The Lord’s word came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and declare against it the proclamation that I am commanding you.” 3 And Jonah got up and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s word. (Now Nineveh was indeed an enormous city, a three days’ walk across.) (Jonah 3:1-3, Common English Bible).
I have either lived in Houston, a suburb of Houston, or close to Houston most of my life. Houston is a big city. It is the fourth largest city in the country by population but it is the ninth largest by land area. After doing some research I found that Houston is about 50 miles across.
Ninevah, in Jonah’s day, would most likely have been about 60 miles wide. All the Book of Jonah tells us is that it was a three-day journey across Ninevah. In the Biblical era, a day’s journey was generally considered to be about 20 miles.
According to the website Quora.com, today a person, walking four miles per hour, on a seven and a half hour day would cover about 30 miles a day. That would mean you could walk across Houston in a day and about two thirds.
As we have already said, the distance across Ninevah would be about sixty miles. Using today’s pace, it would take about two days to cover the same distance.
Personally, I can’t imagine walking across Houston, no matter how many days it might take. Additionally, we would be walking on paved streets or sidewalks if we walked across Houston. Walking across Ninevah would, at least for the most part, been walking on dirt. It might be easier on the knees, but it would probably take longer. That might be why they covered 20 miles a day and we can cover 30.
To carry this thought one step further, if you figure Ninevah was 6o miles wide and 60 miles tall, that would be 3600 square miles God expected Jonah to carry this message. You are not going to cover that in three days. If I didn’t know better, I would say, “No wonder Jonah didn’t want to go to Ninevah.
When Jonah finally decided to follow God’s instructions, he didn’t expect it to be an easy task. The mileage alone would make this task difficult. I would not be easy to cover that number of miles in a car, much less on foot. Yet, Jonah went about doing exactly as God instructed. He probably did because of all he had been through. He might have even thought to himself, “If I don’t do this, what else could the Lord do to me?”
When God calls us to some kind of work, God never says it will be easy. God only expected Jonah to be obedient, regardless of the difficulty. It just took some extreme measures to get him there.
God asks the sane of us. What might God have to do in order to get you to be obedient? Chances are pretty good you might not find yourself in a giant fish belly but God does have other ways to dish out extreme treatment.
At some point, God calls us all. When God does make that call, will it require the extreme or will you be ready to make your way across Houston (as it were)?
Have a great day in the Lord.
Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved