Jonah has been called to get “up!” and to “go!” But where is he to go? Let’s continue breaking down the first few verses of the book of Jonah phrase-by-phrase.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.


… to Nineveh, that great city.”


Though Nineveh was miles to the northeast, Jonah would have been familiar with it. The name would have been very well-known in Jonah’s day because it was the royal city of Assyria. While the city itself isn’t often mentioned in the Scriptures, we find Assyria scattered throughout the pages of the Old Testament. At one point in Israel’s history they were forced to pay tribute to the king of Assyria, and the name alone would have filled Jewish hearts with fear.

How does this geographical context shed light on God’s call to Jonah to go to Nineveh?

“…and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 

The Hebrew word for “evil” is used here, and we will see it often throughout the book of Jonah. Though we aren’t told exactly what evils have occurred or what has taken place, we know that it has been brought to God’s attention. The wickedness of the nation is staring Him in the face, and He is about to act.

I take great comfort in verses like these. They remind us that our God is much bigger than we could ever imagine. It is easy for us to think that God is exclusively on the side of His people, and that He wouldn’t give a second thought to those who persecute His own. But He does. Because He is gracious and merciful, He takes notice of those who oppose His people and are full of wickedness.

And praise God! Because that is your story and my story! You and I were once enemies of God. We were opposed to His ways and wicked to our core, but God took notice of us. Even when our wickedness was staring Him in the face, He sent His son to save us from our wicked ways.

Romans 5:10 puts it this way:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Our salvation is secure not because we were born into believing families or have the right genes, but because He called us to repentance and made a way for us to be right with Him – just like He did for Nineveh.


Thank God for the gift of your salvation. Thank Him for making you – once His enemy – His child and friend.



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Author: amygannett

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