“The word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying,2 ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’ 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord…
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,2 ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.’ 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city… And he called out, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
“The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, ‘Let… man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.’10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” Jonah 1:1-3; 3:1-10
“I must preach the good news..; for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43
God’s word is a fire, powerful and transformative, yet the soil on which it falls determines the effect it has on us. When it first came to Jonah, his stubborn sense of justice held it at bay, and he ran. But in the belly of the fish, Jonah came to his senses, and the next time it was issued, it prevailed, compelling him to obey; now it was the Ninevites’ turn. (Jeremiah 23:29; Matthew 13:1-9,18-23)
Marvelously, in Ninevah it was irresistible, penetrating the vilest and hardest of hearts. The people of this wicked city, and even their godless king, were humbled and forever changed by its formidable truth and conviction. There is no place, and no person, God’s word cannot reach.
Am I willing to confront the ‘kings’ of pride, sloth, and resentment in my own life with the gospel of change and freedom? What personal attitudes or habits do I shelter from the Bible’s influence? Where have I deemed myself “fixed,” “the way I am and always will be,” un-amendable, or beyond sanctification? Where do I need the word’s refinement? What will it take to expose my hidden places to its holy light, and let it burn and have its way?
Do I write off particular individuals, judging that there is no way they would turn from their idols to believe in Jesus? Do I relegate, even subconsciously, the worst, the most famous and important ‘kings of this world,’ beyond redemption, irreversibly beyond the word’s reach and effect? Would I consider earnest prayer for them, then expectantly commit time and attention to it?
Lord, pierce my heart with Your word that never returns void. Accomplish all You intend in and through me, daily, by Your living and active word. May I proclaim it clearly so it has its effect in all my interactions and reach, for Your redemptive sake. (Isaiah 55:10-11; Hebrews 4:12)