And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
When you take a look at Jonah’s life, you see his relationship with God in a new way. As I began to study this passage more and more, I realized that Jonah was a friend of God… yet not in the way you’d expect. Jonah’s perspective effected every decision he made; it wasn’t until his perspective changed that he could be obedient to God’s call.
Notice the bold text. This wasn’t the first time Jonah was commanded to go to Nineveh. Jonah’s heart was filled with contempt for Nineveh and so he ran rather than submitting to God to deliver His message of repentance.
“Go unto Nineveh, that great city…”
Nineveh was a city of about 3 million people. It was one of the oldest and largest cities in the world at the time. If you were to start walking from one end to the other it would take you 3 days. Nineveh was a great city; in size, in power, in prestige, and in perversion. Great evil as well as great potential was wound into the history and lifestyle of the Ninevites.
“The word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time…”
Jonah had failed God, and he had failed himself. When in the boat, sailing to Tarsus, away from God’s call, he told the men to throw him into the sea. Why? Because Jonah would have rather drowned than see the people of Nineveh saved. Wow! But, in spite of that, while in the belly of the whale, “The word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time”. In spite of our failures, God offers forgiveness and a second chance.
“The preaching that I bid thee…”
Jonah 3:4 is the message that Jonah preached: the preaching that God commanded Jonah to preach wasn’t a massive sermon, it wasn’t long or even very complex and deep. Jonah’s message was this: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown”.
In Hebrew, this preaching is about 5 words long. Just 5 words was all the preaching God commanded Jonah to preach. Yet by these 5 words a city of 3 million people was saved. God didn’t give up on Jonah.
Jonah was a bit of a hot shot in Joppa, where he lived. God had given him a message of prosperity and general good news for the people and they loved him for it. He was the golden son of Joppa… then God speaks to him again and but it’s not what Jonah wanted to hear.
Priorities: was Jonah devoted to his own desire, his own gain, or to God? Jonah approached his relationship with God with the mindset of “What can God do for me?”. He loved delivering the good messages, but when it came to true obedience, Jonah wasn’t about to risk his reputation and his life for God: especially not for a people he hated. Jonah’s friendship with God was one-sided. God was a true friend to Jonah, but Jonah was not a friend to God.
This was never about Jonah. It’s been about you from the start. How are you approaching your friendship with God?
If when we are praying, we stop and wonder if what we’re asking is God’s Will, there is still a greater closeness to God for which we should strive. The purpose of prayer isn’t to inform God of our needs. God knows our needs before we even ask, (Matthew 6:8). The point of praying is to understand God better.
We should pray to God that we would know Him more and delight in Him more, (Psalm 37:4). When we delight in Him, He fulfills us. Regardless of if our desires become His desires, God fulfills our spirits so that we would desire only Him, having need of nothing else.
As always, thanks for reading.
–the anonymous novelist