Summary: In Jonah chapter three, we read a story of revival.
In Jonah, chapter one, we read a story of rebellion. In chapter two, we read a story of repentance. Today, as we turn our attention to chapter three of the book of Jonah, we find a story of revival.
Jonah went to Nineveh and declared God’s word to the people. In response, the people turned whole-heartedly to God. The result was that a revival of such proportions occurred that an entire city came to the Lord. Do we need to experience a revival like that which took place in Nineveh? Absolutely! But what’s involved in seeing such a move of God in our midst? Well, let’s look at this story of revival and find out.
1. Jonah obeyed his commission - verses 1-4
God restated His commission to Jonah (v. 2). This time Jonah obeyed (v. 3). Even though it took him three days to go through the entire city, Jonah put forth the effort required to fulfill the commission he received from the Lord. As a result, revival came to the city of Nineveh!
In the same way, you and I must commit ourselves to the task of fulfilling the commission God has given to us (Matt. 28:19-20). Only then will we see the revival take place that we so desperately need.
“Revival is nothing more or less than a new obedience to God!” - Charles Finney
It wasn’t until Jonah became serious about obeying the commission the Lord gave him that revival occurred in Nineveh, and revival will not come to you or me, our church, or our community until we get serious about fulfilling the commission given to us by our Lord. A movement of the Holy Spirit among God’s people will always be joined to a commitment to obey the Great Commission.
“I will send you the Spirit who comes from the Father and shows what is true. The Spirit will help you and will tell you about me. Then you will also tell others about me . . .” - John 15:26-27a (CEV)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . .” - Acts 1:8 (NIV)
“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” - Henry Martyn
“In every revival there is a re-emphasis of the Church’s missionary character. Men return to Calvary, and the world is seen afresh through the eyes of Christ.” - John Shearer
(Show video - “Who Cares?”)
Revival did not come to Nineveh until Jonah was willing to obey the commission God had given him; and revival will not come to us, our church or our community until you and I are willing to obey the commission God has given to us!
2. Nineveh made their confession - verses 5-9
In verse 5, we read that, “the Ninevites believed God.” The people confessed their sin to God and asked His forgiveness. Notice how they went about this.
A. They humbled themselves - verses 5-6
B. They prayed - verses 7-8a
C. They repented - verses 8a-9
In the same way, the Bible tells us that if we are going to see revival, we must do as the Ninevites did.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” - II Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
If we, like the Ninevites, really believe God, we will take Him at His word and confess our need for revival by humbling ourselves, praying, seeking his face, and turning from our wicked ways!
Notice the “then” in II Chronicles 7:14. When is “then?” “Then” occurs only when we are willing to fulfill the requirements for revival mentioned in the first part of that promise and demonstrated for us here by the people of Nineveh!
A. It began with the leadership - verse 6
“If a new honesty with regard to sin is needed among (God’s) people, (it) must begin with (the leadership). It was when the King of Nineveh arose from his throne, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes as a sign of his repentance, that his people repented.” - Roy Hession (The Calvary Road)
If revival is to come to our church and community, then the leadership of this church, including myself, must be willing to confess our sin to God and confess our need for revival.
B. It involved the whole citizenship - verse 5
Recognizing the need of the hour, every citizen of Nineveh committed himself to seeking the Lord, and as a result, revival came to the entire city. Likewise, if we are going to see God grant to us a revival that will impact our church and community, then each of us must humble himself, pray to seek God’s face, and turn from his wicked ways!