When the crowd on the Mount of Olives shouted “Hosanna” to Jesus on Palm Sunday, they were calling on Him to enter Jerusalem as a warring Messiah to overthrow the hated Romans.
Jesus disappointed them.
Instead of overthrowing the Romans, He did exactly the opposite. Entering the Temple, He overturned the tables of the moneychangers. “It is written,” Jesus explained to the bewildered onlookers, “‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers” (Luke 19:46).
The crowd had called for a revival that would restore the kingdom of Israel and overturn the Romans. Jesus overturned the corrupt Jewish religious system instead.
These people didn’t get the kind of revival they wanted. Rather than a revival that would defeat their political enemies, Jesus brought them a spiritual revival that would deal with their own sins and their own corrupt leaders.
The disappointment of these folks was so profound that, in just a few days, they went from singing “Hosanna” to shouting “Crucify Him!”
Yikes. This should be terrifying to all of us, especially if we’ve not yet seen the kind of revival we were expecting or praying for. Just like for this Jerusalem crowd, our disappointments can result in anger toward God when He doesn’t do things our way.
As I wrote about in a previous blog, I’ve been praying that the Rude Awakening of 2020 will ultimately lead us to a Great Awakening – a massive spiritual revival that will transform our nation. But the aftermath of Palm Sunday in Luke 19 has given me second thoughts. Do we comprehend the ramifications of what we’re praying for?
You see, if revival comes to America, we might find ourselves disappointed. Instead of defeating our political opponents, God is likely to first deal with sin in our own lives and among our own Christian leaders.
Peter wrote about this very thing: “It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).
This is why the Romans weren’t Jesus’ main concern. He knew their mighty empire would one day collapse, but His more immediate focus was on cleansing His own people of their misguided religious idols.
In recent years, some of us having been praying that God will “drain the swamp” and expose corruption in Washington. While I think those prayers are going to be answered, we shouldn’t be surprised if He first exposes apathy and corruption within the church.
Pastors love to preach on the warnings and promises of Malachi’s passage on tithing (Malachi 3:8-12). But lately I’ve been thinking about an important prophetic teaching earlier in that same chapter:
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord (Malachi 3:1-3).
It’s exciting to think about the Lord mightily coming to His church after we’ve been seeking Him. Yet the Palm Sunday story illustrates the scary possibility that we could miss His visit!
Immediately after the crowd’s celebration of Hosannas, it seems completely out of place when Jesus ends up weeping over Jerusalem. How could He be sorrowful on such a joyous occasion? He explained that, despite their passionate worship on the Mount of Olives, the Jewish people “did not know the time of [their] visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).
So sad. I surely don’t want to miss out on our coming visitation from the Lord, do you? However, that’s exactly what happened during Holy Week. They missed out because Jesus wasn’t the kind of Messiah they were looking for.
After reading Malachi’s account of what happens when the Messiah suddenly comes to His temple, we may want to reconsider whether we truly want the kind of revival God wants to bring us. Malachi asks, “Who can endure the day of his coming?” While televangelists often emphasize that God wants to come and bless us, Malachi warns that He will first come with refining fire and caustic soap!
Do you want the kind of revival God wants to give you? Are you willing to embrace the fire and soap He will bring? Will you rejoice as He overturns the tables of your comfortable Christian life?
If your answer to these questions is yes, the turmoil will be worth it all. Exciting days of awakening will be ahead.