This week we continued into Jonah 3, where we witness Jonah again receiving God’s call. I don’t know about you, but it is encouraging to me that God cares so much about the ministry He’s set aside for each of us, individually, that He will send us His Word “a second time” – even if we completely rebelled against it the first (Jon 3:1). We compared Jonah’s call as recorded in chapter 1 with that in chapter 3. We looked at how readily the Ninevites accepted Jonah’s message. The king himself issued a decree that required every inhabitant of Nineveh (human and animal, young and old) to fast and mourn and turn from their sin.
…Ooooh, there’s a new thought (for me and you)! The king ordered fasting and mourning, but if the people had shown these outward displays during the day … but at night (or in secret) continued on their “evil way ” (Jon 3:8), God’s reaction may have been very different! Mara (my young daughter) will say she’s sorry for certain things during bedtime prayers – typical offenses are whining, not listening, and fighting with Mason (younger brother), but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. The next night … and the next … and the next … she’s still sorry for the same things. She’s five, so I’ll cut her some slack, but how often do we do the same thing?! We’ll acknowledge to God that something about our speech or behavior is wrong (fasting and mourning, even). Then we continue down the same evil path. Fasting and mourning were a good start for the Ninevites, but beyond that it was their turning (mentally and physically) from their evil way that saved them from destruction (Jon 3:10).
Back to how readily the Ninevites received Jonah’s message. I’ve read Jonah’s story probably more than any other in the Old Testament, but it didn’t occur to me until last week how easy his mission seemed to be (once he got there, that is). This was a wicked, pagan city in a nation hostile to Israel. What in the world could have made them repent so whole-heartedly almost as soon as Jonah opened his mouth?! Short answer: Nothing in the world. In one way or another, God Himself had prepared Nineveh for Jonah’s message. The soil of their hearts and minds had been tilled and took hold of the seed immediately.
All day Sunday – from the message God had put on my heart for class to my morning devotional to the sermon during our worship service to TV evangelists – I kept hearing the recurring theme of God calling the Body of Christ into action. If you’ve prayed (at any point in your life … out loud or in your head) for God to use you as His hands and His feet on this earth, He’s calling you to start walking! The good news we learn from Jonah 3 is that:
1. God prepares us for anything and everything He calls us to do.
I’m thinking of the saying, “If He takes you to it, He’ll take you through it!” God was giving Jonah specific words for the people of Nineveh (Jon 3:2), and through His Holy Spirit, he’ll do the same for you!
2. Any place to which God is calling you is being prepared, in advance, for your arrival.
I love my concordance! If you’ve never used a concordance, it is basically a glossary for the original Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) words that have been translated into English. When I was comparing “go” in Jonah 3:2 with “go” in Jonah 1:2, my Strong’s Concordance (hardback) referred me to two different Hebrew words. Not sure about you, but that was enough to get me curious. For Jonah 1:2, go meant go (anticlimactic, I know), but in chapter 3, it was a different word – Yephunneh, which means “he will be prepared.” In the “go“ing, he – both Jonah and Nineveh – would be prepared, for each other that is. Disclaimer: Since Sunday’s class, I have learned that the reference for Jonah 3:2 (#3312) was a typo; it should have been the same word as in chapter 1 (#3212). So yes, go still means go, but I include the insight in this post because I believe that the typo has some truth to it. He will be prepared!
God has prepared you for something (If you don’t know what it is then ask Him!), and He has prepared that same place for you. What a shame it would be if you didn’t show up!