We left off with Jonah on dry land, after being in the belly of a fish for three days. This is where Jonah has to make another choice. “The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, ‘Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.” (Jonah 3:1-2). I love this next part! “Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command.” (Jonah 3:3). I don’t see any arguing here or debating, just simple obedience. God said do it and Jonah got up and went. What a way to follow through in repentance. Sometimes we can make all kinds of promises to God if He will only get us out of this pit, then we will do – you fill in the blank. I pray we have a Jonah response when given another chance.
When Jonah starts walking across the city, God gives him words. He set out and proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be demolished!” (Jonah 3:4). His message was clear and simple. The response is shocking! “Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth – from the greatest of them to the least.” (Jonah 3:5). One man, going where God tells him and speaking what God tells him to speak. And the people responded! What had caused their hearts to soften and be ready to believe? Easy, it was God.
The message keeps going. “When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes.” (Jonah 3:6) Now the leadership has gotten involved. He has taken off everything that separated him from the people of his kingdom and trades his throne for ashes. When I looked up the word sackcloth, Wikipedia mentions words like “worn as a token of mourning, sign of submission, grief and humiliation”. Oh, and they were typically made from goat’s hair. I’m not sure what the people of Nineveh typically wore, but I highly doubt the kings royal robe was made from goat’s hair. What a trade and such a humble example.
“Then he issued a decree in Nineveh: By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. Further more, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoings. Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish.” (Jonah 3:7-9). Can you imagine if this happened in our day? Would the people of the US so willingly submit to our president? The answer grieves my heart. The king was doing all he knew to do to save the people of Nineveh.
And looks what happens – “God saw their actions – that they had turned from their evil ways – so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it.” (Jonah 3:10). Why can’t we be like the people of Nineveh? What would happen, if as a nation, we all repented and everyone would, “call out earnestly to God” and “turn from their evil ways and from his wrongdoings”. Can you even imagine?
I get a bit of a picture in my head. Everyone is equal and stripped of their “royal robes” and the dress is humble sackcloth. People who were never meant to be elevated and worshiped are sitting side by side in the ashes with the homeless. We all go low and cry out to God with hearts of repentance. Nobody has their own agenda or is spewing hate of those who have different views. School and church shootings would be no more. Discrimination ends. The murder of innocent babies comes to a halt and all lives really do matter. They matter because we are all asking for disaster not to come to the US. We are all praying to the only One that can save us from eternal damnation. Can you picture it too? What would it take to make this happen?
I pray we each hear the word of the Lord like Jonah did and respond by getting up and going! God may have come to you a hundred times before, but we’ve been to busy with our agenda and defending whatever cause shares our tightly held ideas. Let Him give you the words and take you where He will. Maybe it’s across the US to people you don’t know. Maybe its as close as someone in your own family, who doesn’t know Him. We are still here and there are many who need to hear about the God that relents.