10 God saw what they were doing—that they had ceased their evil behavior. So God stopped planning to destroy them, and he didn’t do it (Jonah 3:10, Common English Bible).
Yesterday, when we left off with our story, the giant fish had beached Jonah. He went around Nineveh proclaiming that divine destruction was on the horizon.
Jonah got their attention. The people started listening and started changing. What was most important, however, was the king was listening. This lowly prophet that went around town smelling like fish and proclaiming that God was angry and about to enter a period of divine destruction. The great city of Nineveh would be completely destroyed. Nothing would be left.
I am not certain why God would want them to know what was coming. Think about it, when Jesus came, one of his favorite things to do after a miracle was, “Now don’t tell anyone how this happened.”
Really, I do know why God would give the people a warning. He wanted them to do exactly what they did. God loved the people enough to warn them in hopes they would turn around. Remember, in Genesis, God was willing to relent on Sodom and Gomorrah if there was at least one righteous person there. There was not. Destruction followed. Here, again, God is saying to a group of people who were far from the intent and will of God, and once again, God threatened destruction. Maybe this time would be different. Maybe this time the people would change. That is exactly what happened.
My guess is, repentance came because the king pressed the issue with the people. “Go home. Put on sac cloth and sit in the ashes and pray. Then maybe God will relent and not destroy us.” The king himself did what he was telling the people to do. Everyone was praying.
And, our very short lesson for today, tells us, God did notice and decided not to destroy the city. For Nineveh, God didn’t follow through on threats of destruction.
This part of the story reminds me of another verse of Scripture “…if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive them of their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, Common English Bible).
While God did not say the words of 2 Chronicles to the people of Nineveh, to me it is clearly the God’s intent to push them, if possible, toward repentance. God did forgive them and their was a healing to their land.
It seems to me that our land could use a touch of divine healing as well. I doubt anyone would argue, we have problems. The biggest problem we have is, at least some of the time, it would seem we have forgotten how to love. It is our biggest fault because Jesus tells us it is part of the most important commandment.
God lived out the promise made at Nineveh. God will do the same for us and our society. What is necessary? To humble ourselves before God and pray God will see and treat us as God treated the people of Nineveh.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved