I must admit I have wrestled with this question for quite awhile. And what I am going to present to you is my evolving position on this subject. This is where I am today. I am well aware of the modern-day "prophets" who preach that an awakening in the spirits of men will lead to a worldwide revival before the awesome Day of the Lord. I never want to discourage anyone or be perceived as against a revival, but I honestly do not see a Biblical interpretation of an End Times Revival.
And please hear me .... that is not to say that revival isn't real or does not happen. I do not have any authority to declare that. Throughout history, Revivals have occurred in times of need -- the Protestant Reformation in the 17th Century; the 18th Century Revivals led by John Wesley and George Whitefield; the three Great Awakenings in America (18th-19th Centuries); and the Asuza Street Revival and the Toronto Blessing in the 20th Century, to name a few. And I know the heart of "the Church" is to see Revival. But it doesn't take a very discerning spirit to recognize that there has been no revival in the Church that has defeated the wickedness in the world. In fact, the Church that resides in the building has been more about maintaining their position of compromise and accommodation in order to try and remain relevant to modern society [and to keep their status within man's law]. But this position has only seen wickedness and lawlessness rise while abdicating any power and authority they might once have held to change the world. That has left the Body of Christ sitting on the fence in a Laodicean, lukewarm posture.
That being said, I do see revival in the midst of small groups who recognize that the Holy Spirit has left the Church building, and who are willing to be true Disciples of the Lord and take His Gospel of the Kingdom outside the building, wherever they are led. This Body is the Ekklesia, the representatives of God's government on earth; those willing to go on the offensive and take God's Truth of who we were created to be, in spite of opposition, whether from unbelievers or believers. And when discerning that Truth [in all things, including today's prophecies of a worldwide revival], I go to the Bible to see what Jesus prophesied.
Nowhere do I see Jesus telling us to look for such a revival before the end of the Church Age. In Matthew 24, His Disciples ask Him for signs that will signify the end of this Age and His Coming. He warns not to be lead astray by those saying they are coming in His Name. That includes false prophets and teachers, which are not necessarily men who are seeking to deceive others, but may be deceived themselves into thinking they are hearing from God. Jesus goes on to say that we will hear of wars and rumors of wars; nations and kingdoms rising up against each other; famines and earthquakes. Then comes tribulation and martyrdom; being hated by all those who hate Him. Then a great falling away will occur, meaning there will be those who stumble in their faith and will betray their fellow believers in order to save themselves from persecution. The lawlessness will cause hearts to grow cold, and love will escape them. Jesus says the one who endures [and perseveres in their faith to survive the persecution] will be saved [delivered; rescued].
Jesus doesn't sugarcoat it. It's going to be difficult to live on this earth as we get closer to His Return. Nowhere do I see Him say that we can expect a Revival to ease our suffering and usher Him in. In fact, rebellion comes first, which results in the falling away and hearts growing cold. Again, I pray for revival and rejuvenation and renewed strength among those who are willing to contend in fervent prayer [as the Ekklesia] in order to hold up the appearance of the Man of Lawlessness, who will set things in motion for Jesus's eventual Return. I recognize the purpose of the cycle of Revival throughout the history of the world because it snatches victory out of the hands of the Enemy every time someone repents and receives Christ as their Savior. Revivals please the Lord because the Father doesn't want to lose even one of His creation. Revivals are real and we can most definitely pray for them to happen because that is how the Gospel of Salvation has advanced across the globe. And now I see the revival in the Ekklesia advancing the Gospel of the Kingdom, which is what Jesus came preaching, and what I think is spurring the Enemy to advance his kingdom of wickedness and lawlessness.
Even as the Church grows "cold", there will always be pockets of Believers who remain "hot" to share the Gospel of the Kingdom; leading people to repentance, then salvation, and on towards entering the Kingdom of God on earth. And I believe the number of people who exemplify that kind of "revival" will be relatively small in number. You see, those I hear prophesying today of a great worldwide revival resulting in millions of people becoming part of "the Church" doesn't seem to correspond to Scripture. If that were so, wouldn't the Bible reveal an expanding and extension of the Church Age instead of it growing cold? I don't see the Word telling us that the Church will be purified in the Last Days. Instead it will "fall away".
I hear modern-day prophets using Scripture such as Psalm 22:27-28 to justify that this worldwide Revival is going to happen: All the ends of the earth shall remember and return to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and He rules over the nations. But when read in context, I believe this is referring to the Millennial Kingdom, the 1000-year reign of Christ after His return. And I also witness many today who like to take such snippets of Scripture as Joel 2:23 to point to a Revival in our time: Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before. I, too hope for vindication as we pray that Father God will forgive our complacency, our contentment, and our self-satisfaction in our selfish deeds.
I know the American Church sincerely desires a Great Revival because we can no longer ignore the immoral state of our nation. We are awakened to how we have failed as the Church in living up to the covenant made with God when those first faithful servants stepped foot on this ground. We've always been a prosperous and blessed nation, and we see that identity in jeopardy. We're more divided than ever along racial lines; the Freedoms enshrined in our Constitution seem to be slipping away; and more people are leaving the Church building because they are not being fed in the Word. They intuitively know that there is more to walking in the footsteps of the Lord than church attendance, and their spirits are hungry for a true encounter with Jesus to discover their purpose on this earth.
These are the people seeking personal revival and they will be the ones who advance the Kingdom of God -- right up until the moment of the corporate revival of the Jews. This is the promise of Revival in the Bible! This was made so clear to me some years ago when a dear friend opened up the Lord's revelation through Romans 11. For the first time, I saw that the Remnant of Israel [those who choose to call on the Name of the Lord], will receive their salvation and reclaim their original status as the nation who will lead the world to the knowledge of God. And the fullness of saved Israel will bring about the Glory of God on the earth, as Jesus returns and defeats Evil. Then all those who are saved will enter into the Millennial Kingdom.
So, we can take heart that revival is real! It will happen as it has always happened -- in small pockets and in cycles. And we should pray for those revivals, because as Gentiles grafted into the cultivated olive tree that is God's Chosen People, it is our faithfulness to expand the Gospel of Christ [in both Salvation and Kingdom messages] that will provoke Israel to jealousy in the coming End Times, and they will want the security we have in Christ. While revival might not look like what we hear being prophesied throughout the modern Church, it will look like whatever God intends to use to redeem the world. Pray about what your part in that revival looks like, and how you can become part of God's Promise to Israel and the world!
Jeremiah 30:17 For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord, because they have called you an outcast: ‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’