MANHATTAN — As I was reading in the book of Jonah, I noticed something that I had never noticed before. There is a God-established pattern for revival in a nation. You can see it in Jonah 3:1-10. There are six things that happen.
The first thing that happens is that God calls His prophets to proclaim His message of repentance. (v. 1-2) Second, the prophets obey God’s command even when it is very costly to them. (v. 3) Next, the common people hear the word of the Lord and begin to repent. (v. 4-5) Then, word of these things reaches the nation’s leadership, who hear that word and repent themselves. (v. 6) Fifth, the leadership proclaims and participates in a national repentance. Last, when God sees that the nation’s repentance is real, He has compassion on that nation and stops His judgment. (v. 10)
Is this the pattern God is following in America today? I think the evidence gives us the answer.
This nation’s turning from God has been going on for some time. I can see clear indications right after World War II when we failed to publicly give God the glory and praise for that victory. We have the rebellion of the ’60s and ’70s, then the downhill slide into the moral degradation on all levels that we are experiencing today. We are deep into our sinfulness just as Nineveh was in Jonah’s day.
God started calling His prophets long ago. One was David Wilkerson, who published “America’s Last Call” in 1974. He was immediately ridiculed, even by many Christians. However, nearly all the things he predicted have come true.
Then in the ’80s there came Larry Burkett with his book, “The Coming Economic Earthquake.” Again, he was ridiculed by most. Yet, today we are living in the condition he predicted.
In the last several years, there have been many speaking out what God has been saying. Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Dr. Richard Land and Erwin Lutzer, just to name three from three totally different religious affiliations. I have become aware of nearly 20 such people, all dedicated believers of Jesus Christ. So, is the biblical pattern being followed?
The sin of America has long been rampant. 1. God has called his prophets. 2. They are proclaiming a message of repentance. 3. Common people are listening and repentance is spreading throughout America. 4. Some of the lower and middle levels of leadership are beginning to hear and act. Are these folks perfect? Absolutely not! Are they moving toward God’s standard of righteousness? The evidence, when compared with Scripture, suggests that they are. But, they too are being ridiculed.
The next question is, will the upper leadership hear and repent? If the pattern in Jonah holds true and those who are repenting continue to persist, 2 Chronicles 7:14 seems to indicate that they will.
I want to include a word of caution. There are cases in the Bible and in history when all of the steps toward revival occurred, but the national leadership did not hear and repent. In every case, God did judge the nation, but he also took care of those who did repent. The key seems to be whether those who are now repenting will continue to persist in drawing close to God.
Witness what happened right after 9/11. The entire nation turned to God. But after a few months, it all died out. What will happen this time? Will we persist in our pursuit of God’s righteousness or not?
Frank F. Clark is the author of the column “Frankly Speaking.” His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.