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September 4 – A surprising command

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” – Jonah 1:2 

Scripture reading: Jonah 1:1-3

The Lord gives Jonah a surprising command. The Lord tells Jonah to leave his preaching post in his homeland of Israel, go to the influential, great city of Nineveh, and preach against it. He must give the Ninevites a warning that if they do not repent from their wickedness, God will judge them for their wickedness.

The audience of Jonah’s message is surprising: Nineveh? Nineveh? The Lord cares about Nineveh?

Nineveh was one of the greatest cities in the ancient world, located approximately six hundred miles northeast of Israel of what is now northern Iraq. It was the capital city of the Assyrian empire.

But note this: Assyria had been and would become a terrifying superpower. They were the most brutal, oppressive and terrifying people in the ancient world. Their powerful army was manically arrogant and ruthlessly violent. The battle and torture tactics of the Assyrian army would instill unbelievable fear in their enemies. The prophet Nahum who prophesied against Nineveh approximately 100 years after Jonah depicted Nineveh as the embodiment and epitome of evil.

Does the Lord care for Nineveh? We can appreciate why Jonah is startled by the command to go to Nineveh. But does this excuse Jonah to disobey the Lord?

Suggestions for prayer

Pray that we would be faithful in obeying the Lord in all his commands, especially the commands that are hard to obey.

Pastor Jeremy Veldman is the co-pastor at Rehoboth United Reformed Church in Hamilton, Ontario, serving as Minister of Congregational Life. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at

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