Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
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. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
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. 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. 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. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
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.
— Jonah 3
The closer we are to God, the more likely we should be to understand and heed His Call within our lives; however, that is not always the case. There are times where we cannot see the forest for the trees: when situations become so overwhelming, either in a positive or a negative light, that we cannot see beyond the immediate details that surround us. When these situations occur, we sometimes fail to see God’s presence with us. Reflect on a time in your life when you could not see God’s presence with you at the time, though you were able to see Him clearly upon later reflection.
This passage begins with God re-calling Jonah to his prophetic ministry to the city of Nineveh; this is the only time in the Bible that God needs to reassert the call of a prophet.
Nineveh is described as a city that is so large as to require three days to travel throughout it, and Jonah spent his first day in the city proclaiming God’s judgment on the people of Nineveh.
Read Amos 3:13-15, Jeremiah 22:3-5, and Isaiah 1:7-9.
Jonah’s prophecy against Nineveh is simple: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
The people of Nineveh, including the king and his nobles, believed God’s message, as delivered by Jonah, and they immediately repented of their wrong doing.
God sees the repentant hearts of the people of Nineveh and does not destroy the city as He had initially threatened.
Jonah follows God’s Call and through his prophecy, the people of Nineveh repent and are saved from destruction. What else will we be able to learn about God’s character from Jonah?
Gracious God, You are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. You desire good for all of Your Creation, even when we do not see the good to which You call us. Open us to understand that Your Judgment is the judgment of a loving parent, not the punishment of a wrathful tyrant. Help us to see You, as You truly are, to love You and to know Your presence within our lives. In Christ’s name, we pray; amen.
The book of Jonah is much more than a story about a man who went overboard and ended up in the belly of a whale; it’s also about the way God goes overboard to show his love to the world. Join us as we look into the book and listen to God’s heart!