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I’m in an embarrassing situation tonight because I’ve chosen a title for my message, or rather, God has given me a title and I’m not quite sure what I’m going to say. First of all, Ruth and I are going to make our proclamation. Two people were kind enough to give us these verses recently as a word from God. We’re going to say the last four verses of Psalm 92 in the NIV, to prove that there’s no prejudice!
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, Proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.’”
Amen! I’ve already given you the title of my message. This is unusual, I don’t know that God has ever done this exactly before. He gave me a title and then I had to try to find out what He wanted me to say. The title is “The Prayer of Desperation.” I want to tell you how it came about.
A little while back in the United States I was teaching a series of six messages on “Israel: Past, Present and Future.” The last two messages were called “Glimpses of the Future,” they were an attempt to present out of scripture what still lie ahead for Israel as they have returned to their own land. I have come to Zechariah 14:1–3, which is the climax, it’s the return of Messiah in glory, that’s the climax of Israel’s history. I actually have a list of sixteen prophecies concerning Israel, of which thirteen have already been fulfilled. There remain only three to be fulfilled, and the last one is the return of Messiah. I always tell people if thirteen out of sixteen have been fulfilled, that’s more than eighty percent. It is not unreasonable to expect the remaining twenty percent to be fulfilled. We’re not fanatics, we’re reasonable people. I would say it is unreasonable to refuse to accept that the probability that the remaining three prophecies will be fulfilled.
Now I’m going to read to you from Zechariah 14:1–3. These words are addressed to Jerusalem, you need to understand that.
“Behold, the day of the Lord is coming and your spoil [or your plunder] will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem...”
Did you hear that? It’s pretty close to happening, it could happen within a few months at any time. If the United Nations made certain decision, it would be fulfilled. I think there’s more time than that yet but I don’t want to go into the reasons for that.
“For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses plundered, and the women raped. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives...”
When Jesus went up to heaven, where did He go from? The Mount of Olives. Two angels told the disciples, “This same Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven.” He went from the Mount of Olives, He went in the clouds; He’s coming back in the clouds and His feet are going to stand on the Mount of Olives.
And, there’s going to be a great earthquake. The mountain is going to be divided into two, half going north and half going south. I spent my last year of military service in a British hospital on the Mount of Olives at a point which I believe is the exact point where the mountain will be divided, because it’s an earthquake area. There was an earthquake there in 1923 which so severely damaged one of the towers of the building that nobody is allowed up it. So, for me this is extremely vivid, I can almost see it in my mind’s eye as I talk about it.
Sometimes the Lord speaks to me while I’m speaking to people. Here I was, preaching this message, but something was going on in my mind and it was this, in a sense. If the Lord intends to intervene on behalf of the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem, why will He let half the city go into captivity? The houses will be plundered and the women raped. Why wouldn’t He do it before that happened? This was going on in my mind while I was preaching it. I thought I got the answer because the Lord will not intervene until His people have reached a moment of total desperation, when they come to the point where they know there is absolutely no other hope and no other source of help but God and the Messiah. Then He will intervene. I saw that as a principle that many times God will not intervene until we come to the point of desperation.
And then I said something that surprised me. I said that’s what salvation is. Salvation is taking advantage of the only hope that you have of escaping from hell. There is no other way of escape but to turn to Jesus who died on your behalf. If you don’t take that, you’re lost.
It wasn’t by any means an evangelistic service but I said, “I believe there’s somebody here who needs to make that decision tonight.” And immediately young woman came forward, stood right in front of me and gave her heart to the Lord at that point. And, two other men followed later.
Dear friends, I want to say to you tonight, that’s what salvation is. It’s the only way of escape from a lost eternity, from something so terrible that the human mind cannot even comprehend it. There is no other way. You don’t know, none of you know, none of us know, how much longer we may have. God could withdraw the breath from your body tonight, you might never awake to see the new day. Friends, it is urgent, it is desperate to get saved, to escape hell. Not many people talk about hell today but hell is very, very real. It’s very close. You just close your eyes in death and you find yourself in hell.
So the principle that I want to bring out to you tonight is there are certain things that God will only do when we come to the moment of desperation. There came to my mind in that connection Isaiah 30, reading verses 18 and 19.
“Therefore the Lord will wait that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted that He may have mercy on you.”
