to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
September 27, 2019 – Friday
Jonah 3:3-4 NIV
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.
4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
What was the word of the Lord that Jonah obeyed? 1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
If we go back to chapter one we find what the Lord had to say to Jonah the first time. 1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
However Jonah disobeyed God and ran from Him. First down to the docks in Joppa, then down into a ship, then into the hold of the ship. He was getting as far away from God as possible, but it was all for naught as 4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. During the storm the sailors prayed to their gods and threw the ship’s cargo overboard to lighten the ship while Jonah slept in the hold of the ship. The ship’s captain eventually awakened him and after casting of lots it was determined Jonah was responsible for the storm. He admitted as much and said 12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” They initially refused because they would be putting an innocent man to death, but eventually threw him overboard and the seas became calm.
Of course this is where we find out Jonah was swallowed by a very large fish where he survived for three days and nights. While inside the fish Jonah had a powerful prayer of repentance for his disobedience – chapter two – to God that ended with
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to You.
What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”
Look at the end of his prayer Salvation comes from the Lord. It was shortly thereafter that 10 the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. While this was not near Nineveh, it was surely witnessed and a powerful to message to the city kingdom of Nineveh as they worshiped a half fish half man god and here was a man out of a fish bringing a message of repentance to Nineveh.
Jonah was opposed to bringing the message to Nineveh because the leaders and people of Nineveh were despised because of their widely know treachery and evil practices. Still God was going to afford them an opportunity to repent. This is a great example of God wanting His great faithfulness, mercy, and forgiveness to be offered to everyone no matter how we may feel about it.
So Jonah provided God’s message of the destruction of Nineveh in forty days. Hearing the message
5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened.
In chapter four God rebukes Jonah for his anger at God’s compassion for such as the people of Nineveh and relates it to Jonah’s compassion for a plant that provided him shade. From this Peter Pett concludes
Thus the central message of the prophecy of Jonah is precisely this, that God is of such a nature that He has mercy on all who are weak and admit their weakness, (whoever they are), when they truly turn from sin and seek Him in repentance and faith, a situation which all should be concerned to bring about. This was a vitally important message in 8th century BC Israel for in that land were many Canaanites and followers of false religions (such as Baalism) who needed to know that God had a welcome for them if only they would repent, turn from sin and seek His face.
We should all be incredibly grateful for God’s amazing mercy and forgiveness.
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)