So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. (Jonah 3:3-5)
After God showed Jonah his mercy by saving him from the belly of the whale, Jonah’s mission is renewed and God gives his command for a second time. When God has delivered us from affliction, he looks upon us to see whether we have mended our faults and have corrected our ways. Jonah listens to the Lord and delivers the message to Nineveh that it shall be overthrown if its inhabitants do not repent.
But the people of Nineveh repented and word reached the king who set a great example of humility. He rose from his throne in reverence to the word of God, for fear of his wrath and in shame and sorrow of his sins. A general fast was proclaimed by the king and observed by all of the great city, including the animals. The entire nation was strong in their repentance and turned from all their evil doings. A national act was necessary to prevent a national disaster. To this day, Christians all over the world fast for three days in remembrance of the mercy God showed the people of Nineveh.
“Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jonah 3:10)
God heard their good words, and saw their good works, and in his divine mercy accepted their repentance. God takes notice of our reformation, even if the world does not notice our change, God does. He sees those who turn from their evil ways with sincere conversion. No sacrifices were offered to God, but “the sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17).
- From Jonah 3 and Summary of a Sermon by Father Daoud Lamei
Image from Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org