The Lord is waiting till He can have mercy on you, till we meet the conditions.
“For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for Him! For the people [Israel] shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry! When He hears it, He will answer.”
What is He waiting for? The sound of our cry. I think you’ll find the NIV says “your cry for help.” The Hebrew word sa-akar means a desperate call for help. It’s the shout of a man who’s drowning and going down for the third time, and he cries out, “Help!” God is waiting for His people to come to that point.
Then I was led to Deuteronomy 32. Who was it that was saying to us tonight that Deuteronomy is such a wonderful book? Was it you? Well, it is, you’re right. Deuteronomy 32. This is amazing because before Israel ever entered the land of Canaan Moses told them all that would happen to them, and he told them that they would be unfaithful to God, turn to idolatry and ultimately be driven out of the land and spend many, many years in exile. God told them all that before they ever went in. Here is some of what God says concerning the final crisis in the history of Israel. I want to say I don’t believe the church is Israel. The church is the church and Israel is Israel. If you ever get confused, you’ll be confused for a long while. But, God’s dealings with Israel as a nation are a pattern of the way He deals with other nations and with individuals. So, there are countless lessons to learn from God’s dealings with Israel. Here is what Moses told Israel as they were gathered on the east side of the Jordan, just before they went over. Deuteronomy 32:23–27. God has already told them they’re going to go into idolatry and be totally unfaithful. Then He says, and these are terrible words:
“I will heap disasters upon them, I will spend my arrows upon them. They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence, and bitter destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside; there shall be terror within. For the young man and virgin, will perish, the nursing child with the man of gray hairs. I have said I will dash them in pieces, I will make the memory of them to cease from among men, [now listen] had I not feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should misunderstand, lest they should say, ‘Our hand is high and it is not the Lord who has done all this.’”
God says for the honor of my name I’m going to intervene, because otherwise your enemies will think that they are the ones who brought all this disaster upon you.
And then further in verses 36–38, it’s all part of the same vision:
“For the Lord will judge His people and have compassion on His servants...”
I’d like to say something. In dealing with people I’ve discovered there’s a difference between compassion and sympathy. A lot of people come for counseling because they want sympathy. God does not offer you sympathy. Sympathy says, “Poor you. Nobody’s treating you right. I don’t think God is even treating you right.” Compassion says, “I’m very sorry for you but you need to change.” That’s the difference. If you’re not prepared to change, don’t come for counseling.
I have a friend in Australia, a very experienced senior minister who is retired. He was the pastor of a large church with a number of younger ministers under him. At one time he said to them, “Listen, I want you to throw away all the books you have on counseling. Get rid of them all and counsel from nothing but the Bible.” Then he said a couple came to him who had been coming for months and he said to them, “I’m not going to counsel you anymore.” He said to the husband, “The Bible says love your wife. You’re not obeying the Bible, you don’t love your wife.” Then he said to the wife, “The Bible says submit to your husband and you’re not submitting to your husband. Until you obey the Bible I will not counsel you.” Thank God for that. What hours and hours of time are wasted counseling people who are not willing to change. I’ve got supporters behind me tonight!
“For the Lord will judge His people and have compassion on His servants when He sees that their power is gone and there is no one remaining, bond or free.”
You see, the same principle? God will not intervene until He sees the power of His people has gone.
“Then He will say, ‘Where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge, which ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings! Let them rise and help you and be your refuge!’”
Then He says:
“Now see that I, even I am He, and there is no god besides me. I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal. Nor is there anyone who can deliver from my hand.”
We have to come to see the total omnipotence and sovereignty of God and our total need of His mercy. There is no other hope for anybody here tonight. There is no other hope for the nation of Britain but in the mercy of God.
Then God goes on to say He will avenge those who’ve persecuted His people. That’s a very large number of people. In Deuteronomy 32:43 He says:
“Rejoice, O nations [or Gentiles], with His people [that’s Israel], for He will avenge the blood of His servants; and render vengeance to His adversaries. He will provide an atonement for His land and His people.”
