Wednesday after Quasimodogeniti
Scripture: Jonah 3:1-10 (NKJV)
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,
Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
The LORD gave Jonah the particular message which He wanted him to preach. It was a threatening message of law and judgment against the city of Nineveh. Although Jonah surely included others words from the Lord, the theme of the message was “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
The Ninevites were repentant for their sins and cried out to the LORD. The contrite response of the king and the people is quite surprising to us, but not to Jonah. You might remember that Jonah didn’t want the Ninevites to be forgiven, so he fled from the Lord. Jonah knew that if God was sending him to preach to them, there was the chance that they would actually listen and God would forgive them. The Ninevites also discerned that this God might forgive. Why would He warn us if He wasn’t willing to forgive? Why would He give a delay of 40 days if He weren’t allowing time for the punishment to be averted?
By their prayers, we see their trust in the merciful actions of the God Who said they deserved death and disaster. This Word-created faith produced the fruits of repentance. They turned from their evil way and from the violence of their hands.
We have deserved death and destruction, but the words of the Prophets and Apostles have led us to confess our sins and receive forgiveness in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Through faith in God’s Son, the punishment of the law has been averted. We have the hope of eternal life.
We pray: Lord God, we thank You for Your message which has turned us from our sin and created faith in Your Son. Amen.