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The Heart of God in the Heart of the Sea

Devotion Seventeen

April 23, 2024

The Word Reached the King

Daniel Barta

When Jonah delivered the word to Nineveh, news of the message spread rapidly throughout the city and its surrounding areas. Though the city and its suburbs spanned the breadth of a three days journey (Jon 3:3), the word spread through the area after just one day of Jonah's work (Jon 3:4). With a surprising rapidness, the word of the LORD reached all the way up to the king (Jon 3:6).

The spread of God's Word throughout Nineveh demonstrates multiple characteristics:

  1. God's word travelled across racial, cultural, and ethnic boundaries. Jonah, a Jew by culture, race, and ethnicity, carried the word into a Gentile city in which he was a stranger who held little in common. The word of God was heard, believed, and applied across these barriers.

  2. God's word travelled across socio economic barriers. His word spread and affected all those in Nineveh "from the greatest of them to the least of them" (Jon 3:5). The word of the LORD even reached the king's throne (Jon 3:6).

  3. God's word travelled from the mind to the heart. So often men and women receive information, news, or a message that informs their minds but never affects their hearts; however, the word of the LORD moved beyond the mind and landed on the heart. The word broke up their hard hearts, threw them into great distress, bent them down in humility, and compelled them to turn from their evil and violence. Their hearts experience fear, desperation, and a gleam of hope (Jon 3:9).

Jonah, after receiving God's Word a second time, took the message to Nineveh where the word of the LORD crossed all boundaries to affect and change an entire city.

God Addresses His Message to All People

God did not just speak to the Jew but also to the Gentile. He does not only reveal himself to the wealthy but also to the poor. He and His word do not only belong to the elite but also to the commoner. He addresses His message not only to the highly educated but also to the illiterate. He speaks both to the powerful authorities and to the oppressed and powerless. He comes near and communicates to honorable and to dishonorable, to the moral and the immoral, to the religious and the irreligious, to the pacifists and to the violent, to the citizen and to the immigrant, to the insider and to the outsider, to the victim and to the abuser.

We could go on, but the point is clear. God in His mercy and kindness, love and patience speaks to the spectrum of humanity. He addressed all people with His Word.

Jesus His Son made this point repeatedly, and in part His faithfulness to be the word and speak the word for the world led to His death. He went out of His way to speak to the Samaritan woman by the well. He went away from the Jewish towns and into the towns of Tyre and Sidon to rescue a Canaanite woman and her demon possessed daughter. He served, Jairus the Roman Centurion, and He announced Himself not only the Savior of Israel but of all people. Jesus, the word of God in the flesh, came preaching the message of God across all boundaries and barriers. In Him the word of God reaches out to all people.

Carry the Message to All People

The disciples and the early church struggled to understand that God intended His message to go into the whole world, but once they understood this they spread throughout the entire Roman empire and beyond. Men like Philip, Peter, Paul, Luke, Timothy, and Barnabas gave their lives to carry this message into pagan cities and kingly palaces. Through them the gospel addressed the slave and the slave master, the rich and the poor, the dark skinned and the light skinned, the kings and the subjects, the citizens and the foreigners.

We too must carry the word of God to all people. This includes taking part through giving, praying, and going to the nations who are far from us geographically. This also includes speaking to our coworker who while being geographically near to us might be miles away from us in matters of politics, theology, hobbies, values, and standards of morality. God has spoken to us. And He intends that His word be carried by us across whatever barriers of separation exist to all those around us. May we be faithful to this task of carrying God's message to our city.

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