Jonah 3:1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Yesterday was supposed to be the day that things “turned around” in the U.S. There was supposed to be a red wave that would change things. For those who have been watching, the Republican candidates were no better on the important issues than their Democrat counterparts. The sanctity of life is despised on both sides. The promotion of the sodomite agenda is accepted on both sides. The promotion of the lie of “climate change” is accepted by both sides. There is not very much difference between the two parties.
The Bible teaches us that God is in charge and He puts those people in place that He chooses. All the hype from man is just that. In our text, God was concerned about the spiritual wickedness in Nineveh. He was also concerned about the spiritual wickedness in Israel. The book of Jonah covered events that took place about one hundred years prior to the fall of the northern ten tribes of Israel. The Assyrians would be brought in by God to punish the nation and kill some of the people and populate the land with their own people. Israel was at a place where they had chosen to reject the true God for years. They had a history that showed them the blessing of knowing and serving the true God, and yet they chose to reject that and adopted the idolatry of the nations around them. Nineveh was a pagan nation that did not have that history of being blessed by God. At some point they would have known the true God, but that was a long time back. They had long rejected Him and they were steeped in false religion.
God chose to send Jonah, a Hebrew prophet, to Nineveh to warn them of His judgment upon their wickedness. They had been given enough light to see that their way was wrong. They were now going to be given a live testimony to help them to see their need to repent and be saved.
We are told here that the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time. The message was no different. He was to go to Nineveh and preach the message that God gave him. Nineveh was a great city. Verse 3 repeats this fact. It was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. It is commonly understood that it would take three days to go around the city.
God was not going to “hold His nose” and put some other wicked king in charge of Nineveh. He was going to send a prophet there to preach the Word to them. It is the heart of man that needs to be changed. When the heart of man is changed then his thinking will be changed.
We see that this time, Jonah did not look for a way to avoid the city. He learned his lesson on this matter. He began to enter the city a day’s journey and he cried out. He was not whispering his message. He was speaking loudly to get the people’s attention. He had a dire message for the people. God told him to warn the people that they had 40 days before Nineveh would be overthrown.
This was a serious message. This was not a small city. It would be quite something for this city to fall.
Jonah’s message was a powerful message because it was from God. Jonah was called to be the vessel to make the message known, but the message came from the LORD. Every Word of God is important to pay attention to. None of it is just a filler.
In verse 5 we see that the people believed Jonah. We are not told if they knew who he was. We are told that He was a prophet from Israel. The people of Nineveh were not going to ignore this message. They were more interested in hearing this message than Jonah was in giving it. We read that the people proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth.
This message spoke to their hearts. They understood that they were in trouble. They needed to repent toward God. These people were more alert to the truth than Israel was. The people of Nineveh understood they were in trouble with the LORD. They obviously had enough understanding of the truth to know this.
Proclaiming a fast and putting on sackcloth was a symbol of mourning and humility. These people understood their sin was evil and that they needed to address it properly now. This humble attitude affected all the people, from the greatest unto the least of them. This was a different situation than what we see in our country today.
The people of Nineveh listened to a preacher. They were not used to hearing preaching, but they certainly listened to this message. They responded as an entire people, with mourning and humility. Big changes would take place as a result of this important action. This would be a great blessing for the people of that city. Rather than falling in forty days, Nineveh would be given a reprieve from the LORD because they repented and trusted in Him. It was not because of a futile election. It was because their hearts were changed by the LORD. It would also be a blessing to the neighbouring cities. When a people turn to God, it has a powerful impact on others.
The need of our day is for bold preachers who are convinced that God’s Word is true. Preachers that will not hide behind a “system” but would stand upon the sure Word of God in all things. Our world needs to be told of the Holiness and Righteousness of the LORD. There are some godly preachers today and we need to pray for them. The apostle Paul asked the Ephesian saints to pray that he would be bold in his ministry. That is what is needed today. Whether we are blessed with an openness to be able to preach freely, or whether we are threatened with arrest if we speak the truth, we need boldness. God wants people to know the truth. Jesus said He would use the rocks to cry out if the people did not glorify Him. I don’t want to be sidelined and have God use rocks instead of faithful men who know and love the LORD.