Timely Greetings Volume 1, No. 10
WHAT BRINGS SUCCESS TO
REVIVAL AND REFORMATION?
TEXT OF ADDRESS BY V.T. HOUTEFF,
MINISTER OF DAVIDIAN 7TH-DAY ADVENTISTS
SABBATH, OCTOBER 12, 1946
MT. CARMEL CHAPEL
OPENING PRAYER THOUGHT
I shall read from The Mount of Blessing, beginning with the last paragraph on page 159.
M.B., pp. 159, 160 -- "...'The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under
the whole heaven,' is to be given to 'the people of the saints of the Most High.' They shall inherit
the kingdom prepared for them 'from the foundation of the world.' And Christ will take to
Himself His great power and will reign.... Only those who devote themselves to His service,
saying, 'Here am I; send me,' to open blind eyes, to turn men 'from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them
which are sanctified,' -- they alone pray in sincerity, 'Thy kingdom come.'"
These lines tell us that those who in sincerity pray "Thy kingdom come," those who devote
themselves to God's service, those whose lips are touched with the coals from the altar (who see
themselves as sinners), and who then say, "Here am I; send me," are the only ones who are
worthy to be sent into God's vineyard today.
And now what shall be our prayer? -- That we may be able conscientiously to say, "Thy
kingdom come," realizing that we are in reality saying that we are doing everything we can to
make it so; that we are laboring for it incessantly; that we are complying with the Lord's will as
are the angels.
How ironic it is for one to pray the Lord's prayer while doing something other than working for
its fulfillment! It is like a person saying, "Let me have your hand," while he at the same time
brushes it away. Such a prayer is just one form of blasphemy. We should pray that we conform
our will with the will of God, be faithful in His work, and be sincerely His alone.
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WHAT BRINGS SUCCESS TO
REVIVAL AND REFORMATION?
In Life Sketches, page 425, we read -- "'I have been deeply impressed by scenes that have
recently passed before me in the night season. There seemed to be a great movement -- a work of
revival -- going forward in many places. Our people were moving into line, responding to God's
call. My brethren, the Lord is speaking to us....'"
Here is a forecast of a great movement, a movement that is to carry on a work of a successful
revival in many places. Here it is also seen that the people will respond to God's call, and that this
envisioned work of revival is to be carried by a Divinely organized movement, not by the
Denomination though, and not by a man here and a man there. The movement is God-created,
not devised by men.
We have through the years seen numerous persons and groups of persons in different parts of
the Adventist world who at one time or another did stage what they termed a "revival and
reformation," but not one of them have ever been able to accomplish much, if anything. One by
one they end up by quitting in disgust. Rather than being revived and reformed for the better,
they after each such effort slid away from God and closer and closer to the level of the
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Clear it must be to every open-eyed Truth seeker that the revival which Life Sketches predicts
and pictures is this laymen's movement, for aside from this movement that is now on foot, slowly
but steadily sweeping away the rubbish throughout the Adventist world, we have never as yet in
the existence of the author's writings in Life Sketches seen another such an organized movement
carrying such a revival as this.
The Bible contains the complete plan of salvation for all humanity. How do I know this? -- I
know it because It's story begins with creation and ends with the earth made new. Between the
first and the last pages of the Bible, then, lies the complete formula for man's salvation and
redemption. And if such revival and reformation as here envisioned is to take place in the world
between those two events (creation and the new earth), then the material and example of such a
work must be found somewhere in the pages of the Bible.
Before we read what the Bible has to say on the subject, I think we should first concretely
define the words "revival" and "reformation." For "revival" the dictionary gives: "To restore; to
refresh; to renew; to re-awaken; to re-establish." And for "reformation" the dictionary gives this
definition: "To make better morally; change for the better."
Christ Our Righteousness defines these terms of speech as follows: "'A revival and a
reformation must take place under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation
are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening
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of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a
reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring
forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit. Revival
and reformation are to do their appointed work, and in doing this work they must blend.'" -- p.
154, 1926 edition; p. 121, 1941 edition.
What is the difference between "revival" and "reformation"? -- Revival means to bring the
spiritual qualities back to life; to quicken the mind and the heart to the upbuilding of the spiritual
phase of life; to re-establish, to repair. And reformation means to change one's self for the better,
to reorganize the moral powers under Divine guidance.
In the Bible there is but one example (type) of such a revival and reformation as the one here
predicted. We find it recorded in the books of Haggai's and Zechariah's prophecies.
