by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Jonah 3:2,4,5 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. 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.
So Jonah goes and begins to preach in this pagan city. His message is very simple. "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown"(v. 4). That's it. That was his whole message. It's eight words in English; only 4 words in Hebrew.
To be honest, I love short messages, and I love to give short messages, But I've never preached an eight-word message in my life.
And a pretty depressing message if you ask me. None of this "Nineveh, God loves you…" or "Nineveh for Yeshua" or "Say Yes Nineveh." A message of impending judgment and nothing more.
God says to Jonah – PREACH MY MESSAGE; simple, urgent, to the point. These days the message of salvation across the world so often removes a key word –"REPENT!" Whenever Yeshua (Jesus) preached – or John the Baptist – or any of the saints preached – it started with the word – REPENT!
This is a critical point. There's apologetics, and witnessing of all kinds, according to wisdom and opportunity, but if we're going to preach, we MUST understand that we MUST preach HIS MESSAGE! And His Message begins with the word – REPENT!
It’s not the way we would do it. If we were going to put together a "Nineveh for Yeshua" campaign, we would hire an advance team, get a PR man, put together an ad campaign, buy billboards, do a social media blitz, start a Facebook page, get our Twitter team going, make some "Nineveh for Yeshua" t-shirts, do some training, set up the buses, train the counselors, rent a stadium, buy some TV time, recruit the counselors, print the follow-up materials, set up home prayer meetings, arrange for simultaneous translations, rehearse the choir, and organize Operation Nivevah. We'd have to raise $3 million just to get started.
Nah, Jonah skipped all of that.
He just went to Nineveh looking half dead and gave his entirely negative 8-word sermon. And the people repented!
Jonah was a "dead man." When God does that to you and me we won't have to say much either, "Repent, and believe the gospel"… 5 words will probably do it! But the message will almost certainly begin with the word — "Repent"!