The Moravian Revival- A Story of Restoration by the Lord God
The Moravian Revival 1727
The story of the Moravian Revival is a powerful one that demonstrates that He is the God who restores and keeps His promises. Often in our walk we go through dark seasons where everything seems to fall apart and it looks like it is all over for us. At first glance, it would appear the enemy has won and that our better days are behind us.
We find ourselves broken and lost. We are spiritual refugees, rejected and despised. We recall His promises, but our hope is almost faded. We find ourselves in a place of wondering and crying out to the Lord, “remember me!” We feel forgotten and rejected.
Yet, in this difficult place, He begins to expose areas in us that need crucified. It is a place of death. A place where we no longer can make anything happen in and of ourselves, so we learn to surrender. Our only hope is Him. The only One Who can turn things around is Him.
As He exposes the old dead formalism in us and unsurrendered areas, we go through a season of Him working on us. Slowly, as we yield and simply trust Him, He begins to restore us and open a new door. Then suddenly, everything changes. In His great mercy and goodness, He turns up and we have a divine visitation with Him. We are not the same. Like Jacob, we have wrestled with the Lord and no longer walk the same. Finally, we have come to the place of total trust and surrender to Him, and it is here He meets with us. It is here we discover a place of true victory and a new beginning, where the glory of these days outshines the former ones. We now live wholly for Him, and we find in giving our all to Him, He gives us His all.
- L. Moody preached in one of his last sermons…
“See how He came on the day of Pentecost! It is not the carnal to pray that he may come again and that the place be shaken.”1
“God says’ ‘It shall come to pass- I will pour,’ This was His promise through the prophet Joel. The first fulfilment of this promise was on the day of Pentecost. There is nothing in the New Testament to indicate that this was to be the one and only fulfilment of this promise. On the contrary, we read in the book of Acts of many outpourings…”2
A Moravian Historian
Further, this historian wrote…
And verily the thirteenth of August, 1727, was a day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We saw the hand of God and His wonders, and we were all under the cloud of our father baptized with their Spirit. The Holy Ghost came upon us in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst. From that time, scarcely a day passed but what we beheld His almighty workings amongst us. A great hunger after the Word of God took possession of us so that we had to have three services every day…”
Count Zinzendorf was a man who had a heart after the Lord, and shortly after finishing college as was customary for a nobleman, he traveled across the major cities of Europe. Zinzendorf was a man committed to prayer. When he was visiting the Art Gallery in Duseldorf, he saw an image of Jesus with a crown of thorns, standing before Pilate. Beneath the painting were the words, “This I have done for you, what are you doing for Me?”
These words had a deep impact on him who wrote regarding the event…
“I implore my Savior to draw me with force into the partnership of His sufferings, even if my mind struggled against it.”3
When the Lord begins to touch the heart, you can’t run from Him. The Lord knows exactly how to reach you and what words will pierce your heart. If we learn to trust Him, the Lord knows how to reach our loved ones. We never know when or how, but He has an appointment and day of visitation with us. The day when like Paul, we are knocked down to the grown, pierced in the heart, and our world challenged. On that day I pray that like Paul and Zinzendorf, our hearts are soft and bow to the Lordship of Jesus. Here Count Zinzendorf committed the rest of his life to the Lord. In this article, the focus is on the Moravian Revival. Count Zinzendorf played a critical part in the revival so we must talk about him. It started with his surrender to the purpose of the Father and the vision he had to build a Christian community. He would take his inheritance and purchase the estate of Berthelsdorf from his grandmother. Count Zinzendorf was able through the eyes of faith to see not empty fields, but the Christian community the Lord had put on his heart. However, I don’t think he fully grasped what the Lord had planned.
Count Zinzendorf appointed the Pietist John Andrew Rothe as the pastor of the Lutheran Church that was at Berthelsdorf. He commissioned him saying…
“I bought this estate because I wanted to spend my life among peasants, and win their souls for Christ. So go, Rothe, to the vineyard of the Lord. You will find me a brother and a helper rather than a patron.”4
I love the heart of Count Zinzendorf. He was not seeking to build his kingdom or boast in his position and authority. If we are to see a revival, it must come through humbling of ourselves. We must submit one to another in obedience to the Holy Spirit. True leadership empowers, and that was the heart of Zinzendorf. But true leaders also deal with issues. As we will see, Zinzendorf did that as well.
