Saturday, April 8, 2023

The Beacons of Revival are Spreading: The Battle at Osgiliath & the Beacons of Gondor

I'm always trying to understand our position in history. And it seems to me right now, our position in history is a moment that I remember from the Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King.

The orcs are storming Osgiliath, they've crossed the river in the dark of night. And Faramir and the Ithilien Guard are fighting this hopeless battle against hordes of tens of thousands of orcs who are crossing the river. They've been fighting all night.  The battle began in the night, now it's morning, they've been fighting constantly. 

The Ithilien Guard had been the resistance movement against the enemy, as they gathered their forces into position for battle. The Ithlien guard would launch hit and run attacks against orcs wherever they could. They are the heroes in the wilderness. 

It reminds me of the body of Christ in the United States. The enemy seems to freely roam through our country, the enemy's forces, the principalities, the powers, the demons, the unsaved humans who do their bidding seem to have free reign in the United States, but they're never safe as they move from east to west to the Midwest, the coasts, because there's bands of freedom fighters throughout the country, bands of Christians, churches, groups, movements, denominations, parachurch organizations out there, who are fighting the good fight of the faith day and night, for the kingdom of light.

Similarly, the Ithilien Guard in The Lord of the Rings, is fighting this kind of pitched battle. And they no longer have the strength that they need to be able to withstand any longer, but they continue to fight as much as they can. But now they find themselves at the Battle of Osgiliath, fighting along the river, and they don't have the forces they need to win that battle.

That reminds me of where we are as the church in the West, we see all manner of evil rising all around us. I mean, it is rising rapidly in 1000 different areas, whether it's the university system, whether it's the the medical system, whether it's the culture, Hollywood, the news media, it is rising everywhere, in areas and regions politically, socially, economically. 

And we just keep trying to stand our ground. And we really can't seem to stop the march of the enemy anymore. We're able to slow them down. But we're not able to stop them or take ground of our own. That reminds me of the situation of Gondor. And what happens then, I feel like this is the moment we're at in history. What happens next is, Faramir and the Ithilien Guard have been fighting on the river and one of his men comes up and tells him, "We can't go any any longer. The battle is lost." Faramir says all right, we're gonna break cover and make for Minas Tirith, the capital of the kingdom. 

And I feel like that's where we are in the United States. As far as the cultural battles, the spiritual battles, the efforts to evangelize, we're kind of on the retreat back toward the capital, because really the capital is all we still hold spiritually as the body of Christ. We still hold out, like our churches still exist. They're in shambles, but they're still there in all these communities across the country, but we're not able to take new ground we're just barely holding on and we find ourselves really in retreat.

I'm on the frontlines of that battle in the Salvation Army, as a minister. We fight day and night these cultural battles, the spiritual, the economic battles, the battles against poverty, the battles of evangelism, of winning lost souls, teaching holiness, all that. We fight, and we start to lose hope. We struggle to keep the faith. God helps us, but it's difficult sometimes. Keeping our love from growing cold gets harder each day. 

Yet inn the distance, I see something, I see hope, appearing from somewhere that we didn't expect. We didn't expect God to do it quite like this. In fact, some have even fought against it. They became envious, angry that it didn't happen with their ministry first. I've seen ministries becoming envious because revival is breaking out and it's not happening in our church. So we get mad and that's the wrong response to it. I had to choose a different response, when initially I felt a bit envious. I had to say no, I'm going to choose hope and excitement instead. I'm going to humbly believe that God is doing something. 

In any case, as this battle is taking place at Osgiliath, you have the beacons of Minas Tirith being lit. These big fires burn. And they're spreading across the nation.

All the way, in the movies, to Rohan. And then you have this army gathering at Rohan. To me that is very symbolic of the moment we're in where we're seeing now, revival fires bursting forth in different places. It's something we didn't expect that God is doing. I think we really have to get on board with what he's doing. Realize that this is God's answer to the battles we face. This is what we've longed for, as we fought as the Ithilien guard. 

I know the Ithilien guard is out there right now, reading these words and fighting their battles across every small and big city across the West, the United States and other countries as well. And I honor you and I salute you. Thank you. 

I pray and hope that these revivals are the reinforcements we've been hoping and praying for. These revival fires may just be a rising tide, that is going to culminate like a giant wave like the riders of Rohan, pouring down upon the orcs that are sieging our capital. 

But we're back to our last line of defense. That's what it feels like in the body of Christ worldwide. It feels like we've fallen back to the point where we're now at our at our last remaining city. Maybe it's not as bleak as all that. I hope it's not as bleak as all that in your area. But sometimes it feels that way here.

So my message to you today is to stand firm, keep fighting on those battlefields, even though sometimes it feels like we're losing. Keep fighting, keep fighting because revival is coming. And our reinforcements are coming. But we need to stand our ground and continue to fight on the walls of Minas Tirith. 

As the revival grows and spreads, then we'll see those reinforcements rally to our aid. We need to trust God, we need to fight. We need to offer radical love. We need to stand firm, we need to win souls to Christ. We need to spread the gospel in unique ways. We need to spread the gospel in ways that other people have not thought of. We need to spread the gospel in ways that seemed impossible. Break social norms, cut through social norms to speak up for Jesus and really break into areas where we thought Jesus wasn't allowed. And say no, he is allowed here and we're going to speak it. So that's my challenge to you today. Keep the Faith stand firm. God is with you and He loves you in Jesus name. Amen.