In God’s eyes Nineveh, the Assyrian city, was a bad city and yet He reached out to them in mercy.
They certainly didn’t deserve His mercy and they lived 300 miles away from Israel.
But God sent the prophet Jonah to Nineveh to preach to them.
The only thing we are told about this message, was that he said:
“Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” Jonah 3:4 (NIV)
“Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” Jonah 3:9 (NIV)
We can see God’s motive by looking at what Jonah said later:
“I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah 4:2 (NIV)
We see more of these motives when we hear what God said a little later:
“But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” Jonah 4:11
Basically the Lord had issued a warning, which went something like this:
‘Stop doing wrong and evil things, and turn to God, because if you don’t, condemnation and judgement will follow.’
It was a harsh word to them, but the people listened, and turned from their wicked ways.
So Jonah’s message was good news to them – it had turned them around, and they had now been spared from the coming anger of God.
Do we see the preaching of the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ – in the same light?
This is the good news:
- God in His mercy is reaching out
- His warning is to stop living self centred, greedy lives, and to lay aside idols (things that capture our hearts)
- He is saying; turn to Him for the Lord Jesus Christ has shown the way to heaven.
And perhaps this is the bit we don`t like, if there is no turning to Him then the consequences will be eternal misery.