In 1722, he built a mansion on the estate and called it Bethel (House of God). He opened his home for all to come on Sunday afternoon for Bible Studies. Soon, he had his first settler come to the estate at Berthelsdorf. A man from Moravia, called Christian David. The Protestants in Moravia were being severely persecuted by the Catholic church, and David asked if the refugees could come to Berthelsdorf. Ludwig consented, not realizing that his dream was about to be fulfilled. Initially, ten refugees came and formed a community called Herrbhut (the Lord’s Watch), on June 17th, 1722.
Who Where The Moravians?
To understand the story of the Moravians, we must go back to Wycliffe in the 14th Century. Towards the end of his life, he was expelled from Oxford and his teachings banned from being studied. However, the king married a lady from Bohemia, which resulted in Bohemian students coming to study at Oxford. One of them was Jerome of Prague and he, in violation of Oxford rules, studied the works of Wycliffe. He then took them back to Bohemia, where Hus would study them. Hus would make a stand like Wycliffe against the corruption of the Catholic church, for which he was burnt at the stake. But his followers the Moravians continued. However, they would endure fierce persecution. So they were more than willing to follow David in the hope of sanctuary.
David brought the initial refugees to a swampy stretch of the estate as they were not welcomed in the village. There they found an old unfinished farmhouse that they rested in.
David, who had made a pledge that if the Lord healed his wife, he would return to Moravia for more refugees, discovered his wife had been made well, and immediately set back out for Moravia.
When the refugees first arrived, they were disappointed as only one house was complete and the rosy picture painted to them by David was far from reality. However, a stream of people continued to come from Moravia.
The Hidden Seed
Over the next four years, the community grew to around four hundred. They worked together to build a school and medical building. These Moravians, as I said, were the converts that came out of the ministry of Hus, who was burnt at the stake in 1415. By the time of Luther, they had grown to around 200,000 members. However, from the sixteenth century they were mercilessly persecuted, with only a few being left in Moravia. Their last bishop, Jan Amos Comenius who escaped to Holland, prophesied before that the remnant left would be a “hidden seed” that would grow into a “Fruitful tree.” 5
They were a broken people, hanging on by their nails. It seemed like their better days were behind them, but the Lord had not forgotten them. The Lord was faithful to deliver them in their darkest hour. He had a plan for them, and little could they have imagined that this swamp would become a place of divine encounter, restoration and commissioning.
“I want to be used among these people to bring revival…though I may lose my property, my honor, and my life in the cause, as long as I live, and as far as I am able, this flock of the Lord shall be preserved for Him until He comes.”6
“The community became the vehicle for Zinzendorf’s adolescent pledge to preach the Gospel to every creature, and especially to those for whom no one else cared.”7
Zinzendorf had no clue that the vision the Lord had put on his heart was part of a bigger plan or restoration and would transform the world. As big as Zinzendorf dreamed, the Lord’s plan was bigger. Zinzendorf wanted to see souls won for Jesus by creating a Christian community. However, God created a Christian training and commissioning center that would send missionaries worldwide.