You remember that those ancient Jews were by Cyrus, king of Persia, released from their
captivity as soon as Babylon fell. He made a decree that they should go back to their homeland to
rebuild the desolations and the ruins. The king especially decreed that the rebuilding of the temple
and the re-establishing of the worship of the God of Heaven should be done faithfully and
speedily. A revival of the spiritual part of the nation (the temple and its system of worship) was
their chief concern. But according to Ezra 4:24, Cyrus's decree and also another that was issued a
few years later, were both frustrated, and in the second year of the reign of Darius, King of Persia,
the work completely ceased, and apparently
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there was no hope of ever resuming again.
Then it was that the prophets Haggai and Zechariah were called to their prophetic office and
commissioned to revive and to reorganize the builders for the deserted temple project. See
Haggai 1:1 and Zechariah 1:1. The happy and surprising result was that within four short years
the stately spiritual edifice was quickly finished, whereas all the previous and strenuous efforts of
kings and people, covering a period of over thirty years, completely failed. (See Ezra 6:15)
Let us now realistically consider why the builders' efforts and the king's decrees at first failed,
and why at last they succeeded: Before Haggai and Zechariah were called to the prophetic office,
many of the Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, although the majority remained in
Babylon; that is, the builders voluntarily went to build only because the captivity had ended, and
because the king had decreed that the temple of God should be built. But both the builders' and
the king's efforts were a complete failure -- all came to naught. Then it was that through His
prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, God directed the work, and then it was that they quickly
finished. In other words, not before the Lord took the reins in His Own hands through the Spirit
of Prophecy did the work prosper. In fact, sacred history proves that nothing has ever prospered
in God's work without the living Spirit of Prophecy in its midst.
For example, Moses understood from childhood up that his lot it was to deliver the children of
Israel from Pharaoh's brickyards. And when he was fully grown up and thoroughly trained in the
courts of Pharaoh, and saw himself strong and capable, he
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quickly undertook to deliver the enslaved Hebrew host: killed one Egyptian, got into an argument
with a Hebrew, then deserted everything, and without hope of ever coming back he fled the
country in complete defeat. Forty years later, after God endowed him with the Spirit of
Prophecy, he returned and triumphantly led the Hebrew captives out of Egypt!
These special incidences make crystal clear that no matter how hard men may try to bring about
revival and reformation among God's people, their efforts are doomed to failure even before they
start if God does not Himself through His prophets take charge of the work.
Now, as to what took place in the way of reformation after the ancient house of God had been
built, let us read
Ezra 6:19-21 -- "And the children of the captivity kept the Passover upon the fourteenth day of
the first month. For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and
killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for
themselves. And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as
had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the
Lord God of Israel, did eat."
Let us now connect Ezra's record with that of Nehemiah's.
Neh. 10:28-32 -- "And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the
Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of
God, their wives,
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their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding; they clave
to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law,
which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of
the Lord our Lord, and His judgments and His statutes; and that we would not give our daughters
unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons: and if the people of the land
bring ware or any victuals on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the
Sabbath, or on the holy day: and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every
debt. Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel
for the service of the house of our God."
Here you see a record of complete revival and reformation such as had never been. The things
that were revived are these: (1) The house of God was rebuilt and the sacred services
re-instituted; (2) the old wastes were rebuilt, and the city reinhabited. The reforms which took
place were: (1) The priests and the Levites were all purified; (2) all the children of the captivity
separated themselves from the filthiness of the heathen; (3) all "entered into a curse and into an
oath, to walk in God's law," to observe His judgments and His statutes, not to give their
daughters to the people of the land, nor to take their daughters for wives for their sons; (4) they
made Sabbath observance a strict rule; and (5) they liberally pledged to support the work of God
with their means. Such genuine and complete revival and reformation had never been launched
since man fell in sin.
That the revival and reformation of that day is a type of revival and reformation to take place in
our day, is principally noted from the fact that the prophecies
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of both Haggai and Zechariah intermingle dual events, one to take place in their day, and another
to take place in our day. Says the Lord:
Hag. 2:21-23 -- "Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the
earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the
kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the
horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith
the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord,
and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts."
Here we are told that in the day God destroys the strength of the heathen kingdoms, which
event is yet future, He makes ancient Zerubbabel "a signet" of a Zerubbabel in the day the strength
of the kingdoms is destroyed. Again we read:
Zech. 2:5, 11, 13 -- "For I, saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be
the glory in the midst of her.... And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall
be My people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts
hath sent me unto thee.... Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for He is raised up out of His
The wall which the Jews built around Jerusalem in Zechariah's day was of stone, but the one
here predicted is to be "of fire," far superior, rendering absolute security to the inhabitants that are
within. Moreover, no other people, none besides the Jews, were permitted to join the builders of
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his day, but in our day many nations are to join. Furthermore, at the fulfillment of these
prophecies the Lord requests that all flesh reverently and silently note that He is raised up out of
His holy habitation -- that He is now visiting the earth.