Brothers and sisters, there’s something in the heart of every one of us that cries out for justice. And often we look at the situation in the world and we say there isn’t any justice. People get away with all sorts of crimes, they mistreat people, they oppress people. I want to tell you there is justice, justice is coming. God will avenge His people. He will avenge all those who’ve been mistreated and unjustly treated. We need to see that. The world is full of wickedness. Would you agree with that tonight? I want to tell you in my opinion it’s going to get much fuller yet. Iniquity is going to increase to a degree that we can hardly dare to imagine. We need to know what’s God’s attitude. We need to know how to respond to the increase of evil, violence, cruelty, immorality, pornography. Every kind of filthy evil thing that has been increasing in this nation for the last fifty years—and I’ve witnessed it—it’s going to go on increasing. It’s not going to get better, it’s going to get worse. You say, Brother Prince, you’re a pessimist. No, I’m not, I’m a realist. There’s a difference. I’m not a pessimist because do you know what I believe? Soon and very soon we’ll see the King! I think that’s the only realistic source of hope there is. Man has been trying to straighten himself out for thousands of years and his condition today is worse than it’s ever been. To my way of thinking it is totally unpractical and illogical to expect salvation from the human race. But, we can expect it from God.
Let’s see what God says about the wicked. Don’t tell me that you’ve never been concerned about the triumph of injustice. You have. You’ve often wondered how do people get away with what they do. Is that right? Well, in Psalm 92 God has something to say about that. Verse 7:
“When the wicked spring up like grass and when all the workers of iniquity flourish, it is that they may be destroyed forever.”
That’s the ultimate end of the wicked. But God says I’m going to let the harvest ripen. Do you remember what He said to Abraham in Genesis 15:16? He said:
“I’m going to give you the land of Canaan, but not for another four hundred years, because the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”
God waits for the harvest of iniquity to come to full ripeness. And in the earth today the harvest of salvation and the harvest of iniquity are ripening side by side. That’s an amazing thought. It’s also an amazing thought that in the parable of the wheat and the tares the same sun and the same rain that ripen the wheat ripen the tares. God is going to deal with them when the harvest comes in. Jesus said the harvest is the end of the age.
I also am impressed by the words of Jesus, I believe they are the words of Jesus, in Revelation 22:10–12.
“He said to me, ‘Do not seal the words of the prophecies of this book, for the time is at hand.’”
Now here are some amazing words.
“He who is unjust, let him be unjust still. He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is righteous, let him be righteous still. And he who is holy, let him be holy still.”
And some translations say “he that is filthy, let him be still more filthy. He that is holy, let him be still more holy.” In other words, the two harvests are ripening side by side. Then Jesus says, the next words are:
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give everyone according to his work.”
So we are watching two harvests ripen side by side simultaneously. The harvest of salvation and the harvest of judgment. In Revelation 14 the two harvests are described immediately one after the other. Revelation 14, beginning at verse 14:
“I looked and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat one like the Son of man [Jesus], having on His head a golden crown...”
That’s not a royal crown but it’s the crown worn by a victory. You know there are two words for crown. One is the crown of royalty, a diadem; the other is the crown that was the badge of the victor in the Olympic games. Where we today give somebody a gold medal, they gave them a laurel crown. That’s what’s there. And most places in the New Testament where you read the word crown, that’s it.
On the other hand, it says when Jesus comes back riding on His white horse, there will be many diadems, many kingly realms under His kingship. Anyhow, let’s go on.
“I looked and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat one like the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to whom sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in your sickle and reap, for the time has come for you to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”
But the Greek says the harvest of the earth is dry. It has to be reaped or else it will be lost. That’s the harvest of salvation. It is being reaped all around the earth today. In countries which thirty years ago had no time for Jesus, people are crying out for the gospel. The Soviet Union is one example. Other parts of East Asia are the same. This is the harvest hour.
Let me tell you what God says about a son who sleeps in harvest. Do you know what He says? A son who sleeps in harvest causes his father shame. Dear brothers and sisters, if you’re a child of God and you’re asleep in the harvest hour, you’re causing your Father shame.
Then we come to the next harvest, and this is the correct order in Israel. First of all, the grain, then the final harvest is the grapes. Verse 17:
“Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. Another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire. He cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the cluster of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’”
Notice the harvest is not reaped until it’s fully ripe.
