In Jonah 3, we are met with one of the greatest revivals of all time. Nineveh was such a wicked city that God was going to destroy it, but when they heard the words of Jonah, they immediately came to repentance.
Jon 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.
Jon 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.
Jon 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.
I find it interesting that even the king repented. Before the prophecy came from Jonah, the king would have at least silently approved what was going on with his people. It wasn’t as if he was actively policing the city and trying to straighten out his people.
However, as soon as he heard about God, he realized that things had to change. I don’t know if perhaps the change was largely self-serving. Obviously, it would have been important to all of the people of Nineveh not to be destroyed. However, it seems as if there was a genuine repentance there. The people recognized that they were not doing what God needed them to do and that included the king.
Revival is something that people like to talk about, but here is a time where it actually worked. It worked because first of all Jonah was obedient to God. He was called to be a leader, and, eventually, he did what he had to do. Second, the people understood that they were not living in line with the will of God. As we see with the king, even people who previously had evidently no problem with what was going on recognized that it was important to do what God told them to do.
Both of these elements are important if we want revival to happen.
I think that it is so tragic to read about the fate of Israel in Ezekiel 21.
Eze 21:2 Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel,
Eze 21:3 And say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked.
Eze 21:4 Seeing then that I will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked, therefore shall my sword go forth out of his sheath against all flesh from the south to the north:
Eze 21:5 That all flesh may know that I the LORD have drawn forth my sword out of his sheath: it shall not return any more.
I think that this passage speaks to our responsibility as Christians to be involved in our nation. Notice that both the righteous and the wicked are going to be pulled apart as a result of the sins of the nation. It is not as if God said that there was going to be a special bubble and the righteous people were going to be allowed to remain as the nation of Israel. The nation was going to fall as a whole, and everyone had to handle the consequences.
As Christians, I presume that we don’t want to end up in this type of situation. We don’t want to have to live through what the people of Israel went through. Therefore, it seems to me that the way that Israel could have avoided this punishment by taking the right direction earlier. If the people had come back to God, it never would have gotten that far.
We have the message that will bring people back to Christ. We have the truth that will bring people to repentance. Our nation still might go down the wrong path, but our nation also has the potential for revival. We know why the people of Israel went down, so as Christians, I feel that we have a responsibility to do what we can to try to bring people to the right path.
Hezekiah basically led a revival in 2 Chronicles 30. Even though they technically missed the time of year for Passover, Hezekiah decided that it would be a good idea to have the ceremony and bring honor to God.
Then, on top of that he sent out messengers to all the wayward tribes of Israel inviting them to come back and begin worshiping God again. Naturally, not everyone accepted his invitations, but he was trying to Israel back together under the leadership of God.
2Ch 30:25 The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who lived in Judah, rejoiced.
2Ch 30:26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
2Ch 30:27 Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven.
It must have been different to have that type of leadership. He had the people tear down the altars to the various idols, and the people were apparently having a great experience worshiping God and getting their lives right with Him.
Revival needs to start somewhere. In this case, it started with the powerful. Revivals have also started with ordinary people. John the Baptist was nothing overly special on an earthly level, but he began preparing the hearts of the people for the coming Messiah.
In either case, someone was there to get people moving in the right direction. That is what we need today. We need some type of revival. I’m not sure how it will happen. It could come from the top or from the average everyday person, but if it does happen, it will naturally have a beginning. Maybe God wants to use one of you to kick off this movement.