I chose to become a follower of Jesus in 1974. Soon afterwards, I began to hear/read prophecies by Christians leaders that God was going to send a massive revival to New Zealand. Visiting speakers who flew into New Zealand would speak of seeing visions of angels, or bright lights, or something similar. They often declared that Aotearoa has a special place in God's eyes and that he is going to do something big here. They said that the revival, which is just around the corner, would transform the nation and become a light to the nations of the world.

This message of hope has continued to be proclaimed right up to the present day. For all of my life as a follower of Jesus, we have had this promise in front of us.

Testing Prophecies

Recently, when I heard another prophecy that revival was coming to New Zealand, my heart was stirred, but my second thought was, "I have heard this before; many times." Then I began to wonder.

I have heard dozens of words like these over the last forty years
many from overseas speakers,
but none have been fulfilled.

I realise that some prophecies take time to be fulfilled,
but I never heard any prophets saying,
"Hunker down and get prepared because revival is still twenty years away".
Maybe it is time for some accountability
or at least an explanation of why.

I worry that these words talk about what God is going to do
(telling God what to do is a mug's game).
I would take them more seriously,
if they had told God's people what they need to do,
so that he can do what he wants to do here.

Some prophets are saying that their prophecies were not fulfilled because the people have not prayed enough. But my observation is that there has been more intercessors, prayer, intercession, and crying to God in the last thirty years than ever before, so the "Not Enough Prayer" explanation is beginning to wear a bit thin. I note that most of the prophets who have spoken to New Zealand sounded definite about what they were promising. I don't recall any saying, "God will send revival if people pray enough," and none said how much prayer would be enough. Prophets don't have the right to dump the "You did not pray enough" excuse on the people when their prophecies are not fulfilled.

I am not dumping on prophetic ministry, and I am not anti-prophetic. I want the ministry to develop and mature so that God can speak clearly to his people. When I became a follower of Jesus, I was delighted to discover that the prophetic gifting and the ministry of the prophet had been restored to the church. The first book that I bought on the prophetic ministry was published in 1976. I am an early adopter. I wrote a book to help young prophets grow in their ministry. Most of that material is available free at the Ministry of the Prophet.

I have taken a keen interest in the development of the prophetic and have always wanted to know what God is saying about the situation in New Zealand. I have a folder, an inch thick, full of prophecies that have been spoken about New Zealand. The first one is dated from 1952. I also have a folder on the hard drive of my computer with some of the more recent ones, which I received in electronic form. I even typed out a couple that came on MP3 so I could study them more carefully.

I have lived my life in the light of the hope these prophecies provided. I have believed that these words reflected God's heart and what he wanted to do.

I note looking back at them that a few of the prophecies that I have collected were conditional, but the conditions got lost in the presentation, as the prophet focussed on the promised blessing and played sown the condition aspects of their word. I believe that most heard God's heart and announced what he wanted to do, but they left out the other half of the message: ie what God needed his people to do so that he could accomplish his purposes through them.

I understand that some promises of God are for a time way in the future and that we often have to wait patiently for him to act. Daniel had to wait for seventy years for Jeremiah's prophecy to be fulfilled. The difference is that Jeremiah declared that the nation would not return for seventy years. He prophesied the waiting time precisely. No prophets said to New Zealand that we would have to wait for 30+ years for revival. They always made it sound imminent. One prophecy released in 2020 used the word "imminent" repeatedly. Others have said, "This is the time".

The scriptures say that we should test prophecy and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thes 5:20). We should do that when a prophecy is first released, but that might not be enough. When a prophecy is given as if it is for the current season, and it has not happened after twenty years, the prophet should be asking why for their own learning. More important, the need to be able to tell the people who trusted their word what is going on, given that their word has not been fulfilled.

Prophets have a responsibility to ask "Why?" if thirty or more years have gone by without their prophecy being fulfilled so they can learn how to hear God better. Being defensive helps no one. And those who have received prophecies that have not been fulfilled after many years should test them again in the light of how history and the current situation have changed.