“So the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
This is the harvest of wickedness. Do you know what happens in a winepress when the grapes are gathered? They put them in one of those stone sort of basins and the people come and trample them under their feet to trample the juice out. That’s the picture of the wicked being thrown into the winepress of the wrath of God, to be trampled underfoot. It says:
“The winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress up to the horses’ bridles for one thousand six hundred furlongs.”
In my margin it says one hundred and eighty-four miles.
Now, a lot of people interpret Revelation symbolically. I would just like to ask you this question: Do you think this is symbolic blood? I don’t. I think it’s real blood that’s being squeezed out in the winepress of the wrath of God.
If you turn to Isaiah 63 you’ll see a picture of the one who treads the winepress. Isaiah 63, beginning at verse 1—and the name Edom is the name of the land east of the Jordan. It also means red. The name was originally given to Esau because he was red all over.
“Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?
And Bozrah is the word for the great harvest.
“This one who is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength? [And the answer is] ‘I, who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.’ Why is your apparel red, and your garments like one who treads in the winepress?”
And the answer is:
“I have trodden the winepress alone; and from the peoples no one was with me. For I have trodden them in my anger and trampled them in my fury; their blood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my robes.”
That’s a picture of Jesus judging the wicked.
And in Revelation 19 it says He had a garment sprinkled with blood. Then it says:
“For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed has come.”
There is going to be vengeance, brothers and sisters. God is a God of justice. His justice tarries but it is absolutely sure and absolutely complete.
Let’s go back to Psalm 73. You know, I hear a lot of sermons and I meet a lot of preachers. I hardly hear anybody today who talks about the judgment of God. Is that true? And yet it’s a very major, major section of the truth of God’s Word. The Bible says the Holy Spirit, when He comes, will convict of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. How will He ever convict of judgment if we never preach about judgment? Psalm 73, here is a man who has this problem. The unrighteous are flourishing on every hand, they’re making money, they get away with crime, they know how to bribe the courts. This man is appalled. He says in verse 12:
“Behold, these are the ungodly who are always at ease. They increase in riches.”
Is that true? It really is. Mostly it’s the ungodly who are rich. The idea that all Christians ought to be rich is not scriptural. All Christians should have an abundant sufficiency but riches mainly are for the wicked in this generation. This is the psalmist’s comment on the situation:
“Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain; and washed my hands in innocence.”
I’ve been living a righteous life and what have I got to show for it? Nothing.
“For all day long I have been plagued; and chastened every morning.”
Some of you could say that. All day long I’ve been plagued, chastened every morning. And yet I’ve been leading a righteous life. I haven’t gone along with the wicked.
Then the psalmist goes on:
“If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ I would have been untrue to the generation of your children.”
Don’t ever talk like that because you’ll undermine the faith of some child of God.
“When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.”
There are some things you do not understand until you get into the sanctuary of God, until you get into the presence of God and hear from God and are instructed by God directly through the Holy Spirit.
This is what God showed him.
“Surely you set them [the ungodly wicked] in slippery places; you cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation as in a moment, they are utterly consumed with terror! As a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you awake you shall despise their image.”
God says the wealthy wicked have been set in a slippery place. The day they die they slip immediately into hell, without any alternative. God has put them in a slippery place.
I wonder if that makes you feel better? I mean, you may think Christians ought not ever to talk about vengeance. Not personal vengeance but the vengeance of God very, very much so. We need to warn people that God does take vengeance. The Bible says He’s a God of vengeance. Some of you are looking at me as though you’ve never heard that before. Your faces are really worth looking at.
What I’m telling you I believe is straight from the Bible.
Now let’s turn to 2 Peter 3:9. You’re saying why doesn’t Jesus come and end all this? Why do we have to go on in this suffering and this misery and this mounting iniquity? Peter says in 1 Peter 3:9:
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise to return, as some count slackness. But is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance.”
Now when it says longsuffering toward us I think it means God’s elect, His chosen ones. The Bible never says that no one will perish. I believe in God’s election, do you? I believe God has those whom He has chosen. Do you know what I believe? I’m one of them. Some people have a lot of trouble because people say the Jews are a chosen race. But brothers and sisters, Christians are a chosen race. We would never be Christians if God hadn’t chosen us. Jesus said to His disciples, “You haven’t chosen me, I have chosen you.” You cannot understand the Bible unless you understand God’s election. I’m not a Calvinist, I never read the works of Calvin, I probably should have done but I haven’t.
