When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 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.Furthermore, 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 wrongdoing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish.
Jonah 3:6-9 CSB
Jonah, the reluctant prophet, had been sent to give God’s message of judgment to Nineveh, a very wicked city.
Since they were mortal enemies of Israel, Jonah at first refused, wound up drowning in the sea, swallowed by a big fish, and regurgitated on dry land! Talk about a fish story! However, this one is entirely true, and there is much we may learn from it.
Jonah was a prophet of Almighty God, and really should have known better than to pull this stunt! He knew he was part of a chosen people for holiness – people who obey. He had faithfully ministered among the Israelites, but this assignment went against his deepest desire, which apparently was to see their enemies pay! He didn’t want to preach repentance to them because he didn’t want them to repent!
Nineveh was the wicked kingdom – so wicked that God’s stated intention was to wipe it from the earth, much as he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.
But they immediately repented!
God relented, and did not bring the destruction on them He had threatened.
So Jonah pouted and wanted to die! He was in great pain because the stomach enzymes he had marinated in inside the fish had burned his skin and it was very tender.
He sat in the shade of the gourd plant, which provided a little relief from the sun. But then God caused the source of his shade to wither and die!
If Jonah was angry before, he was livid now! But God made His point. How much more important was the city full of people that God loved than the gourd plant, which Jonah did nothing to create and make grow?
America is also on the brink of destruction. God is the only One Who can save us. Will we humble ourselves and repent, as the Ninevites did, and so be saved? O God, may it be so!! We pray this in Jesus’ mighty name.
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