The accountability of the prophetic movement became a big issue after the kerfuffle over the prophecies about Donald Trump's re-election, but the issue is far wider than that. The prophetic movement has been going strong for at least forty years. This is great, but there is a massive number of prophecies lying around that people received in good faith and trusted, but which have not been fulfilled. Maybe it is time to review some of these and clear away the junk, so we can hear clearly what God is saying this season.

Testing of Time

Jeremiah did not sit down and write the book of Jeremiah. Isaiah did not sit down and write the book of Isaiah. They both gave prophecies at various times during their lives, and they or someone wrote them down. At a later time, they or some of their disciples (Baruch in the case of Jeremiah) compiled them into a book (Jer 1:1-3; 36:1-7,37;51:63; Isaiah 1:1).

In each case, various words would have been assessed for inclusion decades after they had first been spoken to the people. Some would be discarded because they had been fulfilled and were no longer relevant. Others would not make the cut because they no longer seemed relevant to the situation in Israel. I presume that the words included were chosen because they still had a ring of truth (despite not yet being fulfilled) in the situation as it had developed in the nation.

A similar process of testing would be useful today for dealing with the prophecies not yet fulfilled many years after they were spoken/released. Prophets and discerning friends should review their prophecies and decide if they are still correct and relevant for the season as it has developed.

Testing prophecies is not something that should be done once, and then assumed to be settled forever. A word can be tested again if many years have gone by without it being fulfilled to assess if it still seems to be true and relevant.

Time tests prophecies in two ways. Some are confirmed when they are fulfilled. Others continue to be relevant to the situation that has developed in the church or nation (despite not being fulfilled). Others that have not been fulfilled might be exposed as no longer of value if they are not relevant in the new situation that has emerged.

Humility is the key. Letting go of words that fail is not easy, but we need to do it to grow in the prophetic.

If God has warned of troubles through a prophecy, he sometimes changes his mind if the people concerned repent and change their ways. However, he does not change his mind when he has promised to send blessing (unless his people have wandered from the true path).

I Trusted

I have always believed the promises about revival coming to New Zealand, as they made sense in terms of my experience. I had been living as an atheist when God reached out and grabbed me with the gospel and prompted me to chose to follow Jesus. A year later when I was spiritually hungry, the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me and gave me a heavenly language to enlighten my prayer and praise. I have seen people healed and broken lives restored by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I do not consider myself special, so I have always assumed that if God could do these things for me, he could do them for other people just as easily. Consequently, I have always expected that God would visit us soon and bring revival to our nation. I have trusted the promises of revival given by the prophetic people and recommended them to others.

For the last forty years, this has been axiomatic for me. Humans are invigorated by hope, so we naturally cling to promises of hope. The hope of revival inspired much of what I did for God.

No Longer

After forty years, I still trust God as much as ever, but I am no longer convinced that the prophecies of revival will be fulfilled. I see no signs that revival is getting closer; in fact, it seems to be further away than ever.

Instead of just assuming that revival is coming soon, I am pondering why these promises have not been fulfilled, especially if they reflect the heart of God. I am certain that God is not the problem. I still believe that he is capable of sending revival if he chooses, but it has not come. If he is not the problem, it must be us. I assume that God's people are the problem, not God.

I have now arrived at the conclusion that most of the promises/prophecies about a move of God were a true reflection of his heart, but he has been unable to achieve his purposes because his church was unwilling to do what needed to be done.

To contain a powerful visitation of the Holy Spirit on their nation, the church would have to make significant changes to the way that it operates. But the church and its leaders have not been willing to make those changes, so the hoped-for move of God has not come.

I see no end to his chokepoint. God knows what needs to be done to bring revival to the nation, but he can't get his church to do what needs to be done first. I have very little hope that the situation will change soon, so the promised revival is probably further away than ever.

One role of the Old Testament prophets was to explain why promised blessings did not arrive as expected. When things went wrong in Israel, people wanted to know why, and the prophets were expected to provide the answers.

I am not very attentive to prophecies that restate the same promises of revival that have been repeated over and over again for the last fifty years. After all this time waiting, I am looking for prophecies that can explain why they have not been fulfilled.

I believe that repeated prophecies of revival are distracting God's people from hearing what he is really saying to them.


Humans need hope, so when we get a message that gives hope, we naturally cling to it. The hope that we have in Jesus gives us purpose for life. A hope that is true, strengthens our faith.