So, what is the Lord waiting for? He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. All whom He has chosen for Himself. He will not bring final judgment until every last one has come in. He’ll wait with infinite patience. I believe there has to be one from every tribe, kindred, nation and tongue. I believe there’s no more urgent task for the church than to reach the nations that have not been reached. Because, Jesus cannot come until everyone has been reached. At least there’s one member of every tribe that will stand before the throne. God the Father sees to that because it’s to glorify His Son that His sacrifice has not been in vain for any nation on earth.
So, God is waiting. It’s His mercy that He’s waiting. He’ll tolerate wickedness that we would think incredible that God should not intervene. It’s not that He’s not going to judge the wicked but He’s waiting for every last one whom he has chosen to come in. Brothers, when you’ve been in the ministry as long as I have you’ll marvel at the way God finds the ones He’s chosen. I mean, He does the most amazing things to find somebody that nobody else would ever think worth looking at. But He’s chosen. God will not take the fishing net in until every last one who’s been chosen by God has come in. So get a different view of wickedness. See it as God’s infinite mercy and patience, waiting for those whom He has chosen. And then, don’t be too passive. Do something to help reaching the unreached. The motto of our ministry is “to reach the unreached and teach the untaught”. Do you know what, brothers? I have no doctrinal problems with anybody who’s totally committed to that. I find I’m in perfect harmony. I may have never met them before but in ten minutes it’s like we’ve known one another all our lives. Ruth and I want to say that is our purpose for living. Matthew 24:14:
“This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
That’s what God’s waiting for. If anybody’s delaying it, it’s us.
I want to go back to Israel. I never had any clear idea of what I was going to talk about. I’m not Jewish. In fact, I was like most Gentiles, I had a couple of good Jewish friends at school, at university. But basically always had a sort of unspoken inner reservation. If they suffer so much there must be something wrong with them. I would never had become a Nazi, I would never have been an open anti-Semite. But there was in my heart, as in the hearts of many of you, an unspoken reservation about the Jewish people. There’s something about them that you don’t altogether like. Do you know what you don’t like? The fact that God chose them.
I baptized a dear friend of mine in the Sea of Galilee many years ago. When he came up out of the water he asked me a question, he said, “Why did God choose the Jews?” I said why did God choose you? He never had any more questions after that.
If you don’t believe in the choice of the Jews, you’ve undermined your whole salvation. Our salvation depends on the choice of God just as much as the destiny of the Jewish people.
So, going back to Zechariah 12:10, this is the step before the climax. The climax is the return of Messiah. This may be simultaneous, it’s not easy to know exactly how it’s to be interpreted. God says:
“I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication. Then they will look on me, whom they have pierced, and will mourn for him as one mourns for an his only son, and grieve for him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
That’s one of the most amazing statements in the Bible because it is the Lord who is speaking. He says they will look on me whom they have pierced. It’s perhaps the clearest single identification of Jesus as the pierced Messiah.
But, no one can know who Jesus is except by revelation. The revelation comes from the Holy Spirit. And until the Holy Spirit reveals, the Jewish people will remain amazingly blind.
I’ve spoken to many Jews, guides who’ve been with Christian tours. They’ve heard the truth, they’ve seen people prayed for, they’ve seen people healed, and their attitude is I would love to believe it but I can’t. That’s a judgment of God but it’s about to be revoked. I’d like to tell you it’s interesting being amongst the Jewish people today because to use a rather unspiritual phrase, God is sneaking up on their blind side. They don’t know what’s happening but the Holy Spirit is beginning to deal with them.
I first went to Jerusalem in 1942, I was living there in 1948 when the state of Israel was born. At that time if you would speak to some Jewish people about the name of Jesus they would spit in contempt. Today there’s a very different attitude. A certain professor in the Hebrew University who teaches about religion, and especially Christianity—he’s not a Christian—he said, “Some years ago my students were all interested in the doctrinal aspects of religion. Now they’re all interested in the person of Jesus.” You probably don’t know, the Orthodox Jews would never give Him His right name, they would never acknowledge that He is Jewish. The Hebrew word for Jesus is Yeshua but they would always cut out the last letter and call Him Yeshu, meaning He’s a Gentile, He doesn’t belong to us, we won’t give Him a Hebrew name. But that is changing and today Ruth and I have time when Jewish people will sit and listen as long as we are willing to talk about Jesus. Some of our friends, lawyers, engineers and others, come on business and they sit around and we offer them tea or coffee. They don’t go. We think to ourselves why don’t they go? Do you know what they’re waiting for? They’re waiting to hear about what God has done in our lives. The Jews are very down to earth people and when something works, they want it.