The Storm Arises
Word of the Herrnhut community spread and persecuted Christians from various denominations started coming, including Anabaptists (now Mennonites), Calvinists, Separatists, and even Catholics. The mixed breed of malcontents caused dissension to arise. “As poverty crept in at the door, love flew out of the window.”8 As the turmoil grew, along came a man called Johannes Sigismund Kruger. Kruger was a leader and caused great division. The enemy always seeks to kill any work of God and it takes Godly leadership to act with wisdom and shut the door on the enemy. Too often we try to just keep the peace, instead of making a stand for truth. Part of the enemy’s strategy is to go after the leadership. You see true leadership is formed by demonstrating the character of Christ and earning the trust of the people so they will follow you. If the devil can demonize the leader, he can devastate the church. Kruger, a messenger of the enemy, announced that he was divinely appointed by God to reform Zinzendorf, whom he called “the Beast,” and Rothe the “False Prophet.” Kruger attacked the various leaders, calling the Lutherans “no better than a den of thieves.” 9
During the last five years, Zinzendorf had not paid a lot of attention to the refugees at Herrnhut, but on his plans for Berthelsdorf. He also had his official duties at Dresden as the king’s councilor. He had, however, made it clear that all refugees coming to Herrnhut had to be fleeing religious persecution and had to agree to the Augsburg Confession. But Zinzendorf knew he had to act. Zinzendorf did act at the right time with great wisdom from heaven. I have personally learned the importance of acting at the critical time. It is easier to say than do, because we hope people will just work out their differences and you will not be dragged into the middle of it. But failure to act allows the enemy to ransack the people. Zinzendorf understood that those whom he had taken in out of compassion were now a group of scheming dissenters.
“At the critical point the Count intervened, and changed the duel into a duet. He would have no makers of sects on his estate. With all their faults, he believed that the settlers were at bottom broad-minded people. Only clear away the rubbish and the gold would be underneath.” 10
On May 12th, he summoned them to a meeting where he preached for three hours on the sin of schisms. The best way to defeat the plans of the enemy is truth. Preach the truth. Jesus stood up against the religious Pharisees and hypocrites with truth. Not opinion and not with anger. Truth! However, Zinzendorf understood the importance of humility and prayer. The Battle is the Lord’s not ours. We must surrender the battle in prayer and humble ourselves under His mighty hand, recognizing that it is a spirit of pride that is seeking to destroy everything. The devil always works in and out of pride. We must, therefore, learn the power of humility. The result of Zinzendorf’s action was the squabbling refuges became orderly Christian tenants that promised to obey his Injunctions and Prohibitions.
Zinzendorf took leave of his assignment at Dusseldorf and proceeded to organize a church within the church at Herrnhut. He created a pact called, “the Brotherly Union and Compact.” On July 4th, all were called to freely sign this pact. By signing, they promised to end sectarian quarrels and obey the agreement they had previously made with him. The result was a great calm came on the place that summer.
“The whole place…represented a visible tabernacle of God among men,” Said Zinzendorf… ‘for the next few months in the city on a hill was the home of ineffable joy; and the very men who had lately quarreled with each other now formed little groups for prayer and praise.” 11
During the next period, Zinzendorf spent much time in prayer. In fact, on August 5th, they held an all-night prayer session.
A communion Service
On August 13th, 1727, Pastor Rothe called a special communion service at Berthelsdorf. Zinzendorf wrote of the event…
“We needed to come to the Communion with a sense of the loving nearness of the Savior. This was the great comfort which has made this day a generation ago to be a festival, because on this day twenty seven years ago the Congregation of Herrnhut, all assembled for communion were all dissatisfied with themselves. They had quit judging each other because they had become convinced, each one, of his lack of worth in the sight of God and each felt himself at this communion to be in view of the noble countenance of the Savior.”12
‘“We learned,’ said the Brethren, ‘to love. ’From that day onward,’ said Nitschmann, ‘Herrnhut was a living Church of Jesus Christ.” 13
Zinzendorf was twenty-seven, which was also the average age of the people at Herrnhut. At the communion service, he read the “Confession,” and as he did everyone was touched in a very powerful way. The Holy Spirit was poured out. Pastor Rothe fell to the floor overwhelmed by the Spirit. The people began praying, singing, and weeping. This continued until midnight.
“We saw the hand of God and His wonders, and we were all under the cloud of our fathers baptized with their Spirit. The Holy Ghost came upon us and in those days great signs and wonders took place in our midst.” 14
“Self-love and self-will, as well as all disobedience disappeared and an overwhelming flood of grace swept out into the great ocean of Divine Love.” 15
If we truly have an encounter with Him, we should demonstrate His love in our life. His love radiates from Him, and the afterglow of spending time in His presence is His love permeates and transforms you till you radiate with it.
