Jonah got a free ride to the beach. But just before he got there he cried out to God and the Lord listened and saved Jonah from the digestive tract of a large fish.
While reading Jonah 2, I got the idea that Jonah was just trying to save himself. His cry was a final act of desperation from a man about to die. As is usually the case, God knows better, believed Jonah, and saved him.
Then, God tried again:
Jonah 3:1-3 (NIV)
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh…
“Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord….” How awesome is that? Did you all stand up and applaud like when the Hulk slammed Loki on the ground, repeatedly, in The Avengers? You should have. Because Jonah went on to Hulk smash Nineveh, deliver God’s message and change the history of a city.
Jonah feared the people would not listen to him and so he ran away. But when given a second chance he marched into that city confident in his faith in the Lord, and confident in the message the Lord gave him to deliver.
I wonder, if Jonah had gone to Nineveh the first time, would the result have been the same. What if he walked in there and said, “Um, excuse me, guys? Um, yeah, God said your city was going to be overthrown in like forty days so y’all might want to do something about that.”
I have a feeling Jonah would have been tossed aside, if anyone even heard him at all. But, instead, because Jonah knew the message he brought to the city came directly from God, he proclaimed it with authority, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
The people listened. And they immediately turned from their ways. And just as Jonah did, they cried out to the Lord. God, being God, listened:
Jonah 3:10 (NIV)
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.
Are you clapping now? God used one man to change an entire city…on a second chance.
How can God use you?