Nineveh: An Unlikely RevivalPastor Lutzer | May 26, 1991
Nobody ever flees from the presence of the Lord.
Selected highlights from this sermon
Imagine a revival in a city where the preacher didn’t want to be. Jonah was sent to Nineveh to preach repentance. And despite Jonah’s resistance to go to the pagan city, he finally submitted and the entire population from the king all the way down repented—and the city was spared destruction.
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GREAT CITIES OF THE BIBLE_4
Nineveh: An Unlikely Revival
Some of the questions that we are trying to answer in this series of messages on the city is whether or not God really cares about pagan cities, whether Mexico City or Detroit, or Chicago, or any other world-class city. Is God compassionate with those who live in the ghetto? Does He care about the paganization of our nation? That’s one question that we are trying to answer.
There’s another question, and that is, where do you and I fit in? Are we people who have compassion? Do we care, or is our own private peace and security of much more importance than what happens to somebody else who happens to be trapped in the inner city, or trapped in bad marriages and in abuse and what have you?
Well, we’ve looked at Babylon in a previous message, the city of the occult. We’ve looked at Jericho, a city under judgment. Last week it was Jerusalem, a city with that very fascinating history, but destined for glory. And today we look at the city of Nineveh: An Unlikely Revival. Nineveh has a fascinating history, and actually originates in the same part of the world as Babylon. As a matter of fact, it’s perhaps 250 miles northwest of Babylon, and 200 miles from the city of Baghdad. And Nineveh has the same originator, of all things, as Babylon. In Genesis 10 Nimrod begins Babylon and then he goes another 250 miles and then he begins the city of Nineveh, which becomes the capital of Assyria. So that’s its location over there in the Middle East.
What about its size? You know, years ago archeologists never even believed that there was a city as big as Nineveh, spoken of in the book of Jonah and elsewhere in Scripture. And then in 1843, some German archeologists began digging in Nineveh and they discovered an archeological paradise with eight miles of huge walls still discernible. They were so huge that some people think that chariots could have gone on top of them. And in addition to those walls, there were palaces and temples and huge buildings, and a library with tens of thousands of clay tablets all on various topics such as philosophy, law, geology, chemistry, mathematics, and what have you. And people today marvel at the advance of that ancient civilization. What a wonderful opportunity it would be to have been a part of those excavations of the ancient city of Nineveh.
What about religion? Well, it shared the same religion as Babylon, essentially paganism. It was a religion that was filled with occult trimmings, the astrology as people looked into the stars and tried to determine their own destinies and the fate of their nation by looking at these kinds of occult powers. As a matter of fact, they even worshiped the same goddess, Ishtar, which is basically the sex goddess, which most ancient cultures worshiped in one way or another. They would go through various chanting experiences like the New Agers do today, as they tried to obtain power over themselves, and over those people whom they were going to subdue. They were controlling. They were a ruthless people. They were known for violence and cruelty.
In one of the inscriptions, one of the kings says, “I stormed the mountain peaks and took them. In the midst of the mighty mountains I slaughtered them. With blood I died the mountains like wool. The heads of their warriors I cut off. I formed them into pillars over against the city. Their young men and maidens I burned in the fire.” Another king wrote of mutilating the bodies of live captives, stacking their corpses, cutting their throats like lambs. These men were filled with pride and idolatry and cruelty, and that’s what Nineveh was known for, this ancient city.
Well, what I’d like us to do today is to look at three different time frames in Nineveh’s history, and all of them, of course, are found in the Bible because in many instances Nineveh and Assyria both had tangential relationships with Israel.
First of all then, the book of Jonah! Jonah is a difficult book to find sometimes because it’s part of what is known as the Minor Prophets, minor not because they are of lesser importance, but because of size. If you are having some difficulty, simply turn to the Old Testament and New Testament division in your Bible, and then go back perhaps about 15 or 20 pages, and you’ll come to Jonah. Now, in addition to Jonah, when you are finding it, keep your finger also in Nahum, which is just a few pages over against Jonah. You have Jonah, Micah and then Nahum, and eventually we’re going to be looking at that prophet as well.
The book of Jonah opens with chapter 1, verse 1: “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’” And so Jonah is asked to go to the city of Nineveh.
Now you need to understand that Jonah found the will of God particularly distasteful. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh. Remember that Nineveh was now a city that was already beginning to have awesome power and known for its violence and brutality, and he feared that someday God would use the city of Nineveh perhaps even against the Jews, His chosen people. So evidently, because of prejudice, because of narrow-mindedness of heart and spirit, Jonah said, “No, I’m not going to go.” It was a trek of perhaps 600 miles, and he rebelled against the will of God.