“Beloved, let us (unselfishly) love and seek the best for one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves (other) is born of God and knows God (through personal experience).
1 John 4: 7 AMP
On August 17th, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the children at Herrnhutt. They began a 24-hour, 7 day a week, prayer meeting. This prayer meeting started by the children would last for one hundred years! As the children came and bowed their knees to the Father, soon the parents joined them. Zinzendorf wrote…
“The children of both sexes felt a powerful impulse to prayer, and it was impossible to listen to their infant supplications without being deeply moved. …The Spirit of grace and supplication poured out upon the children so powerful that it is impossible to give an adequate description in words.” 16
On August 26th, twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted together to continue praying, one hour each, day and night. Soon the group increased.
Prayer Led to Action
The prayer caused the burden of heaven to arise in the hearts of the people. True prayer should change us. Such prayer should cause an exchange of our burdens for His burden. We should be consumed with the heart of heaven. When it comes to prayer, relationship makes all the difference. We must be right with Him and our desires should clearly indicate that. When we are no longer consumed with the cares of life and desires of the flesh, but the burden of the Father, we have entered a powerful place.
“This small church in twenty years called into being more missions than the whole Evangelical Church has done in two centuries.” 17
In fact, within thirty-three years, 226 Moravian missionaries had been scattered around the world. They based the daily prayer on…
A fire must always be burning upon the altar. It must never go out.
Leviticus 6: 13
The passionate faith filled prayers carrying the burden of the Father’s heart did not bounce off the ceilings, but touched heaven, and heaven responded. They understood the Lord desired to move in revival and all they had to do was come believing.
The reality is, He desires to move in revival and touch lives way beyond what we could imagine. He is just looking for vessels to surrender to Him, so He can move.
“Every revival throughout history is unique. No two are exactly the same. God uses different people, different methods, and different times. However, one thing is always the same in times of revival. There have never been great revivals without great prayer.” 18
The Spirit of Worship
With revival it is always accompanied with worship. In the 1932 edition of the Methodist Hymnal it says, “Methodism was born in song.” We also see in Herrnhut as the Spirit was poured out, the floodgates of worship and singing began.
John Wesley, while on his way to America from England to minister to the Native Americans, learnt German, so he could on the journey communicate with the Moravians. In fact, he wrote in his journal on October 19th, 1735, “Singing with the Germans.”19 John Wesley wanted to learn their secret. He watched them praise the Lord even in the fiercest of storms at sea. He wrote of them, “They are a people who have given up all for their Master, and have learned from Him to be modest and lowly, dead to the world, but full of faith and the Holy Spirit.”
One of the Moravians on board was David Nitschmann.
Charles Wesley, who met Peter Bohler, another Moravian, would write a song based on their conversation, where Peter said, “If I had a thousand tongues, I would praise Jesus with every one of them.” 20The song of course goes, “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing.”
Two major areas the Moravians dealt with. The first was, of course, disunity. When they came together in true unity, power broke out. Just as it did on the day of Pentecost when the church had come together in unity. You can’t fake Godly unity. True unity is built upon humility, esteeming one another as higher than ourselves. It is a unity built upon His love.
“We know love by this, that he laid down His life for us, and that we ought to do the same for the brethren.
1 John 3: 16
Love is seen in the laid down life. If we could learn to empty ourselves of ourselves and become yielded vessels He can fill and use, we would see greater power.
Secondly, they addressed the dead formalism in the church. Most believers can go to a dead church and not even recognize that it is dead, or almost dead. Oh, the Father in His mercy will meet people who come to Him in faith and touch them, but the power is absent. Lives are not so utterly changed that they recklessly abandon the old and become consumed with the burden of heaven. Many get a touch from the Lord and get their lives put right, but never experience the Holy Spirit to have their lives turned upside down for the glory. They get blessed, but never jump in the barrel until they become a blessing. They taste of the goodness of the Lord but fail to possess the goodness of the Lord to become vessels of His glory. We are not here to just live better lives because of the Gospel. We are meant to be so utterly changed that the world around us is changed. The early church did not just experience the Holy Spirit and learn to have better jobs, better marriages, etc. That was, if anything, just the icing on the cake.
