I am currently preaching through Jonah on Sunday evenings, and last Sunday night’s sermon examined in detail the awakening that took place in Nineveh through Jonah’s preaching. All of us would agree that an awakening like that which occurred in Nineveh is desperately needed in our day. And when I say awakening or revival, I am not talking about the kind that we schedule once in the spring and once in the fall. Nor the kind that sends in an advance team to make preparations beforehand so that they can ensure some sort of success. One will notice that there was no preparation in Nineveh prior to Jonah’s arrival.
We need the type of revival that comes only when God’s man preaches God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit, and God so moves upon the hearts of men that he shakes them out of their self-centered existence and turns their hearts toward Him. The revival in Nineveh reached every level of society and resulted in a mass turning to God in humility and repentance. Some may believe that the greatest miracle in Jonah is that a fish could swallow a man. I believe that the greatest miracle in Jonah was the turning of an entire city to faith in God. Both are something that God alone can accomplish.
However, close examination of this story will reveal that God transformed the heart of Jonah before he transformed the hearts of the Ninevites. I once heard someone say that if we preachers want to see revival, we should draw a circle around ourselves and pray that God would bring revival in that circle first. Jonah’s story makes me realize how much of Jonah there is in me. We may believe that we would never run from God like Jonah did, but you don’t have to board a ship and cross the ocean to be running from God. If we would have revival, let’s learn from Jonah. The story of Jonah is not about a big fish swallowing an angry prophet. It is about a sovereign God saving sinful men. Perhaps what must precede revival is a spirit of humble obedience on the part of God’s preachers. Brothers, let’s learn from Jonah and look first to our own hearts before we turn our attention to the hearts of others.