The problem is they haven’t seen much Christianity that works.
I’ll tell you a story. We had a very eminent engineer, a Jewish engineer, who helped us plan the construction of our house. He wasn’t the architect but he helped the architect. After the house was virtually complete he dropped in to see us, it was a hot day. He said, “I’m very busy, I can only stay ten minutes.” Then he said, “I’ve got such a pain in my back.” Ruth said, “My husband has something for back pain.” He got very interested and I didn’t appear the least bit excited when I said, “As a matter of fact, I do. But, it’s a little unusual. I get a person to sit down in a chair and I check their legs. If one leg is shorter than the other it will grow out. Then you know God has touched you.” So he sat down in the chair and I held his feet and one leg just shot out. I mean, it wasn’t a question of pulling it out at all. So, he stayed half an hour when he said he could only stay ten minutes.
He was back about two weeks later and Ruth said, “How is your back?” He said, “It’s fine but does your husband have anything for shoulders?” She said, “As a matter of fact, he does.” I said, “Yes, what I get people to do is stand up straight, stretch the arms out in front and if one arm is longer than the other, the short arm grows out. When that happens, you know God has touched you.” Well, he was very willing to stand out, stretch out his arms and the one arm was considerably shorter than the other and it shot out. I mean it didn’t just grow gradually. He was astonished. It was a hot day and he was wearing a short-sleeved shirt. The hairs on his arm were all standing up! He said, “What’s that?” I said very nonchalantly, “It’s the power of God.” He said, “You can have a line in the street outside if you’d do this.” Later on he said to another friend of ours, “I believe Jesus was the Messiah.” Now bear in mind that doesn’t mean he’s saved, it’s an intellectual change, not a change of heart. But, it’s a step on the way.
The Holy Spirit is sneaking up on the blind side of the Jewish people. All sorts of things are happening that you can’t explain. There is a change coming.
Let’s get back to where we were, Zechariah 12:10. I want to apply this to Britain because I believe the principle is the same. If you are going to pray the kind of prayer that really means something, you’re going to have to have the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit. God said:
“I will pour out upon them the spirit of grace...”
And you remember what I said about grace? It’s the supernatural intervention of God beyond your natural ability. Then He said:
“...the spirit of supplication.”
When a person makes supplication or is a suppliant, what is he asking for in one word? Mercy, that’s right. So God says, “I’ll pour out upon them a spirit, the Holy Spirit, that will enable them to pray on a level they could not pray by their own understanding. I will enable them to call out or mercy which they never could do without the help of my Holy Spirit.” A spirit of grace and of supplication.
And then comes with it the revelation of Jesus:
“...they will look on me whom they have pierced...”
I just want to say to you we need the spirit of grace and of supplication if Britain is to survive, brothers and sisters. We are at a point of national crisis and there’s only one source of help, it’s the God whom we’ve ignored and neglected and slighted. But He’s still there. I believe that God loves Britain. When I pastored in Britain, the British people were so unresponsive I said, “When I finish here, if God ever wants me back He’s going to have to call me very clearly.” I went to Kenya and the people just wanted to know about Jesus. I thought what a difference! The thing that characterized the British people at that time was indifference, they weren’t angry and they didn’t persecute, they just were not interested. That’s the hardest thing to deal with. The hardest eight years of my ministry I spent in London. But the Lord began to speak to me and He began to remind me that He loves Britain and that He has certain special reasons why He loves Britain.
You see, if you look back over the last four hundred years, basically the nation that has honored the Bible the most and done the most to bring the gospel to other nations is Britain. Now, in this last century, the 20th century, I think America has maybe moved into the top place. But I don’t believe God is unrighteous to forget what has been done in Britain. But, we’re going to have to call out for His mercy. We’re not going to be able to do it with our intellect, it’s not going to be just a decision of my will, “I’ll get up every morning at 7:00 o’clock and pray.” That’s a wonderful decision, don’t let me discourage you. But, it’s going to take more than that.
