Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.” Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command.
Now Nineveh was an extremely great city, a three-day walk. Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be demolished!” Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least.
When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he issued a decree in Nineveh:
By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. Furthermore, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish.
God saw their actions—that they had turned from their evil ways—so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it.
Having been given a second chance, Jonah obeys God and carries His message to the people of Nineveh. It’s not a pleasant message. It is a message of impending judgment. Destruction is coming in 40 days.
The repentance of the people of Nineveh from the king on down and God’s response to their repentance shows again that Yahweh is not a tribal god. He has a heart for all nations since all nations descended from His original creation.
Even though they held a military advantage over Israel, the Assyrians must have recognized that Yahweh, Israel’s God, was able to follow through on what He said would happen. They responded with repentance and fasting. God saw their hearts of repentance and He changed His plan. The destruction of Nineveh was averted. Jonah’s second chance lead to a second chance for Nineveh.
Like Jonah, God calls us to reach across tribal lines and make His name known, even among groups that we may consider enemies. We need to be responsive when He calls. We also need to pray for responsiveness among the people He calls us to because it’s God’s desire to restore all people to a relationship with Him.
- What would it look like for you to reach across a “tribal” barrier and help make Jesus know to a group very different from and even hostile to you?