Thoughts for the Day

Tuesday, 5th October 2021: Jonah 2 - God calls again

God Jonah 3 Jonah

Reading : Verses from Jonah, Chapter 3


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 day's 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... '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.

(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


God calls Jonah a second time, notice he doesn't rebuke him or mention the way he ignored the first call and tried to run away. Jonah is still allowed to say 'yes' or 'no', but having prayed from the body of an apparently great fish means he is unlikely to ignore the next call. The call is just as dangerous, the 'storm-troopers' of Nineveh the capital city of Assyria are still as cruel as ever they were, and just as liable to kill Jonah. He must have gone believing he was going to his doom.

It is likely that Jonah's call came sometime around 745 BCE, at a time when Assyria was at a low ebb having suffered losses in two wars followed by civil war as well as outbreaks of plague. Tiglath-pileser III took the throne in 745 BCE and the country's fortunes were to change as he secured its borders. It was probably he who listened to Jonah and his prophecy. However, after him the destruction of the northern tribes of Israel began until most were taken into captivity in 722 BCE, leaving the two southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin and the capital of Jerusalem behind.

The biggest lesson we can learn is that God doesn't just call once. He will call again. If we speak to any Christian minister they will often tell you that it felt as though someone were "prodding" them to step forward and offer themselves for ministry. When the call is ignored, it may go quiet, but it often returns when we have time o listen! If you have felt the need to do something - to read the lesson in church; to help raise money for charity; to call upon a neighbour you haven't seen for a while - this can be God calling. Perhaps it's time to say 'Yes,' and may God be with you!


Heavenly Father,
creator of the universe,
You call us to follow You
and to listen out for Your word.
May we hear and respond to Your call,
whatever that may be,
and go in the knowledge
that You will be there to help us
in whatever way is needed.

Follow Up Thoughts

You might like to meditate on this Litany written by K. Hawker and based on Jonah Chapter 3:

Litany of Call

The Voice calling long ago;
the Voice calling today.

The Voice compelling Jonah to go;
the Voice compelling us to go.

The Voice calling to Jonah,
compelling him to share the good news
of God's redemptive love.

The Voice calling to us
compelling us to share the good news
of God's redemptive love.

With those who would be enemies.
With those who would be enemies.

The people of Nineveh, beloved of God.
The people of .......* beloved of God.

The Voice calling long ago.
The Voice calling today.

* Add a country or people you struggle with!

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