Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jonah 3:1-4

Nineveh Repents
1Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,

2"Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you."

3So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk.

4Then 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."

Do you feel as though you have heard these words before? The first two verses of Chapter 3 are almost the same as the first two verses of Chapter 1. God's word comes to Jonah, telling him to arise and go to Nineveh. And, this time, Jonah "arose and went."

[Tee hee!]

In Chapter 1, Jonah is told by God to "cry against it [Nineveh]" because of the city's sinfulness before the Lord. In Chapter 3, Jonah is told to "proclaim a proclamation." Not only is he told to proclaim something, but he is told that God will tell him what it is (vs. 2). God will accomplish His purposes as He wishes. Jonah is not going to misunderstand His purposes this second time around, and being handed the words from God Himself will certainly make his task slightly easier.

According to my study Bible, Jonah is the only prophet sent by God to preach repentance in a foreign land. This is not an easy calling. That Jonah ran away from Nineveh the first time is something that cannot be undone. It's also a memory that could easily come back and maybe hamper his efforts. Reading into things, perhaps, but it seems that God is continuing to bolster his messenger with exactly what he needs--physical strengthening, mental fortitude and the words to speak. Isn't it just like God to do that when we are faithful?!

Just standing at the door to Nineveh must have been a fearful sight. Not only was Nineveh a city of influence, but it was a big city, requiring a three-day journey to see it all 60 miles of it (vs 3). Still, Jonah begins his preaching on day one with one message: 40 days and Nineveh will be overthrown. Tough message to have to share when you're the out-of-town prophet with bad news!

"But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious.
--Ezekiel 2:7 (cross-referenced verse)

"Exceedingly great." (vs 3) I definitely would not have thought that this meant more that just the size of the city. More literally, in translation, the phrase means "a great city to God." This speaks volumes of God's tremendous grace, mercy and love, shown both to Jonah and to Nineveh. God surely could have destroyed Nineveh for its wickedness, but, there was something which made it a city of greatness to the Father. Or, God could have left Jonah at the bottom of the Mediterranean and brought in a more confident and faithful prophet to handle His work. But, He had a much bigger plan in mind. Not on the scope of Nineveh's size. Much more personal and influential!

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him."
--I John 3:1

Jonah discovered, again, the great love of his Father. And, again, he had the opportunity to let more in the world know that same love--even as he had to point out the sinfulness that was keeping Nineveh separated from that love.

And, Nineveh responds.... 'Til next Wednesday!

Photo:,r:10,s:0; and,,r:0,s:0

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Next week: Jonah 3:5-10

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).