3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
Most people know the Jonah’s story…
In chapter 1 verse 1, God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to that city because its wickedness had come to His attention. In the very next sentence (verse 2) we are told that Jonah ran away from God and went in the other direction. Jonah ran because God wanted to forgive that city’s sins, and that’s exactly what he did – God forgave them.
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
Nineveh was a wicked city and their cruelty is legendary. When they conquered a people, they didn’t just kill them and leave they cruelly killed them and enslaved them. Jonah new of them and in his estimation the world was a better place if they just didn’t exist. So when God called him to go to Nineveh, he ran hoping that they would burn like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Who is that person or people group that you think would make the world a better place if they were dead. Who do you pray that God would totally destroy and wipe from the earth? Does it surprise you to learn that God loves even that person, or persons, and desires desperately that they will hear the grace of Jesus Blood and turn from their sin and wicked ways? Further, does it surprise you that God is calling you to be the person to tell them about Jesus blood and the forgiveness of God? I know, this isn’t a popular thought but it’s just the way the faith works.
So how about it, are you ready to go to your Nineveh or are you happy traveling through life in the belly of a great fish?
Jonah 4:4 & 11
4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 11 …should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
When we understand the cross of Jesus and truly what we were before we were saved, we will have compassion on even our enemies. However, Jonah didn’t quite get it and neither did the majority of the Jews when Jesus taught them.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
Do you get it? Sometimes I do but honestly, there are times that I hang out in the belly of the whale for far too long. Let’s all spend time at the foot of the cross that we might understand ourselves in order to love others – even our enemies.