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.” 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. 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 ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh… let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. JONAH 3:4-10
Throughout the Old Testament, we see cycles of revival in the nation of Israel. The people fall away from God, are judged by God, cry out to God, are delivered by God, and return to God. We see it in the Judges, in Deborah, in Elijah and Elisha, in Josiah, in Hezekiah — key men and women who defied the status quo of their day, who challenged the rebellion of their generation, and called an entire nation back to God. They led the response to God’s word, humbling themselves before the Lord, and cried out for the restoration of their land.
Historians believe that Nineveh was of the most wicked nations of the earth, with gruesome violence and immorality that rivaled Sodom and Gomorrah. Nineveh was so exceedingly wicked that God’s own prophet Jonah later laments that God would even save such a nation.
Nineveh gives us hope for all the nations of the earth. One of the darkest, hopeless pagan nations experienced one of the greatest, wholesale revivals written in the entire Bible. This little narrative gives us insight into the eternal heart of God: “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand...?” (Jonah 4:11)
Let us say boldly what Jonah declared reluctantly: “I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity” (Jonah 4:2).
Pray that God would turn America back to Himself the way it happened in Nineveh. Pray for God to raise up willing and bold messengers on college campuses. Pray for students to experience a great turning like those that lived in Nineveh.