In John 2, Jesus and his disciples were invited to a
marriage supper in Cana. Evidently, the Lord's family
received the invitation, too, because Jesus' mother was
there. Mary came up to him with a request: "The hosts have
run out of wine."
Jesus' response to his mother seems a bit strange. He
told her, "My hour is not yet come."
What was this "hour" Jesus was referring to? He
wasn't talking about the moment of darkness he would face
three years later, before his crucifixion. At that time
Jesus did say, "My hour has come."
But here at Cana he was speaking of a different hour. The
fact is, Christ's ministry was just beginning. This is
what he was referring to when he told his mother his hour
hadn't yet come. Indeed, soon after he performed a
miracle; he miraculously turned six large pots of water into
Let me ask you: Have you ever wondered why Jesus waited to
do this miracle? He waited until every bottle was dry, every
glass was empty, even as the worried host wrung his hands.
I tell you, Jesus waited purposely at that wedding for all
human resources to fail. He waited until nothing could solve
the problem short of a miracle. That was when God's hour
Here is an important truth for every believer: The hour of
Christ's power is manifested at the very point of our
I believe Jesus was giving his disciples - and his church
to come - an illustrated sermon. Our Lord never did
anything or spoke any word that wasn't eternally
significant. Everything that Scripture records about him
points to the unshifting nature and workings of God. And
there is a divine principle meant for us in this scene at
Jesus' "hour" had to do with something that was
happening at the feast. That is, his hour of power comes
when there is no wine left in our bottles - when we're
empty of solutions, when all our human efforts are in vain
‹ and only a miracle can answer our problem.
We find this principle at work throughout the Bible: In
man's darkest hour, the Lord has a history of manifesting
his power. When we come to our wit's end, God has already
prepared a great work of deliverance on our behalf.
Scripture gives us abundant examples of this principle. We
find two such examples in Judges, a book that contains some
of the darkest periods in ancient Israel's history.
In a dark hour, God had a marvelous deliverance prepared
for his people through lowly Gideon.
Judges 6 finds Israel in a period of awful impoverishment.
Year after year God's people were rendered helpless by a
marauding enemy that kept them in poverty. When the vicious
Midianites arrived, God's people fled to the hills for
safety, hiding in caves. Meanwhile their enemy stole their
crops and herds and destroyed everything they'd built.
They left Israel completely "without sustenance."
What an hour of darkness. And Israel's impoverished
condition continued year after year. This speaks of
spiritual death. Their cry was, "Oh my Lord, if the Lord
be with us, why then is all this befallen us? And where be
all his miracles...?" (Judges 6:13).
Yet it was in this dark hour that God manifested his power
on behalf of his people. Indeed, the Lord performed his
deliverance by choosing the poorest man from the poorest
family in the poorest tribe in Israel: Gideon.
You're probably familiar with the rest of the story. God
sent an angel to Gideon. Along with three hundred other men,
using only trumpets and torches, they broke the power of the
Midianites. Israel was miraculously delivered!
Their hour of darkness became God's hour of power.
We find the same principle at work in the story of Deborah.
Judges 4 tells us, "The Lord sold (Israel) into the hands
of (the) king of Canaan" (Judges 4:2). Because of rampant
sin, Israel fell into deep darkness for twenty years. During
that time God's people were oppressed mightily. Yet that
same dark hour for them became God's hour of manifested
When Israel had come to the end of all hope, God stirred a
prophetess named Deborah. This woman saw clearly through the
darkness of the hour. Everyone in Israel moaned in fear
except this godly woman. Scripture says she "dwelt under
the palm tree...in Mount Ephraim" (4:5), where she held
open-air meetings to encourage the people.
Deborah proclaimed, "Up; for this is the day in which the
Lord hath delivered [the enemy] Sisera into thine hand: is
not the Lord gone out before thee?... And the hand of the
children of Israel prospered and prevailed" (4:14, 24).
Deborah refused to let the darkness overwhelm her. She knew
that God is never surprised by the darkness of the times. So
she spoke faith to God's people, calling that dark hour in
history the very hour of God's deliverance.