Zech. 2:8 -- "For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory [after the church eternal] hath He
sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His
In Zechariah's day the Lord did not send anyone to the nations after anything, but in our day, He
is to send antitypical Zechariah (interpreter of Zechariah's prophecies) to the nations that are
ruling and exploiting His people, and those nations are to become a spoil and shall know that the
Lord has sent him.
Zech. 2:12 -- "And the Lord shall inherit Judah His portion in the Holy Land, and shall choose
When the nations join the Lord in the Holy Land, then it is that He shall inherit Judah and again
choose Jerusalem. And, most significant of all, He declares that He is already raised up out of His
holy habitation to accomplish all these things.
Zech. 8:7, 20, 21 -- "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save My people from the east
country, and from the west country;... Thus saith the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that
there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: and the inhabitants of one city shall go
to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I
will go also."
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The prophet's attention was directed to a time when the Lord is to gather His people from both
the east and the west; to a time when one city's inhabitants will invite another's to go to the Holy
Land. This same prophecy appears in both Isaiah's chapter two, and Micah's chapter four.
Zech. 8:22, 23 -- "Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in
Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come
to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the
skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you."
Obviously, the ten men are a representative figure of universality as are the ten virgins of
Matthew 25. If so, then the church as a body will speak all the languages of the nations. Their
taking hold of the one that is a Jew, and saying, "We will go with you, for we have heard that
God is with you," definitely points out that someone, a descendant of the Christian Jews, will
proclaim God's ingathering message in the time of the end, and that he will be recognized as such.
Let us now turn to--
Zech. 9:9 -- "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy
King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a
colt the foal of an ass."
In these prophecies is brought to view the first advent of Christ.
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Zech. 9:10 -- "And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the
battle bow shall be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and His dominion shall be
from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth."
That is, God was to bring the ancient kingdoms, Ephraim and Jerusalem (Israel and Judah) to an
end, and then turn to the Gentiles and speak salvation to them. Thus shall His dominion be over
all the earth.
Zech. 12:3, 8, 9 -- "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all
that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered
together against it.... In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is
feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the
angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all
the nations that come against Jerusalem."
That is, after disintegrating the ancient kingdoms, Israel and Judah, He is again to re-establish
and unify them as depicted in Ezekiel 36 and in other portions of the Scriptures. At that time
Jerusalem, the city of the saints, is to become a burdensome stone for all the people of the earth.
That is, they will hate the city and its inhabitants and will attempt to take it, but instead they will
be cut in pieces; for the Lord will defend His people. Then it is that even the most feeble among
the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be as willing, as daring, and as capable as was ancient David.
And the house of David -- the kingdom that is to be set up, which is but the church purified, no
sinners among them (Isa. 52:1), shall be as the angel of the Lord before the people.
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Since Zechariah's prophecy met only partial fulfillment in the days the Jews returned from
Babylon to Jerusalem, and since his writings speak interchangeably of another such movement,
the which is to be greater than the former, there is, therefore, no doubt but that the latter is the
antitype of the former. Hence, the revival and reformation of Zechariah's time is to repeat in our
time. The builders' failure to continue with the work and to bring revival and reformation before
Haggai and Zechariah were called to the prophetic office, and their success after God through the
prophets took over, perfectly demonstrates that without the living Spirit of Prophecy in the midst
no revival and reformation efforts can succeed, and that is why they all heretofore have failed.
The type also perfectly demonstrates that since God has now risen from His holy habitation, and
has taken the reins in His Own hands, revival and reformation is sure to triumph. It is, therefore,
useless to agitate revivals and reformations while one knows not what and how actually to revive
or to reform. It is commendable to hold up the standard but it certainly is not in God's order for
one to "work up" something and to call it revival and reformation.
In conclusion, let us summarize the two main points which our study of the afternoon has
definitely made clear to us: (1) That a work and movement similar to those of Zechariah's day is
successfully to bring revival and reformation among God's people of today, that those who expect
the promised blessings must whole-heartedly enter into it. (2) That without the living Spirit of
Prophecy in our midst, there can be no success in any revival and reformation, and that the sooner
we know it the quicker we shall achieve our goal.
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