Canada has been home to two significant revivals in the past 100 years the more recent being the Toronto Blessing that started in January 1994 and a revival that hit North Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1948.
The latter was a bit different from the other revivals that hit North America in the 20th century. The Azusa street revival that set the stage for the modern-day Pentecostal movement started in 1906 in Los Angeles. Both Toronto and Los Angeles were major urban centers of their day and as a result impacted significant numbers of people.
But North Battleford was different. Located in an obscure province in Canada and at the time an equally obscure town in the northern part of that province. It was not easy place to visit. To get there you headed to the middle of nowhere. Once you get arrived, you then traveled 200 miles north.
Nevertheless, it had a profound impact on modern charismatic Christianity. With this being the 70th anniversary of the revival, many prophetic voices believe something significant is going to happen this year and are planning meetings at North Battleford in November.
Coincidentally, this year also marks the 70th anniversary of Israel’s formation as a nation.
The 1948 revival took place at Sharon Bible College, that was part of a larger ministry known as Sharon’s Orphanage, since renamed Global Missions. It broke out in an old World War II airport hanger being used for the school.
There were about 70 students attending the Bible school led by three men George Hawtin, Percy Hunt both Pentecostal Assemblies pastors and a Foursquare Gospel pastor Herrick Holt.
On February 11, 2018, a young woman prophesied that God had opened a door for the students to walk through. A second prophesy stated that this door involved the gifts of the Holy Spirit and Church ministries – apostle and prophets.
The Holy Spirit fell with power and meetings went on for hours and weeks and despite its isolation thousands attended the meetings, including a church camp, held throughout 1948.
I attended high school in Battleford, across the river from North Battleford. A good friend of mine attended the Sharon’s church. I didn’t become a Christian until years later, and it was then I realized that my friend’s dad who was an elder in the church was involved in the 1948 revival.
Though Azusa street and Toronto Blessing are certainly the more significant of the revivals, 1948 also had a big impact, but its was perhaps more theological:
Restoration of the church
One of the major teachings that came out North Battleford was concept that the church was going to be restored.
This was in stark contrast to the dispensational belief at the time that the church was God’s second choice. It held that when Israel failed to respond and accept Christ as the Messiah, God was forced to raise up he church. But this was not God’s first or preferred choice. According to dispensational teaching, this was only a temporary measure. In the end times, there will be a great falling away in the Church and God will then restore Israel who will embrace the Messiah.
The teaching that came out of the 1948 revival held that the Israel and the church were essentially the same thing. The gentiles were grafted into the Olive tree, the Kingdom of God, and the unbelieving Jews (those who rejected Jesus as the Messiah) were broken off (Romans 11:11-24).
As a result, the church was not God’s second choice. It was a critical part of the Kingdom of God and God wanted to restore the church to the power it manifested in the Book of Acts.
At the end of the age, Israel would accept Jesus as the Messiah and the two groups would embrace their role in God’s Kingdom.
Actually, this was what the church generally believed until the mid 1800s when a Plymouth Brethren teacher John Darby developed his theory of dispensationalism and pushed the belief the church was God’s second choice. Dispensationalism also believed that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were not for today as they were part of what God did in a different age or dispensation.
The latter rain
In conjunction with this was teaching on the “former and latter” rain. During Israel’s agricultural cycle, the former rain came during seeding that started the crop, the latter rains came at the end allowing the crop to fill out in preparation for harvest.
The former and latter rain is mentioned throughout the Bible (Deuteronomy 11:14; Joel 2:23 and Zechariah 10:1). Some passages seemed to give a prophetic significance to the former and latter rains beyond Israel’s agricultural cycle:
So rejoice, O sons of Zion,
And be glad in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the early rain for your vindication.
And He has poured down for you the rain,
The early and latter rain as before. (Joel 2:23 NASV)
When the Holy Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost it was looked upon as the former rain that started the church, but there would be a latter rain in the end times that would bring the church into maturity and restore it to the glory days seen in Pentecost. Along with this there would come a great end-times harvest and this will result in Israel accepting Jesus as the Messiah.
Because of this last great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, some believed the end-times church would display even greater power than seen in the Book of Acts.
Restoration of apostles and prophets
Not only did the 1948 revival challenge the firmly held eschatological beliefs of the time, it also challenged the authority structure of the church of the time that was largely denominational.
If God was restoring the church to the power demonstrated in the Book of Acts, it would need the same church government of the early church. One of the main tenants of the revival involved a restoration of the five-fold ministry: Apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers:
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 NASV)
They believed all five ministries were necessary for the church to reach its full potential and maturity and more specifically the apostles and prophets were considered the legitimate spiritual leaders of the church.
Most church denominations accepted pastors, evangelists and teachers, but apostles and prophets posed a bigger problem because it challenged denominational authority.
Many in the 1948 revival also believed that denominations were the biggest hindrance to unity in the church. Some felt that church was geographical. The Church of Chicago would have its own leadership of Apostles and prophets and not be divided by denominational structures and authority.
As a result many Pentecostal denominations opposed the revival. In 1949 , the US Assemblies of God took an official stand against the 1948 revival and this resulted in several pastors leaving the denomination.
And to be fair, those impacted by the 1948 revival had little good to say about denominational churches and were quite vocal in their opposition. So it was a two-way antagonism with both sides making mistakes and hindering unity.
But one of the spin offs of the revival was the rise of charismatic independent churches not tied to denominations, but connected instead to apostolic and prophetic networks.
Laying on of hands and personal prophecy
Another major emphasis involved laying on of hands and personal prophecy. Though prophecy was accepted, the idea that people could receive personal and even directional prophesy was not practiced. But they believed this was how the early church functioned (Acts 13:2)
They also believed through the laying on of hands that people could be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17) and could actually receive spiritual gifts:
14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14 NASV)
Though commonly done today, prior to 1948, this was not accepted practice in the church.
Restoration of the Tabernacle of David
The Restoration of the Tabernacle of David was also a major emphasis of this revival:
‘After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen,
And I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’
18 Says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago. (Acts 15:16-18 NASV)
When the Holy Spirit fell on the gentiles, it caused quite a controversy in the early Jewish church. They called a meeting in Jerusalem to discuss what to do with the gentile believers.
In resolving the issue, James quoted Amos 9:11-12, that spoke of how God was going to restore David’s tabernacle that would result in gentiles pouring into Israel.
They believed God fulfilled this prophecy in the church, clearly linking Israel and the church as one.
David’s tabernacle also incorporated a new form of praise and worship in Old Testament Israel that included clapping of hands (Psalm 47:1), lifting of hands (Psalm 134), shouting (Psalm 47:1, 5), dancing (2 Samuel 6:16; Psalm 149:3) and using variety of instruments (1 Chronicles 23:5; Psalm 47:5; Psalm 149:3).
With David’s tabernacle restored, this naturally resulted in the church embracing the tabernacle’s style of praise and worship.
The 1948 revival had a significant impact on the modern charismatic church. Now to be fair, like all revivals it also had its problems and some went into Biblical error, but I think most of that had to do with the weaknesses of man than the revival itself.
- Remember the Latter rain: Charisma News
- Latter Rain (post-World War II movement): Wikipedia
- The Latter Rain movement of ’48: