Summary: I heard the story of a lady that went to church one day and got into a discussion with a very cynical man. He spoke in kind of a mocking tone about the miracle stories in the Bible. She took all of it she could and finally began to defend the inspiration
Today we’re going to study one of the most amazing revivals in history. The revival that took place at Ninevah under the preaching of the prophet Jonah.
I heard the story of a lady that went to church one day and got into a discussion with a very cynical man. He spoke in kind of a mocking tone about the miracle stories in the Bible. She took all of it she could and finally began to defend the inspiration of the Scriptures. He thought her no intellectual match for himself and smirked and said, “Don’t tell me you believe all of those ridiculous miracle stories in the Bible.” She said, “If they are in there I believe them.” He said, “Even the story of Jonah and the whale. You honestly believe that really happened?” She said, “If it’s the Bible I believe it.” He smirked and said, “Now how can that be? Since we know the stomach of a whale is no larger than a man’s head?” She said, “I don’t know. I guess when I get to heaven I’ll have to ask Jonah about that.” Again he smirked and said, “So you believe in heaven also? And just what if Jonah’s not in heaven?” She said, “In that case you’ll have to ask him.”
I suppose if I asked you to fill in the blank: “Jonah and _____” Almost all of us would say the whale. That’s what we think of when we think of the book of Jonah. But in reality the story of the great fish is not even the greatest miracle in the book of Jonah. The greatest miracle in the book of Jonah is that a large and notoriously wicked city called Ninevah repented and experienced revival. And a city was saved.
II. A MOST UNIQUE REVIVAL
And it was a very unique revival. And let me share with you several things about that revival that makes it very unique:
1. It Was “OUTSIDE” the Hebrew Nation. It’s the only revival recorded in the Old Testament that happened outside the Hebrew nation. It happened in Ninevah among pagans; among heathens. Among Gentiles.
2. It Was Not Started by “PRAYER”. You’ve heard me say before in this series that all revivals begin because a few people pray for it to come. Well, we have no record anywhere in Scripture that anybody in Ninevah was praying for revival. Maybe they were, but it looks like this time revival came because of the unsolicited grace and mercy of God.
3. The “PREACHER” Didn’t Want It To Happen. Most amazing thing is that the revivalist never wanted it to happen. One of the most amazing revivals in history was preached by a preacher that didn’t want to see it happen.
Jonah wanted Nahum’s job. Now Nahum is another prophet of God in the O.T. and in his short little book he got to preach against Ninevah and you can read in the book of Nahum and realize it truly was a wicked city and filled with all manner of violence. And Nahum preached against Ninevah and that judgment came, and that’s the job Jonah wanted.
You see Jonah was content with the status quo. Israel was God’s people and Ninevah was going to end up in hell. He was fine with it just staying just like that. So you can imagine how disturbed he was when, let’s read Jonah 1:1-3. READ
You see, he would rather resign his office as prophet than resign himself to the will of the God. Now when it says he was running away from the Lord, Jonah knew as a prophet of God that he could not run away from the presence of God. The Psalmist says, “From the highest hill to the depth of the sea there’s no place you a go and escape the notice of God.”
That’s not what he was trying to do. He was not trying to run away from the presence of God, but he was trying to run away from service of God. He reasoned, “I can get somewhere where God can’t use me to do this thing that I don’t want to do.” So you know story, he went down to Joppa. It so happened a ship was there going to Tarshish. There’s always a ship when you don’t want to do God’s will. There’s always ship ready to take you somewhere else.
So he got on that boat and it says the Lord created a storm. It must have been quite a storm. Jonah 1:4-8 READ. Now Jonah was asleep downstairs and the captain woke him up to have him pray to his God. Listen to Jonah’s response: Jonah 1:9 2:1; 10.
Now the word of the Lord comes to Jonah a second time. Jonah 3:1-5. It says “they believed God.” And I don’t know, maybe, you know if your on the bank of an ocean and a fish comes up and spits a man out, and he’s covered with enzymes and he’s bleached white, and there’s seaweed all over his face, and he says, “Repent!” maybe you would too.