Are You Ready to Go Now? (Jonah 3)
While not everyone who spends three days in the stomach of a fish will use that time to get his mind and spirit right, that is exactly what the prophet Jonah did. Once he did that — and once God got him out of that fish';s belly — he barely had time to get himself cleaned up when God spoke to him a second time, giving him the same command as before: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you” (Jonah 3:2).
Jonah had learned his lesson. This time he didn';t head “down,” but instead he headed out, straight to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see all of it. He still may not have had a clue as to why God had called him to preach to a people like the Ninevites — or why God had chose him to do it — but this time he did as he had been commanded.
And once Jonah was in Nineveh, he didn';t pull any punches. He spoke the very message God had given him to deliver.
The book of Jonah doesn';t tell us what specific sin or sins the people had committed to bring God';s judgment down on themselves, but it does tell us that the situation was dire, so dire that on the very day Jonah entered the city he announced, “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” (Jonah 3:4). It was a message Jonah believed with all his heart, and it was a message the Ninevites believed, too.
Jonah was not the only prophet to foretell the doom and desolation of the city of Nineveh. The book of the prophet Nahum, which is set about a century after the time of Jonah, is taken up almost exclusively with the prophecies of the destruction of the city because of its great sin.
Jonah had spoken from the heart and with passion, because the people of Nineveh — including the king himself — listened and made the changes God had called them to make. Jonah, the reluctant — even rebellious — prophet of God had made a difference, preaching salvation to a people who until that time had been his mortal enemy.
What would you do if you knew God wanted you to do something that in your human reasoning just didn';t make sense? Would you obey? Argue? Bargain?
Why do you think God persisted with Jonah instead of just sending someone else to do the preaching?