Running from God – Message 4
February 7, 2021
I. Introduction: We continue our series on Jonah entitled, Running from God.
- Genesis 10:8-12; Jonah 2:3-4,7,10; Matthew 12:38-41
A. The title for today’s message is Revival.
- Theme verse: Jonah 3:5 (NLT)—The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, …declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. [Evidence of revival.]
- Background: Jonah 2:10 (NLT)—Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
- If anyone saw the giant fish vomit Jonah onto the shore, the story would have spread rapidly and would have caused people to be interested in this man and his message.
- Since Jonah was a “sign” to the Ninevites (Matthew 12:38–41), perhaps this included, not only being alive after three days inside a fish’s belly, but perhaps it referred also to the way he looked with splotchy, bleached, skin, faded by the fish’s gastric juices (acids).
- Did he look so peculiar that people couldn’t doubt what had happened to him?
- I think our nation needs revival, wide-spread renewal is necessary; do you agree?
- Perhaps we can learn from today’s message how spiritual revival occurs so we can cooperate with God to receive a new spiritual awakening.
II. Revival includes a… (Jonah 3:1-10)
A. #1 - Responsive messenger. (Jonah 3:1-4. C/R: Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 1:16; 10:13-17; 2 Timothy 4:5)
- Jonah 3:1-2 (NLT)— 1 Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: 2“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.”
- Throughout Jonah’s rebellion, God was displeased with him, but did not desert him.
- God sent the storm, followed by the fish, to rescue Jonah out of his rebellion and return him to relationship with his Lord.
- Jonah stopped running and repented, at least he appeared to, because he acknowledged God’s discipline (Jonah 2:3-4), cried out to God at the Temple (Jonah 2:4,7), then praised God and declared that only the Lord could save him (Jonah 2:7), but did his return last?
- Notice that God spoke to Jonah a second time!
- Does God return to His people when they refuse His calling, reject His Word and deliberately disobey? Yes, He does! He said He would never leave or forsake us, never fail or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5).
- God is faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him.
- This faithful grace of God is never an excuse for sin; rather, it is an encouragement to faithful and obedient living because of the goodness of the God who loves us.
- God’s faithfulness to Jonah, expressed through his rescue, caused His prophet to return to being a responsive messenger, an obedient servant. (like Peter; John 21:19)
- Jonah 3:3 (NLT)—This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. [including suburbs and surroundings]
- Did Jonah have a changed heart or did he concede only because he couldn’t escape?
- The city, founded by Noah’s great-grandson, Nimrod, included the suburbs Rehoboth-ir, Calah, and Resen. (Genesis 10:10-12); it had a circumference of sixty miles, with a population of at least 120,000 (Jonah 4:11), but perhaps as many over 600,000.
- Nineveh was a wealthy, powerful, violent and wicked city.
- Part of the feared Assyrian empire, Ninevites were merciless and cruel toward their enemies, including women and children. (Nahum 3:10)
- Jonah, who would have been seen as an enemy, was sent to these evil people with a threatening message from God—not an easy assignment!
- Jonah 3:4 (NLT)—On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”
- This message was essentially identical to the first one that Jonah rejected.
- Jonah 1:2 (NLT)—“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
- When we refuse God’s direction, reject His message and run away, He will discipline us (Hebrews 12:5-6), but also graciously rescue and offer to forgive, as He did Jonah.
- But, He will give us the same assignment again to teach the lesson we must learn!
- God didn’t replace Jonah with a more obedient prophet because He loved and called Jonah to service, so He would never give up on him—and He doesn’t on us, either!
- God’s gifts and call are irrevocable (Romans 11:29); He will finish His work in us (Philippians 1:6).
- Only God’s Spirit can save people by convicting them of sin, confirming God’s truth, and converting them to faith (all part of regeneration, being born again), but He uses us to communicate His truth and to make disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 10:13-17)
- Acting as God’s messengers strengthens our relationship with Him as we obey and trust Him, encourages our faith as we see God include our efforts in changing people’s lives.
- APP.: Who has God called you to reach with your faith story? Have you taken steps?
Revival includes a…
B. #2 - Repentant response. (Jonah 3:5-9. C/R: Jeremiah 18:7-10; Acts 20:21; 2 Corinthians 7:10; James 4:7-10)
- One Jewish prophet confronted thousands of violent people with a message of judgment.
- These Assyrian Ninevites had dominated people cruelly, and in so doing, they lost any sensitivity toward their own sin or compassion toward the pain and suffering of others.
- The most likely response from these Ninevites would have been rejection, perhaps laughter and ridicule, driving him out of town, or even violent, attack; what happened?
- Jonah 3:5 (NLT)—The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least [all classes], they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.
- God gave the Ninevites forty days of grace before destruction, but we get the impression that they responded to Jonah’s shouted warning as soon as they heard it.
- Was this true faith, conversion, or were these people just afraid of judgment?
- I think this was a demonstration of true faith because they had to believe in the Hebrew God, His reality and His power, to think He was capable to destroying this giant city.
- They proved the sincerity of their belief by repenting (Acts 20:21) and displaying their regret outwardly, by fasting and wearing sackcloth. (Coarse cloth, often goat’s hair, worn by the poor, prisoners, and slaves; also worn in mourning; Ezekiel 7:18).
- Jesus affirmed the Ninevite’s faith; He used their response to Jonah’s message to shame the unbelieving Jews of His day (Matthew 12:38-41).
- The king himself responded in the same way.
- Jonah 3:5-9 (NLT)—6When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. [part of mourning] 7Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: [He extended the repentance to every living creature.]
“No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. 8People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. 9Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change His mind and hold back His fierce anger from destroying us.” [Jeremiah 18:7-10]
- Jonah’s message did not include a promise that God would not destroy the city if they changed; but still they fasted, prayed, and repented of their sinful, violent, behaviors.
- When we truly see God, we also see our sins; we repent when we are made aware by the Spirit of thoughts and actions that are inconsistent with God’s nature. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
- APP.: Have you received the Spirit and responded with repentance? (James 4:7-10)
- The Ninevites repented of their sins and they hoped God would not destroy them.
Revival includes a…
C. #3 - Relenting God. (Jonah 3:10; C/R: Numbers 23:19; 1 Chronicles 7:14; Ephesians 2:4-5; Titus 3:4-6)
- Jonah 3:10 (NLT)—When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, He changed His mind [relented, some translations, repented] and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened.
- If God knows all, in advance, how can He change His mind?
- The Bible uses human characteristics to reveal the divine nature of God. (anthropomorphism)
- God responded to the change of the Ninevites’ hearts, which we refer to as revival, by sparing their city.
- We desperately need revival in our city, state, and country; can it happen?
- God has given us steps to receive revival, to experience restoration in our country.
- 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)—“Then if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
- This verse is addressed, not to unbelieving sinners, like the Ninevites; it is addressed to us, God’s people.
- We are responsible for bringing about spiritual renewal in our own lives, in our city and throughout our country.
- This verse says, if My people who are called by My name means us who belong to God;
will humble themselves by recognizing and confessing our sins;
and pray honestly, sincerely, passionately;
and seek My face by spending time in His Presence to know Him, develop intimacy;
and turn from their wicked ways, which means to repent, to stop sinning; then,
I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. [A promise!]
- APP.: Will you pursue God’s plan for restoration starting today?
Memory verse: Acts 3:19 (NLT)—Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.