The Church's Greatest Hour Is Still Ahead | World Challenge

The Church's Greatest Hour Is Still Ahead

David WilkersonDecember 9, 1991

When Israel came up out of the Red Sea, they sang praises of God for the mighty deliverance He provided. They must have said to each other, "Never could there be so great a miracle as this!" No other generation in all of future history will ever witness so mighty a demonstration of God's power — and in such a visible way.

“Never will the people of God be in so severe a crisis as the one we just came through. Generation after generation will remember this day. And they'll point back to it as the greatest proof of God's power and work among men on Earth!"

Indeed, for many years this has been the case. David looked back to Israel's miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea and said, "Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men. He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him!" (Psalm 66:5-6).

Israel was commanded to tell each succeeding generation about God's great miracle-working power on their behalf. They were to use their deliverance at the Red Sea as their example, "shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done" (Psalm 78:4).

Thus David said, "I will utter dark sayings of old: which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children...that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children" (verses 2-3, 6). "Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers.... He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap" (verses 12-13).

As a child, David must have sat enthralled as he heard the story told over and over again: how God delivered his forefathers out of Egypt, how the sea rolled back and Pharaoh's army was drowned. Now David told his children the same story of God's past deliverance. He testified, "You know God lives — because He took our forefathers through the Red Sea on dry ground. Now, tell it to your children and your grandchildren!" And they did.

But a time came when David could no longer simply tell the story without asking God to do it again! Suddenly it wasn't enough just to talk about what God had done in the distant past. David wanted to see God deliver His people now: "We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand...because thou hadst a favour unto them" (Psalm 44:1-3).

David is saying here, "Lord, all my life I've heard about what You did in the past — how these incredible scenes of Your glory were visibly manifested to my fathers. My children have heard of it, and now my grandchildren will hear of it."

But then David bursts out: "Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob" (verse 4). In other words: "But God, you are my King also. Do these things again for Your people who are alive right now! I don't want to hear only about the miracles of the past. Let me be a part of Your great miracle of deliverance today!"

As David spoke these words, he was in a time of deep trial, as was Israel. God's people faced a great crisis, and they needed a present-day deliverance. So David came to the Lord with strong reasoning, crying out to the Lord:

"Oh Lord, Your children at the Red Sea may have thought there could never be a crisis like theirs again. But as far as I'm concerned, the crisis we face today is just as critical. What I'm going through now is just like facing the Red Sea, with Pharaoh and the enemy barreling down upon me. We've got to have a deliverance right now! We need a powerful manifestation of Your mighty, outstretched arm. Lord, do it again today!"

I've heard this same heart-cry from my two preaching sons. They've told me, "Dad, we've heard all about the miracles God did for you when you came by faith to New York City years ago to work with teen gangs and addicts. We've heard about how God miraculously led you, provided money, opened doors and saved people like Nicky Cruz.

"That's fine, Dad, and we praise God for all that. But we want to see that in our day and our ministry too! All our lives we've heard about what the Lord did in the early days. But we need to see it for ourselves. This is a different generation, and America and the church are in a great crisis. We need to see God at work today!"

Young ministers everywhere are researching revivals. People are writing books on how God moved in the past. There's a desperate cry arising among young people that says, "Do it again, Lord! Do it for us today!"

The Miracles Should Not Die With Your Generation!     

Is this your heart-cry too? "O Lord, I believe all You did in the past for Israel and our believing fathers. But the crisis I'm in right now is just as serious to me as the Red Sea was to Israel. My circumstances have put me in such a position that I need a miracle of deliverance. Lord, I want You to work for me!"

Let me ask you: If you could talk to the Israelites who were at the Red Sea, and tell them about the crisis we face today in America and in the backslidden church — how do you think they would respond? What would they say about the scores of Christians who once possessed the fire of God, but who now have stony hearts?

I believe those Israelites would weep and cry out, "Brethren, that's worse than ten thousand Sodoms! You need a greater work of deliverance than we ever needed. Pharaoh's army is nothing compared to what you face!"

I'm sure the children of Israel said in their time, "'There will never be another crisis like ours." How wrong they were!

In recent years we've read and heard about the falls of evangelists and pastors on all sides. Just recently I learned of the fall of a man who pastors a large Pentecostal church. His exposed sins were so vile and hideous, they were worse than anything I had ever heard about — even sins committed by the worst sinners I have encountered in thirty-three years of street ministry. They were unthinkable! Our morals have sunk so low, we need a miracle of cleansing.

A distraught woman called Gwen and me this past week, discouraged over what is happening in the large charismatic church she and her husband attend. This dear woman sits in the choir and grieves as she watches people fall asleep during boring, lifeless messages. People are leaving the church left and right.

When this woman asked some couples why they continued to attend, they answered, "We're too old to change, and all our friends are here. Besides, where can you go to find anything better?" She admitted to me, "I have to fight off sleep myself. Our church is literally dying. It's so lifeless, so empty. So many of us are hungry for God — what can we do?"

