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Like a Trumpet

Like a Trumpet

May God raise up men who will declare
the transgression of His people.

As I was praying and meditating this past week, the Holy Spirit gave me a clear word for us to pray in today’s Concert of Prayer.

“Cry aloud, spare not. Lift up your voice like a trumpet and
declare to My people their transgression.”
Isaiah 58:1

As someone who oversees a ministry in the 21st century, I am well aware of the need to be strategic, to utilize trends and to be relevant in what we say and do.  The fact that you began reading this either through an email campaign, a Facebook post, a Tweet or my blog is evidence of the times in which we live…and my willingness to be pliable toward them.  Many tools can be used in ministry.  And in so doing, we should try to reach as many people as possible.  However, I contend with the extreme degree to which we have taken our “modern sensibilities.”  We have lost our voice.  Not just our voice—but the voice of God speaking through us.

With all of our concern over the emerging/emergent church, the trends of the day, the proper terminology to use from the pulpit, the strategies that will bring growth and the income required to fund them, we have lost our concern for and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  We have become hypersensitive and hyper-accommodating to everything else but Him.

Books on the emerging church exhort us to replace terms such as atonement, sanctification and justification with words of less syllables.  I can understand the need for this, especially when targeting an audience that is not churched.  The term seeker is now preferred to lost person.  And Follower of Christ is now considered a more user-friendly term than Christian.

I don’t have a problem with updating our terminology.  After all, I use an NIV translation, love to refer to The Message and only use the King James as a study reference.  I’m thankful people have sought to move beyond the King’s English and in so doing, have paved the way for countless study materials written in language and terminology I understand.

Yet we have taken our modernization so far that we have become deathly afraid of offending someone. We will forfeit the Truth, and thus its accompanying conviction, before we will forfeit someone’s feelings—and their approval of us, which we have so tenderly coddled.

There are probably many reasons why the content of the majority of the sermons preached across America this Sunday will better resemble the gentle sounds of a violin than the blaring tones of the horn. Only God knows them all—but I dare say that the chief cause is the lack of prayer.  I do know that if there is to be a reversal, it will come no other way than by prayer.

The Prophet

As we pray today, pray specifically for the prophet—the preacher, the pastor.  The words of Isaiah 58:1 were directed to the prophet.  According to the New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible,

These words are directed to the prophet; and so the Targum [Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible] expresses it,

“O prophet, cry with thy throat;”

and so it is in the original, “cry with the throat”, which is an instrument of speech; and it denotes a loud, strong, vehement cry, when a man exerts his voice, and as it were rends his throat, that he may be heard; as well as it shows the intenseness of his spirit, and the vehemence of his affections, and the importance of what he delivers; and this the prophet is encouraged to do, and “spare not”, the voice, throat, or his lungs, nor the people neither he was sent unto; or, “cease not”, as the Targum, refrain not from speaking, “cease not crying”; so Ben Melech: “lift up thy voice like a trumpet”; like the voice or sound of a trumpet, which is heard afar, and gives an alarm…[1]

The Adam Clarke commentary says,

“Never was a louder cry against the hypocrisy, nor a more cutting reproof of the wickedness, of a people professing a national established religion, having all the forms of godliness without a particle of its power.”[2]

Does this not sound like us—a Church riddled with hypocrisy, desperately in need of reproof of wickedness?  Are we not a nation of Christians who in church this Sunday morning will raise our hands, sing and clap and demonstrate a form of godliness without a speck of its power?

My People

God speaks to the prophet—the preacher, the pastor—wanting him to use all diligence and severity to rebuke His beloved people for their sins.  The Jews in Isaiah’s time were more zealous for external indicators of religion than for inward holiness.  Similarly, so are Christians in America today.

And if there is to be a revival in our churches, to yield a holy, spiritual membership, won’t that trumpet sound need to be heard—repent?  Was it only in Israel, in the ministry of kings and prophets, that there was so much evil in God’s people to be cleansed away?  Was it only in the church of the first century that Paul and James and our Lord Himself had to speak such sharp words?  Or is there not in the church of our days an idolatry of money, talent, and culture?  Is there not a worldly spirit, making it unfaithful to its one and only Husband and Lord, a confidence in the flesh that grieves and resists God’s Holy Spirit?  Is there not a confession of the lack of spirituality and spiritual power? [3]

May we who long for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit pray that above all, God may “prepare His prophets to go before Him at His bidding.”[4]Cry aloud, spare not. Lift up your voice like a trumpet and declare to My people their transgression” (Isaiah 58:1).

