Jonah Chapter 3 3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
Of all GOD’s earthly creations is there anything more wondrous than the sea? Like many youths growing up in landlocked states, the wonders of the ocean was only real for me in books, magazines, and on TV until a summer trip took me to the west coast and a beach in Santa Monica. Visiting family in Los Angeles, we rose early and got on a crowed busy freeway for what seemed like forever. I could only image at the time what it would be like as we inched closer through the congestion and smog. Then suddenly but gently the feel of everything changed. The air was lighter, cooler, and there was this freshness. I couldn’t see it yet, but I knew we were close. The anticipation was killing me as I saw a flock of seagulls overhead. Around every corner and every curved I strained anxiously for my first glimpse. Finally as we topped at foothill on the outer edges of the Santa Monica Mountain range the windshield of the car was filled with it! Part of it the deepest of blues and part of it glimmering like gold from the sunlight. Oh what a site! It was breathtaking. It was endless. I got it. How could you be anywhere near the vastness of it and not feel the presence of the CREATOR!
As you might surmise I am fascinated, or maybe mesmerized would be a better word, by the sea and I believe the connection with GOD and the sea is no accident. The story of Jonah and today’s passage is just one of countless examples. From the Ark of Noah, to Moses’ birth and his launching in basket on the Nile, to the parting of the Red Sea, to the calling of the fisherman made disciples, to the Baptism in the river Jordan, to the walking on water. Coincidence?
This passage described a changed Jonah emerging from the belly of the beast and the days at sea. He is no longer afraid. The mission is clear. The purpose is secure. The word of GOD must go forth and nothing, not fear, not doubt, not fifty foot waves, or two tons of whale will stop it. In fact, they will help facilitate it. Ultimately the creation that GOD cares the most about and in which HE takes the most pleasure, is, yet again, spared.
CREATOR of the universe, ALMIGHT GOD, we thank YOU so much that YOU have surrounded us with all the evidence we would ever need of YOUR magnificence and reality. When we face anything this day that might weaken or tempt, remind of us of the freshness in the salt air, the brilliance of the sun reflecting on the water, and the power of mighty waves, and that through it all, we have been spared. In CHRIST name we pray, Amen!