August 13, 2020 – Thursday
Jonah 3:3-6 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.”
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.
Nineveh had a population of at least 120,000 people. A few versions of the Bible say there were 120,000 innocent children, but most simply say over 120,000 people. Why am I making a big deal about the number of people? Because this was the greatest revival the world had ever seen.
As you can read in the verses above, when Jonah finally entered the city and brought the message of God that in forty days Nineveh would be overthrown or destroyed, the Ninevites believed God. They believed. They believed the message brought to them by the reluctant evangelist Jonah and they repented. As a result, God withheld His judgment. Later when Nineveh was the center of the Assyrian empire it was destroyed by the Chaldeans and Medes. Today the ruins of Nineveh are found on the outskirts of Mosul in Iraq about 110 miles north of Baghdad.
Why did the people believe Jonah? It is difficult to say as they worshipped a fish god that was half man and half fish. It could have had something to do with Jonah being vomited from a large fish on the shore near Nineveh where it was likely witnessed. Whatever the reason, they took the message of Jonah to heart and repented from the king on down. And the people of that generation were saved from a terrible judgment.
It makes one wonder how many would be saved today if the message of salvation was more direct as a choice between salvations/heaven and hell. That seemed to work for a period of time. Not so much nowadays, when today there are so many distractions and death for many is something put off and ignored until it is simply too late. So many people ignore death as if it is something that will not happen to them. Or they believe it will not happen to them without plenty of warning. They should know better and perhaps in their heart of hearts they do know better, but simply do not want to acknowledge the truth. And the truth is they could die any day at any age.
I am 72 years old, though I feel and at times act much younger. However, a good friend of mine of the same age told me, “Riley you know at our age we are in the ‘sweet spot’ for the obituary pages.” Of course, he was and is correct. Nonetheless, I am making plans for another 10-20 years, with the very clear awareness my last day could be today or tomorrow. I have no illusions about being invincible or being guaranteed another day, month, year, much less a decade or two.
Being aware of my very real mortality leads me to pay more attention, much more attention, to my relationship with God. My very real appreciation for the gift of Grace through Jesus’ on the cross paying the debt for my sins. Each day is sweet, but if it is sweet here I am also aware it will be much sweeter in heaven.