Summary: David's battles with the Philistines provide a model for Christians as they resist the intrusion of the world into daily life.

“The Philistines came up yet again and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. And when David inquired of the LORD, he said, ‘You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines.’ And David did as the LORD commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer.” [1]

Now and then, New Agers try to engineer what they call “harmonic convergence.” They’ll gather near Taos or Sundance (never Inuvik or Moose Jaw) when the planets are aligned just so. In these locations, they’ll don their crystals and sit under makeshift pyramids, hoping to soak up the salubrious energies. Inevitably, this gathering will be a festive occasion for those gathered there. They may even speak of peace and harmony flooding the universe. Assuredly, those gathered for these occasions will say they can “feel” the energy flowing through them and into the world.

In contrast, we may speak meaningfully of a true and holy harmonic convergence—one created by God Himself. By this, I mean His sovereign arrangement of circumstances to bring about revival of His people and awakening of many lost souls. In this connection, we might turn to great revivals of the past for help as we try to read our current times. Let’s look briefly at two.

In a treatise that he entitled, “A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God, in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls,” Jonathan Edwards details the precursors and manifestations of the Northampton revival, part of the 18th century's Great Awakening in the United States. Edwards' powerful biblical preaching was crucial to these events. You can't read his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and doubt that this pastor came to church to do the sort of serious spiritual work God honours. But Edwards gives strong credit to the social context.

Edwards details how, in April 1734, “a young man in the bloom of his youth” suffered “a very sudden and awful death” from pleurisy. This sudden and unexpected death, and the subsequent funeral service, “much affected many young people.” Not long after this solemn event, a young married woman died. She’d struggled with assurance of salvation, and when she found comfort in the Lord, she counselled others to seek the same. Edwards observed, “This seemed to contribute to rendering the spirits of many young persons solemn; and there began evidently to appear more of a religious concern on people's minds.”

Perhaps we see signs of that solemnity in North America in this day. Of course, that would mean that we should expect to see such signs in Canada as well. Following 9/11, we read reports that crime, divorce and bar patronage were down, and that Bible sales and worship attendance were up. We heard television accounts of the collapse of tourist trade in Las Vegas and on Miami's South Beach. The fear of flying counted, but so did the growing sense that what transpires there is tacky and even revolting.

The Washington, D.C. Chief of Police reported that crimes against property were down following the September 11 attack. Fox News reported that spontaneous prayers were being offered at football games and in the opening of civic meetings. The Hamilton Country Commission in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to post the Ten Commandments in city and county government buildings. Similarly, the town of Ringgold, Georgia voted to post three plaques—one with the Ten Commandments, one with the Lord’s Prayer, and one blank for those who believe in nothing. “God Bless America” was sung at the opening of baseball games instead of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Well, that describes events removed from the present by almost two decades now, and the sobering view of events that then prevailed has changed quite a bit. The solemnity of 2001 has been replaced by the blasé attitude of 2019. The serious reflection on the brevity of life and the tenuous nature of peace has been replaced by an increasingly hardened view of life. An extended war in the Middle East has ensured that many of us have become jaded in our outlook concerning peace and safety.

Let your mind go back to 1857. It was the eve of the Civil War, the United States was in a financial panic—bank failures, bankruptcies, factory closings, soaring unemployment. In the midst of these ominous signs, Jeremiah Lanphier of New York City passed out handbills inviting businessmen to a prayer meeting at the Old Dutch North Church at Fulton and Williams streets. Only six appeared at the first gathering, and they were late, but they decided to continue the prayer meeting the next week. By God's grace, the cause grew exponentially throughout the city, and ultimately throughout the nation and the world. Six months after that first meeting, 10,000 New Yorkers met regularly for noonday prayer, and in two years, American churches gained a million members.

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