Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. – Judges 1:18-19
This semester, as I’m sure I have already mentioned, I am studying church history. It has been amazing to see how the church has spread out from its small beginnings in Jerusalem. The church has seen many struggles over the centuries but also has had many great moments. This semester I have a task of writing about one of the great revival moments in the church: the Great Awakening in the American Colonies.
We all know the story of the Pilgrims and other groups coming to America for religious freedom. However, as time passed people grew away from the Christian faith that had been so strong earlier. There are even estimates that during this time only a fifth of those in Massachusetts professed to be Christians. Church attendance was falling and people cared less about living a transformed live for Christ.
It was during this time that people like T.J. Frelinghuysen, Gilbert Tennent, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards began their public preaching ministries. These preachers had a passion for teaching God’s Word and seeing people change their lives in Christ. During the Awakening, thousands upon thousands came to an understanding of their sin and their need for Jesus. This event had a great impact on America. It is thought that America’s deep-rooted Christianity developed out of this Great Awakening.
It was interesting as I was reading about the spiritual condition of the American Colonies and I couldn’t help thinking that many would describe today’s America in the same way. We certainly can see people turning away from Biblical truth. Another aspect of that time was that even the people that went to church really didn’t care about living a life honoring to God. Church was just a show for them.
Israel faced the same ups and downs throughout the book of Judges. Israel would mess up and cry out to God for help and God would send a Judge to save them. The church and Israel, although different, often needed an awakening from God. God wants to use us for that awakening. All the preachers from the Great Awakening didn’t set out to start the awakening, instead they just did what they knew God would want them to do, and then that grew into something great. Do we need an awakening in our lives, our churches? How does God want to use us?