Read Jonah 3:1-5. We’ve noted God’s patience with Jonah and with us, ‘For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.’ (Prov. 24:16) We pick up where we left off. We can retrace our steps to where we missed the way; we can start over. Life can begin again.

Two things are necessary conditions for hope in a city or nation (1) A willing man or woman of God (2) A saving Word from God. Unless a fresh word comes, the situation cannot and will not change. You won’t change. Your church won’t change. Your town cannot change. Where there is no Word, there is only silence. When the silence is God’s silence, there can only be death as a result. Christianity is the only enterprise in the world that expands primarily through the agency of preaching. No preaching, no progress – it’s as simple as that! We need a word from God. 

Jonah now has that word again. But this time, a significant difference occurs. Jonah is not preaching ‘against’ Nineveh (1:2), but rather ‘to’ Nineveh (3:2). A door of hope for this city has been opened. God sent a man, and that man did his job, to the point where many doors began to open, from the highest to the lowest.

Revival fires were the astonishing result (3:3-10). The elements of this section are present in every Holy Spirit awakening in history. The word that triggered it was a harsh one of Judgement. Consider this word, ‘Judgment’. The word came, but it was not what we would have expected them to hear – “Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed.’ (4:3) ‘Forty days’! Less than six weeks! Jonah may have known that ‘40’ is the number for ‘testing’ in the Bible. And the outcome of this is usually never pre-determined. It can go either way!

But Judgement is real. Few people are ready to receive mercy until, they’ve experienced the fact they are in jeopardy. They have to realize they aren’t safe. That’s why churches were packed in New York for weeks after the 911 attacks. In God’s sight we are not OK. Things will never be OK without God. Promises are God’s love undisguised, but warnings are God’s love in disguise. Jonah’s prophetic word is more like a nightmare than a daydream. Most of us wake up faster with a nightmare. Warnings are God’s ‘wake-up call’.

God is giving us time for repentance. People know that something is wrong. Only the church can tell them clearly what it is. Let’s tell them!