-The LORD speaks to Jonah again now that he has had his encounter with the depths of the sea and the great fish, which revived, renewed, and altered his desire to comply with the Living God. This time Jonah accepts the call to arise and go to Nineveh with the prophetic proclamation that he was to deliver. The size of Nineveh is detailed here. It takes three days of walking to cover this exceedingly great city. By the end of the first day of Jonah’s prophetic ministry there, things begin to quickly take place that signal awakening, repentance, and salvation. As Jonah cries out that they have 40 days before their overthrow by the LORD, “the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them (Jonah 3:1-5).
-Word soon reached the king of Nineveh. He arose from his throne of power, laid aside his royal robe from his body and covered himself in humility and repentance signified by sackcloth and ashes (or possibly he just sat on the dust of the ground from the Hebrew word 'epher used here) along with the rest of the Ninevites. He issued a formal proclamation declaring, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish (Jonah 3:6-9).” This was a serious deal, and the people of Nineveh were taking strong action in belief and faith. They wouldn’t even take water during this fast. They came to the LORD on His terms and were contrite of heart, even down to their animals. Their pride vanished, and they genuinely wanted to change their wicked and violent ways. They acknowledged His sovereignty much like the sailors in the boat earlier in the book and were resigned to their fate according to God’s desire (Jonah 1:6,14). Their hope for salvation to avert perishing rested in Yahweh. “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented (nacham- to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion) concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it (Jonah 3:10).”
-*Application* When a king and his country decide to go all the way in obedience to the LORD and His direction, things change. God wants to bring our nation back to Himself and purify it, but He cannot work with pride. If we as believers in this modern generation will humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways, pray earnestly, and seek His face, He will hear us, take pity on us, forgive us with compassion, and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14, Jonah 3:8-10). Nineveh is a case that it is never too late for God to move a large populace to repentance and redirection. When Jonah denied the LORD and went his own direction, a storm resulted, but when he obeyed the LORD and went His way, salvation for an entire city occurred. If God is calling you to be a Jonah to this culture, act in boldness with love to see what God can do. Follow God and proclaim His prophetic message that He gives you earnestly and sincerely.
Verses to Memorize: Jonah 3:9-10