On the other hand, trust in a false hope can sustain us for a time, but because it does not deliver, a false hope eventually leads to disappointment. The well-known proverb says,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life (Prov 13:12).
A hope that never comes weakens the faith of those who trust in it. In contrast, a hope that is fulfilled strengthens their lives. A hope of imminent revival has been around for most of my adult life without being fulfilled. I have been wondering about the effect of a hope that is promised continuously throughout a lifetime, but is also constantly deferred. I presume that many Christians would say that it has inspired them to keep going in serving Jesus.

However, there is another side to this issue. The message to the church has been that revival is coming soon. The hope that has been declared is that a visitation of God is near. A hope that better times are coming soon can cause us to put off doing activities that are demanding until our situation improves. We can unconsciously slip into the habit of deferring tough changes that are urgently needed until the time when the visitation of God comes, because they will be easier then.

I cannot help wondering if the prophecies that revival is coming soon prevented Christians from doing some of the things that God was calling them to do, because they assumed that it would be easier to do them when the revival had come.

We can't know the answer, but what would have happened instead, if we had had prophecies for the past forty years declaring that we are going into a tough season when hostility to the gospel would massively increase, our society would be increasingly secularised and that many of the common activities of the church would cease to be effective. Would some Christians have given up? I doubt it. Maybe it would have inspired those who were serious about the gospel to work harder at sharing it? Maybe it would have inspired those who were interested in becoming a real community to strive harder to love one another as Jesus loved us.

The prophecies that a visitation of God would bring a massive revival very soon were not really totally true. Maybe they lulled the people of God into a false sense of security that everything would be fine, although they were not. We still assume they were good because they were encouraging, even though the expected fulfilment did not come; but maybe they did more harm than good.

In 1974, a prophecy that revival was not coming soon but was a long way off would have been truer than what we got. That might have spurred people on to greater zeal for Jesus than a hope that seems to have been repeatedly deferred. If I had known in the 1980s that the promises of revival would not be fulfilled during the next thirty years, I might have done some things differently.

This is also a challenge to prophetic people making declarations about what God is going to do. Timing is important. If their promises are for a distant future, they should be careful not to give the impression that the fulfilment is close, because they could be creating a hope that will soon be deferred. Repeating the promise again is not the solution to a deferred hope.

The modern church needs a more realistic diagnosis of the current situation. It needs a prophetic voice that will stop talking about what God is going to do soon and focus instead on what God wants his people to do now.


Revival is rare, because it is not very easy for God to deliver. Getting the Holy Spirit to do his will is easy, but to bring a powerful revival in a nation, he has to get a whole lot of people doing what he wants them to do at the same time, and that does not happen that often. His people have to share the gospel when he wants them to. They need to pray for the sick when he wants them to. At the same time, he needs those who hear the gospel to respond quickly and gladly. It sounds easy, but he has made people free, so he cannot force people to do what he wants them to do.

For a crowd of people to do what God wants at the same time, they first of all need to hear what he is telling them to do. Unfortunately, God's people are not always listening when he speaks. And even when his people hear what he is saying, they don't always jump to obey it. Even if God has told people to do things that will trigger revival, there is no guarantee that they will be done.

I know that God often finds it hard to get me to do something important, so I presume that it is the same for most other Christians. Therefore, getting the followers of Jesus in a nation to unite and participate in revival is more difficult than we assume.

This difficulty is confirmed by a study of Christian history. Revivals that touch an entire nation and transform it have been relatively rare. The early church took off with the massive revival recorded in Acts 2. But it was not long before the church in Jerusalem was struggling with heresy. Paul received a great response when he preached the gospel and established churches in Asia Minor. However, not long after, he was struggling with opposition from political powers and people who wanted to shackle the gospel with Jewish traditions (2 Cor 11:23-27). By the time that John was writing his letters at the beginning of this Revelation, many of the churches that Paul had planted had slipped in lukewarmness.

Revival is not a normal condition for the church, not because God does not want it, but because he finds it difficult to obtain the level of obedience to the Holy Spirit that he needs to achieve a massive outworking of his blessing. For most of Christian history, the work of the church has been a hard slog, with a few people heeding his calling to move in the power of his Spirit to share the good news of Jesus with a hungry world, while many others have struggled to do what God wants them to do.