Oh, we can boast that we are blessed at church and we are better people because of it, but where is the radical power? Where is the Holy Spirit that causes such a fire to ignite in you that you are compelled to act? You understand your purpose on earth is to see souls come to the knowledge of Jesus. You become dead to this world and burn with a holy passion. There can be no going back to the old, because not alone is that old man dead, but now you are a radical believer commissioned by your Creator with a divine purpose!
Oh, I pray that you have such an encounter, that you refuse to settle with just an inner court experience but go into the Holy of Holies and you are never the same. You will feel like a fool until you die, but when you do, suddenly you enter the place of power!
No wonder the early church turned the world upside down. They became dead to the world and they no longer lived but Christ. We need to stop settling for the inspirational gospel, and get the Gospel of power. But it requires a total death. Are you willing to die to all? Are you willing to surrender your agenda, burdens, and dreams and take up the burden and dream of heaven?
The Moravians started off as a broken people seeking to survive. They were running from the enemy. They became a people who were overcomers that now ran to the battle to take back what the enemy stole. Are you broken running from a past? It is time for you to find sanctuary in His Presence and have a visitation with Him. Let Him expose all that hinders and all dead religion in your life. Be a lover of the truth! Your latter days can so outshine your former, that your wildest dreams would never be able to imagine what He has planned for you, if you will surrender and trust Him.
The Moravians became sold out to the Lord. They were not the same. Their lives were committed to reaching the lost. They set up a printing press to print the Bible, Christian tracts and hymnals. They became voices influencing others for Christ. The touched men like the Wesley brothers. John Wesley, in fact, translated one of Zinzendorf’s songs, “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness.”
The Keys They Learned
Life was not easy for the Moravians. They world work sixteen hour days. But they were trained in three principles that were to equip them to go “out!”
- Jesus gave His life as a ransom for sin. They understood the sacrifice Jesus made and the power of the blood
- Jesus was the perfect example for them to follow. We are to fix our eyes on Him. He is the author of our faith and He is the One who will bring it to maturity.
- Jesus was present with them as Head of the church. If we could just understand that it He is the Head of the church and it is His church, oh, what a difference it would make. We would stop building our kingdoms and ministries. We would give our all for His ALL.
The Moravians went all over the world preaching the Gospel. How many of us would allow the Lord such a surrender so as to allow Him to send us to some land we don’t know? Such surrender that it is not based on our opinion but we are willing to surrender our rights, desires and opinions. We give Him an unqualified, “YES!” Many of us are willing as long as it is convenient and comfortable to us. We say that the Lord can use us, but only the way we want. What if we truly did surrender all and took the burden of the Father’s heart? What if we truly delighted in Him? The world would be changed.
- Greenfield, John. Power from on High or The Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Moravian Revival 1727-1927, www.realgoodbooks.com loc. 114
- Ibid 114
- Count Zinzendorf and the Spirit of the Moravians. 52
- Hutton, History of the Moravian Church. 120
- Liardon Roberts. God’s Generals, the Missionaries. Whitaker House, 2014. p 29
- Hutton, History of the Moravian Church. 245
- Zinzendorf, Nikolaus Ludwig Von. Christian Life and Witness, Count Zinzendorf’s 1738 Speeches. Princeton Theological Society. loc 233
- Ibis 3243
- ibid 3255
- Ibid 3304
- ibid 3317
- P Greenfield, John. Power from on High or The Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Moravian Revival 1727-1927, www.realgoodbooks.com loc 126
- Hutton, Joseph Edmund. Christian Denominations: A History of the Moravian Church. 2nd 3356
- Allen, Brad. The Moravian Principle, The Secret of Revival loc. 1415
- Ibid 1428
- Ibid 1484
- Greenfield, John. Power from on High or The Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Moravian Revival 1727-1927, www.realgoodbooks.com loc 186
- Allen, Brad. The Moravian Principle, The Secret of Revival loc. 1515
- Ibid 1539
- Ibid 1552