A Great Spiritual Awakening
Text: Jonah 3
1 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
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.
The pages of church history have instances of great wide-spread spiritual awakenings among people. There were great revivals that came about under the preaching of some of God’s choice servants such as Samuel Davies (the state of Virginia), and men like George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards. Edwards is famous for his sermon called, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
There were great revivals in the early 1800's that took place under the preaching of Charles Finney.
There were mighty movings of God under the preaching of Charles Haddon Spurgeon and under the preaching of Dwight Lyman Moody.
I do not have time to speak a great deal about what has happened in the past. There is one instance I want to bring to your attention. Although it happened in another land, I love to read about the famous Welsh revival that took place many years ago. There was such a mighty moving of God that industrial plants closed down so the people could attend the meetings. The Welsh revival touched all of their society.
Someone said that newspaper men went down from London to report first hand the mighty moving of God in the land of Wales. When they arrived in Wales, they went to a policeman and asked him where the Welsh revival was being held. He stood tall and laid his hand over his heart and proudly said, “Gentlemen, the Welsh revival is inside this uniform!” He had caught the holy fire and it was burning within his uniform.
Satan hates spiritual awakenings and will fight against them.
I once read about an imaginary council that was held in hell among the demons. Satan heard that a revival had begun in a certain community. According to the story told, the devil gathered all of the best of his counselors together and asked their advice. He wanted that thriving spiritual atmosphere changed.
One of the demonic advisers said, “I could break up this revival. I would go and laugh at the people and tell them they were a bunch of fools ; that there was no heaven, no hell, no devil, and no God.”
Satan said to him, “That would not work, no one would believe you.”
Another of the shrewder demons spoke up and said, “Let me go, I would tell them part of the Bible is true, and that there is a God and heaven, but no devil and no hell—and no matter how they lived, they would go to heaven when they die.”
Satan’s response was, “There is no need for you to go, because some people would try to believe you, but not many, especially since there is a spiritual awakening taking place.”
The shrewdest and meanest demon of them all said, “I will go and tell them all of the Bible is true; that there is a God, heaven, hell and a devil----and that people are making their choice in this life as to where they will spend the future ages. Then I will say, ‘Wait, you have plenty of time. Put getting right with God off, because you have plenty of time’ .”
Satan looked at him and said, “Go, I believe that will get the job done.”
What I just told you did not really happen, we were using our imagination, but Satan will do everything he can do to keep people from repenting and turning to the Lord Jesus Christ in true faith.
We see upward progress in the life of Jonah. God came to him and called him. The response of the prophet was to run from God’s calling. God knew how to get his attention through the storm and through the stomach of the great fish.
A great prayer meeting took place. Jonah’s submissive prayer touched the heart of God and the Lord had Jonah safely delivered onto dry ground.
When the Lord came to Jonah the second time( Jonah 3:1-2), to tell him to arise and go, Jonah was ready and willing to do what he was not willing to do previously.
The site of ancient Nineveh is located in the suburbs of Mosul, Iraq. It is located just beside the Tigris River. From what I see on a map, it appears that Jonah had over 400 miles to travel to get to the spot where he was to go throughout the city and preach. That would be a long trip in the ancient days, but nothing God ever asks us to do for Him should be considered as too much for Him to ask. Where God guides He will provide!
Let’s consider some things about Nineveh:
1. It was named after the goddess Ishtar. She was the god of war and sexual love.
2. It was so large that it could house 120,000 people.
3. It was a three day journey around the city. It’s circumference was some 27 miles.
4. It took a day’s journey to reach the center of the city from the outlying suburbs.
5. It was a city of idolatry and false worship.
Let’s think about the great spiritual awakening that came to the city of Nineveh, under the preaching of Jonah the prophet.
The reasons for an awakening
The requisites for an awakening
The results of the awakening.
I. The Reasons For An Awakening
The Ninevites were in a sad condition morally and spiritually.
They were great in size and also great in sins.
Jerusalem was a small city compared to the Assyrian city of Nineveh. There were actually three walled cities within Nineveh: Nineveh proper, Calah, and Khorsabad. Nineveh became the capital and the whole area was known by its name.
Why was there such a need for a spiritual moving in the land of the Ninevites?
- The Sins of the People
History tells us of the many sins that plagued the Ninevites. People will either face their sins and deal with them, or a holy God will deal with their sins, sooner or later.
According to Amos and Hosea, God judged people for luxurious living, sexual immorality, godless music, and their drunkenness. The conditions were similar in the land of the Ninevites.
- The Sin of Idolatry
Idolatry is an insult to the true and living God.
I will never forget my personal visit to the great museum in Cairo, Egypt many years ago. There were images or idols of all kind of birds, reptiles and other creatures. Anything the Egyptians feared they made idols of and worshiped them.
- The Sin of Cruelty and Brutality
When they defeated their enemies they often piled up their body parts for public display, as an act of pride and mockery. That act was cruel and heartless.
3. The Sins of Immorality
They lived like cats and dogs, with no moral standards. Sex and wild living became a god to the people of the huge city.
God is judging America for her immorality. I believe the aids virus is part of God’s response to the wickedness and perversion of our nation and even the world.
I cannot urge our young people enough to keep themselves pure. Realize the sanctity of your body and the expectation of God concerning it (Rom. 12:1-2).
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Keep your virtue and purity all the way to the marriage bed. The Bible says in Hebrews 13:4 , “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Notice again, “God will judge.”
4. The Sins of Wine and Strong Drink
It was a city of wine, women, and song. In Proverbs 23:31-33 the Bible says, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.”
