Fagan - Sermon of the Month
Extended revival meetings used to be the standard practice
for beginning a new congregation. I was recently doing some
reading in an old History of Fayette County Indiana and
was reminded of this fact. My Mother gave me a copy of an
article about a relative who had bought a farm northeast
of Harrisburg in 1839. While reading the section about Harrison
township I came across this item: The Christian (Cambellite)
church, situated just east of the hamlet of Harrisburg,
is the outgrowth of religious meetings held at private houses
and in the schoolhouse at Harrisburg some years before the
late war, though perhaps not formally organized until in
1864. The neat and substantial church edifice in which the
services of the society are held was erected in 1871, and
dedicated that fall by elder…, page 183. Usually a meeting
lasting 4-6 weeks was held with preaching every night and
sometimes morning teaching sessions. Such meetings are unheard
of today. I remember in the 60's still having some 2-week
revival meetings but if meetings take place today they are
generally weekend meetings.
There is some Bible precedent for a weekend meeting and
today we will study a three day revival, Jonah's crusade
man who was sent to hold the meeting was Jonah, son of Amittai.
Jonah was apparently a prophet during the reign of Jeroboam
the 2nd. The Holman Bible Dictionary dates the reign of
Jeroboam at 785-745 B.C. Jonah is first mentioned in 2 Kings
14:25. His home town, Gath-hepher is located in Galilee
in the area occupied by the tribe of Zebulon.
assignment was to go and preach against Nineveh. Nineveh,
capitol of the Assyrian Empire, was destroyed in 612 B.C.
Nineveh proper covered 1800 acres but Nineveh was actually
a complex of 4 cities that formed a quadrangle. The distance
around the complex was 60 miles, making Nineveh even bigger
than the mighty city of Babylon.
had a message to announce or proclaim to Nineveh. The Septuagint
twice uses the Greek word khruvssw to relay God's instructions
to Jonah. This word describes preaching of the basics and
stands in contrast to in-depth doctrinal instruction or
teaching. Another word that is not used is the word evangelize-to
announce good tidings, or good news. Jonah did not have
a positive message for Nineveh.
The evil in Nineveh had come up to God. The evil men may
do in secret does not go unnoticed by the all-knowing God!
This expression reminds us of the Babylon of Revelation,
a symbolic city representing those who disobey God. In Nahum
3:1, Nineveh is called the bloody city!
Contrast Hebrews 10:17
evil of Nineveh had come up to the attention of the Righteous
Nineveh was a Gentile city. Located on the Tigris River,
Nineveh was built by Chaldean natives and as early as 1,800
B.C. contained a temple for the goddess Ishtar! It became
the capitol of the Assyrian Empire in 1,300 B.C. This was
the site of the famed library of Ashurbanipal.
Whale of a Detour
ran, in the opposite direction of Nineveh, to the end of
the known world, i.e. as far away from Nineveh as he could
go. Jonah did not run out of fear, he ran because as a Jewish
prophet, he hated Gentiles. Our fascination with the whale
has obscured the real lessons of the book of Jonah. See
my study of the Minor Prophets.
Jonah 2:2-9 is the text of Jonah's prayer from the belly
of the fish. Note the repentance of verse 9 and the renewed
dedication to obedience.
of the Crusade
second chance was Nineveh's last chance! Apparently Jonah
did not make any special preparations or take any great
pains with the crusade in Nineveh. It required 3 days to
walk through the city and evidently that is just what Jonah
did. He walked through town and as soon as he hit the edge
of town he proclaimed the warning God had commissioned him
message was short-Jonah 3:4-In 40 days God would destroy
the city. In plain terms the announcement to Nineveh was,
Repent or perish!
Jonah had nothing to offer the lost in Nineveh like we have
under the New Covenant! No message of forgotten sins, of
the potential of a new creation, of an indwelling Holy Spirit,
of a church of Christ in which to serve God. Jonah had nothing
positive to say, only a dire warning, Repent or perish!
The result of Jonah's crusade was astounding. Just 1 day
in to the 3 day trip a dramatic change swept across the
From the political leadership to the common person on the
street, Nineveh repented! Sackcloth and ashes was a sign
of mourning or distress. When people face the consequences
of their actions there are generally two ways they can choose
An arrogant denial or rationalization that they have done
nothing wrong. The motivating force behind this reaction
is pride. That arrogance produces hypocrisy and a double
standard that stands as a barrier to salvation.
Contrition. Genuine sorrow over past conduct produces a
humility that acknowledges (instead of denies) guilt, accepts
responsibility for wrongs committed, and mourns the wrongs
done to others and against God, and fervently seeks a way
citizens of Nineveh chose the course of humility and escaped
judgment and destruction! Both man and beast fasted as the
people repented of the evil they had committed against God.
And, God relented. Instead of the destruction they deserved,
Nineveh received God's mercy, and the entire city repented.
episode tagged on to the end of the book of Jonah is the
clincher in helping us understand the real meaning of the
book of Jonah. Jonah was angry that God did not wipe out
real message is that God has always wanted all men to come
to repentance and to do what is right. And that must be
the attitude of the Lord's people today! How many are lost
because you withheld the Gospel from them? Because of race,
because of looks, because of economic status, because of
where they live-how many times in the past have you pulled
a Jonah, running away from what may well have been a great
The denial of food and water to a terminally ill woman this
past year seemed to dramatize the heights of inhumanity
to which some are willing to go. The lost world is terminally
ill-without repentance and obedience to God they will never
recover spiritual health-their problems are eternally terminal.
Like Jonah, you can run away from the task and challenges
of evangelism. You can hide out in the safety of church
fellowship, so busy with the 99 that there simply is no
time for 1 who is lost. You can fill your life so full of
work, family, or civic responsibilities that there is no
time to go to our modern day Nineveh's.
But remember, your second chance to get busy doing the Lord's
work may be the last chance, the final hope for those outside
of Christ. They are lost until you win them!