1Once again the LORD told Jonah 2to go to that great city of Nineveh and preach his message of doom.
3Jonah obeyed the LORD and went to Nineveh. The city was so big that it took three days just to walk through it. 4After walking for a day, Jonah warned the people, "Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!"
5They believed God's message and set a time when they would go without eating to show their sorrow. Then everyone in the city, no matter who they were, dressed in sackcloth.
6When the king of Nineveh heard what was happening, he also dressed in sackcloth; he left the royal palace and sat in dust. [a] 7-9Then he and his officials sent out an order for everyone in the city to obey. It said: None of you or your animals may eat or drink a thing. Each of you must wear sackcloth, and you must even put sackcloth on your animals.
You must also pray to the LORD God with all your heart and stop being sinful and cruel. Maybe God will change his mind and have mercy on us, so we won't be destroyed.
10When God saw that the people had stopped doing evil things, he had pity and did not destroy them as he had planned.
The third chapter of Jonah starts out exactly like the first. There is a command from God to deliver a message to the people of Nineveh. Thankfully, this time, Jonah listed to God's command and make the long journey to Nineveh.
Now the text doesn't say anything about this but Jonah had about a three day journey to Nineveh after the fish threw him up. I wonder what Jonah thought about while on his trip. His mind had to have been racing about the huge mistake he had just made. He also must have been thinking about how amazingly gracious God was by giving him a second chance.
Either way, Jonah made it to Nineveh and instantly began speaking to crowds of people. He warned them of the fact that God was going to destroy the city in forty days because of their evilness. When the people heard this they immediately changed their ways. They began fasting and mourning. Even the king stepped down and told the entire city that not even the animals where to eat.
This had to come as a surprise to Jonah. After all his disobedience and refusal of God, these people which God was going to destroy, turned and repented.
For me I see this as a sign of hope. Earlier this week I wrote that we often believe that our way is better than God's way. We think get the idea in our mind that we somehow know more than God and that we know what is best for our lives. Often this is because we foresee the outcome has something to be feared.
We forget that God sees things for start to finish. Where as we can only perceive the here and now. We let our past failures dictate our future. God saw that the people of Nineveh would be receptive to His message through Jonah. Jonah could only see the sinfulness of the people and what he though would be their response to him. Tomorrow I will talk about how Jonah responds to the people's faithfulness...you might be surprised.