Our story of Jonah’s journey continues, a day’s walk into the city, surrounded by a people known for their ability to make other humans suffer, and this prophet knowing what could happened bravely opened his mouth. He proclaimed a message of…
Urgency Which Brought Unbelievable Action- (Jonah 3: 4b-8a) 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.Jonah gives the people of Nineveh an urgency that hadn’t felt before. He highlighted a reality that we can sometimes ignore fully. Making no decision is a decision in its own right. Sitting on the fence between following and falling away is still a seat that requires a ticket. Oddly enough, with Jonah’s hatred for this foreigners and fomenters of violence—they responded how he feared with sudden and serious repentance. This is a big deal that the decree calls on the people to fast—sackcloth replaced the fine clothes of prosperity; ashes took the place of Astarte. Nineveh was the center city for worship of Astarte the Goddess of fertility, where we get the word Easter. Yet, instead of turning to fruits of a harvest, the people turned from all that could be considered Astarte’s crop, sitting in the ashes as an outward sign of personal and national repentance.
A young solider shared his experience sitting on the hard wooden bleachers at Fort Benning while attending the United States Army Airborne School. We prepared for our first parachute jump. Soon we would soar hundreds of feet above the red Georgia clay and hear the jump-master bark out the orders, “Stand up! Hook up! Check equipment! Stand in the door! Go! Go! Go!” Understandably, the instructors had our undivided attention. The Airborne sergeant’s voice rang out confidently as he explained what to do in case of a parachute malfunction. “If your main parachute should fail to deploy, don’t panic—pull the handle of your auxiliary parachute. Should your auxiliary parachute fail to fill with air, don’t panic—pull it in toward your body and then vigorously throw it away from yourself. Should your auxiliary chute again fail to deploy, don’t panic—vigorously repeat this process.” He paused dramatically, looking intently into our eyes. Then with a slight mischievous grin he slowly stated, “Should this also fail, don’t panic. You’ll have the rest of your life to get your parachute to deploy.”
Satan’s great deception is whispering into our ear that we have time to walk the line between heaven and hell, to flirt with the dangers of fallenness, to rent a home in the respite of sexual immorality, when in reality there is no line to walk. No decision is a decision in itself. God has put us in a situation that reminds us constantly that we need to choose, that this life is temporary, that we might have 40 more years or 4 more minutes, so let me ask you: Have you intentionally made a choice for yourself? For your family? Joshua understood this as he entered into the Promised Land of God—Joshua 24:15- But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” What do you need to turn from? The idols in our life rarely come in the form of carved wood or stone faces—but more often in forms that are respected—money, respect, winning, idols that we allow take the place of God, idols we serve, idols we cherish. God calls on us to choose with an urgent reminder that this life is temporary.