Everyone has heard the story of Jonah, right? The guy who got eaten by a whale OR was it swallowed? I recommend reading the book of Jonah before starting into this devotional, unless you can answer these two questions: 1. How long was Jonah in the belly of the whale? 2. What town was Jonah heading towards to get away from the presence of God?
Now, think for a minute as to what the day in the life of a Ninevite was like. While thinking about that question, I came across a homework assignment of a guy named KingJimmy on SermonIndex.net. This homework was his version of a Ninevite's testimony:
Once, as I made my way through market place in the
great city of Nineveh, I saw a great commotion- a great crowd had gathered around a man who shouted loudly with great urgency, “Yet in forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” This was all that he
kept shouting over and over again. As I pressed through the crowd for a better look, I managed to make my way up to the front, and a gentle breeze began to blow. I saw the most peculiar person whose
skin looked like it had been bleached, and without one whisker of hair on his entire head. As the breeze blew more towards me, I could not help but be overwhelmed by the foulest, most ghastly smell
that I had ever come across. I could not help but sigh in disgust: “Oh God!”
No sooner than I had said, “God”, I was amazingly gripped. I found myself repeating over and over again, “Oh God, Oh God”, as the sound of this man’s voice echoed in my heart. My heart began to beat hard within my chest, and I began to think of what I had come to the market place to do this day: I had come to make my living by stealing from merchants who were too busy dealing with all their customers to notice me as I stole from their unattended money bag. I never stole much though, I only took a little more than what I needed to get by in life- I was not a greedy thief. But now, the greatness of my crime gripped my heart as I heard this man was speaking.
Then I thought of how many others there were like me in the city, as I did not work alone. I knew other thieves who helped themselves to much more than I ever took, and not only did they steal, but they also did things that were unspeakable, things I would never do. I thought, perhaps this man is right. Perhaps this city is ready to fall as an act of Divine judgment. As my conviction grew worse, I doubled over on my knees and began to moan, and cried out to God for mercy. As I did, others began to moan around me and do the same. Soon, our wailing ended up drowning out that of the prophet’s voice. With that, the prophet began to quickly run away from us. He was as urgent to get out of our midst as he was in the urgency of delivering his message.
For the next forty days all activity in the city came to a standstill. Many could be found fasting and wearing sackcloth. For forty days everybody in the city, including the king himself, could be found praying to God to spare our city. To our surprise, forty days came and forty days passed, and our city still stood. No fire fell from heaven and consumed us. No foreign army stormed our city gates. We were spared. It worked. God showed us mercy.
Though we could not understand it, God had decided to show us mercy, and relented of destroying us through some unknown calamity, though we all knew how great our sins were. We were all so sure that destruction would befall us all, but it did not. Unable to find anybody who could explain why we were not destroyed, some purposed that we search after that man who came through our city and announced judgment so that he might explain why we all did not perish. Such an odd looking man should not be too hard to find. But when it was decided to form a search party to look for him, people were unsure if he left through our western gate, or if he went right out of the city through the eastern gate. So, the search party decided not to go looking for him after all.
How often do we do the same thing? "Man, I feel bad, I lied to my mom about that." That initial conviction – points you to the truth of the matter and the judgement that comes along with it. Then
it's, "well, it was only a little lie" or "I just didn't want her to be worried." And then possibly, "I know people that lie so much more than me" or "You know, if I only lie in moderation then it's
A "little lying" is OK? Really? Go back to scripture, go back to the 10 commandments. Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. It's there in black in white. In other words, Thou Shall Not Lie.
Now read this following scripture with the testimony of a Ninevite in mind.
Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
From the book of Jonah:
Jonah 1:1-2 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it: for their wickedness has come up before Me."
Likely wasn't a booming voice out of the clouds, but a conviction.. You know – that still small voice that we have now and again – when we are convicted to do something because it is according to God's will...
Well Jonah had this conviction, to prophesy to Nineveh about the evil and adulterous generation that they had become. God was telling Jonah to go do this. But instead he decided to get on a ship and go to a town called Tarshish – to try and get away from the presence of God.
You ever feel like that? You know when you have that sense that you should really be doing something, because God wills it, but for whatever reason – we ignore Him and try to do it our own way?
**What are some of the reasons why we would ignore God?
**So, what happened to Jonah??
Well, Jonah gets thrown of the ship after a major storm, gets swallowed by a whale and ends up getting vomited onto dry land and then FINALLY makes it to Nineveh and preaches against the city, telling them that in 40 days the city will be overthrown.
Jonah 3:5-10 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose
from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles,
Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
See, these people were pagans and were lost, but kept looking for a sign from God, to change their ways about what they were doing in their lives. That sign came through Jonah the prophet and what Jonah said was readily accepted as being the word of God. *"So the people of Nineveh believed God."*
But, you see what they did? They turned away from evil and violence and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them.
**So, when you asked Christ into your life, what were the feelings or thoughts you had? Were they similar at all to the testimony of a Ninevite? Did you have a conviction, were you at an all time low, or did you just realize one day?
Jonah was a man who loved God, but God asked Jonah to do something that he didn't want to do. God corrected Jonah and got him back on track (think whale here). When Jonah began to call out in the city of Ninevah, they accepted what he was saying as it was the word from God. They changed their mind about sinning and then God changed his mind as stated in scripture about destroying Ninevah and all that were there. So, what does this mean to you???
Additional scripture and info:
It's interesting how it says "God relented" here. Relented is in the NKJV, NIV and others, but in the KJV it is repented. However in the Septuagint, written in Greek, is μετενόησεν ὁ θεὸς or Metanoiasen o Theos – changing of God's mind. The person who wrote this God breathed text, understood this as God changing His mind.
Jesus says in Matthew 12: 38-41 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
Matthew 12: 43-45 "When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation."
Mark 5 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me." For He said to him, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!" Then He asked him, "What is your name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion; for we are many." Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, "Send us to the swine, that we may enter them." And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea. So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened.