The Book of Jonah was not written just to tell us about the prophet Jonah, but it was written because of what it reveals to us about God. It is not the record of a big storm and a big fish, but it is the truth about a big God who is loving and merciful.
In Nineveh, the capitol of the Assyrian empire, sin was rampant and their nation was full of killings, terrorism and immorality. Political corruption and economic collapse were the headlines of the day. Hatred, division and the betrayal of each other had gripped this mighty world power. The wickedness of this nation caught God's eye, and so God was about to bring His judgment upon this depraved people and nation. And so, God spoke to Jonah and told him to go and give this nation a warning of the judgment of God that was about to happen.
After Jonah was persuaded by God to be obedient, he enters the capitol city of the nation and begins to declare the word that God had given him to speak to the nation: "Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be destroyed."
It would be like someone walking down the streets of Washington, D.C., and declaring, "Yet forty days and Washington, D.C., shall be destroyed."
Wow, wouldn't that make the headlines and the prime time evening news on TV. And yet the conditions of Assyria at that time and that of our own nation at this time are not that dissimilar.
There was then, and is now, wickedness on every level of society, from the top down through out every level of the population, hatred, division, violence, immorality, bloodshed and corruption. If the wickedness of the Assyrian empire caught the attention of God, then one has to assume that God also sees all that is happening in the United States of America.
I believe that we have turned away from the God that our forefathers worshipped and revered and have tried to distance ourselves from Him in our culture. As a result, our nation, as then in Assyria, is suffering and paying the price for forsaking God and His Word and ways.
But we cannot forget the whole purpose for this great Book of Jonah. The people of Nineveh heard the warning from God. They humbled themselves before the Lord and turned from their wicked ways and cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness. From the government and all the way down throughout all of their society, they repented and turned to God. For 40 days they sought God and waited, hoping that God would hear and see the contrition of their heart and not send His judgment upon the city and nation.
What would God do? What was God like? It is at this point that we see the purpose of the Book of Jonah and the character of God. God is a loving God, not willing that any should perish. He also is merciful and forgiving, and when people turn to Him, He will turn to them with Grace and Mercy.
I believe that God will do the same for America as He did for the Assyria empire, if we, today, do what they did then: humble ourselves, repent, and turn back to God. Remember II Chronicles 7:14.
- Lauver of New Life Church in Pennsdale.