The Rev. Canon Leonard L. Hamlin, Sr.
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.”
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
When the name of Jonah is mentioned, we recall what we have read or heard about Jonah’s being caught in a storm, his being thrown overboard and being swallowed by a giant fish. It was only after Jonah agrees to go to Nineveh that three days later, the fish vomits him out onto the shore. For many of us, this is the complete story. But do not stop there! Remember where this all began, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah” and move to the place where we meet Jonah in Chapter 3. “Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.” It took Jonah 2 Chapters after hearing the word of the Lord to follow the instructions that had been given to him. Like Jonah, we are often struggling to turn the pages, and have several chapters of challenging life experiences before we choose to trust in the instructions given to us and the presence of God with us.
Jonah failed to recognize how being faithful would transform lives of the Ninevites. As our lives are transformed through our faith, we should always be mindful of the ability we have been given to make a difference in the lives of those we meet every day. It should be noted that the name Nineveh means ‘gift of God’ but it is difficult to see that meaning in the behavior and deeds the citizens implemented throughout its history. The people of Nineveh were feared for their mercilessness and cruel attitude. Today, remember that you are a gift to countless numbers you will encounter throughout life. While many are still looking for a sign and proof that God is working in the world, let them see the gift through our actions today!
Lord, it’s more than I’ll ever understand, how I am preserved by thy hand. But then there’s only two things required of me: to be faithful (because I’ve been set free) and to be willing to be used by Thee.
“Lord I’m Willing” by Genna Rae McNiel