Revival times come in many ways with one common ingredient. That ingredient is the conviction of sin. Believers are so convicted that they mourn for holiness. Unbelievers are convicted leading to sorrow for their sin and being saved. When the Holy Spirit arrives upon a community, there is a sudden urgency … almost like an invisible wave moving over people, wooing them to Jesus and holiness. The greatest reaction of people in such times is one of separation from sin. During the Welch Revival, 1904-1905, confession of sin leading to a life of repentance from sin with prayer and singing being the focus of the people affected and influenced by the Spirit of God. Today we see the prophet Jonah obeying God and going to Nineveh for a preaching tour.
Jnh 3:3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
1) Jonah obeys God’s Word. Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD. At last, after being chastised for his rebellion against God, the now renewed Jonah obeyed God’s Word to Him and followed its instructions. Again we have a lesson to learn here. Obey God immediately and prevent the pain and suffering for personal sin that affects those around you.
2) Jonah goes to Nineveh … went to Nineveh. Remember his fleeing, rebellion and hiding from God was associated with this city! He did not want heathen people hearing God’s salvific Word, repenting and believing and becoming part of God’s people. He did not want the morally dirty, filthy, disgusting pagans who venerated idols and performed wicked practices to their gods becoming part of God’s earthly family. Now he finds himself right where he did not want to be. Surely obedience to God’s Word and doing what He wants is the safest thing to do! 3) Jonah needed to understand the greatness of the city to God. Now Nineveh was a very important city. The literal translation is … “Nineveh was a great city to God.” “Great” means important and refers to the city’s status and not necessary it’s size. Where size might be seen in … a visit required three days … it seems as though for Jonah to preach to everyone in the city, he would have needed to go to every place (every corner, nook and cranny). God’s command to him was:
Jnh 3:2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Going to the city and proclaiming to it means that everyone in the city needed to hear God’s message. It was a message crafted especially for this city! Each person needed to hear it. When we again consider the Great Commission—
Mt 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nation”
Ac 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”
—we realize that Jesus does not just want the Gospel to be preached in every Suburb, Town and City … He wants everyone in those Suburbs, Towns and Cities to hear His Gospel Message. Be it Jesus’ mandate or Jonah’s commission, saturation was required. Neither to Jonah, nor to Jesus’ disciples was the idea of being selective intended. God wants His Gospel Message to saturate every place on earth to give every human being the opportunity of hearing and responding so that none will have an excuse on Judgment Day.
Have you noticed how selective we are when it comes to those we mingle with? It’s even worse when it comes to Church! We try to shape the Church with people we like and want, excluding everyone else. Often this becomes very “in your face”.
Jenny and I went to a Church in another country. If you know me well you will know that I mostly wear “Madiba” shirts (African Shirts) to Church. On this particular day the shirt I wore was multicolored. The Church we attended was all geared up to “catch” visitors before they “escaped” … yet no one approached us except an elderly lady who introduced herself and welcomed us. Those set apart to greet visitors, give them “Welcome Packs” and take them for tea of coffee avoided us. It’s a pity those appointed as “Greeters” did not learn from that elderly lady. She grasped what Jesus wants from His people when strangers come visiting … irrespective what they look like and who they are.
We know all will not be saved but some will … but we need to get to them. That is what Jonah did. He went to where the people were, proclaiming God’s message to them. His ministry saturated the city! Perhaps another lesson to learn is reading about who will be singing the praises in glory.
Rev 5:9 “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
We live in a city that is cosmopolitan. There are citizens, immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees, migrants as well as visitors. How they arrived here and why they are here is not my issue. My issue is souls. These people are scattered all over the city and evangelists need to get to every nook and cranny of the city to get the Gospel Message to all these people. Some will repent and believe and follow Jesus all the way to heaven. Where God wants Gospel saturation, why is it that we want to select whom we want in “our” Church? Would you have selected yourself for salvation? Probably not! Why then select who you want saved and who you don’t want saved?
Lord forgive my sinful preferences and help me open my heart to all people for eternal salvation. Amen.