In the last verse of chapter two, we saw Jonah being unceremoniously deposited on the Mediterranean shore. Wasting no time, God immediately speaks to Jonah, using the exact same words of command as in verse 1:2: Get up! Walk to! Proclaim! Even though Jonah has taken a rather large and dramatic detour, the call to action is the same: “Get right up, walk to the great city of Nineveh, and proclaim against it.”
Jonah’s disobedience has not changed God’s mind at all.
There’s also something else that hasn’t changed: the plight of the Ninevites. They are living in a way that is dangerous for their spirits, and God knows that they need a course correction. But Jonah’s rebellion has managed to delay the arrival of God’s word. During Jonah’s flight to Joppa, the struggle in the storm, the time inside the fish, and now the journey to the city — during all that time, the people of Nineveh had not heard the consequences of their unhealthy behavior.
Jonah did not just deny God. He also denied the people of Nineveh the opportunity to change and to rejoice in God’s forgiveness and grace.
Sometimes we think that our actions don’t really affect the people around us. But they can. And they do.
When has another person been affected negatively by a bad decision you had made?