Jonah 3:5–10 (NKJV)
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 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. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,
Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
Jonah’s message took root in the hearts of the Ninevites. They repented and called a fast in mourning. From the king to the smallest family, sackcloth and ashes was their dress for repentance. When they mourned, fasted, and repented, God heard their heart, saw their actions, and pulled back the judgment meant for them.
When a nation, family, or individual repents of their sins, God will hear and forgive. When God calls or visits the sinner, convicting them of sin, the only appropriate response is repentance. It may not be the only possible response, but it is the only appropriate one. So, when the Holy Spirit convicts you individually, repent. When God calls a family to repentance, respond or lead a response. When God calls a nation to repentance, the church should fast and pray and mourn. This is how revival comes. This is how judgment is stayed. This is how life moves back to a place of blessing.