Debra Isenbletter, Pastor
Jonah 3:7 “And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:”
In the previous verse (v6), the king mourned with his people, in the next two verses (v7-8) the king motivated his people to greater efforts. He took the individual acts of mourning and made it a national act. He united everyone to one purpose and one hope. In verse 7 we see a National Fast, and in verse 8, we see National Sorrow, National Prayer and National Repentance. What a testimony! Everything begins with the command of the king. The king made sure that command was fully understood.
He Proclaimed it: “And he caused it to be proclaimed.” This is a verbal announcement. The king caused “it” to be proclaimed. I thought about what “it” was and I believe “it” was about what he was feeling and doing. “It” was about his sorrow. “It” was about his fast. “It” was about his repentance. “It” was important. “It” was necessary. The king began with a proclamation. To “proclaim” means “to announce” or “to assemble.” I believe he assembled he royal court, the nobles. They were the first to hear, they needed to do what he was doing and they were to pass this message on.
He Published it: “and published through Nineveh.” This is a written announcement. He “published” it which means it was a “command,” it was a “charge” and it was to “certify” that this was official. There may have been an official document that was written and then read publicly throughout the city by those in the royal court. Behind that command was all the authority of the king. He was not afraid or ashamed to make public what he thought was necessary, what was important, what he thought might help hold back the judgment.
He Decreed it: “by the decree of the king and his nobles.” This was a legal announcement. It was “a mandate.” It was “a judgment.” It was “a decision” that would not be revoked, canceled or withdrawn. The moment it was made it became official. It may have had the same unchangeable authority and power similar document to that which King Ahasuerus gave to Mordecai, that helped the Jews stand and fight against their enemies. It was sealed with his ring that no man could reverse it (Esther 8:8). This is the decree of both the king and his nobles. He gave them the decree and they carried it out. He was the chief ruler, the head and they were the lesser rulers, his arms and his hands. They made sure the command was carried out.
The Command began with a National Fast: “saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water.”
The king told the people to do hard things, to make hard decisions, to make hard sacrifices. We do not hear that anyone objected or thought what was decreed was too much, too unreasonable or too impossible. They did what the king and the nobles asked them to do, they did not argue or question or ignore. Today we see something similar with the decisions made by local, state and federal government because of the coronavirus pandemic. People are asked to make sacrifices, to do what is not easy without rebelling. They are asking this to slow the spread of the virus. It is hard to stay at home, hard not to go to restaurants, or theaters, hard not to go to work, hard not to visit those that are sick. It is hard not to go out and do what you want, when you want. It is hard to have others tell us what to do and what not to do. It is hard when you do not see the immediate danger but someone tells you there is danger.
Continued next issue