Greetings! This reading is Jonah 3.
Jonah 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 important city—a visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
When the news 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. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast 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.”
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
Note the simplicity and power of the message. Jonah obeyed (finally!). The Ninevites, including their king, believed God and repented. God was gracious and merciful to them.
Sometimes we can over-complicate the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ. If you look at the book of Acts, which chronicles the early years of the church, the Gospel is shared thirteen times in a somewhat similar pattern. People are made aware of their problem (sinners separated from a perfect, Holy, righteous God) and the solution (Jesus, the Savior of the world, who died in their place and who offers complete forgiveness and reconciliation if they will only put their faith in him).
Sometimes we jump ahead and forget to point out that people need to know their problem before they hear the solution. Otherwise, they don’t think they need the solution.
It is easy to be hard on Jonah, but then I remember how many times I have done the opposite of what God wanted me to do. I praise him for his unending mercy and grace.
Reflect on what stood out to you in this reading and share your comments and questions if you like.
The next reading is Jonah 4.