TWO UNUSUAL VISITORS
Zech. 10:1 Ask the LORD for rain
In the time of the latter rain.
The LORD will make flashing clouds;
He will give them showers of rain,
Grass in the field for everyone.
It was November of 1740 and to Jonathan Edwards, the revival fires of 1734-1735 seemed like a faint, distant memory. He remembers that incredible season of outpouring when it seemed like the “days of the apostles” had come to Northampton. Those had been the greatest days of Jonathan’s life, he longed for the Holy Spirit to visit his town again. So with that in mind, he preached a message called “Praying for the Spirit”. He was doing all within his power to stir a hunger for prayer and a hunger for a visitation of God. You know, the kind of prayer that often precedes a great move of the Spirit. Here is a small portion of that powerful message.
“But there is another sort of blessing that the children of men are capable of and that they stand in need of, which are through the influences of the Holy Spirit: such as the sanctification of our natures, our being made partakers of the divine nature, having the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, being united to the Son of God, being the children of God, having the presence of God, the light of his countenance and communion and fellowship with him, having divine peace and joy and living a divine life, and being hereafter possessed of eternal life and glory— which are more excellent things than the other, as high above all the temporal enjoyments of princes as heaven is high above the earth. They are infinitely the most necessary, the most profitable, the most honorable, the most pleasant and delightful and satisfying, and the most durable blessing.”
This message is strangely familiar to those of us who experienced the shocking outpouring of 1994. Nothing else in life could ever come close to the incredible pleasures we enjoyed when God came near. Day after day and week after week of total ecstasy found in the manifest presence of God. It was a season of daily meetings not focused on who the speaker would be or who would be singing, all that mattered was that God would be there, that was the only guarantee that was necessary. That was the kind of meetings that Jonathan remembered, for him, normal church would never do.
Was his prayer ever answered? Just a couple of weeks before this sermon was preached a young itinerant evangelist from the Church of England came to preach for a weekend at the church in Northampton. It is said that Jonathan wept throughout the meetings as the preacher reminded them of what had happened in 1734. As he spoke, the very atmosphere changed in that church, God had begun to come down again. A visitation of the Spirit strangely like the one of 1734 had begun to fall. What we know as the Great Awakening had finally begun. In this sermon, Jonathan was charging his church to call for the rain in the time of the latter rain. Oh, I forgot about the young preacher, you may have heard of him. His name was George Whitefield.