We also received a letter recently from a young wife who said, "I married a preacher's son, and his father pastored our church. My husband has two sisters and a very godly mother, a prayer warrior. She was the cement that held the family together. But last year my husband's father ran away with a young woman in the congregation. He just disappeared, and we haven't heard a word from him in a whole year."

The mother fasted and prayed for most of that year, hoping God would bring back her husband and restore their marriage. She also hurt over all the sheep who were falling away from the church. But over time, the sisters became embittered. And one day the mother met a rich sinner — and she married him and backslid.

You can hear the pathos in this young woman's letter: The sheep are scattering, the family is scattering, sin is breaking out on all sides — because the man in the pulpit failed God!

If you told the Israelites all that I've written here about the body of Christ, they would say, "You mean, that's the church? The people of God?" I would have to tell them, "Yes, these are Christians I'm talking about. I haven't even gotten to the world yet!"

Yet even in spite of all the iniquity taking place in God's house, I can say with great confidence: The greatest hour for the church of Jesus Christ is just ahead! In spite of all the filth and shame, we are headed for victory.

Let me attempt to prove this from God's Word:

1. We Are Promised Last-Day Deliverances Far Greater Than the Opening Of the Red Sea!

What God wants to do for us in these last days is far more powerful than anything seen in the past — greater even than the Red Sea opening and the destruction of Pharaoh's army. It is so great that God's people will not look back at the miracles of our spiritual fathers — because we will be so excited by the miracles we witness ourselves!

This is not a prophetic utterance from my own mind. It comes straight from the Word of God: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord.... They shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt" (Jeremiah 23:5, 7).

All those past miracles, as wonderful as they were, will no longer be the proof to the world that God is alive and at work in the earth. No, God promises to do a new thing.

The days are coming, Jeremiah says, when God's people will no longer say, "God worked back then." Instead, we'll say, "We're seeing such great deliverances from sin, such great heart-cleansings — that the whole world has to say, 'Surely God lives, because He is working miracles before our very eyes!'"

Here is this new testimony — up to the hour:

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch.... They shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them" (Jeremiah 23:8).

It is clear Jeremiah is speaking not only about his time, but ours as well. The "days coming" refer to a time after Jesus's ministry is completed. Jesus Christ is the seed of David — the Branch of righteousness that reigns in the lives of God's people.

The day Jeremiah described was to come after a spiritual Israel was dwelling securely in the victory of the Cross. In that day God's people would sit under the reign of Christ, as servants to His holiness. And that day also would be one in which Christ would purge His house, "executing judgment with justice."

Beloved, that time has come. And today we are seeing more clearly than ever that judgment is falling — beginning with the house of God!

The first thing God is going to do in His church is to deliver His flock from the hands of wicked shepherds. "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away...behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings...I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them...and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking" (Jeremiah 23:1-4).

Jeremiah said the ministry in Israel had become profane and full of adultery. Likewise today, a backslidden, adulterous ministry has caused great despair in the church and scattered the sheep. "For the land is full of adulterers...the pleasant places...are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness" (Jeremiah 23:10-11).

These shepherds give comfort to those living in sin. They have no touch of God, no anointing. They do not pray, and they have no word from God. Instead, they speak only out of their own hearts. They become fat themselves, and they have no burden for the sheep. God calls them "dreamers, liars" — all in Jeremiah 23!

Ezekiel also speaks against such shepherds: "And (the sheep) were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field [demons], when they were scattered" (Ezekiel 34:5). "Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock.... I will deliver my flock from their mouths.... I will both search my sheep, and seek them out.... I will feed them in a good pasture" (Ezekiel 34:10-11, 15).

God is coming to bring a mighty deliverance to His church! He's going to strip fleshly pastors of their flocks — and He's going to gather up all the lost, scattered sheep that have been destroyed by shepherds who were not faithful. He says, "I'm going to take My sheep out of their hands and set them under a True Shepherd — Jesus Christ — who will lead them into green pastures and feed them."

Even now the Lord is setting up true shepherds who cling only to Christ. Why do you think God revealed the birth of Jesus to shepherds first? It is because they were "abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8).

They watched over the flocks during the nighttime! And "the glory of the Lord shone round about them" because they were not asleep!

God is saying something to His church through this. These men represent a type of true shepherds — men of God who remain alert in the midnight hour. And the Bible says the glory of Jesus came first to such men — men who were not sleeping! They were wide awake as they watched over their flocks.

Right now God is cleansing His house — exposing adultery and judging the ministry — because He is preparing His church for a revelation of Christ's holiness. He wants a people that are well-fed and satisfied in Christ, so He can pour out His Spirit and add the flock of sheep that's coming!

2. God Has Promised to Bless and Increase His Church "More Than at the Beginning" (Ezekiel 36:9-11).

"I...will do better unto you than at your beginnings" (Ezekiel 36:11). This Scripture doesn't describe a church that's grown weaker and more sinful. It is a promise of a great work of God — greater than Pentecost — that will occur in these last days!

Think back to your spiritual "beginnings," when you first got saved. You were so happy and excited about Jesus. Now God is saying to you, "I'm going to do better than that for you!" He's going to do better things in the church than ever before!