Now before you are critical of Jonah, remember that it would be equivalent to God asking a rabbi to go to Berlin during the time of the Nazis and say, “Preach to those Nazis and tell them to repent so that I can be gracious to them.” And you can imagine a rabbi saying to himself, “I don’t want God to be gracious. I want God to judge them and I do not want to preach the compassion and the loving kindness of God to people who are cruel and barbaric and who are slaughtering our own people.” So Jonah said no to God.
We can’t take time today to go through his experience except to mention it. It says in verse 3: “But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” By the way, do you think that’s possible? Can anyone flee from the presence of the Lord? Remember it says in Psalm 139, “Though I make my bed in Sheol, behold Thou are there. If I ascend into the heavens, Thou are there.” Nobody ever flees from the presence of the Lord, but Jonah tried, and he found a boat going to Tarshish. And notice it says: “He went down to Joppa,” in verse 3 and then he went down to go with them to Tarshish in the last part of verse 3. And then in the last part of verse 5 it says he went into the ship and he had gone below into the hold of the ship. He went down - down, down, down! That’s what you always do when you run from God. But there he was asleep, out of the will of God.
People often ask if there can be contentment in rebellion against God. Evidently Jonah was able to sleep, and I’m sure that he did not take any Sominex or anything to calm him down. He was just asleep in his rebellion.
Well, you know the rest of the story. The storm came and the sailors wondered who in the world was responsible for this, and Jonah said, “It’s me. I’m running from the presence of the Lord.” And rather than telling them, “Look, I’m going to repent; please take me back to land so that I can do my assignment,” he said, “Cast me overboard.”
(Parenthesis) Do you realize that Jonah was so rebellious that he was willing to drown in the Mediterranean? He didn’t know that God had prepared a fish for him. He thought that this was the end. He was willing to drown in the Mediterranean Sea rather than obey God. There are some people who would rather commit suicide. They’d rather die in a car accident or throw themselves in front of a train than to do the will of God. And that’s the way it was with this prophet.
Well, you know the rest of the story. God prepared a great fish. Jonah is thrown overboard and God says to the fish, “See that?” He says, “That’s lunch,” so the fish goes over and swallows Jonah, and the fish becomes the very creative learning center, and it is there in the belly of the fish that the gastric juices begin to do their work. And Jonah begins to pray and to repent and to say, “God, really, I guess I shouldn’t have disobeyed you. If you give me another chance, I’ll be obedient.”
“He goes into the fish an Arminian,” says Spurgeon, “and he comes out a Calvinist,” and he ends up saying, “Salvation is of the Lord.” In the last part of Jonah 2:9 he says, “Now I know I can go because if God is going to go with me it’s going to be successful.” His heart is still not in it, but it says in chapter 3, verse 1, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time and said go,” and Jonah said, “Okay, this time I’m going to go.” So much by way of introduction!
Now, Nineveh has an incredible unlikely revival. What a revival Nineveh has! But I want us to see the disadvantages that this city had. The first vision that we have of the city is that of a revival, but notice it says that Jonah arose and went according to the word of the Lord. And Nineveh was a great city - a three-day walk. That included not only the small area of eight miles in circumference, but also all of the suburbs, and Jonah began to walk through it.
What an unlikely place for a revival. First of all, the preacher was a problem. He didn’t want to be there. In fact, later when the city repents and turns to God it says in chapter 4 beginning in verse 1, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.’” He said, “God, I knew it! I knew that these guys would repent and you’d forgive them.” And he’s angry about it.
Later on in the book of Jonah you remember the Lord says to him, “Do you do well to be angry?” This is chapter 4, verse 9. And Jonah says, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” I mean this guy wanted to die badly. And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 children who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Here’s a man who is preaching but he doesn’t want to be preaching. He’s got a crowd but he doesn’t want to see them, and he’s angry when they repent. What a disadvantage the city had. Notice the message that he preached was only judgment. “Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” No grace, no mercy, no compassion!
And then I want you to notice the context in which he preached to make this a very unlikely revival. We’re speaking about people steeped in occultism and steeped in demonic activity. And I want you to know that there were no pre-crusade prayer meetings. There was no television to say, “Jonah’s on his way. Get ready! We can have a crowd.” There was nobody there to give out tracts and to give out handbills and to tell the people where to meet because an evangelist had come to town. There was none of that! Jonah simply proclaimed the judgment of God. He didn’t even tell them that it was a conditional message, that if they repented they might not be overthrown in 40 days. He never even said that. Here’s a guy who didn’t have a fancy introduction to his sermon. He didn’t have three parallel points like all good preachers do. He had no dazzling conclusion. It was just, “Repent because in 40 days it’s game over!”