The other difficulty with revival is that the spiritual powers of evil fight against it tooth and nail. They work hard to weaken leaders with exhaustion and to disable them by pushing them into immorality. They work hard to deceive the followers of Jesus with false teachings. They try hard to bring division between people who should be on the side. The spiritual powers of evil do all they can do to snuff out a revival before it gets underway and becomes impossible to stop. I presume that far more revivals are smothered by the powers of evil than flow on to fulness in the power of the Spirit.

For a church and a nation to be ready to receive revival is relatively rare. So those who do experience it are relatively privileged and should appreciate the opportunity.

Fifty Years

I have recently been thinking and writing about the numerous prophecies that revival would come to New Zealand. I first started hearing them when I became a Christian during the 1970s. At that time, the nation seemed to be far more open to the gospel than it is now. The prophecies about revival have kept on coming since then, despite the situation in New Zealand becoming much more difficult for the advance of the gospel than it was when I first heard them. The difference between that season and now is striking. Winning the nation for the gospel has become much harder over the last fifty years.

These changes make a revival that will transform the nation much less likely than it was when the prophecies of revival were first shared. So prophesying that revival is just around the corner, when it clearly wasnt when these prophecies were first made, doesn't make sense.

Aotearoa 1970s

Looking back, the situation in New Zealand during the 1970s seemed to be ripe for revival.

If there was going to be a revival in New Zealand, this was the time when it should have happened.

The conditions seemed to be right, but revival did not come. I will discuss some of the reasons in the next section, but getting an opportunity for revival like New Zealand received during the 1970s is a huge privilege. Having not taken the opportunity God offered during that season, we cannot just assume that another opportunity will happen again soon.

What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, "Son, go and work today in the vineyard."
"I will not", he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, "I will, sir," but he did not go.
"Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered (Matt 21:28-31).

What Went Wrong

In the 1970s, New Zealand was ripe for revival. The Holy Spirit was moving and touching people lives in dramatic ways. People were approaching friends and asking them to pray for them. They were asking them about the Holy Spirit. People were asking friends to tell them about Jesus.

It seemed that revival had started. Yet it didn't kick on. It seemed like the revival was choked before it could get started. Recently, I have been thinking about why. The following are a few of the reasons.

The issues in this list were mostly a failure of church leadership, and particularly the failure of prophets to explain to the people what they should be doing when the Spirit began to move.

Real Community

During the 1970s, there was a massive buzz about real community. People were thinking seriously about Jesus new commandment and what it means to "Love one another as Jesus loved us". They realised that this meant more than a meeting once a week. People were thinking about how the practices described in the first few chapters of Acts could be applied in the modern world.

This interest in developing real communities accompanied a hunger for deeper relationships, as the Holy Spirt inspired people to connect with and support other people. Various strands supported this interest.

I am certain that the Holy Spirit was the inspiration for this interest in community.

Quite a few people tried doing something different. Most found it too hard and eventually gave up. Their struggle is not surprising because they were pushing hard against the world and the spirit of the age. The eighties were a very materialistic decade when everybody seemed to be working hard to get ahead.

Unfortunately, there was very little prophetic guidance or encouragement about how the people of the Spirit should live. One reason is that despite Ephesians 4 being studied assiduously during this season, the prophetic ministry was not really nurtured. Churches that were touched by the Holy Spirit continued to be pastor-centric, so it is not surprising that the movement did not get the prophetic guidance it needed.

Inspiration and guidance for the future came mostly from books and visiting international speakers rather than from a home-grown prophetic voice.

When the Charismatic renewal petered out, the prophecies about revival coming soon kept on coming. Looking back, it seems like they had missed a season of opportunity.

Part of the role of a prophet is to interpret the events of history and explain to the people what was happening. However, when the Charismatic Renewal slowly died out, no prophetic voices examined the move to understand what had gone wrong because they still believed revival was coming. No one asked seriously why such a wonderful opportunity had been missed.

I believe that the hunger for a deeper community back then was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but it is gone now. The buzz about community has died. This is a serious obstacle to revival coming at this time.

