Jonah 3:6 “When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.”
When most of us think of Jonah’s story, we think of the miracle of one man being trapped in a fish’s belly for three days, and surviving. That is truly a miracle, a feat only God Himself could accomplish, and it certainly makes a great story. However, the book of Jonah holds within its pages an even greater miracle – one which often gets overshadowed by our preoccupation with the fish.
It is the miracle of repentance.
Never in history, before or after this story took place, has such a massive revival occurred. The entire city repented! And it wasn’t just some tiny little dot on a map. Nineveh was a huge city, and every last person there heard God’s message and immediately felt sorry for the way he had behaved.
Even the king.
Even the king.
Friends, do you understand what a great miracle takes place in verse six? The ruler of an evil, sin-filled, drunken, pornographic society (sound familiar?) heard God’s message and rose from his throne. He removed himself from his place of authority.
Next, he took off his royal robes, thus placing himself at the same level as any other commoner. He replaced those soft, fine, colorful, luxurious robes with sackcloth, which was a harsh, course fabric. It was uncomfortable and itchy. It was ugly. And it was worn by people who were at the lowest place of their lives.
Then, he sat down in the dust. No more throne for him! He humbled himself. He made himself physically dirty and low to show that he understood his spiritual state. He was spiritually dirty, spiritually as low as he could get in comparison with the Most High God.
This was the king.
Friends, I feel convicted just writing this. I am not royal by birth. I’m not a great political figure, nor am I a superstar. There’s nothing about me that makes me important, by the world’s standards. I have nothing on this king of Nineveh.
And yet, I’m not sure I’ve ever humbled myself the way he did. As I read this passage, I have to ask myself a few questions.
Do I really understand who I am, in comparison to God?
Do I understand how spiritually low and dirty I am?
Have I ever truly comprehended the depth of God’s grace and mercy?
Do I realize the impact God’s forgiveness has had on my life?
As I ponder these questions, I am beginning to see that I need to imitate that king’s actions. I need to remove myself from the throne of my life. I need to remove any attitude of self-importance, and throw myself at the feet of the Almighty. Then, and only then, can I bask in the joy that will come when He lifts me up, draws me to Himself, and says, “Welcome home, my child.”
Dear Father, I repent. Thank You for Your forgiveness and mercy.