To Ground Zero

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8

 In October 1809, Cape Town, South Africa awoke to a rumbling and shaking. For eight days the city was in the grip of a mighty earthquake that dislodged rocks from Table Mountain and destroyed homes. The people fled to the Cape Flats and watched with great fear as the “Paris of the South” (so named because of the wickedness and immorality) was shaken as if by the fury of a giant hand.

Kendrick, one of the few believers, wrote, “It was the greatest thing that could have happened to Cape Town as it brought a seriousness and fear of God upon the people to such an extent that many began to thirst after salvation. The spark of grace soon began to catch from soul to soul. Prayer meetings commenced and a most wonderful cry for God’s mercy followed. The places of worship frequently became so crowded that many were unable to approach the door. Soldiers sought the Lord with cries and tears. Notorious sinners were pleading for pardon. Soon more than fifty men began to meet together and the number of Evangelicals in the Cape grew by hundreds.”

Another shocking event occurred in Cape Town on July 25, 1993. While fourteen-hundred Evangelicals met together for their morning service at St. James Kenilworth, their time with God was violated by a cowardly and vicious attack from the rear of the auditorium. Four gunmen threw hand grenades and sprayed the worshippers with gunfire from their AK47 automatic assault rifles. The sanctuary turned into a killing field. Eleven people died and more than fifty others were seriously injured.

Once again Cape Town was shaken, this time by the extent of mens wickedness. In much the same way as the 1809 earthquake alerted the people to their need for God, the killing spree at St. James drove the city back onto its knees. The City Hall was filled with people coming together to pray, and, rather than avoiding Sunday worship, people began to flock back to church.

It seems to me that it takes a shocking event in life before some folk are prepared to consider their need for God. That’s borne out by a study of history. Most revivals of religion come at a time when people have reached a point of desperation, been startled out of their comfort zone, or been driven back to ground zero.

This is obvious in the life story of Jacob (cf. Genesis 25-35). From the day of his birth Jacob was striving and struggling to get ahead. He was always plotting and planning, devising and deceiving. Driven to be number one he would do anything to advance his lot in life and his tussle for power and control caused ongoing strife. Matters finally came to a head when Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was defiled by a local ruler’s son. Jacob’s sons retaliated by murdering a number of Canaanites and Perizzites and their action plunged Jacob into a crisis.

This was the beginning of Jacob’s personal revival. When Jacob reached rock bottom, he turned to God. The events of the day shocked him to his spiritual senses and forced him to take drastic measures in order to save himself and his household. In Jacob’s case he had to get back to ground zero. This involved getting rid of the foreign idols that had become the source of decay for his family.

It’s the same for us. We need to get back to ground zero if we want to be revived. We must get rid of our idols. Nothing can have first place with the Lord – not our jobs, our hobbies, our goals, our business, our recreation, our marriage, our family, our theology, or even our church. Because if any of these things are placed first, or share first place with our commitment to God, then we’ve slipped into idolatry.

Now examine your heart. Identify sin. Purify yourself through confession. Deal with exterior and interior issues. And, under the pressure of the Holy Spirit’s convicting power, remove the idols that have usurped your commitment to God. For you will only experience a force, freshness, and dynamic in your life when you confess your sin and return to your first love for God.

“And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8.

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