How God’s Spirit Worked a Revolution in Hawaii in 1819-1825 -- By: Aída Besançon Spencer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 19:3 (Summer 2005)
Article: How God’s Spirit Worked a Revolution in Hawaii in 1819-1825
Author: Aída Besançon Spencer


How God’s Spirit Worked a
Revolution in Hawaii in 1819-1825

Aída Besançon Spencer

AíDA BESANçON SPENCER is professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She has written, among other books, Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry (Hendrickson 1985) and co-authored The Goddess Revival (Baker 1995) and The Global God: Multicultural Evangelical Views of God (Baker 1998). A trip to Hawaii in 2003 introduced her to Hawaii’s Christian heroines and heroes.

From the 6th century b.c. the examples of King Nebuchadnezzar and King Cyrus teach us that God’s purposes can be carried out by nonbelievers, pagans who do not know the Lord. The Lord said, “I call you [Cyrus] by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me” (Isa. 45:4 nrsv). The Lord used both kings to discipline the disobedient Jews. Nevertheless, God still wanted Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus to learn that the Lord was the only real God (“and there is no other,” Isa. 45:5) and had been the One sovereign or active in their success, even though they had not known that “the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals” (Dan. 4:25 nrsv). In the 19th century a.d. the Lord also used several ruling women and men in Hawaii to ignite a spiritual and social and economic revolution. Pagan gods were outlawed, women were elevated, and the poor were financially relieved. God through these nonbelievers had prepared the way for Christian missionaries to spread the good news about Jesus, God among and for us.

When the Holy Spirit first dwelled permanently among believers, the Apostle Peter explained that God’s Spirit was poured out upon “all flesh” (Acts 2:17; quoting Joel 2:28):

And it will be in the last days, God says,
I will pour out from my Spirit upon all flesh,
and they will prophesy—your sons and your daughters—
and your young—visions will view,
and your elders—dreams will dream;
and even upon my male slaves and upon my female slaves
in those days I will pour out from my Spirit,
and they will prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18 my trans.)

“All flesh” implies a democratic or nonhierarchical movement affecting sons and daughters, young and old, slave (or poor) and, by implication, also free (or wealthy). “All” will receive God’s Spirit. All will equally profess that no God exists but the one living Lord (Joel 2:27). Thus, when ...

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