaven in such numbers and with such frequency and intensity, that God will be moved to visit us in mighty power." When we perceive we are in such a spiritual state, we should, "unite our voices to make this a swelling chorus that will constantly bombard the gates of heaven," and pray, "Oh that You, Lord, would rend the heavens and come down..."