Every deep revival among God’s people must have its roots in a deep sense and confession of sin.  Until those who would lead the church in the path of revival bear faithful testimony against the sins of the church, people will be found unprepared. Men would gladly have a revival as the outgrowth of their agencies and progress. God’s way is the opposite.  It is out of death, acknowledged as the desert of sin, confessed as utter helplessness, that He revives.  He revives the heart of the contrite one.[5]

Prayer Bullets

  • May God raise up men in the pulpits of this nation who will declare the transgression of His people.
  • Pray specifically for your pastor — may God give him a hunger for prayer and a commitment to it, a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and unction in his preaching.

I believe the words of an Isaiah 58:1 man of God — an Isaiah 58:1 preacher — will say more about this topic than I ever could.  So I am including a quote by Leonard Ravenhill below. (For more Ravenhill and other great quotes, see To The Point).  Although the quote is long, (and therefore, editorially risky for me to include) I believe you will find that it is not enough.  You will long to read more.  (This particular quote came from Why Revival Tarries. I highly recommend it!)

Quotes

“Let us think of the need of souls, of all the sins among God’s people, of the lack of power in so much of the preaching, and begin to cry, ‘Wilt thou not revive us again; that thy people may rejoice in thee?”  And let us have this truth lodged deep in our hearts; every revival comes, as Pentecost came, as the fruit of united, continued prayer.”

– Andrew Murray

“We may have an all-time high in church attendance with an all-time low in spirituality.  It may have been that in the past liberalism was rightly cursed by many as the seducer of the people.  Now T.V. is the scapegoat, getting the anathema of the preachers.  Yet having said all this, and knowing that both indictments carry truth, may I ask us preachers a question: Have we to confess with one of old, ‘the fault, dear Brutus, is within ourselves’? To sharpen my scalpel and plunge it further into the quivering flesh of the pulpiteers: Has great preaching died?  is soul-hot preaching a lost art?  have we conceded to the impatient modern’s snack-bar sermons (spiced with humor!) the task of edging men’s jaded spiritual appetites? do we endeavor to bring ‘the powers of the world to come’ into every meeting?

“I am appealing again…for majestic preaching.  The devil wants us to major on minors.  Many of us in the ‘Deeper Life’ bracket are hunting mice while lions devour the land!..Paul the bond-slave, Paul the love-slave, having settled that he was the hardest soul God would ever have to deal with, strode out to shake regions for God.  On his day he brought ‘the powers of the world to come,’ stayed Satan, and outsuffered, outloved, and outprayed us all.  Bretheren, to our knees again, to rediscover apostolic piety and apostolic power.  Away with sickly sermonizing!

“The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people.  Oh! the horror of it.  There is a strange thing that I have seen ‘under the sun,’…it is preaching without unction.  What is unction? I hardly know.  But I know what it is not (or at least I know when it is not upon my own soul).  Preaching without unction kills instead of giving life.  The unctionless preacher is a savor of death unto death.  The Word does not live unless the unction is upon the preacher.  Preacher, with all they getting — get unction.  Brethren, we could well manage to be half as intellectual (of the modern pseudo kind) if we were twice as spiritual.  Preaching is a spiritual business.  A sermon born in the head reaches the head; a sermon born in the heart reaches the heart.  Under God, a spiritual preacher will produce spiritually minded people.  Unction is not a gentle dove beating her wings against the bars outside of the preacher’s soul; rather, must she be pursued and won.  Unction cannot be learned, only earned — by prayer.  Unction is God’s knighthood for the soldier-preacher who has wrestled in prayer and gained the victory.  Victory is not won in the pulpit by firing intellectual bullets or wisecracks, but in the prayer closet; it is won or lost before the preacher’s foot enters the pulpit.

– Leonard Ravenhill


[1] New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible: http://www.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=isa&chapter=58&verse=1

[2] The Adam Clarke Commentary: http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?book=isa&chapter=58&verse=1#Isa58_1

[3] Andrew Murray, Andrew Murray on Prayer (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1998), 558

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

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