Pastor's Corner: Von Anderson
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (ESV). We left Jonah in the belly of the fish last week and today we begin with the last verse in chapter 2 where God speaks to the fish and it vomits Jonah out. So here is Jonah, disobeyed God, ran from His presence, hid in the bottom of a boat, storm tossed, barely escaped death by drowning, been living in the belly of a fish for 3 day, and unceremoniously vomited out onto the beach. You think you had a rough week.
So now what? Jonah had as many options as we do every day. He could choose to go home, try and run somewhere else, or he could hold true to the promise he made inside the belly of the fish, and that was to go and do as God commanded. He took the last option and began his journey to Nineveh. Working only on the assumption that the fish spit him out somewhere along Jerusalem’s coast line, he had to travel approx. 150-175 miles to Nineveh. Now this was not like today travel where he can be from Dayton to Lousiville (165 miles) in about 2 ½ hours. This would have taken him at least a week or longer depending on whether he walked or joined a caravan and was able to ride a camel or donkey along the way. The point is he had time to think about what he was about to do.
Now according to 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, three days’ journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (ESV). Imagine going into a city you had never been to and begin preaching against it. Telling them that in 40 days, God was going to overthrow the city. It took Jonah three days to be able to tell the whole city. What I like about Jonah here is this, once he committed to do what God had commanded him to do, he threw himself completely into the task at hand.
So what was the response? The people of the city believed what Jonah was saying. It says that the people began to fast and put on sackcloth. Not just some of the people but all the people from the least to the greatest. This was a nationwide revival. We need to realize that this is one of the first times we see God sending a prophet, not to the people of Israel, but to a Gentile nation. A nation that was an enemy of Israel and its people. A nation that followed other God’s and did not follow the teachings and commands of the Jewish people. Yet they still recognized the power of God. Once the news of Jonah’s message reached the king of Nineveh he immediately called for a national time of repentance. Don’t underestimate the weight of this decision he made.
At the time Nineveh was one, if not the top power in the world. They ruled all of Assyria as well as surrounding areas with an iron fist. The king bowed to no one and believe me everyone bowed to him. Yet he was willing to recognize that there was and is one still greater than him. One that even a king on the earth will bow before.
We live in a time where ordinary individuals believe and have self-proclaimed themselves as kings and queens of the own live. Athletes, music performers, actors, actresses, social media participants, business professionals, religious leaders, politicians, and so many others who have declared their own self-importance, to the point where they believe there is no greater than them-selves. I have some really awakening news for them. There is only one that has been, who is, and who will always be the only one that all mankind will bow before. That is none other than the Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, giver and sustainer of life, all merciful, all powerful, all knowing, all seeing, all grace, all love, complete in holiness and righteousness, the only true judge, and the only one worthy to sit on the throne. The throne not only of the universe but of mankind’s hearts and lives.
I don’t see any leader of any nation at this time in the world we live in to be willing to set his seat of power aside and allow God the position of ruler. What it would be like to have a leader stand in front of his/her nation and call for a nationwide time of repentance and prayer back to God and ask if He will remove the harsh times we are going through.
At the ending of chapter three, we see that God notices what has happened in the city of Nineveh. The people, all the people, have repented of their sins and have turned their hearts toward God. God therefore, being true to His word, turns from the promise of destruction and allows them to continue to thrive and grow in, hopefully, knowledge and worship of Him.
2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (ESV).
With the announcement of the President and First Lady’s diagnosis of Covid-19, I feel it would be right to make sure we do pray for all our leaders, regardless of our political affiliations or leanings. “Father right now I humble ask that you would watch over and protect our president and his wife and family. May your healing hand be upon them and keep them in good health during this time of difficulty in our country. May they turn to you for the strength they need to go through their daily lives. In your sons’ name we pray, Amen”