Better than the Red Sea? you ask. Better than Elijah calling fire down from heaven and shutting down rain? Yes — God's got something better! Better than the apostles casting out devils and seeing cripples rise up and dance? Or God shaking the Upper Room with His power? God's Word makes it plain: He's got something better!

"What could be better?" you ask. "Our very faith is built on these great examples." Beloved, we are going to see the fullest revelation of Jesus Christ in the history of mankind. And here is the greatness of such a miracle: God is going to take the filthiest, most perverse generation of all time — a generation with the stoniest hearts in history — and He's going to clean them up, give them loving hearts and turn them into a holy flock!

"I will increase them with men like a flock...as the holy flock" (Ezekiel 36:37-38). God is going to save a "flock" — a great multitude — of men and women. And indeed, a multitude of slumbering, scattered sheep are coming back to Him, because they are being stirred by the Holy Spirit!

We will see sinners from every walk of life saved: Jews, Muslims, rich, poor, murderers, people of all backgrounds. The most notorious sinners of all time are going to be saved!

You say, "That's not a new thing. Wicked sinners have always been cleansed by Christ. God's been doing that since the Cross." True — but remember, sin is increasing; wickedness is growing worse and worse. And where sin abounds, God's grace abounds much more!

At the Red Sea, the devil was advancing, threatening to pounce on God's people. The difference today is, he already has prevailed against the backslidden church, capturing and enslaving millions: "Because they have...swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen...and are an infamy of the people" (Ezekiel 36:3).

But now, God is going to move in. And here is the reason for His move: "Because the enemy hath said against you, Aha, even the ancient high places are ours in possession" (verse 2). Satan and his crowd have mocked and laughed, saying, "We have destroyed the work of Christ on earth!" But God says, "For My name's sake, I'm going to do a mighty deliverance."

This is the miracle that you'll need faith to understand — because it's going to come at the neediest, most critical time in the history of the church. God will cause His flock to walk in righteousness. He will bring down such conviction that believers will literally loathe their past sins:

"I will multiply men in your midst...you will increase and bear fruit...and I will do better unto you than at your beginnings" (Ezekiel 36:11). "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.... And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways...and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations" (verses 25-31).

These Great Promises Are Given to Us So We Will Pray Them to Pass! (Ezekiel 36:37)

God is saying to His church right now, "I want to do this for you — I want to increase you with holy men." And He is telling us to pray for this increase: "I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock" (Ezekiel 36:37). He gave us these promises so we can pray them to pass!

My prayer right now is, "God, You have to do it. I can't see it — but You have no choice other than to do it, because You promised to do it." I believe God wants us to pray that way. He yearns to show us His power and strength in our day. And prayer is the promise turned into petition! In other words, pray what God has promised you. Claim these promises over every area of your life. Lay hold of them — until God lays hold of you!

We are to pray for an influx of a flock of men to become holy followers of Jesus. And God says He wants us to do this because the salvation of so many once-wicked men will cause the world to know God's power over sin and the devil. All flesh shall then see and know His works!

The fact is, as miraculous and wonderful as these promises are, none will be fulfilled without God's people praying them to pass. Why did God base the condition of His promises on prayer? Because prayer proves we want what God desires — that we prize His desires enough to arouse ourselves to lay hold of Him! And if those are the Lord's conditions, we can know that something will happen to us in the process of prayer that's beyond anything we can understand. We're going to be changed as we pray!

People are going to flock to Christ — without the help of celebrities, hype, pitiful appeals for money, advertising, pageantry or glitz. And when people ask, "How did this happen? What draws all these crowds?", we will answer, "Prayer — prayer — and more prayer!"

You can't work up a revival; you can't buy an awakening. You can't bring in special speakers to make it happen. No, it happens because of prayer — because "the whole house inquires."

Beloved, it's time to stop looking back at the "good old days." Instead, we are heading into the good last days! Thank God for all He has done in the past; He is indeed worthy of praise and thanksgiving. But He has saved the best wine for last!

Get ready to witness the saintliest, godliest generation of all time. Our sons and daughters are going to be rained upon with righteousness. Our new generation will do the greatest exploits ever. The greatest ministers of God will not be TV evangelists or mega-church pastors. They will be godly saints so full of Jesus that the world will see the very character of God just by looking at their lives.

If we will pray earnestly and unceasingly, here is what God says He will do:

"I will turn unto you...I will multiply men in your midst...they shall increase and bring fruit...neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more...the heathen shall know that I am the Lord...from all your filthiness will I cleanse you...a new heart also will I give you...ye shall keep my judgments, and do them...I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you...ye shall remember your own evil ways, and shall lothe yourselves...the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places...so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 36:9-38).

This is an incredible list of promises, found in a single chapter in Ezekiel. Yet how can we see them happen?

We must pray them to pass!

You may wish you had been at Pentecost — but God said He has saved the best wine for these last days. That means more of the Spirit and greater glory! Forget the good old days. The best days for the church of Jesus Christ are still ahead!

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