Dr. Brown's Warning: "I Will Remove It and Write Ichabod on the Doors"
I was in a church from 1977-1983 that experienced a genuine—but limited—spiritual outpouring. During my first few years there, I had no interest in a “revival” of any kind, since I was primarily pursuing my graduate studies, working towards my doctorate in Semitic languages. But in 1982, the Lord began to deal with me, exposing my proud, lukewarm state. The Spirit began to stir me, and I joined a hungry group of believers who were praying for a fresh breakthrough in our assembly.
In the early fall of 1982, one of the brothers in the church had a vision in which he saw the word “Ichabod” written on the church building. This startled him, and he asked the Lord what the vision meant. God said to him, “I will remove My glory from the church.” “What glory?” my friend asked. He couldn’t make sense of the Lord’s reply, since there didn’t seem to be any “glory” in the church at that time.
You see, this brother came from a strong Pentecostal background, and he associated the “glory” with powerful spiritual outpourings, something hardly seen in our midst. He didn’t believe the glory of God had ever been among us, so how, he wondered, could God remove it? The Lord said to him, “I am going to send My glory to this church, but if they reject it, I will remove it and write Ichabod on the doors,” meaning that the outpouring could abruptly end, with disastrous effects.
This vision was shared with us, and we became more convinced than ever that the outpouring was near. And then it came! While some of the other leaders were away, I was asked to preach, and I brought a message from the Book of Acts that had been burning in my heart for months. The Lord came down!
Most of the church responded to the altar call – this had never happened before on any level – and that very day, people were baptized in the Spirit (that had never happened either) and gifts of the Spirit were imparted. There was deep repentance, earnest seeking of the Lord, and a fresh new desire to worship and pray. Everything was new – including me. The passion was back, the fire was back, the intensity was back. Still, I was not at rest. What if we rejected this precious move? What if we failed to heed the warning that been given to our friend?
A few days later – after several more lives had been dramatically touched – I was in a service where those who had been touched stood up to testify, but one by one, they were ashamed to give God the glory for what He had done in their lives. Some didn’t want to admit to being delivered from cigarettes and other addictions – after all, many of the people didn’t know they had been addicted! – while others were embarrassed to say that they were now speaking in tongues. As the service progressed, a pain began to grip me, to the point that I was totally overwhelmed.
I stepped into another room and began to pray, and the prayer quickly became an agonizing burden. Everything in me was crying out: “God, don’t stop the outpouring! Don’t take this precious move away! Look at those who have already been transformed. Don’t let it end now! We’ve been praying for this for months. This is the very thing we have so desperately needed, the very thing that I have so desperately needed. Don’t let the outpouring end!” I was literally bursting with the burden of the Lord.
At the end of the service, my closest friend, the assistant pastor, who had been leading the meeting, saw that something unusual was upon me, and I rushed up to join him on the platform. Immediately, a word almost exploded out of me, calling for the people to repent for being ashamed of the Spirit of God, with a warning that the Lord’s presence would be withdrawn if we chose not to seek Him. That was it! A short prophecy was delivered – probably less than a minute long – I got off the platform and fell on my face, and the altars were immediately filled. People were weeping, repenting, crying out, seeking the Lord. It went on for almost three hours, without anyone leading or directing it. One sister, who was literally choking on her tears at the altar, found herself crying for the next three days. The outpouring had intensified!
Over the next three months, dozens of church members were dramatically transformed – and I mean dramatically – and in distinct contrast to our former prayerless ways, we were praying at one another’s homes to the early hours of the morning until we had to open the building every Sunday night for special prayer meetings that were full of spiritual intensity and dramatic fruit.
Sadly, during this same period of time, both the leadership team (of which I was a part) and the church divided over the outpouring to the point that this wonderful move of the Spirit ended. How agonizing it was! I wept and pleaded with the Lord, asking Him at any cost – even to me personally – not to take this wonderful move of His Spirit away. In my mind’s eye I could see all those who had been radically changed going back to their old ways – back to lethargy, back to skepticism, back to fleshly addictions, back to compromise. “God, don’t let the outpouring end!”
But it was over. The Lord had been spurned too many times, His voice rejected too many times, His Spirit quenched too many times. And on March 27, 1983, three months and six days after the outpouring had begun, we sensed that Ichabod was now written on the doors as far as the outpouring was concerned. The glory had departed.
That was one of the most painful days of my life. The sense of loss was absolutely overwhelming, the feeling of, “Say it isn’t so!” more than I could bear. “Please, Lord, don’t let this be the end of this sacred move!” But nothing could be done. From that day on – for the next thirteen years – I longed to see another outpouring, a greater outpouring, a more lasting outpouring, a true revival. Of course, I saw many wonderful movings of the Spirit through those years, some lasting for a few glorious hours, others for a few extraordinary days, and one continuing for three wonderful weeks. But I hungered and thirsted for more.
When God breaks out in your midst in a special way – in a prayer meeting, in a Sunday morning service, in a youth rally – go with God. Spread your sails high and wide, and let the wind of the Spirit carry you away. And sail on, as long as the wind keeps blowing. It may not gust up again! And even if, in the early days of a fresh move, that unusual stirring “interrupts” your service for a matter of a few minutes, let the Spirit know that He is welcome and put other things aside while He is stirring the waters. If we prove faithful in little, we will be entrusted with much.
To read more from Dr. Michael Brown’s new book, visit MyCharismaShop.com