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In our country, we have had two “Great Awakenings” and are expecting a third soon. The first was sparked by Jonathan Edwards in the 1740’s.
The Passover Awakening
Edwards’ sermons were mostly about grace, which was rooted in the sovereignty of God alone.
Edwards preached the sermon ‘God Glorified in the Work of Redemption.’ It was his fist [first] sermon to be published, and in it he declared, ‘God is glorified in the work of redemption in this, that there appears in it so absolute and universal dependence of the redeemed on [of] God.’ That is to say, salvation is a work of God from start to finish. ‘Let us exalt God alone,’ Edwards concluded, ‘and ascribe to Him all the glory of redemption.’
For the next three years, Edwards preached the doctrines of grace to his congregation at Northampton. In 1734, he preached a sermon entitled ‘A Divine and Supernatural Light.’ When dead souls rise to life, when blind eyes see the beauty of the gospel, and when deaf ears hear the transforming truth of the redemptive work of Christ — all of this is because of the divine and supernatural light. It is not a human or a natural light. Spiritual awakening comes from heaven above….
Jonathan Edwards’ first letter was an account of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. His first published sermon was a clear proclamation of the sovereignty of God in the work of redemption. His first book chronicled a revival. Awakening was a dominant theme of the life and ministry of Jonathan Edwards.
This first awakening soon had the assistance of George Whitefield and two brothers, John and Charles Wesley.
The first Great Awakening can be likened to a Passover event, because this feast is rooted in the doctrine of grace that was manifested when Jesus came to redeem the world from the effects of Adam’s sin. Edwards had the revelation of the sovereignty of God and had a first-level understanding of the Holy Spirit. However, his most famous sermon in 1741 was “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which, in my view, did not portray the nature of God properly.
We are like spiders dangling over the pit of hell, saved from the flames for the time being by a mere thread. God used Edwards’ words to pierce hearts.
Edwards’ sermons were effective and did indeed bring about a Great Awakening, but this was accomplished through fear of God’s wrath, not by being attracted to His love.
The Pentecost Awakening
The second Great Awakening began in 1825 under the ministry of Charles Finney, who had a greater revelation of the Holy Spirit than did Jonathan Edwards. Signs and wonders accompanied his ministry, and later in the century others, such as Dwight Moody, sparked Part Two of the second Awakening. In the late 1800’s, Maria Woodworth Etter’s ministry saw many remarkable and miraculous demonstrations of the Spirit.
These ministries had a tremendous impact on the people in America, leading many to consider this to be a distinct third Awakening. But when we examine the revelation of the movement and the increasing demonstrations of the Holy Spirit that accompanied it, it is clear to me that the entire Awakening can be classed as a Pentecostal Awakening. The rise of Pentecost really began with Charles Finney in 1825 and reached a climax in the early 1900’s, first with Charles Parham in 1900 and later with William Seymour in 1905.
Of course, not everyone was happy with this Pentecostal outpouring. There remained many believers whose doctrine and spiritual experience continued to be of the Edwards tradition.
The Tabernacles Awakening
The third Awakening began with the Latter Rain movement (1948-1952) with the outpouring of the Spirit in Canada under the ministry of George Hawtin. This movement also coincided with the ministry of William Branham and was probably best known for the number of people who were raised from the dead.
The Latter Rain movement differed from the Pentecost Awakening in that its emphasis shifted from the gift of tongues to the gift of actual languages. In fact, many Pentecostal denominations criticized the Latter Rain movement when some evangelists could suddenly speak the Chinese language without so much as an American accent, even though they had never studied it.
The Latter Rain also received revelation of the feast of Tabernacles. One of the prominent teachers to come out of this movement, George Warnock, published his classic book, The Feast of Tabernacles. This was a seminal moment in church history, because it brought the feast of Tabernacles out of obscurity.
Out of the same movement came the revelation of the Restoration of All Things. However, the movement was divided over this revelation. Some (such as George Hawtin) accepted it; others (such as George Warnock) did not. When Warnock was asked about it, he did not fight it, but he would never claim it either.
The Progression of Revelation
In my view, 1948 until the present time has been given to us to develop this teaching, much like the teaching of Pentecost developed from 1825-1905. My own input into this development has come through a revelation of the law itself, which, as we know, is where the feast days originated. Having experienced Passover faith in my early life from 1957-1962, with all of its struggles, I finally experienced Pentecost in 1971, and finally came to understand the Restoration of All Things in 1973. I read Warnock’s book in 1982, and so I progressed in my understanding of the third Great Awakening.
Most Pentecostals, however, continued to revel in their Pentecostal experience, thinking that they had reached the apex of divine revelation. But Pentecost was only the second of the three main feast days where, in Exodus 34:18, 22, 23, we read that the people were to appear before God three times in the year. These times were the feast of Unleavened Bread (i.e., Passover), the feast of Weeks (i.e., Pentecost), and the feast of Ingathering (i.e., Tabernacles).
The third Great Awakening, with its revelation of the feast of Tabernacles, began with the Latter Rain movement in 1948 and is now reaching its apex. It is too soon to speculate as to when we will see this breakthrough, but I have no doubt that God’s Kingdom Ministries has played a role in development of this revelation of Tabernacles.
For my part, I believe it is of great value to know the progressive history of the American experience seen in the three Awakenings. God has laid foundations of truth progressively through these Awakenings. The first two levels had incomplete revelation, as would be expected, and yet they were necessary to bring us on the journey to present truth.
To have a proper Kingdom vision, we must see things in context and observe the flow of progressive revelation and of historical events. Then when we ask ourselves, How do we fit into the big picture? we can then see our place with a clearer vision. GKM itself was raised up by God to bring greater understanding of the feast of Tabernacles that was jumpstarted by the Latter Rain movement. In fact, I was born in the middle of that movement (1950), and it seems to me that God—as always—was thinking ahead.
While there have been many other movements during this time, such as the Full Gospel Businessman’s Fellowship (1955), the Charismatic movement (1965), the Word of Faith movement (1970’s), and Rodney Howard Brown’s Laughter movement (1990’s), these have only played a lesser role in the development of a Tabernacles understanding. They were more connected to Pentecost than to Tabernacles.
In my (biased) view, we have been going beyond Pentecost, gaining greater understanding of Tabernacles. It must include the understanding of the law of Jubilee, which is the basis of the Restoration of All Things. The laws of time measurement are helpful, but necessary only to a few of us, as this third Great Awakening will happen whether people have a revelation of timing or not.
So this is how I see GKM in the context of the divine plan, especially insofar as the next Great Awakening is concerned. I believe that we have had our share of revelation that has taken Warnock’s book (1952) to the next level.
As with the previous Awakenings, this progression of revelation has taken decades to accomplish. At some point, it will break through in a whole new way, and the full light that Jonathan Edwards saw in the 1700’s will shine in us and through us, even as it shined in Galilee of the Nations (Isaiah 9:1, 2) when Christ came the first time.