I want to give you a little picture, it’s very vivid to me. Is there anybody here from South Africa by any chance? Anyone, anywhere? God bless you. I love South Africa. It’s good to hear him say that, isn’t it? People have asked Ruth and me often, “What is the country you enjoy most of all the countries you’ve visited?” I always say it will shock you if I give you the answer but it’s South Africa. Unfortunately, South Africa, like many other nations is falling apart today. I’m not sure I’d want to go back there for pleasure anymore. But anyhow, I love the people of South Africa. That’s why I’m asking if there’s a South African here because if I’m wrong, come and tell me afterwards privately. But I’ve been told in South Africa there’s a place called Namaqualand which is unusual because for many years no rain falls and the whole land is dry and arid and there’s no real vegetation. I can never tell this without tears coming to my eyes because it’s so vivid to me. But, about once every six years rain falls on Namaqualand and it becomes the most glorious pageant of many colored flowers. Do you know why? They were all the below the surface but it took the rain to make them germinate. I think Britain today is like Namaqualand. It’s very dry, very barren and very arid, but underneath the surface there are seeds of gospel truth which have been sown in this nation for four hundred years. If God were really to pour out His Holy Spirit we would be amazed at what would come up, the beauty that would be seen in this land. That’s my belief. I want to share it with you.
What part do we have to play in the outpouring of the rain of the Holy Spirit? Because, it’s the rain of the Spirit that will bring the seeds to life. I just want to close by reading from Joel 2. Joel really is the prophet of the latter day outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Joel opens with a picture of desolation, everything is desolate. There’s no life, no food, no crops, no animals. And then in the middle of chapter 2, verse 12, God says to His people:
“Now therefore, says the Lord, turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning. So rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and He relents from doing harm. Who knows? If He will turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him.”
Who knows? We don’t know but it’s worth trying.
And then at the end of that chapter in verse 28 and following God says:
“And it shall come to pass afterward...”
In the New Testament it says “in the latter days,” both are correct. But let’s consider the significance of afterward for a moment. After what? After God’s people have done what He told them to do. Turn to Him with all their heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning. Then God says after you do that it shall come to pass that:
“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. Also on my servants, my men servants and my maid servants, I will pour out my spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved...”
You see this very clearly leads right up to the end of the age, the great and terrible day of the Lord. Why is it that whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved in that situation. Because the Holy Spirit has been poured out. And when the Holy Spirit is poured out it’s easy to be saved.
I want to make an appeal to you today. I feel God put this on my heart. I’m surprised at what I’ve said because I said a lot of things I didn’t expect to say. I want to make this appeal very carefully. I don’t know whether Irvin and Magdal remember but when we were in Westbourne Grove we prayed every week for revival in Britain, can you remember that? I don’t believe those prayers went unheard. Forty years later I’m looking for the answer. But, it’s going to take the prayer of desperation. You’re going to have to come face to face with the fact that there is no other hope, nothing else will do it. This nation is lost unless God intervenes. What God is waiting for is the cry of desperation.
You cannot work up desperation. It’s no good trying to be desperate. Only the Holy Spirit can pour out upon you the spirit of grace and supplication.
I want to make an appeal and I want to say it very carefully. I want you to think before you respond. I believe God put it in my heart to ask if there were people here who would commit themselves as the Holy Spirit empowers them and enables them to pray the prayer of desperation, to get to the end of yourself.
One of my daughters, not Magdal, has three sons and one daughter. Her second son who was a Christian was involved with a Christian woman and they were planning to get married. It was obviously a very unsuitable marriage. But he was a stubborn young man and he was going to go ahead. My daughter’s husband told me, which rather surprised me knowing my daughter, that she spent hours on her face before the Lord crying out for her son. Her prayers prevailed, the marriage was canceled. He’s now married to a beautiful Christian girl and they have two lovely children. But what happened was it changed that daughter. She’s never been the same. Most of us never thought of her as super-spiritual, to say the truth. But something happened in her when God brought her to the point of desperation. Not only did it change her son but it changed her.