But I want you to notice the response that he got. It was truly one of the most amazing responses. Those who are into the history of revivals and missiology ought to study this passage. It says in chapter 3, “And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence (which is what the people were known for) that is in his hands.’”
I mean, we have a repentance here in this city that begins with the king, and even the animals repent. It’s amazing. I know some animals in our neighborhood that ought to repent. In fact, I know some cats that ought to repent. This is a revival, the likes of which I don’t think has ever been recorded in history. Everybody repents. And you know that this means that apparently there are going to be hundreds of thousands of Ninevites who are going to be in heaven someday.
Now there are some reasons that perhaps they were psychologically prepared for this. Very probably Nineveh repented in the about the year 765. If we choose that date – 765 – it’s the date when there was a sun eclipse, and perhaps, therefore, they thought that this was the judgment of God and so they were psychologically prepared. Maybe it was also because the gastric juices had done their work. Jonah looked a real sight. Some people think that he just may have been white. And you can imagine what would happen if you were in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights.
At any rate, the people repented. In fact, there are three repentings in Jonah. Jonah repented. The people repented. And God repented, not in the sense that God needs to repent for any sin. It’s not because God changes His mind because He’s learning new information. He knew in advance that the people would repent, but the message was a conditional one that if the people repented, God would relent concerning His anger, and that’s exactly what He did. Verse 10 of chapter 3 says: “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” What an awesome revival of this violent, cruel, occultic city of Nineveh!
Well, let’s fast forward the frames now, and let’s move up about 40 years. And we have not only the revival of Nineveh, but now we have the aggression of Nineveh. Turn with me to 2 Kings 17. Now to understand this you must bear in mind a very important date in Old Testament history. What happened was after the death of Solomon, you remember, the two kingdoms were split. Rehoboam went north and chose Samaria as his capital, and you have a whole succession of kings in the northern territory called Israel. In Judah, which is the place where Jerusalem has its capital, you have a whole succession of kings there as well. And the books of 1 and 2 Kings is largely a chronology of two different successions of kings, the northern capital in Samaria and the southern capital in Jerusalem. And the year now is about 722, 40 years after Nineveh repented.
In 2 Kings 17 beginning in verse 1 it says: “In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah (you see, he was ruling from Jerusalem), Hoshea the son of Elah began to reign in Samaria over Israel (the northern territory), and he reigned nine years. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him. Against him came up Shalmaneser, king of Assyria. And Hoshea became his vassal and paid him tribute. (Year after year after year Hoshea had to do this.) But the king of Assyria found treachery in Hoshea, for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and offered no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison. (He came and just said, “Hoshea, you’re finished.”) Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria, and for three years he besieged it. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.”
Now you must understand that the first king who began the invasion is Shalmaneser. He actually dies. Sargon, the second king of Assyria, with headquarters in Nineveh, is the king that eventually makes the siege of Samaria, and carries captive, according to Assyrian annals, precisely 27,270 of the Jews. They are carried off, and what does he do? The king brings Assyrians back into the land in the region of Samaria, and he repopulates it with his own people.
Parenthesis! Who are the Samaritans? Why does it say in the New Testament that the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans? It’s because the Samaritans, you see, were half-breeds. They were half Assyrian and half Jews because they intermarried, and during those centuries, therefore, the race became impure. And that’s how it all happened, but I want you to notice this. God now uses this evil power of Assyria, which had degenerated 40 years after the revival. They come in with great aggression, and they capture Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom, and they take the people into captivity. But why did it happen?
Notice is says in verse 7 of this chapter, “And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods.” I want you to know that there is a direct connection between the actual existence of the nation and its relationship with God.
The first frame that we looked at in 763 or 765 was when the city of Nineveh repented and God relented. Nineveh was not overthrown. It continued for another 40 years. Now you have this aggression that is coming to the nation of Israel from Assyria, but I want you to notice that God was using the Ninevites to judge Israel, just as Jonah had suspected He might, because there’s a connection between the existence of a nation and their relationship with God.
