They Believed

And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.  So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.  Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.  And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.  So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

Jonah 3:1-5

Much has been made over Jonah’s decision to run from God after he had been commanded to go and preach to Nineveh.  Much has been made of Jonah being swallowed by the great fish and his subsequent repentance.  But not much is usually made about the response of the Ninevites to God’s message.

I’m sure that Jonah was, at the very least, a little nervous when he came to Nineveh and started preaching.  But instead of arresting him, beating him, torturing him or killing him, the Bible tells us that they “believed God.”  These heathen people who did not know God at all believed Him after hearing about His impending judgment on them.  “The people of Nineveh believed God.”  What a statement!

There are two quick points I would like to make about this passage.  First, look at the messenger.  Jonah had just failed God and fallen flat on his face.  He was not perfect; he was not even particularly courageous.  He was made of the same weak, frail flesh as we are.  He wasn’t a great messenger, but he was delivering a perfect message from a perfect God.  We might look at ourselves as being unworthy, but God, in His infinite power and wisdom, can still use us if we will surrender ourselves to Him.

Second, these Ninevites believed God.  “The people of Nineveh believed God.”  Can the same be said of us?  Could it be said that “(your name here) believed God?”  When we read the Bible or hear it preached or taught, do we really, really believe it?  Or do we just nod in agreement and go our merry way without it ever reaching our hearts?  That is a convicting question.

6 responses to this post.

  1. This is so good! Thank you for bringing out those 2 points. They are such an encouragement. At one time I had the entire book of Jonah memorized, although I probably couldn’t quote it now :P. When I was in Bible college our singing group used it as our program one summer when we travelled. We recited the Scripture and then interspersed songs in between. The program centred around the theme of “grace.” It was powerful, and a great blessing! Reciting the book all summer and studying it really helped me see many of the spiritual lessons in Jonah.


    • That is cool that you had the whole book of Jonah memorized. I have tried a few times to memorize a book, but have never managed to get it done. That sounds like a great program, too!


  2. Jess . . .what an amazing summer program you participated in. wow!
    Ben . . you are good at convicting questions. But, we need them!
    I love looking at the Ninevites and their response. I was surprised too, that they responded this way. I remember a sermon was that talked about the difference between believing God and believing in God. My pastor was saying that we want to believe God, not just in Him.
    God bless you as you take us through the book of Jonah!


    • I don’t ask the convicting questions, I just point them out. 🙂 There is definitely a difference between believing God and believing in God. That is an important difference!


  3. Thank you, Ben

    “We might look at ourselves as being unworthy, but God, in His infinite power and wisdom, can still use us if we will surrender ourselves to Him.”
    Talk about amazing grace!! Jonah ran, God caught up with him anyway. What did David say about the wings of the morning? He’s already there. Besides, His word will not return to Him void…

    (What Deb said about the pointed questions 🙂 )

    @ Jess … do let us know if you plan to share more notes. I would love to read more!

    Blessings to all,


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