Jonah must have been a great, powerful, motivating speaker. How else to explain his success in Nineveh?
The writer tells us that Nineveh was a great metropolis, “a visit required three days.” This latter phrase likely simply underscores the greatness of the city. The remains of Nineveh certainly do not indicate that it took a three day journey to cross it. More important than the size of the city is its political position. It would reach the zenith of its power later, but it was the capital of the Assyrian empire. Jack Lewis writes: “Assyria . . . was a nation largely geared for aggressive war. Its atrocities were as proverbial as the records and the art left by its kings make quite clear. . . Its victims lay prone under tyranny, but no national spirit breathed in the corpus. . . Nineveh saw men and nations as tools to be exploited to gratify the lust of conquest and commercialism. Assyria existed to render no service to mankind.”
You can understand then why Jonah didn’t want to preach to them. The very idea that they might repent and escape the wrath of God was repugnant to him.
The message of this itinerant stranger from Israel spread rapidly from street corner to king’s palace and soon, by royal edict, everyone was expressing penitence.
Though I began today’s thoughts with reference to Jonah’s great talent, the fact is, success is not in the hands of mortals. Action is. God gives the success. We’d do well to remember that. There is no place the word of God cannot go, no heart it cannot touch, if we will but simply take it.