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To commemorate the 440th anniversary of John Knox’s death, November 24, 1572 …

In “The Puritan Hope” (Banner of Truth Trust, 1971), Iain Murray writes:

John Knox (1514-1572) statue, Haddington    The commencement of the Reformation in England and Scotland was marked by a thirst for Scripture among the people. Tyndale’s version of the New Testament circulated in both realms from 1526 onwards and soon a train of preachers appeared, at first small in number, whose ministry was attended by effects which had not been commonly seen for many long centuries. Of George Wishart, the Scottish reformer, martyred in 1546, we have this account of his open-air preaching: ‘He came to a dyke in a moor edge, upon the south-west side of Mauchline, upon the which he ascended. The whole multitude stood and sat about him (God gave the day pleasing and hot). He continued in preaching more than three hours. In that sermon God wrought so wonderfully with him that one of the most wicked men that was in that country, named Laurence Rankin, laird of Shiel, was converted. The tears ran from his eyes in such abundance that all men wondered. His conversion was without hypocrisy, for his life and conversation witnessed it in all times to come.¹

Scenes like this were soon to become common in the northern kingdom. In May, 1556, John Knox, running the gauntlet of the Catholic powers who still controlled the country, preached for ten consecutive days in Edinburgh. When he returned to Scotland again, in 1559, the spiritual revival became general. ‘God did so multiply our number’, Knox writes of the growth of the Protestant cause, ‘that it appeared as if men had rained from the clouds.’² In a letter to an English friend written on June 23, 1559, he says: ‘Now, forty days and more, hath my God used  my tongue in my native country, to the manifestation of His glory. Whatsoever now shall follow, as touching my own carcass, His holy name be praised. The thirst of the poor people, as well as of the nobility here, is wondrous great, which putteth me in comfort that Christ Jesus shall triumph for a space here, in the north and extreme parts of the earth.”³

* * *

Reading about the history of the Church serves a reality check for us. It’s far too easy each one of us to lapse into a lukewarm, lethargic complacency about the state of Christianity.

It’s true that we’re not to despise the day of small things (Zech. 4:10), and yet we should recognize that here in the west we currently are in the midst of such days, and we ought to be in earnest prayer that the Lord might be gracious to us and send to us such times of refreshing as were experienced during the Protestant Reformation. Until men rain once again from the clouds, may God’s Holy Spirit strengthen us to be importunate in prayer, to plead day and night like the widow whom our Lord commended in Luke 18. That very commendation serves as Jesus’ clear instruction and exhortation to each one of us that vigilance in prayer is a mark of genuine faith – that such prayer is not intended for a certain few, but for all the saints. May our Lord find us faithful in prayer for the reformation and reviving of His Church, for the praise and glory of His name among all the nations.

Luke 18:1  And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2  He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4  For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6  And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7  And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?, Will he delay long over them? 8  I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Isaiah 51:9  Awake, awake, put on strength,
O arm of the LORD;
awake, as in days of old,
the generations of long ago.
Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,
that pierced the dragon?
10  Was it not you who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made the depths of the sea a way
for the redeemed to pass over?
11  And the ransomed of the LORD shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

* * *

Awake, awake, put on strength,
O arm of the LORD;
awake, as in days of old,
the generations of long ago,
as in the days of John Knox.

Was it not You who worked powerfully through John Knox,
so it appeared as if men had rained from the clouds?

Was it not You, through John Knox,
who cut Rahab in pieces, that pierced the dragon?

Was it not You, through John Knox,
who dried up the sea,
the waters of the great deep,
who made the depths of the sea a way
for the redeemed to pass over?

Awake, awake, put on strength,
O arm of the LORD;
awake, as in days of old,
the generations of long ago,
in the days of John Knox.

We plead light to arise in darkness
for this winter to be past,
when the ransomed of the LORD shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

* * *

*Please add your PRAYERS as God’s Holy Spirit leads you.*


Footnotes from Murray’s book…

¹ John Knox, “History of the Reformation in Scotland,” edited by William Croft Dickinson, 1949, Vol. 1, 62.

² Quoted by Jasper Ridley, “John Knox,” 1968.

³ Ibid., 327.

Photo credit: Work found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Knox_statue,_Haddington.jpg  / CC BY-SA 3.0

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