Monday 06 July 2015

Bible Book:

“And the people of Ninevah believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.” (v. 5)

Jonah 3:1-10 Monday 6 July 2015

Psalm: Psalm 37:1-11


Jonah has to be one of the strangest people in the Bible, yet hehas some interesting lessons to teach us about both human natureand the nature of God.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time (verse 1), weread - because the first time he simply disobeyed it. Told by Godto go to Nineveh and cry out against its wickedness, he insteadtook a boat to Tarshish (Jonah1:3) - about as far as he could possibly go in the oppositedirection - sparking a train of events which resulted in his briefencounter with the stomach of a large fish. To his credit heacknowledged he was to blame for the tempest ravaging the boat,even telling the crew to throw him overboard if they wanted toavoid going down (Jonah 1:8-12). Cue the whale, three days andnights of prayer and repentance in its belly, and Jonah's eventualre-acquaintance with dry land.

Eventually Jonah did make it to Nineveh to warn the Ninevites ofGod's impending judgement on their city. And, despite the apparentlack of conviction behind his message, they took him seriously,instantly proclaiming a fast and repenting without reserve. TheNinevites even donned sackcloth and ashes, including the king. AndGod, seeing this 'turning from evil' (verse 10), decided to spareand not destroy their city.

It's striking that the people of Nineveh respondedwholeheartedly to Jonah's message despite its extreme brevity andhis lack of passion in delivering it. As we read later, Jonah wouldmuch rather the people hadn'trepented and got what he thought weretheir just deserts (Jonah 4). He certainly doesn't go overboard(this time!) in persuading them to change.

This is a reminder that, however hard we try to reach peoplewith the gospel, in the end it is God who changes people's hearts.We might carefully craft our sermons and go to great lengths to getpeople to hear them, and rightly so. But, if God chooses, theentire population of a city can be brought to repentance on thebasis of one unpolished sentence delivered by a person who didn'teven want people to hear it!


To Ponder

  • Have you ever felt tempted to try to get as far away aspossible from where you fear God wants you to be? Why?
  • What might be an equivalent expression of repentance today toputting on 'sackcloth and ashes'?
  • Have you ever felt God has used you beyond your capacity orconviction? If so, what happened? And how did it feel?
Previous Page Sunday 05 July 2015
Next Page Tuesday 07 July 2015