Opportunity to Serve God
Some Bible scholars think that Nineveh’s dramatic repentance was not only a result of Jonah’s message of imminent destruction, but that his appearance on the streets of the city coincided with some dramatic event of that time, for example a flood or war or earthquake or a full eclipse of the sun. They were already at their wit’s end and therefore the message of Jonah was the last straw to bring them to repentance.
Upon reading this passage at the beginning of a new year my thoughts dwell on the way the previous year ended. This turn of the year confronted most of us with many dramatic events: the economic melt-down, the war in the Middle East, the situation in Zimbabwe, to mention but a few.
The wonderful aspect in this story of Jonah in Chapter 3 is that, although his proclamation is a message of doom, God’s intention is not the immediate destruction of Nineveh but its deliverance. It is possible that the citizens of the city detected this offering of deliverance in Jonah’s message and therefore grabbed at it with both hands.
The good news is that God is pleased with their reaction. “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened” (verse 10 – NIV)
This turn of events reminds me of the parable of the fig tree in Luke 13:6-9. The parable also tells about imminent destruction that is turned into a new opportunity. The fig tree will be spared to bear fruit.
No-one knows how the year 2009 will end. But this we know: it will bring opportunities to turn to God and to serve his Kingdom.
To think about (or discuss): What would you do about HIV and Aids if you knew that you had only a limited time to do it?