The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
You might say that Jonah was the original chicken of the sea. When God told him to go to Nineveh and preach, his response essentially was, “No way! These people are wicked. I don’t want to go.”
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It’s true the Ninevites were very cruel people. They were known for their savagery. In fact, when they would conquer a nation, they often would torture their prisoners before executing them and were known to burn boys and girls alive. They tortured others by tearing the skin from their bodies and leaving them to die in the scorching sun. Rather than hide this depravity, they celebrated it and proclaimed it. They even built monuments to their own cruelty.
Another reason for Jonah’s reluctance was that Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, the enemy of Israel. Jonah, being a patriotic Israelite, thought this through and deduced that if he didn’t go and preach to the Ninevites, God would judge them—and that would be one less enemy Israel would have to deal with.
But with a little extra persuasion, Jonah finally went and preached to the Ninevites—and it resulted in the largest spiritual awakening in all the Bible.
Unbeknownst to the people of Nineveh, their days were numbered. Assyria was the reigning superpower on the planet at this time, having ruled for 200 years. It required three days to circle metropolitan Nineveh, which had a population of about one million. That was a very large city for ancient times. But it would not be all that long until Babylon would come and overtake her. God was giving Nineveh one last chance.
If God could use someone like Jonah to bring about a revival in Nineveh, then certainly He could use someone like you or me to bring about a revival in our nation.