Another example occurs with King Jehoshaphat when God's
people were under severe attack.
In Second Chronicles we read that Jehoshaphat received a
frightening message: "There cometh a great multitude
against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria... And
Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and
proclaimed a fast" (2 Chronicles 20:23).
Terrified, Israel's king called together a great prayer
meeting: "Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help
of the Lord" (20:4). As the people came together to seek
God, Jehoshaphat prayed, "Lord, we don't know what to
do. But our eyes are on you!"
Here was perhaps the darkest hour for Israel. They were
facing annihilation with no way to stop the invading enemy.
What was God's answer to his people in that hour? "Be
not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude;
for the battle is not yours, but God's" (20:15).
When the people heard this, something stirred inside them.
They had heard a word from the Lord. Now, during their
darkest hour, faith rose up in their hearts - and they
began to praise.
The Spirit of the Lord appeared in the midst of the
congregation. And as the people's praises ascended to
heaven, the Lord sent a powerful angel to ambush the
approaching enemy. One angel of God slew that entire army!
In a single, swift moment, victory was theirs. What seemed
to God's people a dark hour became for them God's hour
Isaiah brings this principle closer to home when he
prophesies Jesus' appearance on the earth in the last
Isaiah prophesied, "Behold, the darkness shall cover the
earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall
arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And
the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the
brightness of thy rising" (Isaiah 60:23).
This prophecy speaks of the last days, a time that began
when light - Jesus Christ the Lord - came into the gross
darkness. Isaiah was speaking of a great, widespread
outshining of the glory of Christ into the darkness.
Multitudes throughout the whole Gentile world would come
into his light.
Think of it: There was no darker time in history than at
Jesus' birth. The great Roman Empire had become a
materialistic, covetous, greedy society. Sexual perversions
abounded, and drunkenness and gluttony were the norm. Books
have been written about the gross sins that brought down the
Roman Empire. Indeed, the whole known world at the time was
shrouded in darkness.
Also during this time, a horrible darkness had fallen over
Israel. Hypocrisy ruled the day. Priests robbed widows of
their houses, and the lowly and uneducated despised their
so-called spiritual leaders. Simply put, the blind were
leading the blind.
It was into this gross darkness that Jesus came forth as a
shining light. And we know that since that glorious day,
multitudes have come into his light.
You may say, "But look around today. Gross darkness still
covers the earth." Yes - and in my opinion, this present
hour is the worst in human history. The darkness hovering
over all nations and peoples can actually be felt. Nuclear
threat, genocide, widespread sex trafficking - it all
wreaks havoc on the heart. Could there be any darker cloud
than the one covering the earth right now?
Yet Jesus is still the light of the world. And the grosser
the darkness, the brighter is his light! As Isaiah saw down
to the darkness of our day, he cried out like Deborah:
"Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the
Lord is risen upon thee" (Isaiah 60:1).
Once again, in the world's darkest hour, the Lord is
going to manifest his power. And I believe he will
accomplish this by drawing in a significant ingathering of
lost souls in the days ahead. Let me give you three reasons
why I see this happening.
First, there is a growing witness of the Holy Spirit.
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that
we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16). "God also
bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with
divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost" (Hebrews
2:4). "Where-of the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us"
You may ask, "What is the Holy Spirit bearing witness
to?" The next verse tells us: "This is the covenant I
will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will
put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I
write them" (Hebrews 10:16). Simply put, the Holy Spirit
is witness to an outpouring of mercy upon this last-days
"It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the
Spirit is truth.... He that believeth on the Son of God hath
the witness in himself" (1 John 5:6, 10). The Holy Spirit
bears witness to all of God's workings and moving, to
prepare us for what he is about to do. Right now his church
is being stirred again, showing us that a sovereign move of
the Holy Ghost must come. Out of this gross darkness, the
Spirit is going to lift up Christ and draw multitudes to
We are also experiencing a time of darkness in the church.
Some denominations are affirming same-sex marriages and an
entire generation of youth is turning away from God. Yet in
this darkest of hours, the Holy Spirit is awakening all who
seek him. If you are walking in the Spirit, you hear the
same witness from the Spirit that I do. That is: The hour of
man's darkness is the Holy Spirit's hour of outpouring.
