Come Down, Lord!
Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1988, 56 pages
Since most books on revival are either historical or biographical in nature, it always refreshing to discover a book that is exegetical and expository. Roger Ellsworth’s Come Down, Lord! is one of those rare finds: an expositional study of Isaiah 63:15 – 64:9, which is both exegetically sound and devotionally warm – a book that is as heart-stirring as it is instructional.
In seven short chapters Ellsworth expounds this Isaianic prayer for revival under the headings of: We Miss You (Isaiah 63:15-16), We Need You (Isaiah 63:17-64:2), We Wait for You (Isaiah 64:3-4), We Will Meet You (Isaiah 64:5), We Have Wronged You (Isaiah 64:5-7), We Belong to You (Isaiah 64:8-12), and We Beseech You (Isaiah 64:9).
In chapter one, Ellsworth contends that we are much like the nation of Israel on the brink of Babylonian exile – desperately in need of a fresh visitation of God’s power and blessing. “The church, in order to maintain credibility in the world, has to have the power of God. She is involved in a great spiritual warfare, and only God’s power will enable her to prevail. Human ingenuity and wisdom are simply not equal to the task. Trying to do this kind of work without the power of God is like trying to break huge granite boulders with our bare hands” (11). We need God’s power both for revival in the church and an effective witness in the world (chapter two). And when God comes the mountains flow at his presence (Isa. 64:1). “What an appropriate symbol the mountain is for the sinner!” says Ellsworth. “The sinner is a whole mountain range arrayed against God. He has in his heart mountains of opposition, hardness, stubbornness, unbelief, pride, and blindness erected against the knowledge of God” (19). And “there is only one thing that can melt the mountain . . . and that is the fire of God!” (20).
Therefore, we must wait for him (chapter three). Waiting on God involves the attitudes of expectation, singleness, and patience. We can expect God to come down because “He has come down before. Study the history of the church and you will find it to be true” (23). God has visited his people time and again in remarkable periods of revival. If we are patient in seeking God, surely He will answer. But meeting God when He comes (chapter four) requires both rejoicing in and working righteousness and remembering the ways of God (Isa. 64:5). Living the Christian life requires effort, but “far too many of us want to slip quietly into heaven wearing silver slippers instead of combat boots!” (32)
Chapter five shows how confession and true repentance prepares the way for God to work by both exposing sin and exonerating God. “Repentance is where one stops filling his mouth with arguments against God, and takes his place as the creature before the Creator” (40). Yet joined with confession and repentance must be a deep confidence in God’s goodness (chapter six). We belong to Him – therefore we should honor Him, knowing that He will never disown us.
Finally (chapter seven), we must beseech God. We must pray with intensity of desire, humility of heart, and tenacity of purpose. “By being persistent in prayer we show how highly we prize God’s blessings, and God is more inclined to grant His blessings to those who prize them” (54).
This is a short and simple book; its benefits are two-fold: First, Come Down, Lord! is an excellent model of biblical exposition on the theme of revival. Ellsworth succeeds in taking a biblical passage, grounding his exegesis in the original context, while bridging his application to the needs of the church to day. Pastors committed to expositional preaching who have an interest in preaching on revival could learn much from this book. Secondly, this book is a Word-centered reminder of our desperate need for God’s power and blessing in all that we do. Ellsworth calls us back to dependence upon God for supernatural power in our ministries and warns us not to settle for what man alone can accomplish. In a day when most books on the market are providing ideas and strategies for things we can do in our churches, surely we need more books like this, which remind us of our true source of power.