“So Jonah arose and went unto Nineveh, according to the Word of the Lord. Now Nineveh as an exceedingly great city of three days’ journey. And, Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey and he cried and said, ‘Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown’.”
When He gives us a job to do, it’s always “beyond” us—just so we’ll remember Who He is and our utter need of Him.
It was “an exceedingly great city.” The Hebrew word “gadowl” is used here for “great” and is a major theme-word through the book of Jonah. It was the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire, located on the Tigris River opposite of the modern city of Mosul in Iraq. And, it was large—both in size and population—and well-fortified.
It was also “exceedingly wicked” (1:2).
So you can imagine the fear and trepidation Jonah felt as he got up off the seashore that day, smelling like partially-digested fish and covered by whale digestive juices, with seaweed wrapped around his head (2:5).
Not the best way to start out on a God-Mission, was it?
And, no doubt, Jonah grimaced as he thought of how differently things could have been if he’d not try to “run from the Presence of the Lord” (1:3, 10).
Yes, as someone once said, “Hindsight’s always 20/20.
Even so, he still “arose and headed toward Nineveh, according to the Word of the Lord.” And, as he reached this imposing city that had served as a center of worship for Ishtar as far back as 1800 B.C., he realized he had his work cut out for him. Plus, as a further study of the story will show, Jonah also battled his own strong dislike for these pagans, whose walls were filled with stone carvings of their many battle scenes, impalings of the enemy, the lining of the streets with their corpses, etc.
Truly, for him, like Ezekiel in the “Valley of Dry Bones” (Ez. 37:1-14), the task was too great for him. And, he had to wonder if his efforts would be in vain.
But, oh, dear Pilgrim, they weren’t in vain in Ezekiel’s case—for the bleached-out, brittle bones did live again. And, neither would Jonah’s efforts be for naught—for “the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them—including the king’s exchanging his royal robe for sackcloth and ashes as he led them in repentance” (3:5-7). Hallelujah!!
Never forget, weary one, that the Pilgrim Highway is “The Way of the Cross”—which is a “denying of ourselves, taking up of our cross daily and following Him” (Lk. 9:23). It’s being “crucified with Christ—i.e., a dying to ourselves and a living to Christ—wherein we live by His faith and rely upon His strength” (Gal. 2:20; II Cor. 12:9-10). So, do not fear or lose hope, Pilgrim, if the fire seems too hot or the road too rough and steep. Keep “pressing on” (Phil. 3:13-14) and “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2). And, soon you’ll hear Him say “Well-done, good and faithful servant” as you pass through Heaven’s pearly gates (Mt. 25:21). Won’t that be wonderful? Glory!!
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated October 13, 2010