By: Harold M. Freligh
There will be no sound of the rushing mighty wind denoting the Holy Spirit’s coming in revival power until there is the sound of weeping heard between the porch and the altar.
It is impossible to have the power of Pentecost without its price. The familiar and oft quoted promise of the outpoured Holy Spirit predicted by Joel (2:28-29) is preceded by the preparation of mourning, fasting and intercession. The priests must be found functioning in their appointed place before God will perform His work. “Let the priests. . . weep between the porch and the altar.” (2:17).
“Between the porch and the altar” is the place of mediatorship. The porch is the place where the populace assembles. The altar is where sacrificial offerings ascend to God. The priests stand between the two as mediators, representing God to the people and the people to God. Since believers are kings and priests unto God, (Rev. 5:10), this call is to all of them.
“Come, Lie All Night in Sackcloth” Joel 1:13
“Between the porch and the altar” is the place of intercession. Joel called upon the priests to pray there because of imminent and dire need. God had found it necessary to chasten His people. A devastation of locusts had been sweeping over the land. The drunkards were summoned to awake because the grapevines were destroyed. (1:5). The husbandmen were warned to howl because there were no harvests. (1:11). But God’s ministers, the priests, were exhorted to mourn because of a higher, worthier motive; “for the meat-offering and the drink-offering is withholden from the house of your God.” (1:13). God’s cause was suffering on account of this plague, and God’s people must lament: “Come, lie all night in sackcloth.”
But the plague of locusts did not arouse God’s people. Consequently, He sent a more severe affliction. In Chapter 2 the prophet sees the coming of a still greater disaster. An army of warriors comes marching into the land. They practice the scorched earth policy: “A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness.” (verse 3).
This army is worse than the locusts; it spares neither crops nor lives. When God chastens He often touches our property first, and if we do not learn through the first stroke He touches our persons. It was so with Joel’s people. It is frequently so today. Chastening is God’s call to repentance;
“Therefore also now. . . turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.” (verse 12).
It is a call to everyone – old man, children, and even infants. The bridegroom and the bride are also included. (verse 16). The priests especially are included. They, of all persons, are expected to weep between the porch and the altar. Here they take their stand for their highest ministry – intercession: “Spare thy people, O Lord.”
“Between the porch and the altar” – a place of mourning and instead of salty tears, stains of blood have been found there. Zacharias was slain there. (Matt. 23:35). He is not the only servant who has been clubbed in this sacred precinct, and that by officialdom. (II Chron. 24:20-22). Is it to throw stones at each other that we assemble between the porch and the altar! Where are the priests to stand in the gap?
“Between the porch and the altar” – a place of mourning and intercession. But in the last days what do we find! Conditions as in the days of Noah. (Matt. 24:37-39): Eating and drinking instead of fasting; rousing hilarity instead of a solemn assembly. Prayer in the upper room is the forerunner of power from on high. Deep humility of soul must prepare the way for the coming of the Holy One. This is the price of Pentecost. It will always be so.
Oh, Where are the Weeping Intercessors?
Do existing conditions yet not alarm us? Merry-making continues while helpless victims are being mowed down by an advancing army. Dope addiction is slaying our youth. Sexual impurity is defiling our school children. Diabolical murder, simply for the thrill of it, is casting its lurid spell over our teenagers. Atomic extinction is menacing us all. Oh, where are the weeping intercessors?
If our youth conferences are to compete with Vanity Fair, it soon will be a race to see which can put on the bigger ballyhoo to lure customers. When young people are entertained instead of challenged, their theme song will become, “Tell Us A Story” instead of “Oh, Sweet Wonder!” If they are to respond when the
evening altar call is given, they seem to require a guarantee that this will not interfere with the snack time, and the boy-meet-girl social hour that is to follow.
Lot, Chairman of the Banqueting Committee
There was a time when separation meant giving up even good things as well as questionable. Our Isaacs were laid on the altar. Our self-assertive, mocking Ishmael’s were ejected. Our worldly-minded Lots
were banished. But now Lot is made chairman of the banquet committee. Ishmael is dressed up and brought in as the jovial clown to entertain the feasters, and Isaac is given the seat of honor and toasted and told what a good fellow he is.
Have our preachers’ retreats resolved themselves into intellectual spreads, garnished with a few spirits and
inoffensively seasoned with a little prayer? Can any minister carry a burden for others when he is pressed with the urgency of getting home from his night service to see his cherished television program! Is there any preparation for the Lord’s Day among children of God when their chief talk in the Sunday morning greeting concerns the entertainment of the night before!
Bulging Stomachs and Starved Souls.
Is the rally point of our summer conventions the lunch stand instead of the nightly prayer altar! Soft drinks and hot-dog sandwiches dabbed with light-hearted talk under the yellow lights are effective cathartics against all the operations of the night service that has just preceded. An array of bulging stomachs and starved souls is not formidable to our spiritual foe. Fellowship over the teacup is becoming more fashionable than fellowship in prayer.
The repentance and the performance of the first works that accompany the first love are quite obliterated by feasting and frolic.
“Here the tramp, tramp, tramping…” not of God’s army, but of invaders: “like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.” (Joel 2:5).
Europe is dismembered. Korea is sawn asunder. China is drenched in innocent blood. Vietnam is fallen and bleeding at the last gateway to the Southeast. And the next to fall?
“Time for Tears – Not Trifling.”
Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! It is no time for trifling, but for tears. Let us seek intercession instead of indulgence. The urgency of the hour is enough to draw us together to God and to one another.
God’s ear bends low. Does He hear the voice of weeping and the cry of prayer, “Spare Thy people, O Lord”? Not till He hears that sound rising between the porch and the altar will His church hear the rushing mighty wind.
(The above article was a pamphlet published by the Gospel Tract Society, Inc. in Independence, MO.)