I want to ask you, and please consider this carefully because don’t make a superficial response to God, how many of you feel as I have been speaking that the Holy Spirit has been saying to you, “Are you willing to let me make you desperate for Britain? Are you willing to let me break through in your life and change your priorities, and if necessary, bring you on your face on the floor day after day until you see the rain fall?” This is a calling, it’s not for everybody. Actually, it’s not for me. I have too many other aspects of my ministry. Ruth and I pray every day for revival in Britain, four times a day. But we are not—it isn’t in that cry of desperation. It’s not something supernatural released by the Holy Spirit. My conviction is that’s what it’s going to take if Britain is to be changed. And as I’ve told Don and I said to you, I believe God wants to start something in this camp that will affect Britain. I believe the key to it will be the prayers of people whose lives have been touched by the Holy Spirit here in the camp.
I want to ask you to ponder for a few moments and try to listen to the Holy Spirit. Don’t respond out of your own good intentions but is the Holy Spirit saying to you, “Will you let me make you desperate for your nation? Will you let me change maybe the way you live? Change your priorities, the way you spend your time, so that really what you live for more than anything else is prayer?” Just think that over for a moment, don’t make a hasty response. I believe there are those here this evening to whom God has been speaking. If you want to commit yourself to God’s grace to become that kind of intercessor for Britain, then I would invite you to indicate it to God first and foremost, and then to us by simply standing to your feet. Don’t be hasty.
I think there are some sisters here who feel you really don’t have much of a ministry, you don’t feel very important. I don’t want to flatter you but you could go to the top of God’s list tonight if you would give yourself to Him for this purpose.
Do you know the motto of the United States Marines? Ruth was a Marine, you’d be surprised to know. It just says “a few good men”. When they advertise they say the U.S. Marines are looking for a few good men. I believe God is looking for some special people here tonight. They may not be special in the eyes of the world but they have a special importance in the eyes of God.
Ruth: The official motto of the United States Marine is “always faithful,” semper fidelis. The person who prays like this will be always faithful.
Derek: I don’t desire to prolong this but I don’t feel free to cut it short right now. The Holy Spirit is like a cloud hovering over this place. Please listen to the Spirit. Don’t weigh your merits, don’t look back on your past failures. Trust Him. He is the Spirit of grace and of supplication. Can you feel the solemnity of this meeting?
Brothers, we’re in the presence of God. This is a very sacred moment. Thank you, Lord. Please understand you’re not a second class Christian if you don’t stand up. But if God is speaking to you, please obey Him. Please obey Him.
There are more and more people standing up, that’s why I’m not closing my appeal. I’m glad that you don’t respond hastily. I’m not asking for a hasty, emotional decision, I’m asking for something that comes from your heart by the Holy Spirit.
There are enough people standing here this evening who could change the destiny of Britain if you would be faithful to your commitment. I, by the grace of God, am due back here, God willing, through the kindness of Don Double in two years time. Brothers and sisters, I want to come back and find a different Britain, a Britain that has been changed by the prayers of a few good men and women.
Don, I’m going to ask you to pray for the people that have stood. If you have anything extra to say, just say it.
“Father, we stand in awe in your presence tonight. We thank you for the challenge of your Word that came to us and we first of all acknowledge the sin of this nation. Lord, we’re ashamed of the immorality, the idolatry, the materialism, the compromise of this nation. We cry to you for mercy. Oh God, have mercy on us! Lord, in judgment remember mercy. We pray, Lord, that every one that stands before you now will be enabled by the grace of God and by the Holy Spirit to know the breakthrough in prayer, will know the Spirit of God enabling them to pray in desperation, for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit for what we call revival, that the outcome of that will see this nation turn back to God. Father, I pray that everyone standing will be given a clear vision of what you want for Britain. Lord, that they’ll be stirred on, they’ll be encouraged because they will see a vision, a vision for our land, a vision that can motivate in prayer until they’re desperate and you move. Lord, as they stand to make this commitment, they’ll only make it through if you enable them to. They’re not capable on their own and we pray sincerely and honestly, Lord, that you will work in their lives that their prayer will be so effective that you will answer. Lord, I pray that we’ll see it in our day. Lord, we believe you’re coming soon but we want to finish the job that you’ve given us to do. We want to be the people, we want to be the people of God on earth that see the climax of time. We pray that you’ll help us. Lord, we need you. We endeavor to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God that you may exalt us. In Jesus’ name, amen.”