The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’ When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
Today is Wednesday the 4 March, in the first week of Lent.
The choir of Holy Sepulchre Church London, directed by Peter Asprey, sings ‘Present Yourselves as a Living Sacrifice’.
Today’s reading is from the Prophet Jonah.
In today’s reading Jonah has a difficult message to deliver from the Lord to the people of Nineveh. Imagine you are one of the citizens of the huge city of Nineveh. How do you react when you hear the news that Jonah brings?
What do you notice your first thoughts and feelings to be when you realise you will need to put on sackcloth, sit in the dust and fast for forty days?
When God sees how the Ninevites redirect their lives towards him, God changes his mind and does not carry out his threat. Imagine your reaction when you hear that God has chosen to save you and your whole city from destruction.
As you listen again think about the ways in which you are turning to God during these 40 days of Lent.
Is there an area in your life where you long for the Lord to act with compassion and grace? Spend some moments now telling Jesus about this.