There was a big convention in Mizpah. The Israelites had been unfaithful to God. Samuel was teaching from locality to locality. He had an itinerancy for twenty years. Year after year, and after twenty years of ministry, a hunger for God came upon all Israel. A hunger for God came upon Israel.
1 Samuel 7: 2-6:
It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD. And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only. Then Samuel said, "Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the LORD for you." When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the LORD." And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah.
There was a big convention in Mizpah. The Israelites had been unfaithful to God. And like every time when people break their relationship with God, there are consequences: they had become slaves, their lives had become difficult, and poverty had invaded the nation. They had lost their freedom as a nation, they were poor, they were oppressed, they were tormented, others were their masters. … Revival takes long. Samuel was teaching from locality to locality. He had an itinerancy for twenty years.
In strategic places, he used to gather the leaders around, and then he would teach them, and pray for them. He used to have those meetings in Mizpah, he had the meetings also in Gilgal, he also had the meetings in Bethel, and he also had the meetings in Ramah where he was staying. So he subdivided Israel into strategic centers, … those in the North gathered in Bethel, and in other different places. He used to gather the nation, mostly the leaders. He would gather them and teach them. The Bible says that he judged Israel. He did that itinerancy for twenty years, to teach about sin. After twenty years, a hunger for God came upon the nation. It had taken twenty years of a revival ministry.
For twenty years, Samuel went from place to place; in every place he would gather the leaders and teach them, and dig into their lives, to reconcile them to God. After those twenty years of bringing the leaders back to God, a hunger came on the people of God: the people now wanted God. And because the hunger had become widespread, Samuel called a convention in Mizpah, and he told them; « Now that you are hungry for God, if you want to come back to God, uproot every idol ». So these uprooting of idols did not start with bro Zach. Remove the idols! Remove the idols! Commit yourself to the Lord! And then he called a convention in Mizpah. All Israel gathered in Mizpah, and when they gathered, they repented for unfaithfulness, they repented for their unfaithfulness and they fasted to come back to God, the whole nation fasted to come back to God. It had been twenty years of insisting on the uprooting of idols to bring the people back to God.
For those of us in Christian Missionary Fellowship, and especially those who are in leadership, there are many things that God had led us into, but many of the leaders are just ignorant. Those who are good, they do it without conviction because bro Zach said so, but they cannot enforce it because they are not convinced. They don’t know the biblical basis, but God cannot jump over the uprooting of idols. Samuel had done it for the leaders. The first year, he didn’t tell them that it’s alright.
Samuel continued as judge over Israel all the days of his life. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also judged Israel. And he built an altar there to the LORD.
Year after year, and after twenty years of ministry, a hunger for God came upon all Israel. A hunger for God came upon Israel. When the leaders began to come back to God, hunger for God came on the people, and the people wanted God. And so, Samuel told them, if you now want God, you want to come back to God, let’s have a convention to come back to God. A convention for the all nation to come to God. And for that convention, they had to prepare by uprooting idols. For that convention, they gathered. Poverty had tormented them: they were so poor, that they didn’t have goats to offer to God. The only thing they could have was to carry water and offer to God as a sacrifice. That’s where sin will carry people to.
They had gotten so poor that they had no goats, no cows to sacrifice. But the road to God cannot bypass sacrifice. So they had to sacrifice something, they had nothing but water. So they found water and poured it out to God. And then they fasted, and then they confessed their sins and God came to them. While they were having that Convention, the Philistines gathered against them. Samuel prayed for them, and the Bible says, that convention confirmed and established Samuel as the leader. True spiritual leadership is to bring people to God. True leadership is to bring people back to God. Spiritual leadership is to bring people back to God. Samuel was already a prophet before God. But when he brought the people back to God, through his twenty years of ministry and through the convention that he called, the Bible says, Samuel was their leader. The leader brings people back to God. The leader works on people’s hearts, the leader helps the people to uproot idols, not giving them false assurance. The leader knows the way back to God, and he carries the people back to God, through tedious and patient and faithful itinerancy. And he taught them to fast to come back to God. They fasted, to meet God, to come back to God, to be adopted by God. Samuel knew the way back to God: the uprooting of idols, fasting, sacrifice, and repentance. We are looking forward to a Convention, which is to encounter God. We must prepare our hearts, and we must mobilize the whole Work to fast. If a nation at that time was about ten million, then it was about ten million fasts. They fasted to come back to God. They fasted to encounter God. They fasted because they desired God, they fasted because they were tired of their waywardness and they wanted to come back to God. So they fasted to meet God. If we want to bring people back to God, if we want to bring backsliders back to God, we must address their idols, we must address their sins, we must call them to sacrifice and consecration, and we must call them to fast, so that they may meet God.
Please pray that God will teach us the way of revival and that many of us will embrace what God has taught us through our leader and which many of us rejected just because of ignorance — ignorance of God and ignorance of the Bible.
Nobody in Christian Missionary Fellowship International (CMFI) is a stranger to this uprooting of idols. Many people got tired of hearing about the uprooting of idols but Samuel insisted on it for twenty years.