Read Jonah 1:2. Jonah’s summons to a capital city is significant. The countryside has more trees than people. Cities have more people than trees. People matter more to God than trees do. That’s why you live in a city, and not the countryside. The prophet Jonah was called to mediate God’s word to a particular people, in a particular situation, at a particular time, so that that God’s word became God’s ‘now word’ to those people. As far as the recipients in Nineveh are concerned there is no other word. This is all God wants them to hear right now, and until they hear it, there never will be another word. This was the situation in Nineveh. It’s true for London.

Nineveh had a growing reputation in the 8th c. BC, as a proud, opportunistic and ambitious capital. Burgeoning in size and influence, it would soon prove to be a threat to its neighbours on a gigantic scale. Situated on the left bank of the river Tigris, it was the burgeoning capital of the Assyrian kingdom. The city and its suburbs were sixty miles in circumference, with imposing brick city walls, 100 feet in height, and so wide that three chariots could run abreast on the top of them. People matter more to God than anything Nineveh currently valued as emblems of its kudos and pride.

The people of Nineveh were noted for their engineering skills, aggressive attitude, and military prowess. Decorative relief pictures like those displayed in the British Museum, depict for all time their cruelty to enemy captives, and ruthless destruction of anyone or anything that stood in their way. Later on, the tyrant king Tiglath Pileser, would erect pyramids of human heads chopped from captive POW’s in order to terrify any besieged city he attacked, and persuade them into a quick surrender! Assyria flayed men alive, tied prisoners together with hooks through lips and noses, cut out tongues, and raped women prisoners before execution. The Prophet Nahum later castigated their ‘endless cruelty’ (Nah.3:19). God knew all this!

Why not list some of the bad things you see all around you, that disturb and trouble you. Bring every one of them to God, and plead for lasting change!