Should Government Lead the Way For Revival?

An Assyrian citizenIF THE PRESIDENT and Congress would only start telling the truth, stop being greedy and begin helping the poor instead of catering to the wealthy, the United States would once again gain Heavenly favor and our decline into immorality would be checked–right?

Maybe. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.

There is another possiblility

Yesterday, I sat in on a study of The Book of Nahum. Tucked in the midst of the Biblical writings known as “minor prophets,” Nahum pronounces the downfall of Assyria, then perhaps the mightiest (and most ruthless) nation in the world.

The question posed to the class was, “Can you see any similarities between Syria’s downfall and the path currently being taken by the United States of America?”

Hands shot up all around the room, the consensus being that this country is on the fast-track to Divine judgement.

But what about Jonah?

Do you remember the story of Jonah and the whale (the “big fish”)? God told Jonah to go preach to the people of Nineveh–then the capitol of Assyria–but Jonah didn’t want to go. He hated the Assyrians. They were cruel beyond measure, known for their love of using torture against their enemies–and they would eventually capture and obliterate most of Israel from known history.

Jonah ran the other way. God turned him around. Jonah preached to the Assyrians … and they listened. They turned from their evil ways and began to seek the Creator.

Why did God later allow Assyria to be destroyed?

Maybe 150 years after the great Assyrian revival, the moral and spiritual situation of the Assyrian Empire had again grown so bad, though, that Nahum began foretelling their destruction.

Have you ever heard the statement that we are always only a generation away from apostasy–from turning completely away from God and becoming a totally deceived nation? That is what happened in Assyria. The Word of God apparently didn’t stick. Parents failed to teach their children, and the nation plummeted.

The Assyrian Revival

The really interesting part of the story, though, is how the Assyrian turnaround happened in the first place: Jonah ran. God turned him around. Jonah preached. The nation repented (changed their minds) and turned to God.

Simple.

I was thinking, though, that the Assyrian ruler led the revival. That’s not true, though. The people led the revival. Here it is, from the Book of Jonah:

And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes (Jonah 3:4-6, NKJV).

The people first heard and believed–and the king followed their lead.

America’s biggest hope

If the Supreme Court justices, the President and Congress all came under conviction and began seeking hard after God in all of their ways and in all of their decisions, then the USA could begin living up to the national motto, “One nation, under God…”

We don’t need to wait for that, though. And we don’t need to wait for our nation to crumble. We can respond to the call of God as individuals. Revival can start with you and with me. But to really learn from the Assyrians, we must not forget to pass the torch–to teach the Word and Ways of God on to our children.

Our hope is not in Washington. Our hope, our only real hope, is in listening and responding to the Gospel.

(The illustration of an Assyrian citizen was first published in the 1st (1876–1899), 2nd (1904–1926) or 3rd (1923–1937) edition of Nordisk familjebok. The copyrights for that book have expired and this image is in the public domain.)

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