2002-04-22 - Cumberland 1801
2 Chronicles 7:14 And (if) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
There was a revival in Kentucky in 1801. It was called the Cumberland revival and few know of it today. It was unusual because of the means by which it was effected. I hope that by relating some of the history of this revival today you will be encouraged by knowing that the Lord is able to use any one of us to accomplish His purposes. The most interesting aspect of this revival is that it began with a nine-year-old boy. I know of no other revival which began in such a manner, but all revivals have their own aspect of uniqueness. The boy had been converted at church one day and told a friend, "Hitherto, you and I have been companions; but unless you alter your course, we must break off our acquaintance; for I am determined to serve the Lord."
The friend was greatly upset by this comment and went home crying. This alarmed the family who in turn called the doctor and then the surrounding community out of concern for what had become of their child. The two boys were found, "talking, in rapturous language, of redeeming love. Their zeal and crying greatly affected all present." Everyone agreed that all they could do at that present time was to gather together and worship. They then asked the two boys to give an account of what they had experienced. "This request was granted, and the boys simply related to them, with tears of joy, what God had done for their souls. Before they had half done, the whole company was in tears."
Thus began the work of God in Cumberland. The area became known for the size of its meetings which often numbered ten to twelve thousand. The people would meet for worship and continue in worship, at times, for as long as two weeks. It was reported that the phrase of the day was, "What is this?" as people observed what was happening. It was also reported that at Cynthiana, hundreds fell to the ground at once and the local doctor, who was a deist, had no explanation for it. This is said to have happened at Paris once again on August 19th.
There is much more we could relate about this small revival in 1801. However, this is not a history lesson. The last revival in America was the prayer meeting revival in 1858. I'm not saying there have not been local revivals or even awakenings in various churches or colleges, but we have not seen a national revival in almost 150 years. Revivals often bring strange practices, like hundreds falling down, as in the revival mentioned above. It is hard for me to say that we need to be open to this, but I would rather be open to the Spirit moving in hearts than seek to quench something that I find discomforting because of how it looks.
Every revival I have ever read about is unique. This one is unique because it began with a little boy. But each revival has it's own special aspect. It is reported that one man was traveling through the area of the revival and passed by a worship service in the woods. He was so affected by what he heard, listening on the fringe of the woods, that when he reached his destination of Nashville, Tennessee, they almost locked him up because they thought he had lost his mind. He would only talk about the things of Christ, and the source am reading says that Nashville was, "A place notorious for wickedness." I hope someone from Nashville is reading this.
Wilt Thou not Thyself revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee? Show us Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation Psalm 85:6,7.
Soli Deo Gloria,