Summary: Jonah was used by God to bring about revival in Nineveh, even though Jonah was an unwilling instrument of His will. This message emphasizes the need for revival today.
Jonah 3:1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
3:2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3:3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
3:4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
3:6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
3:7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
3:8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
3:9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Today we will discuss the nature of revival. What is revival? Is it something that happens simply because we decide to hold special church services on evenings during the week, or is it more than that? Today we will examine these questions, and we will examine them by looking at the testimony of the Bible and the testimony of history.
During the War Between the States, many souls were saved on both sides during revivals held in the army camps. So as we begin this morning, as we speak about real revival, I would like to begin with a quotation from the Rev. W.W. Bennett of Virginia. After the conclusion of that terrible war, he wrote as follows:
Throughout the South, almost every crossroad witnessed the separation of comrades in arms, who had long shared the perils and privations of a terrible struggle. ... Endeared to each other by their ardent love for a common cause, their words of parting, few and brief, were words of warm fraternal affection. ...
Were the fruits of revival in that army enduring? To this question, thousands can this day, more than twelve years after the banners of the South were furled, give an emphatic affirmative response. In all the churches in the South, there are earnest, devout, and active Christians, who date their spiritual birth from some revival in Virginia, in the West, or in the far South.
And before them vividly rises the rude camp church, the gathering throngs from the various commands, the hearty singing, the simple and earnest prayers, the tender appeals of the loved Chaplain, urging all who stand on the perilous edge of battle to fly for refuge to the Friend of sinners, the responsive approach to the place of prayer, the sobs, the groans, the tears of men who could look steadily into the cannon’s mouth, the bright faces, the shouts and hand-shaking, and embraces of new-born souls –
... these are the bright spots to which memory returns and delights to dwell upon in that dark period that drenched the land in blood and put a load of grief upon every household.
Strange as it may seem to many readers, the call to preach the gospel of Christ came to the hearts of the men of war on the tented field; and no sooner were their carnal weapons laid aside than they buckled on the Divine armor, and, seizing the sword of the Spirit, entered the battle against the powers of darkness.
In this we find one of the strongest proofs of the genuineness of the great revival in the Southern armies. Truly, though many of its participants have passed now the flood of death, its fruits are still enduring.
Rev. W.W. Bennett
Thus we see one means by which we may know if true revival has come. When true revival comes, the fruits will endure.
Now I am sure that you have all heard about this great movement which has been taking place over the last few years. It has gone by a number of names. In some circles you will hear it referred to as the Toronto Blessing. Some call it the Pensacola Outpouring.