Well let’s fast forward in the history of Nineveh. Let’s go another one hundred years and see what happens, and let’s do that by turning to the book of Nahum. Here you have about 40 years after the revival that took place under Jonah. You have that aggression that we talked about in 2 Kings 17, and now about 140 years after Jonah, you’ll notice that Nahum, the prophet, brings an oracle of judgment against Nineveh. The entire prophecy is against Nineveh. It has very little to say about Israel. It speaks only of Nineveh.
Notice it says in Nahum 1: “An oracle concerning Nineveh, the book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh. The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies. The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”
We can’t take time, of course, to read the whole book, but I’m going to ask you to skip now to chapter 3 and we’ll read several verses that talk about the awesome destruction that is going to take place in Nineveh. Nahum 3: “Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and plunder — no end to the prey! The crack of the whip, and rumble of the wheel, galloping horse and bounding chariot! Horsemen charging, flashing sword and glittering spear, hosts of slain, heaps of corpses, dead bodies without end — they stumble over the bodies! And all for the countless whorings of the prostitute, graceful and of deadly charms, who betrays nations with her whorings, and peoples with her charms. Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame.”
Here’s a city and a country that had disgraced many others. Now they would be disgraced. “I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle. And all who look at you will shrink from you and say, ‘Wasted is Nineveh; who will grieve for her?’ Where shall I seek comforters for you?”
Let’s skip to the last verse of this chapter: “There is no easing your hurt; your wound is grievous. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?”
God says, “It’s all over for you,” and it was. In 614 B.C. Asher, one of the great cities of Assyria, falls. In 612 B.C. Nineveh is destroyed by the Babylonians who were in league with the Medes. They totally overran the city. They dismantled it, and you’ve not heard about Nineveh in the news recently, have you? It’s lain dormant all those centuries until archeologists began to dig it up in the 1800s and find out what the city was all about. It essentially was obliterated from the face of the earth just as God had promised. Now, isn’t that interesting? God uses Nineveh to judge Israel, and then He in turn uses another evil power by the name of Babylon to in turn judge Nineveh, the capital of Assyria and the whole country.
I hope that you begin to understand in this series of messages that God is actively involved in history, and what is happening before our eyes is not simply the happenstance of nations. But history is indeed His story. God is writing the script.
Now what I’d like to do in these closing moments is to take all of this information and boil it down to three very important lessons that come to us from the history of Nineveh. Let me give them to you.
First of all, God loves even pagan cities. The whole book of Jonah, you remember, is to contrast the hardness of heart of this prophet with the compassion and the loving kindness of God. And that’s why Jonah was so upset. It was because God was so gracious and merciful, and He was just the kind of God to convert pagans. I want you to know today that God has compassion for the inner city of Chicago. He has compassion for the apartment complexes that dot our skyline and that are around our church. God is not indifferent to these needs. Now we can be. We can be turned off to the city. We can say, “Well, you know, there’s so much crime.” And unfortunately the churches in the last generations have left the city, and in their places there are many Muslim mosques, oftentimes right next to old churches, or churches converted into mosques as we have run from the inner city because we’ve said it’s too pagan, and God surely can’t be concerned about the city. I want you to know that God cares about the city.
Here is Jonah! God built a gourd for him. God built a plant for him and it grew up overnight, and Jonah was so upset because there was a little worm that God sent to saw it down. And God sent that worm and said, “Do you see that little plant? Go there and saw it down. Bug Jonah!” And so the worm went and sawed it down, and Jonah was so angry. He said, “It’s too hot here.”
You know, if you really want to find out what is in a person’s heart, what you do is you steal their air conditioner in the summer, or you dent their new car. You really find out what’s in the human heart.
Jonah was so angry, and God said, “You know, you’re concerned about this plant. You’re concerned about the coolness of your personal comfort, and you, Jonah, have no compassion for a city with its 120,000 children (Perhaps in total population it was a city of a million), and you don’t care. This bigoted, self-serving, proud, self-centered Jew said, “I don’t care about anybody else. As long as I’m cool and in comfort, who cares?”
I want you to know today that what God wants to do for us as a church is to take our comfort zones, which are sometimes very narrowly confined, and to push them and to break through them and to expand our understanding of our responsibility to the city because we, as a church, have hundreds of people planted in various parts of the city. They are in factories and offices and ghettos and residential areas, and what God is trying to say is, “I want you to know that I’m concerned about the whole city, and I’m concerned about the children of the city.” Even the animals are listed.
