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 3:1-2 (NIV).
We’re in chapter three now. Jonah is out of the fish and has stopped running. God humbled him and prepared the soil in him to receive the seed of a new message.
These first two verses echo (but don’t reiterate) Jonah’s mission from chapter one, where it said, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Notice the differences? With Jonah being humbled, God commands Jonah to PROCLAIM TO Ninevah a message instead of preaching against it.
In a way, the mission God gave to Jonah after the fish is tougher than the original one. In chapter one, God told Jonah to do a specific thing for a specific reason. That command scared Jonah enough to make him run away and stay-cation with Charlie the Tuna. Now, God simply tells Jonah to go to Ninevah and preach a message to it, reasoning to the people instead of calling them out. The new message is open-ended. The verses don’t say what the message will be, but Jonah would likely have assumed it would be condemnation of Ninevah’s actions. No wonder Jonah beat feet.
Yet look at these two verses closer, and you may just find some familiar hope. God has spent three days making it clear to Jonah that he isn’t alone, that God protects His people. Though God’s new mission is open-ended, here He also makes a commitment to Jonah that He hadn’t spelled out the first time. “The message I give you” is a promise to inspire Jonah to say and do what God wanted him to do. That would only happen because God would be with him, would abide with him. Jonah would be the microphone, but God’s voice, God’s words, would be spoken through him.
There’s great comfort in that. Just like God does with us today, He would work through Jonah to bring about something wonderful. God didn’t send Jonah into anyplace where he wouldn’t be blessed. Jonah wouldn’t be alone, and that would bless and comfort him as he worked to bless others. Given the fearsome reputation of the great, wicked city of Ninevah, it must have been great comfort indeed.
What would Jonah do about that? What would you or I do about it? Perhaps God calls us to be Jonah where we are today. Perhaps there is some thing, some place you need to go to carry out God’s mission. Will you be alone, or will you simply think you are? Just like Jonah, we’re never alone. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a fish to prove it.
For further reading: Jonah 1:1, Jonah 3:3
Lord, You are always with me. Thank You.
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