Summary: This devotion is about Jonah's obedience to God's 2nd call to him to go and preach against the people of Ninveveh. This is the 23rd of 31 devotions on the book of Jonah, where a comparison is made between Jonah and The Church-at-large, in the light of the present global pandemic.
Jonah 3:3-4 - 3 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. 4 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!”
We just read how the Lord spoke with Jonah the second time and gave him the same message to go and preach against Nineveh. Let’s look at Jonah’s reaction to the second Commission by the Lord, especially after the terrible ordeals he experienced both on the surface of the sea with the tempest and in the heart of the sea in the belly of the great fish.
“So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord….”
When the read of the Lord speaking with Jonah the first time, the sentence that followed the Lord’s instruction began with the word, “But,” and continued to read, “Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” In contrast, when God speaks to Jonah the second time, we read of a different response by Jonah. The first word that begins to describe his response to God’s commission is, “So,” and continues to read, “Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.” Notice the contrast of Jonah’s responses to both the calls of God on his life. One was of immediate rebellion and the other is of immediate, implicit obedience. This time, instead of rebelling against God, he instead chose to do, “according to the word of the Lord.”
It’s obvious that Jonah had learned his lesson well, though he had to learn it the hard way. He had learned that rebellion was not the best way when it comes to walking with God – in fact, it was never even an option. He had experienced first-hand how rebellion against God, not only affected his own life, but it also had ripple effects on the lives of others around him. Not only did Jonah suffer three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish, but he had also put the mariners through untold misery, and also caused the loss of cargo from the ship – cargo that perhaps belonged to other people.
Let’s take a look at ourselves as The Church-at-large. How have we responded to the Great Commission by Jesus? Looking back, The Church responded rather well initially and went about doing just that – making disciples. But over time the vision changed and disciple-making took a back seat and eventually even got forgotten and the consequences are there for all to see – The Church on the decline in many countries.
Over the years in history, the Lord has done, or permitted several things to wake The Church up to its calling and vision, and oftentimes, there have been awakenings and revivals. At the moment we are in one such awakening with this global pandemic. Once again, it’s only those who see the hand of the Lord in this and hear the message of the Lord to The Church, who will wake up and return to the God-ordained purpose for The Church, while the rest will continue on, oblivious to the message of the Lord to The Church through this pandemic. It’s to those who’ve woken up that these words will resonate – “So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.” Let’s each of us arise and get about doing what the Lord has called us as individuals in The Church to do, and before long we’ll find a huge Church-wide, world-wide revival taking place.
“Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent.”
The above sentence gives us a glimpse, not just about the city of Nineveh, but also the extent to which Jonah’s mission to preach would extend – three days. It says that Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, and understandably so, as it was the capital of the Assyrian empire at the time. It had a population of a hundred and twenty thousand people, and as it says in the verse, it took three days to travel across it. That would seem much bigger than any of our present-day cities, which we could traverse in less than three days, even if it were on foot.
When you look at the words, “three day journey in extent,” it tells us that Jonah’s mission would have only have lasted three days had he obeyed the Lord the first time, but instead he put himself and others through so much turmoil, and eventually had to spend the same number of days and nights in the belly of the great fish before he actually obeyed the Lord.