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.
Yesterday I was listening to the news about the battle with IS over the city Mosul in Iraq. A spokesperson caught me by surprise when they mentioned not just Mosul but also Nineveh, the city that Jonah was sent to. Turns out these places are opposite other across the banks of the river Tigris, in fact Mosul has grown to encompass some of the ancient city. This is not the first battle for Nineveh, Jonah was sent there to do spiritual battle to win the people there back for God using not guns but the good news of his love and mercy (although Jonah, as you might remember, did not see it quite that way…) Just as men are risking their lives in battle today, so Jonah risked angering the people then. Mission is risky work, but important work, as it ultimate is the means by which God brings peace.
Lord, give me courage to win peace for you in my life and conversations today.