The book of Jonah includes some amazing stories for only being forty-eight verses. Short, sweet, and succinct. Ship rides, whales, worms, and revival. The whale steals the highlight reels, but don’t overlook the revival.
God proclaimed through the ever-reluctant prophet Jonah He was going to destroy the city of Ninevah in 40 days. The preaching was subpar at best. There wasn’t any resolution in the message after the conflict was delivered. Laced with judgment, the message declared Ninevah would be destroyed. There were no ifs, ands, or buts. You are going to be destroyed, period, exclamation point.
How do you have revival when the prophet doesn’t even want you to survive the upcoming onslaught from God? How do you have revival when there isn’t a promise of reversal? Ninevah shows you how.
1. Bet on a merciful God. Jonah 3:9 – who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? There mentality was measured by their view of a merciful God. We don’t know if this will work, but let’s give it a shot. What do we have to lose? So what if the doctor said there is no hope, let’s pray anyway. It doesn’t matter that our city seems to be getting worse, let’s believe anyway. Maybe we will step out in audacious faith and nothing will happen – so what. Lets quit betting on failure and start believing in a God that just may give us favor.
2. Start from the top down. Jonah 3:5 – So the people of Ninevah believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. In their hierarchy, the social status was very measured. When they spoke of the greatest, they pinpointed their leadership. The least of them were those who were relatively poor and unknown. They fasted, and the greatest of them kicked it off. Revival is possible if we start with the leadership. The pastors, team leaders, fathers, etc. Let the leaders set the example and watch this passion spread to everybody.
3. Don’t wait till Monday. They were given 40 days notice. Day number one is the most important of them all. The moment the king heard the news he jumped into action. Now is the time I must act. I can’t wait till Monday. Waiting causes the word to become faint in your ears. Waiting withers your urgency and resolve. Act now.
4. Put on sackcloth. The king disrobed the royal garments and put sackcloth on his flesh instead. Royal garments are comfortable. Sackcloth is rough, course, and itchy. If you are pushing for unprecedented revival, you must take the flesh out of its comfort zone. Comfortable flesh causes cruise control. Shift your paradigms. Change seats. Worship with more fervency, but what ever you do, get the flesh in sackcloth.
5. Stay. Revival is a four-letter word. Why didn’t they just leave the city? It seems like an option for sure. Realizing I’m in this city to make a difference is a much better mind set. Commit to your church and city for the long haul. Stay.
6. Paradigm shift. Jonah was told these people couldn’t even discern their left hand from their right. They didn’t know if they were coming or going. Obviously, they couldn’t conjure up a plan which would save their city. Our old ways of thinking must give way to His word and ways.
7. Let this revival touch every area of your life. Jonah 3:7 – Let neither man not beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water. Their desire for deliverance touched every dimension of their lives. The families, herds, and beasts. Real revival needs to affect everything in your life. Sometimes we fast, but don’t let God into our finances. Perhaps we pray, but don’t alter the atmosphere of our family life. Let God change your children, your money, your hobbies, etc.
8. Revival must be life or death. Ninevah didn’t have an option. They were sentenced to become the next Sodom. To them revival was a matter of life and death. If we don’t give it our all, we lose everything. What would happen in our cities if we looked at revival with this paradigm? Revival is really a life and death situation. Churches which do not have revival will ultimately become stagnant and slowly suffer the death of their saints. Cities which do not have a revival church reaching for them are dying, hell bound, by the thousands. Turning to God isn’t an option for us.
9. Humbly repent. They put on sackcloth. They sat in ashes. Willingly they placed themselves underneath the arms of almighty God. Humility attracts help. Humility softens our hearts. We become moldable again. God can order our steps again. Change my ways and my will. Teach me what I need to change. Convict my conscience. Through humility we realize we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Pride is like a cancer in the church. Pride is the original sin of the bible. Pride is what caused lucifer to lose his place and become what we now know to be the devil. Pride always pushes for a pinnacle and leads to a pit.
10. Get back to the basics. Prayer and fasting are as old as the bible. They are the engines which propelled every major revival in scripture. What Ninevah didn’t do is as important as what they did do. They didn’t start a hip program. They didn’t bring in the latest revival fad and implement it on the spot. They prayed and fasted. These basic elements energized their revival.
11. Until. They did not receive affirmation or applause from heaven for 40 days. The silence must have been loud. Nothing is happening at all. Yet they continued. The first sign revival is happening for them is no sign at all. It’s tough to continue on in your struggle for revival when you don’t have any hard evidence which proves you are succeeding. No visitors, altars are barren, and still you press on. Until – is the attitude of revival.
If Ninevah could have a citywide revival with God, Jonah, and history against them: there is no reason why implementing their principles in your city, would not produce a prominent move of God. Who knows? Just maybe- God will show up. Do you want a revival?