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What Does National Repentance Look Like (Jonah 3:1-10)
For some time I have been personally praying for there to be a Third Great Awakening in America. Today I am going to give you seven principles that lead to a Great Awakening. They are not original with me. The come straight out of Jonah 3.
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was [a]an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. 4 Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. 6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the [b]ashes. 7 He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8 But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let [c]men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in[d]his hands. 9 Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”
10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would [e]bring upon them. And He did not do it.
Principle # 1 Obedience gives a righteous person’s message power.
Here is the picture: Jonah is laying soaking wet and sick on a beach a long way from Nineveh. God comes to Jonah a second time and says, Jonah go over to Nineveh and tell them what I am going to tell you to say.
So Jonah got up and traveled a long ways to get to Nineveh. The Bible records that it was a 3 day walk across the city. Jonah only walked one day into the city. He stood up in various places as he walked that one day and yelled out message of God.
Principle # 2 A message proclaimed as God gives it is simple and compelling.
He said that in 40 days that Nineveh would be overthrown. This is a simple message. It is like what you would hear at a sports or political rally. (e.g. Four more years …) The Message says it really well: In 40 days Nineveh will be smashed. (Sounds a little like a football coaches last words to his team before the game.)
Principle # 3 When people hear a true message from God they respond.
Get this picture: Here he was a bedraggled, wild looking, smelly foreign man whom they hated telling them the message that God was about to destroy them in 40 days. But with the multiple times of telling on his one day journey the word got around. They simply believed this simple easy to remember warning. They believed that Jonah was indeed talking for God.
Principle # 4 When the majority of the people in a nation speaks and acts on something, leadership follows.
Look at what happened next. The PEOPLE called a fast and they put on sackcloth. (Sackcloth is like burlap.) EVERYONE from the lowest beggar to the most prosperous merchant started a fast and put on sackcloth.
Leadership did indeed listen. When the king heard about what was happening he understood that this fasting uprising was a real desire for the people. When the king heard the message for himself he got his nobles together and drafted a proclamation. He and his nobles saw this as a real emergency. The king then got up off his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth and sat in ashes.
He then had a proclamation read as law to all the inhabitants of the city and the nation to do the following things:
● You are not to taste a thing.
● You are not to eat or drink.
● You will make sure that you and any animal in your household does not eat or drink and has sackcloth on. Yes even the animals.
● Everyone is to pray earnestly (a highly focused prayer to God over a protracted period of time).
● Everyone is to be on your face before God.
● Every one of you is to repent of your wicked ways and stop being violent.
Principle # 5 Repentance from wicked ways is paramount for salvation.
The king ends his decree with the idea that if we turn and repent maybe God will withdraw His fiery anger at us.
Principle # 6 Ceasing all forms of violent acts is a prerequisite for forgiveness.
The king also talked about their habit of solving everything with violence. He tells them to stop them because it might lead to God not punishing them. At this time in Nineveh the littlest slight would get you beat up. The word for violence has more than just physical violence in mind. It refers to violence in all its forms. Here are a few:
He says that we should stop our physical violence. This is when one person injures or kills another person for a real or imagined thing that they didn’t like. This is usually based on personal preference.
It is also talking about verbal violence. This is when with words a person is injured on purpose for the littlest little thing.
It also refers to emotional violence. This is when a person damages another person by actions or words so that they feel they are less of a person. They are God’s creation so let God judge them.
Another violent act is absentee violence. This happens when someone criticizes a leader or another person when they aren’t there. The purpose is to cause them be diminished in front of others.
One more act of violence is creative violence. This is when people plot together to demoralize, demonize, debilitate or defeat another person with their collusion.
Principle # 7 God changes His mind about when He sees genuine repentance and a changed lifestyle. (righteousness)
When God sees national leaders leading in repentance He pays attention. When the leaders and the people turn form their wicked and violent ways God relents.
Today I would like to suggest that instead of criticizing or critiquing leaders or anyone pray for them instead.
Let God do the judging and you pray with desperation on your face before Him about all that you see that hurts the heart of God.
The only way to overcome national shame is national repentance.
Would you purpose in your heart today to pray deeply for the longest time you have ever prayed for there to be a Great Awakening in America? We need it desperately.