For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)
Five times this amazing promise is recorded in the Old Testament, this verse in Habakkuk, Numbers 14:21, Psalm 72:19, Isaiah 6:3, and Isaiah 11:9.
Not long ago, I was channel surfing the TV and my attention was caught by a televangelist on one of the prominent Christian television channels. I usually don't watch American Christian television programming because in my humble opinion, it's not in touch with reality. For instance, I never see anyone wear those kinds of suits except on TV. And not a single woman in all the churches I've attended over the years ever wore that much make-up to a worship service. I hesitate to use the word "fake", but lets just say it doesn't seem real, at least in my experience.
I often wonder what a non-Christian thinks when they view one of those programs. Is that what they think we act and look like in our Church services? Wait a minute, that is another message, back to the televangelist...
The evangelist was speaking how the Second Coming of Christ was eminent because of the current world events. He was painting a pretty dim picture of humanity and the awful condition the world has fallen to. He just stops short of saying that if the Lord doesn't hurry up and rescue us from the planet, its going to be too late.
Now I don't dispute the fact there are some awful situations around the globe. I've even stopped being amazed at how depraved man can be. But the depravity of man has not caught God off guard:
Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1-2)
Darkness on the earth and gross darkness upon the peoples has been predicted by God. But the verse doesn't stop there. It goes on to say that the Lord Himself is going to rise upon His people and His glory will actually be seen upon us! Wow, thats pretty incredible.
So the sequence of events are: darkness, then the Lord rising upon His people, and His glory being seen upon them.
But the promises in this passage of scripture do not stop there, they continue:
And the Gentiles shall come to the light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:3)
Wait minute, Gentiles coming to the Light, sounds like revival to me. When does that happen? Remember darkness covering the people and the Lord rises upon His people and His Glory shall be seen upon thee? Uh-huh, thats right. The darker the world gets, the brighter we shine and the Gentiles (O.T. word for non-believers) not only see the Light on us, but they are actually attracted to it. The verse actually says they 'shall come to the light'.
Please note this verse also includes 'kings' to the brightness of our rising. Who are kings? I believe this portion of the verse has more than one application, but in at least one sense, it means leaders of nations. Doesn't say how many, but it is plural, more than one. Kings and presidents of nations turning to the Lord. Now that would have a dramatic effect upon those nations, wouldn't it, if the leadership suddenly begin to serve and follow the Lord?
And that is precisely what is happening in many nations (not talking about the USA)around the world today.
For instance, one pastor I know in Kiev, Ukraine feels she has a mandate from God to reach politicians. Not only does she pray for them but she organizes Bible study groups for them. The result: several high level politicians in the Ukrainian government are now serving the Lord and attending her church.
Continuing with our verses in Isaiah:
Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, and the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:5)
Now we are talking about world-wide revival. Global evangelization. Continental conversion.
Not just a trickle of a few souls being added, but mass conversion, whole cities, entire nations being added unto the Lord. A tidal wave of conversions to Christ.
Does this sound like a pipe dream? An event for the far off future? Reserved for the millenial reign?
Dale Hurd, senior reporter for CBN News, recently published this report, "A Tidal Wave of Christianity":
September 11th focused a lot of attention on the growth of Islam. What most pundits and scholars have missed is the incredible growth of Christianity, and where it's growing. Today more Presbyterians worship in the African nation of Ghana than in Scotland. And more Anglicans worship in Nigeria than in Britain.
We like to think of ourselves as the Christian West. But there is growing evidence that the center of Christendom has moved. Africans are running to accept Jesus Christ. It is a scene playing out all across the developing world. It may sound like an exaggeration, but it's not: Christianity is sweeping across the southern hemisphere and Asia like a tidal wave.
"The scale of Christian growth is almost unimaginable," said Dr. Philip Jenkins, distinguished professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State University.
Jenkins shocked and probably panicked some of America's political and media elite with his acclaimed book, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity.
Jenkins argues the greatest movement of the past century was not communism or capitalism. Do the math and the winner is spirit-filled Christianity, or what he terms in his study as "Pentecostalism."
"The modern Pentecostal movement begins at the start of the 20th century," Jenkins said. "So say this begins with a few hundred, a few thousand people… today you're dealing with several hundred million people, and the best projections are by 2040's or 2050's, you could be dealing with a billion Pentecostals worldwide. By that stage there will be more Pentecostals than Hindus. There are already more Pentecostals than Buddhists."
Jenkins says in just 20 years, two-thirds of all Christians will live in Africa, Latin America or Asia.
"Back in 1900, there were about 10 million Christians in Africa, representing about 10 percent of the population. Today there are 360 million, representing just under half the population. That is one of the most important changes in religious history, and I think most of us didn't notice it," he said.
A lot of people still haven't noticed it. When scandal or controversy hits an American church, the U.S. news media tends to treat it like a worldwide crisis for that denomination. But it is not a crisis for those churches in the developing world. Most of them are not gripped by debates over homosexuality or abortion - that is a problem for European and American liberals - they believe the Bible.
"The Bible is alive in Africa and Asia and Latin America," Jenkins said. "Overwhelmingly, the kind of Christianity is one which is very Bible-centered, which takes the Bible very seriously, takes authority very seriously, both the Old and the New Testament, in a way which I don't think western Christianity has done probably since the Enlightenment."
