Jonah 3:1-10…If I were to title this chapter it would be, “How we respond matters”. How Jonah responds to God’s request matters; how the people of Nineveh respond to Jonah’s message from the Lord matters. How WE respond to our world and God’s call on us matters. A LOT. Why? Our response reveals who “owns” us…who “calls the shots” in our lives. Jonah didn’t mind being a profit, until he was asked to do something he didn’t want to. In fact, it was the prophet, the one “closest to God”, who wouldn’t obey…not the violent and evil city of Nineveh. A great reminder that we make a choice daily to “take up our cross” and to lay down lordship of our lives.
When God asked Jonah to go into the city thankfully he obeyed this time. It took Jonah three days to proclaim throughout the city that in “40 days Nineveh will be destroyed” but as he did the people immediately believed; they created a fast and clothed themselves in burlap to lament for what they’d done. In fact, the king heard the message, got off his throne, took off his royal robed, dressed in burlap, and sat on a heap of ashes. He then sent out a decree to the whole city asking for every person and animal (!) to not eat or drink but instead to pray earnestly and to turn from violence and evil. God saw their response and spared the city. In His mercy He relented because of their sorrow. How we respond matters.
Look at our nation, crumbling (literally) into pieces. We are violent, stubborn, evil, sinful, and have turned our backs on God in a flagrant way. As His church am I too self-righteous to run into that fire in order to save others? Is my heart too full of condemnation and pride to believe that God could be merciful? Do I want Him to? This is the burden God asks me to bear…to weep with those who weep, to “bind up the brokenhearted”…it seems that there are brokenhearted people EVERYWHERE! What am I actively doing to “bind them up”? The hope isn’t in American and their ability to turn away from sin…the hope is Jesus and His power to work WITHIN the hearts. I need this word today…I need to pray faithfully on this truth and lay my life open to the Lord to speak into it, “get up and go…” To show me how to bind up the brokenhearted.