Alcohol and drugs can contribute to the downfall of a nation and a people. It is sad that many politicians are for the sale of alcohol, just because of the taxes that are placed upon it—it does not bother some that any revenue is nothing but “blood money.”
I call that operating with “blood money.” I have seen friends killed and their families crippled by drunken drivers.
A little alcohol may so dull your sense, that you might do something that otherwise, when you have your full mental capacities at work, you may never have done. A lot of young folks have committed crimes and lost their virtue over a few drinks of alcoholic beverage.
Sins separate from God, so the Ninevites needed their sins taken care of if God were going to hold back judgment.
- The Seeking of the Devil
The devil is out to do one main thing. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 the Bible says, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
Satan tries to keep men from believing the truth of God. As I mentioned in the introduction to this message, he seeks to have people “put off” what they know they need to do. Satan has done a good job at blinding people’s minds.
Peter pictures him as going about as “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
The Sins of the Savior
- The Savor of the Savior
Jonah may have thought the Ninevites deserved to perish, but Jesus does not want anyone to perish, but for all to be saved. That is why He tasted death for every man.
The Bible in 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
God delights in men’s salvation not His punishment of their sins. God is a forgiving God!
Reasons for the Awakening
II. The Requisites For An Awakening
What did it take for Nineveh to have the spiritual awakening that she really needed? It does not just happen. Some conditions have to be met to see the desired results.
Jonah had to be obedient to the Lord. Many times if one or two in a church who are disobedient would just get right with the Lord, it would spark a revival in a church.
I have seen in a few revivals that I have preached-- a few who had they key. When they became right with God, the whole church was refreshed and revived in spirit.
Before the Ninevites could be saved, they had to renounce their idols and put their faith and trust in God.
Jonah 3:5 says, “So the people of Nineveh believed God.”
What brought this about? The preaching of Jonah. They believed what Jonah told them concerning what God had said. It was not Jonah’s word he was preaching but God’s Word. Jonah was a messenger boy of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!
They turned from evil and idol worship. Jonah 3:8 says, “Let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.”
Jonah 3:10 says, “They turned from their evil way.”
That reminds me of 2 Chron. 7:14: “ If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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.”
Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” An attitude of repentance is a vital part of the salvation of a soul.
Note a couple of things about the preaching of Jonah:
1. It was specific. (40 days----Jonah3:4).
2. It was scorching.-- message of judgment- “overthrown”(Jonah 3:4)
A generation of sissified, jelly fish backboned preachers, who are afraid to preach or cannot preach will not bring about a moving of God. It will take a true forth-teller of the Word of God who knows the power of the Holy Ghost of God to help bring about a spiritual awakening.
Many of God’s people have gone to sleep
and need to be awaken.
Paul the Apostle writes to believers and says:
14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
Reasons for Requisites for
III Results Of The Awakening
A. Ninevites put on sackcloth (Jonah 3:6).
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.
Sackcloth was a rough, coarse cloth, or a baglike garment made of this cloth and worn as a symbol of mourning or repentance. In the Bible sackcloth was often used to symbolize certain actions. In the case of mourning, either over a death (Gen 37:34; Joel 1:8) or another calamity (Est 4:1-4; Job 16:15), the Israelites showed their grief by wearing sackcloth and ashes. This was done also in instances of confession and grief over sin (1 Kings 21:27).
Sackcloth was often worn by prophets, perhaps to show their own brokenness in the face of their terrible message of judgment and doom (Isa 20:2; Rev 11:3). The word for sackcloth in the Bible can also mean sack.
Joseph ordered that the sacks of his brothers be filled with grain (Gen 42:25). Rizpah spread sackcloth on a rock, using it as bedding material (2 Sam 21:10).
B. Ninevites sat in ashes( Jonah 3:6)
Ashes consist of a powdery residue of burned material; the ashes that remained after the sacrifice of animals as burnt offerings were carried away and disposed of by a priest.
The word ashes is also used figuratively in the Bible. Ashes were a sign of mourning, as when Mordecai tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and cried out with a loud and bitter cry (Est 4:1). In the Book of Job, ashes are symbolic of dejection (2:8) as well as repentance (42:6).
The prophet Isaiah spoke of the idolater as a person who "feeds on ashes" (Isa 44:20) - a figure of vanity and deceit.
He also uses the word positively of the Messiah, who would give "beauty for ashes" (Isa 61:3) - a symbol of the change God brought through Jesus.
Sackcloth and ashes are a sign of mourning over sin.
C. Ninevites expected God to repent (Jonah 3:9).
“Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?”
They had in mind God changing His mind about judgment. If America would just repent, then she would not have to undergo many of the severe things which are ahead.
God does not turn his anger away until a sinful nation repents, changes their minds about sin, and turns to Him.
Let’s pray that America will repent and see a Holy Ghost, heaven sent, life changing, spiritual awakening in our churches, homes, and nation.
It starts with you and with me. A spiritual awakening is conditional upon the people of God:
Pray a prayer of repentance
Seek the Lord’s face
Turn from their wicked ways
Hear from heaven, forgive their sin, heal their land. That is a promise from God but it is conditional upon what we do or don’t do. Let’s get ourselves to the point in our lives where we can rightly say:
“Hallelujah thine the glory, hallelujah amen, hallelujah thine the glory, revive us again.”
God has done it for us before. He can do it again if we do what he has said for us to do.
Are you where you ought to be with the Lord?
What are we willing to do to see it happen?
Do we really desire a spiritual awakening?
If we do, how much do we want it?
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