(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day, Romans 11:8. At first glance the spirit of slumber does not appear to be endemic to man in his natural state, but instead appears to be a punishment from God. We will see that it is both. One of the great graces that God gave Israel is that he opened their eyes and put the Word of God into their hearts. He did that in between Deuteronomy 29:4 and Deuteronomy 30: 11-17. and Deuteronomy 30: 11-17:
Deuteronomy 29:4 says, Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day; Whereas Deuteronomy 30: 11-17 says, this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
Perhaps that was the greatest preaching services ever. The entire nation started out hearing it without the ability to perceive in their hearts, but by the end of the message, the word was in their hearts. As a Baptist preacher I long for that transformation in someone every time I preach. The point that I am making though is that God altered the natural state of the Jews just as he needs to do to alter the natural state of Gentiles. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all, Romans 11:32.
Man in his natural state is asleep to the calling of God. The spirit of slumber is one of the seven spirits of carnal man. What God did for the Jewish people is instilled an awareness of God. He can just as easily withdraw that as he did in Isaiah. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men, Isaiah 29:10-13.
When the Puritans called their time of revival the "Great Awakening", they did not call it that because so many people got saved. They called it the "Great Awakening" because so many people were awakened to their need for God. To be a Jew in a time when their nation sought God, was to be an awakened person. There were times when God in his wrath would turn them back over to that spirit of slumber. That spirit of slumber is unchecked in the English-Speaking public. There are no longer any cultural characteristics that would awaken people. Our churches have forgotten how.
To have been in the predominant English speaking culture from the time of Wycliffe until the early 1960s was to be someone who could be easily awakened to the need for God. There are very, very few people in America today who are awake to their spiritual need. Our culture has been damned by a twofold curse. Our secular culture has thrown off its ties to the God of Israel, and our fundamental churches have descended into the idiocy of soul winning devoid of the Spirit of God.
The ability to go out into a community and to carve out a people for God is almost entirely missing. What is missing is the understanding that a person is asleep to the things of God until the sound of the call of God awakens him. Until a generation of clergy is raised up and trained, and fully purged of the mass soul winning techniques foisted on the English-speaking public by cultish fundamentalist colleges, there is little hope for this country.