It has always been that way, and so it will be now.
In this hour of bad news, the Spirit is witnessing good
news: "I have saved the best wine for last!"
Second, a spirit of prayer is taking hold of God's
Right now prayer meetings are being resurrected in churches
throughout New York City. Who could have believed this would
happen in "Sin City"? Last month over 50,000 believers
gathered in Times Square to pray. And Christian conferences
worldwide are becoming impromptu prayer meetings.
When the Spirit stirs - when sinners are coming to
Christ, when the Spirit bears witness that now is the time
to pray, when God makes a promise and begins to move - you
can't just sit back and say, "God promised it. I'm
just going to Œtake it by faith.' I'll sit back and
watch him fulfill everything he says." No! When the Spirit
moves, it is a time for pressing in with fervency and faith.
When Daniel read Jeremiah's prophecy, he calculated that
Israel's seventy years of bondage had come to an end. He
realized Israel was about to be delivered from Babylon.
God's people were about to be set free!
So what did Daniel do? Did he wait for God to move,
"taking it all by faith"? No! Daniel declared, "I set
my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and
supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes"
(Daniel 9:3). Of course he prayed with abounding faith.
This is what the Holy Spirit does prior to every great move
of the Lord: He calls us to fervent prayer. And every great
move of the Spirit that follows is sustained by prayer.
In Jude's epistle, we read of a last-days generation
given over to fornication and sensuality. It was a time when
God's people murmured and complained. Jude prophesied of
it all, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his
saints, to execute judgment" (Jude 1415).
Yet how were God's people to prepare for this? According
to Jude, "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your
most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost" (20). In the
darkest hour, God's people are always to watch and pray.
Third, this generation has run out of wine and needs a
Wine in the Bible represents joy and gladness. "Wine,
that maketh glad the heart of man" (Psalm 104:15). In the
New Testament, "new wine" is a type of the Holy Spirit.
Yet as I look at the church today, I see wine jars that are
empty. Why? As almost every biblical prophet has said,
"Sin takes away mirth and gladness."
Now I have a word for every mother, father and grandparent
who has prayed so long for their lost young one: Hold on.
Jesus is watching and waiting. His hour on your child's
behalf is about to come.
The fact is, your boy or girl may still be drinking of the
old wine of this world. They can't give up their old
friends. They still harbor hurts from the church, holding
grudges and having lingering doubts. But the vessels holding
that old wine are about to run dry. Their friends will fail
them and they'll be overcome with emptiness.
When that moment comes - when all their efforts have
failed - you will see God's hour of power. Only a
miracle of his grace can bring true deliverance. So, keep on
praying. God will keep his word to you!
In light of all this, what are we to do?
Mary, Jesus' mother, gives us the answer. At Cana, she
told the disciples, "Just do what he tells you."
Beloved, the Lord is going to tell you what to do. He is the
new wine, the source of all joy and gladness. And he will
speak to you what he would have you do. Read his Word ‹
and then just do it!
Jesus told us to work while it is still day. Why? Because
the "night cometh, when no man can work" (John 9:4).
In Revelation 7, John describes a multitude standing before
God's throne, a crowd so massive nobody could number it.
This crowd is representative of people from all tongues and
nations, dressed in white robes and all praising the Lord.
When John asks, "Who are these people? Where did they come
from?" he is told, "These are the ones who have come out
of great tribulation."
Dear saint, I believe we are the generation referred to in
Revelation 7. We are living in the darkest of hours and all
around us are great tribulations. But the light is still
shining brightly. Indeed, the darker the night, how much
greater is his light!
As you labor in prayer for your loved ones, and for a world
covered in darkness, I want to remind you of your own story.
Remember, in your tribulation time somebody was winning
souls. Somebody was praying the lost into the light.
Somebody was rising above the dark and proclaiming Christ.
Somebody believed Jesus would break out new wine. And it
happened. You came into the light! Surely many others will
come out of the darkness and into the light.