God’s word never changes. The earthly king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord. No matter how wicked a society, God’s word is always the answer. The people of Ninevah believed God despite their spiritual ignorance and perversity. As a sign of discomfort, they put on sackcloth. Even the king of Ninevah removed his robe and put on sackcloth and sat in ashes. That was an Old Testament form of repentance.
1. Everything rises and falls on leadership. Once the king of Ninevah got right with God, it was like a domino effect. The authority in any community is the local church(es) that God has placed in that community. So the king of Ninevah proclaimed a fast, even for the animals. God responded with mercy and grace.
2. Fasting and prayer is a spiritual discipline that always secures the favor and power of God. If you get serious with God, He will get serious with you. In America, we really don’t fast from anything. The church rarely preaches fasting. There are many different types of fast. You don’t have to completely abstain from food & water (the Daniel fast, for example). God answers this in mighty and powerful ways. We respond when the Holy Spirit tells us to respond.
Like Ninevah, given the increase in violence across America, we may very well be under judgement right now. The king of Ninevah didn’t know whether God would change His mind regarding His judgement of Ninevah. (We are told in verse 10 that God withheld His judgment and bestowed His grace.)
3. God delights in repentance and revival but will assuredly send judgement for rebellion. Some 150 years after Jonah, we learn from the book of Nahum that Ninevah forgot its repentance, turned back to its evil, and God destroyed the city.
We seem to always talk about what God used to do instead of seeking what He may do now as a result of revival. We are sick of the evil in our society. People respond to a preacher who calls out evil and calls believers to repentance. Revival never comes when things are good, but only when societies are filled with evil.
Let us hunger and thirst for the things that are God’s. Where God is, people are magnetically drawn.