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Jonah 3 (NIV)
Jonah Goes to Nineveh
3 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.”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. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 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.
The heart of Lent is God’s call to repent – to turn away from sin, and away from other interests – and turn our hearts and lives toward God. Today and tomorrow we read part of one of the great stories of repentance. The great city of Ninevah was full of evil, and God sent Jonah to call them to repent and change. Some key passages to note: 3:5 “the Ninevites believed God”. Repentance begins with believing God! The king’s decree in 3:7-8 is total – even the animals fast and wear sackcloth. But more important, they turn from evil and violence. Finally, 3:10 points out that, while there is still time, God’s will can be changed.