Like a Fire is Burning
On Wednesday, February 8, 2023 students at Asbury University stayed in the Hughes Auditorium following a regularly scheduled chapel service. University President, Kevin Brown, sent out a quick email saying, “There’s worship happening in Hughes. You’re welcome to join.”
More students joined those who were already gathered and then stayed…and worshiped well into the night. The next day the fervent outpouring of songs and devotions only grew. More students joined in and word was getting around that something Godly was afoot. The spontaneous worship spread like wildfire across campus and soon captured attention off campus.
Within hours, the reports that something was happening at Asbury were appearing on Facebook, then Twitter.
The earliest articles began appearing by day 3 of the revival, and one included the author’s own prayer:
Oh, God. Let it be. Let your mercy pour down in genuine revival, and let these reports be true. And let it not end in Wilmore.
Pass me not, O gentle Savior. Hear my humble cry. While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by. Savior, Savior, Hear my humble cry. While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.
Day after day the revival grew. In total, it lasted a 18 days when students relented to the town begging for relief from the influx of pilgrimage believers, hungry for God. People gathered from not only all over the United States, but from all over the world arriving from places as far away as Brazil, Finland, the Netherlands and Singapore. A live stream of the 24-hour a day unscripted revival was available on YouTube with several thousand people watching at any given time. It is estimated that more than fifty thousand people gathered to participate in the outpouring of God’s power, love and spirit.
I tuned into the YouTube live stream and the energy was palpable. My children were drawn to the sounds of worship asking what it was I was listening to.
Where the X crosses
The revival has since spread to other college campuses. Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, wondered on her blog if this could be the “Last Great Awakening” before the Second Coming. I echo those sentiments because I believe she is exactly right. We are in the final countdown.
Something that stuck out to me is that this ground zero revival is happening in Kentucky. What is significant about Kentucky?
Five and a half years ago on 21 Aug 2017 the first leg of a 7-year pair of eclipses, that together form an X, passed over seven towns named Salem. The 2017 eclipse was visible from everywhere within the continental United States. However, the narrow path of totality passed directly over seven towns all with the name Salem. Salem means peace; compare this to the Hebrew word for peace, “shalom” and the Arabic word for peace, “salaam”.
These seven Salems are in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, and South Carolina.
Kentucky is the only one of these seven Salems that will experience the second leg of the eclipse X in April of 2024.
Salem, Kentucky is 245 miles to the West of the Asbury revival. Asbury University, located in Wilmore, KY will not be inside the eclipse’s path of totality, but near enough to get an impressive view.
Meaning of Asbury
The name Salem is significant. The specific path of totality crossing over them is as though God is crossing out the peace of the United States. I wondered what Asbury might mean, so I looked it up.
Asbury means fortress. Or fort near ash trees. For those who are already familiar with the themes of this website, the symbolism of the tree does not escape me. However, not to lose focus on the most important point: The Fortress.
Seven times in the Old Testament the Lord is referred to as “my fortress”.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer. The God of my rock, in him will I trust. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my savior. You save me from violence. 2 Samuel 10:2
Given all that has happened these last couple of years, these are potentially comforting words.
In 1831 the Lord described a coming day when peace would be taken from the Earth.
…the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth and the Devil shall have power over his own dominion; and also, the Lord shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst, and shall come down in judgment upon Idumea, or the world. T&C 54:6
Nearly 200 years later, peace is indeed being taken from this once promised land. An unexplained increase in all-cause deaths that insurance actuaries are describing as statistically apocalyptic, unexplained fires destroying food production plants, the recent Ohio train derailment resulting in a chemical disaster spanning multiple states. Floods, fires, earthquakes, riots… The nations of the world are on the brink of World War III. There is so much confusion now on matters that were once considered self-evident and indisputable.
Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
My Rock. My Fortress
Amidst all the chaos and confusion the Lord offers us a fortress. But being within the fortress is not peace. I looked and while the Lord is the King of Peace, certainly…when scriptural authors speak of “my fortress” peace is not found in or around the same passage. The fortress is refuge from a storm and battle that continues to rage.
“My fortress” is often preceded by another description of the Lord; “my rock”.
This identifying title is found not only in the Old Testament, but in the Book of Mormon as well.
Nephi, one of the first authors of the Book of Mormon, uses “my Rock” speaking of the Lord in a passage where he is calling himself to repentance.
Awake my soul! No longer droop in sin.
