The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, and covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. – Jonah 3:6
Scripture reading: Nahum 3:1-4 and Jon. 3
About one century before this prophecy of Nahum, the wickedness of Nineveh had come up before the LORD. He judged them and the people repented at Jonah’s preaching. They humbled themselves by fasting, wearing sackcloths and confessing their sins. So great was their repentance that the LORD withdrew His hand of judgment and punishment. The Ninevites returned to the true purpose which should guide every nation: to humbly serve the Living God.
How quickly the Ninevites fell from that place of obedience! They were again a people who shed blood to the point that this capital was called a bloody city. They offered abominable sacrifices to false gods. They were full of lies about their own pre-eminence, about their history and their place in it. They were a people who ruthlessly made war against others. They were a nation that prostituted itself for plunder and pride, victory and perversity.
Jesus noted that the work of the Spirit is to convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). When the standard of God’s holiness is presented, the hearers are presented with a stark choice of obedience or rebellion. We should not be surprised when hearers rebel. It is painful because we speak and preach Christ from the joy of knowing our sins have been thrown down and His righteousness has taken hold of us. Scripture commands people to glorify God: seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1). Believer, humbly serve the Living God.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask God to help you examine your life so that you are not being pulled in several directions, but your heart and your head are focused on Christ and serving Him in every area of your life.
Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.