One day D. L. Moody came home and his wife asked him how many people were converted, and he said, “Two and a half.” She said, “You mean two adults and a child?” He said, “No, two children and an adult.” He said, “The adult’s life is half lived but the children have all their lives to live for Christ.” And it’s our responsibility to say to the children of the city Chicago, “We’re concerned about you in your broken homes and in your alienation and rejection, and the feeling that you have that you must be subservient to the peer pressure, and to the problems that you face.” And so what God is saying to me as a pastor, and to you and to all of us, is, “Don’t you understand that I actually care about Chicago?”
You know it is sometimes said that all of us should do one thing each day that we dislike doing, and that’s a good idea. I wonder what kind of a change it might bring about if all of us began to do one thing for the city that we don’t really feel comfortable doing, but we know that God would want us to do.
The first lesson is that God is concerned and has compassion even for pagan cities. The second lesson is the spiritual fervor for one generation may be lost in the next. We look at that great revival in Nineveh, and we say, “Oh how wonderful it is that hundreds of thousands evidently turned to worship the true God.” Forty years later Nineveh is invading Israel, and a hundred years after that Nineveh is obliterated by God because of its violence and the cruelty and its occultism and its evil. It is gone!
It is generally believed, and I think that it is true, that here in the United States the freedoms that we still enjoy are being eroded (by the way). The ability that we still have to preach the Gospel, the things that we can still do - all of these things are in flux and we still are enjoying some of the past history of this country when there was a more reverential fear of God, and at least a consensus that God existed and that we needed to get our act together that we might be prepared to meet Him someday. All that seems to be gone. Not all of it is gone but much of it.
Do you remember that Bunyan had a vision? And in the vision he saw a flame that was continuously burning, and he wondered why because somebody was there pouring buckets of water on the flame, but even though buckets of water were poured on the flame it would not be extinguished. It’s because along with the water someone else was supplying some oil to keep it burning. And my dear friend, we are the oil to keep the flame of the Gospel burning. We’ve got people with all kinds of buckets wanting to extinguish it, to extinguish it legally, and to extinguish the light morally and politically. All of these forces are against it, but it’s your responsibility and mine to make sure that oil keeps flowing. But I want you to know that it is possible to have a revival in one generation and to have it totally die out in the next so that there’s no trace of it. The question is what is it that we are communicating to our children and to subsequent generations regarding the faithfulness and the mercy of God?
There’s a last lesson that we can learn and that is that all judgment is according to knowledge. And for this I ask you to turn one more time to a passage of Scripture – Matthew 12. In Matthew 12 the people are asking Christ for a sign. They are saying, “Give us a sign that we might believe on You.” Verses 29 to 31 say: “But he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”
Christ is saying that when Jerusalem is brought to judgment, God is going to say, “People of Nineveh, stand up.” And God is going to say, “Just look at those people. They repented at the preaching of Jonah, a rebellious prophet who showed no love, who was angry, who was upset with the Almighty, who wanted to die, who was more concerned about his personal comfort than he was about the joy that should have come to his heart because multitudes were being saved. And they repented because of his preaching.”
And Jesus said, “One greater than Jonah is here.” Christ is greater than Jonah. He’s greater in His message. He’s greater in His love. He’s greater in His compassion. He’s greater in His revelation. He died on the cross as a substitute for sinners.
Now I want you to think for a moment. The men of Nineveh will rise up against the city of Chicago too. Nineveh had one preacher, and the city believed. The city of Chicago has hundreds of preachers and multitudes do not believe. The preacher in Nineveh’s time had only one message. Repent! The city of Chicago has many ways to hear the message. We have churches. We have Christian radio. We have Christian television. We have Bibles in our bookstores. We disseminate the word. We have tracts. We have people who are willing to help others in their understanding of the Gospel. And some day the men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment against this city because it had its opportunities and it hardened its heart and let all those opportunities go by. That’s what Christ is saying here.
And by the way, have you repented? Have you ever responded to Jesus Christ and His matchless love? How many sermons have you heard? How many passages from the Bible have you read? Where are you? Will the men of Nineveh stand up and condemn you because they repented, and you with all of the light and all of the opportunities to investigate didn’t? The men of Nineveh said Jesus will rise up and condemn that generation, the generation in which Christ lived, but they will also condemn this generation because of an unlikely revival that took place in a pagan city. We learn therefore that judgment is always based on knowledge.
Join me now as we pray together.
Father, we feel so inadequate because there is so much of Jonah in us all. How important our personal comforts are to us! How important our bank accounts, and how unimportant the teeming multitudes of this great city of Chicago in which You have planted us! Lord, take these words, inadequately spoken, and burn them into our minds and into our hearts, and may we learn from Nineveh.
Father, hear our prayers because we offer them in the strong name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, Amen.