“So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Jonah 3:3-4
As we learned in my last blog entry, “Running Away: A Second Chance”, Jonah was given a second chance to go and obey God’s call on his life. This time, Jonah was in full submission to God and eagerly obeyed Him.
When Jonah went to Nineveh, he cried out that in forty days, the city would be overthrown. The number forty has a very special place throughout the Bible. Whenever we see this number, it always marks a transition, or a change. In Hebrew, Jonah was declaring that in forty days, Nineveh would be destroyed. One of my favorite parts of this story happens next:
“Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes. And he issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. “But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. “Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?” Jonah 3:5-9
Nineveh was ripe to receive Jonah’s warning! Not only did they receive it, but also acted on it with repentance. The people of Nineveh immediately entered into a time of fasting, a time of pleading before the Most High God to forgive them of their sins against Him. They turned from their wicked ways back to God, in hopes that God may show mercy and grace upon them. I think it’s safe to assume that even Jonah did not expect this quick turnaround.
While in man’s eyes, Nineveh was a city filled with sin, and on the surface, it may have seemed like a waste of time to go and declare the need for repentance, in God’s eyes, they were ready to receive it. God saw a city that was ready and even waiting for His call, while all that Jonah saw was fear and trepidation.
Often, we believers are hesitant to respond to God’s prompting, forgetting (or not trusting) that He alone sees the big picture. Our fears and hesitations, although understandable, are not reasons to disobey. If God is calling you to do something, do it! You never know how ready someone is to receive what you have to share, and the result can mean life from death.
The result of disobedience is death; the result of obedience is life. It all started from one person, Jonah, and his choice to obey. His act of obedience resulted in the repentance of an entire city, which resulted in God’s turning his anger into compassion and forgiveness.
“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.” Jonah 3:10
Please do not underestimate the power of one person acting in obedience to God’s call! God can work through us to accomplish His plan. One man’s obedience can bring life to those who were on the path towards death…
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