READ JONAH THREE
Jonah is walking throughout the city calling out to the people to repent and warning of pending judgment. As we saw yesterday, the people who heard Jonah’s words did just that – heeded the warning and repented.
Read 3:6-8. Why do you think the king is mentioned separately from the rest of the people Jonah met?
What is significant about the king’s call to national repentance?
What does the king specifically command his people to do? (Name three things)
The king calls for the entire nation to 1) fast, 2) cover themselves in sackcloth, and 3) call out to God. We’re going to look at the significance of these three actions today.
First, let’s consider his command to fast.
Read the following passages and make note of why people fasted.
2 Chronicles 20:3
Fasting was (and is) a spiritual discipline that intentionally allows the body to crave food and water to remind oneself that true nourishment comes from God. The nation of Nineveh fasted because they recognized that their deepest need was to be saved from the wrath of Jonah’s God – Yahweh. With Easter right around the corner, fasting is something you and I can certainly consider in this vein – are there places in our lives that we have allowed to be filled by temporary satisfaction and forgotten that our truest need is for God alone? (We’re going to be looking at this starting next week!)
Read the following passages and make note of why people covered themselves in sackcloth and ashes.
2 Samuel 3:31
Wearing sackcloth and ashes was a cultural sign of mourning in the ancient near east (and still is in many contexts). There is something about putting yourself in a physical situation that represents how you feel internally – when people felt rent from top to bottom, when their lives and their loves seemed to be in shambles, they would tear their clothes to match and sit in the ruins.
Look at the final thing the king commands the people to do. Where have we seen this word before?
Just like the sailors called on Yahweh for mercy, the king commands his people to קָרָא on Jonah’s God for mercy.
What is significant about the author’s use of this word?
The nation of Nineveh doesn’t know Yahweh, but they are determined to be in right relationship to Him. Jonah’s words, by the sovereign grace of God, have had their effect and the nation is repenting.
What is the result? (Verse 10)
I don’t know about you, but the way this narrative has unfolded in so few words makes it seem like the easiest missionary endeavor God has ever called a prophet to! Jonah called, they repented, and God relented. Here on display for us is, once again, the overarching theme of God’s faithfulness. God is faithful. He was faithful to call Jonah a second time (and make the way for him to obey) and he was faithful to forgive the repentant Ninevites. Friends, we serve a faithful God. He hears our call for mercy, and He responds. Thanks be to God!
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that He is faithful. Recount back to God several times and ways He has been faithful to you. Thank Him for His faithfulness.