But the growth of Christianity threatens Islam, and Christians are being slaughtered in places like Nigeria and Indonesia. Jenkins thinks the conflict will intensify in nations where the two faiths compete. And he debunks the notion that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Christianity is growing faster.
"If you look at the 25 most populous countries in the world in the mid-21st century, 20 of those are going to be divided to a greater or lesser extent between Christianity and Islam," Jenkins said.
Then there is China. There are about 80 million Christians in China, according to former Time Magazine Correspondent David Aikman, who predicts China will be a Christianized nation in 20 to 30 years. He does not predict a Christian majority, but a China that is 25 to 30 percent Christian. Enough, he says, to change society and government.
"If you have a Christianized China, the leadership of China would reflect a Christian worldview to some degree," Aikman said. "A China that's Christianized would not be a threat to the United States."
And Aikman says the Chinese church leaders have a burden to take the gospel the rest of the way across the globe, to the Muslims.
"It's part of a sense that they call 'back to Jerusalem,'" Aikman said. "They believe that just as the gospel originally came out of Jerusalem and went to the West and to North America and Europe and came to China, now the Chinese need to bring it back to Jerusalem, not in the sense of evangelizing the Jewish, but in the sense of completing the circle so that the gospel message is available to everybody in the world."
Imagine Chinese reaching the Muslims, Koreans evangelizing Indians, Africans taking the gospel back to a largely godless Europe. African Matthew Ashimolowo is the pastor of the fastest growing church in England. "God is sending people who used to receive missionaries to now be missionaries around the world," Ashimolowo said.
Kenyan Bishop Gilbert Dya has one of the largest churches in London. "I am in this country, believing that God sent me here in Great Britain to make a voice on His behalf to let them know that they need to repent and come back to God," he said.
The developing world is not only a growing base for world missions, Jenkins says it is becoming the center of Christendom...again.
"Jesus said His church would last until the end of time. He never used the word, 'Europe.' Christianity is returning, I think, to its roots. It is a religion that originated in the Middle East and in Africa. Perhaps it went away for a while, but now it's back," Jenkins said. (End of Dale Hurd's article)
The Holy Spirit of God is doing some pretty amazing things around the world. I've been privileged to witness what God is doing in one nation the past few years.
If someone were to ask you where the largest evangelical church in Europe was located, what would be your answer? London? Paris?
Would you have guessed Kiev, Ukraine? Most folks don't even know where Ukraine is located on the map. But that's exactly where the largest and perhaps one of the fastest growing evangelical churches in Europe exists. In just 10 short years, a small group of 7 has mushroomed to more than 23,000 members.
The senior pastor is a Nigerian, Sunday Adelaja, where there are fewer than 2,500 blacks registered in a nation of almost 50 million. Talk about a minority. He has endured persecution because of the color of his skin. More than once he and his wife Bose and their children have been threatened with deportation. But to no avail.
Not only has this young man, he turned 36 in May of 2003, had a profound effect on Ukraine, but leaders that he has raised up have went to at least 15 other nations and planted churches. At the time of this writing, there are more than 300 churches world wide that are under the Embassy of God covering.
I have had the pleasure of meeting with Pastor Sunday several times and in October of 2003, attended a conference in Sacramento, California as a member of his ministry team. Having the opportunity to be up close and personal with him had a profound effect on my life. He said many things that week, but I heard him make the most incredible statement one afternoon. A young minister asked Pastor Sunday to pray about a situation, and he replied:
"I don't need to pray about this. I walk with God, I am His friend."
I pushed my mouth shut with my right hand. I've never heard anyone speak with such confidence in their God.
He was not boasting or being arrogant. He was speaking out of his relationship with God. This man walks with God. It's evident, the fruit that is coming forth from the ministry can be compared to any of the apostles in the Book of Acts.
Pastor Sunday's Embassy of God church is not the only church in town either. Henry Maldova, from Zimbabwe, is pastor of Victory Church and is more than 5,000 strong. There are several other churches in Kiev with more than 1,000 members.
All of these pastors in Kiev are extremely missions minded and busy about planting churches in surrounding nations as well as in the smaller cities of Ukraine.
An interesting observation I've made is the fact you do not hear these people talk about church growth. I'm convinced if you attempted to hold a church growth conference in Kiev, no one would come. What you here them talk about and what they desire to expand is the Kingdom of God. From my perspective, 'personal empire building' is not a problem they have to contend with as we do in the West.
These scriptures are being fulfilled in our day. The glory of the Lord is being known all over the earth, as the water covers the sea. Multitudes in Africa, Asia and Latin America are being swept into the Kingdom of God. Eastern Europe is succumbing to the Gospel of the Kingdom, Western Europe is ripe for revival.
Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. (Isaiah 60:4)
Thy sons shall come from far.
This speaks of an issue we are in desperate need of. Fathers. I'm not just speaking of natural fathers, but spiritual fathers.
For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. (I Corinthians 4:15-16)
Fathers impart life, their life is imparted to those whom they beget.
It is time for us to mature to manhood and impart life to those around us. When we do this, then we can tell the children, 'Follow me as I follow Christ.'
Let us allow the Lord to rise upon us, America, so that they may see the brightness of our rising. Let's lift up our eyes so that we may see what God is doing beyond our own borders. The nations are gathering to come, what are we waiting for?
David Tinney, December, 2003