The next generation is watching The Block and other home renovation programmes on television and thinking about how they can progress up the property ladder. They are not thinking about what community means for those who have chosen to follow Jesus.

There is a lot of noise about the Kingdom of God, but it is mostly ephemeral, and there is no understanding that a kingdom is a social order, comprised of communities.

Honest Prophetic Voice

My worry at this time is that the prophets are listening to each other and repeating the same old message, but are missing an important word from God that we really need for this season because it does not fit with the accepted wisdom.

An honest prophetic voice would be warning that New Zealand is going into a season of relative darkness (not intense persecution or tribulation) when the resistance to the gospel will be stronger gospel, and hostility to Christian values will intensify. Pastors who speak out on social issues from a Christian perspective could be strongly criticised in an attempt to silence their voice.

An honest prophetic voice would be explaining that the spiritual powers of evil have seized territory throughout the nation and without facing much opposition. They have gained control of places of authority without any resistance.

In the face of this intensifying spiritual struggle, the church is floundering and confused, doing the same old things over and over again, but hoping for better outcomes this time, but knowing that it probably won't work; knowing that they need more of the Holy Spirit, but unwilling to totally obey his voice.

At the same time, government leaders have been given more power than they have ever had, because they are expected to deliver us from evil and restore our lives to blessing, but they lack the wisdom to do what they promised.

An honest prophetic voice would be warning that the darkness rolling down on the land will be deeper and darker than anyone expect and it will take a long time for the light to penetrate and break it up. They should be warning that the opportunity for a traditional revival has passed and will not come back for some time. The spiritual powers of evil have entrenched their stronghold over the nation and they will not be pushed out easily.

At this time, an honest prophetic voice would be challenging God's people to stop sitting around and waiting for revival prophecies to be fulfilled and use the time to get prepared so they can stand strong in a season of adversity. It would explain how they can position themselves in a place of strength, so they can share life and hope with those who are lost in the darkness.

Standing alone is the most dangerous place to be during an intense spiritual struggle. A church meeting and sermon once a week will not be sufficient to sustain Christians when they come under pressure. The Covid experience confirms that driving to a large church meeting on a Sunday to listen to teaching by a pastor might be a luxury that is not sustainable. The best possible protection during tough times is to be living close to other followers of Jesus who can provide emotional, spiritual and physical support when it is needed, not when the next meeting is due.

Followers of Jesus who live in close proximity to each other in a neighbourhood can stand together in prayer to establish an evil-spirit-free zone where the Holy Spirit is free to operate. This should not be a place to hide, but a base from which the kingdom of God can be expanded as the gospel is shared with those living around them who see the difference that the presence of the Holy Spirit makes. If these believers heal the sick and cast out demons in the power of the Spirit, the name of Jesus will be lifted up.

As these small kingdom communities grow, God will raise up elders from amongst them with balanced giftings, who will love one another and submit to each other to establish unity in the body. If one is taken out, or falls away, the others will continue to watch over the flock and ensure that everyone is kept safe from evil and growing to maturity.

These kingdom communities will expand further by sending out their best elders as apostles (as others step up into their place) in a team with balanced giftings to establish a new community in another neighbourhood. They will carry on loving and serving each other, while listening and obeying the Holy Spirit, and he will keep doing what Jesus did.

An honest prophetic voice would explain that God's plans for New Zealand have not changed. He still wants his people to take the good news of his Kingdom into the nation with signs and wonders following. He still wants us to show the world what Jesus meant when he said that his disciples would be known by their love for each other. God still wants New Zealand to be a light to the nations by demonstrating the fullness of his Kingdom by transforming society. He still wants Jesus to be acknowledged as king of New Zealand as the people freely choose to serve him and live together in obedience to his Spirit.

The main change is timing. Because opportunities have been missed, and the spiritual powers of evil are much more deeply entrenched in the authority structures of the nation, the spiritual struggle for the heart of New Zealand will be much tougher, and will take much longer. However, the outcome will be better and stronger, because it will it is established on a stronger foundation by being refined by fire.

For this to happen, God's people will need strong prophetic guidance about how to deal with the pressure, and how to establish and grow kingdom communities, not vague promises about a coming revival that never comes.