Opening Prayer

Almighty God, I praise you for your power that created and sustains the universe—and that the same power is at work in and for me.

Read JONAH 3

Jonah Goes to Nineveh

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘… you perceive my thoughts from afar … Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.’1 How do you feel about being known so completely and comprehensively?

Think Further

God’s Word comes to Jonah again, representing a second chance (v. 1). Having rescued Jonah from death,2 God now reinstates him in his prophetic role (v. 2)—like Peter’s recommissioning following his denial of Jesus.3 From defiance, Jonah has graduated to compliance (v. 3). But what is the state of his heart? Minimum-wage legislation safeguards employees against exploitation, but these laws are not intended to discourage employers from paying just and generous wages. Jonah’s sermon is brief, even brusque (v. 4). He says nothing about who God is or how God loves;4 he doesn’t try to persuade the Ninevites to repent; he doesn’t share his own powerful testimony of God’s grace. Jonah’s ‘minimum wage’ brand of sermon fails to reflect the ‘maximum mercy’ quality of God’s grace! Unfolding events will reveal that, although Jonah tweaked his behavior, he had not experienced the change of heart that characterizes genuine repentance.5

Although the messenger remains unmoved, ‘The Ninevites believed God’ (v. 5). Much scholarly ink has been spilled in debating the authenticity of their response. Nevertheless, the text confirms that the Ninevites didn’t merely perform rituals of repentance (vv. 5, 6, 8a) but also ‘turned from their evil ways’ (vv. 8b, 10a)—in stark contrast to Jonah, whose outward obedience (v. 3) is not matched by a turning away from sinful prejudices. Clearly, God took the Ninevites’ repentance seriously, since he turned from ‘his fierce anger’ (v. 9) and ‘relented’ from his decision to destroy Nineveh (v. 10).6 This does not, however, mean that Nineveh experienced lasting revival; this story relates only to the response of this particular generation of Ninevites.7


‘… the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.’8 What will the Lord see in your heart?

Closing prayer

Father, your love never lets go, no matter how undeserved. Thank you for loving me; help me to love others as you do.

Last Updated on March 4, 2024 by kingstar

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