Most people believe that the purpose of the Book of Jonah is teaching about his spending three days in the belly of a great fish, but they are so very wrong. Actually, the account of the great fish is just a side note compared to the main message of the account of Jonah.
At the time of Jonah, Nineveh was a great city, protected by high and wide walls. It took three days to walk across the city behind the walls. It was a very important and populous city.
Nineveh was also a city filled with evil and had no belief in the God of the Bible. They worshiped their idols and false gods.
When God told Jonah to go preach repentance to the city of Nineveh, Jonah became indignant, saying that Nineveh didn’t deserve God’s mercy and blessing, because of the reputation of the city. That’s when Jonah tried to flee from God and ended up in the belly of the great fish.
Take another look at the account of Jonah while on board the boat. The real miracle wasn’t the great fish, but the fact that the sailors on that boat truly repented and believed in the one true God. That was the real story of the boat and great fish, but wait, there is more.
After Jonah was spewed out of the great fish on dry land, again God told him to go to Nineveh and preach repentance. Jonah still didn’t believe that Nineveh was worthy of God’s mercy, but this time he obeyed.
So, what happened?
Jonah began telling the people that in 40-days, the city of Nineveh will be overthrown.
The people heard, listened and responded to Jonah, as recorded in Jonah 3:5 –
“Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.”
It wasn’t just the people that repented, but so did the ruler of Nineveh as we read in Jonah 3:6-8 –
“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands.”
God did have mercy on the people of Nineveh, after they all repented and He prevented the overthrow of the city.
America today is much like Nineveh in the days of Jonah. Both are filled with evil. Both are governed with people who truly do not know God.
The people of Nineveh responded to the preaching of the word from Jonah and they repented and believed in God.
Think of what God told Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:12b-14 when He told Solomon:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” [emphasis mine]
What would happen in America today if God sent us a Jonah? Would the people respond, believe and repent? Would our leaders respond, believe and repent?
God saved Nineveh from certain destruction. America seems headed for certain destruction. Would God have mercy on America if everyone, including our leaders repented and believed in Him?
With God, anything is possible, even the impossible, so I encourage every American to pray to God for a spiritual reformation, as that is the only hope America has.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.