Nephi goes on to ask himself a series of introspective questions, reminds himself of promises given to him, asks the Lord a series of questions (perhaps rhetorical, but we are not privy to any answers given at the moment). Nephi then reiterates his commitment to trust in the Lord and not his the arm of flesh, and suddenly loops in potentially guilty readers, who up till now have been passively observing his process, “Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.”
He finishes the passage with:
…therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee. Yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the Rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall for ever ascend up unto thee, my Rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.
Perhaps Nephi was setting an example of what repentance is supposed to look like: Calling yourself out. Doing an internal check. Crying out to God. Leaning on His promises. Recommitting to trusting the Lord alone.
When the devil fully takes power over his dominion we will not and cannot depend upon governments, employers, businesses, investments, insurance, savings, church leaders (including popes, presidents & prophets), caches, etc. There is only one place where one can find refuge.
Built Upon the Rock
When the Lord uses “my rock” it is not in reference to Himself, but referring rather to His doctrine.
Verily, verily I say unto you that this is my doctrine. And whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
But, I got ahead of you. In an earlier part of the same verse, Christ outlines what His doctrine is.
Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me — and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the holy ghost beareth record of the Father and me — and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men everywhere to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved, and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily I say unto you that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father. –3 Nephi 5:9
Joel tells us that before the great and terrible day of the Lord that old men shall dream dreams and young men shall see visions. I’m not sure he would appreciate being called old, but a man contemporary with us today did indeed have a dream that I believe is relevant.
I next saw in the distance, beyond the wreckage, an overpowering flood, as if it was a great fire, consuming and destroying all the country, coming from the east. Although we had survived the train wreck, it appeared certain we would all be killed in the coming flood. I looked about for any sign of hope we might survive and noticed beside the roadway a great rock with an opening. I led the small party to the rock and discovered the opening was for a cavern that went upward within the shelter of the rock. We entered the cave, and climbed upward. Inside the cavity of the rock our small group waited as the flood approached, unsure whether we would live or die. The noise of the destruction outside was deafening as the flood approached, and then the opening of the cavern went black and we were left in complete silence and darkness. We waited. In a few moments the light returned, but silence remained. After a few more moments our small group emerged from the rock’s cavern to see what had transpired with the world.
Vision related by Denver Snuffer Jr. at a Doctrine of Christ Conference in Boise, Idaho, 11 September 2016. T&C 172:3
I would highly recommend reading the entirety of the account. After the vision ended, he was given the interpretation of several of the main symbols. The protective rock with the cavern is Christ. The question is, how does one become one of the occupants protected within the rock? According to the interpretation he was given the answer is: Baptism.
Even if you have been baptized previously, be baptized in this new dispensation. The Lord has renewed this commandment for our time and baptism is a sign of acceptance of what God is doing in each generation. He expects us to follow His pattern and obey this to receive a remission of sins. This baptism is not membership in any organized church or religion. It is a sign between you and God that you sincerely believe in Jesus Christ and wish to follow Him. If you’ve not been baptized, or would like to be baptized again, there are those who have authority to administer this ordinance. To the thousands who have been rebaptized: This is a sign you are not an idolater and will not be destroyed at the Lord’s coming.
-“God’s Great Work,” Nov. 21, 2014, blog post.
What is an idolater? Going back to the earlier passage I cited where Nephi brought in his audience to his process:
“Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.”
I strongly believe that God has an important work underway. It is much bigger than just a Christian university in the South. It is much bigger than one denomination of Christianity. It’s bigger than one nation, or even the Christian world alone.
One thing is clear, He is the Fortress. He is the Rock. As the drums of war are growing in our ears, He is our only hope for refuge. He is gathering His people like a hen gathers her chickens under her wings. The storm is gathering as well.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress. My God, in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the noxious pestilence. He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust. Psalms 91:1
The significance of revival in Asbury is profound. Repentance is turning to face God, away from whatever other distractions or sins might be vying for our attention. This spiritual fire that began in Kentucky was an invitation towards not just our national repentance, but our individual repentance. Considering the etymology and location, it was a revival in the Fortress outside the coming darkness.
The point is not to just be immersed in His love and powerful outpouring of the Spirit alone. There is a powerful invitation for more. But heaven honors agency and will not impose itself upon us. We must follow through. He is at the door knocking. Please don’t let revival end with the group worship and praise. Connect to Him one-on-one. Follow Him. Do what He asks of you.
Who will accept His invitation for more, and turn to be gathered?