Jonah 3:4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
What a short but effective witness! Jonah, the reluctant Prophet, went to Nineveh, the hated enemies of his people Israel and proclaimed this message throughout the great city. Nineveh at that time was the capital of the mighty Assyrian empire. The Assyrians were the most powerful force on the planet and as a result of their conquest and vast wealth, Nineveh was the commercial center of the world. Yet it was also a city in a nation that did not know The true and Living God. They were pagans steeped in occult practices. They had attacked, conquered and oppressed God’s nation of Israel and were known for stealing from the innocent to live a lavish lifestyle. Yet at the proclamation of the man of God, they were immediately stirred to change:
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 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: 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
All it took was that very brief sermon and everyone from the King to the cows in the field repented and demonstrated to The Lord that they were turning from their sinful ways. The King of Nineveh was not even sure if would work but hoped that God would spare their lives. And The Lord did, because He is merciful. So much so, that when Jonah was still bitter over the Ninevites not being punished, God reminded him that there were 120,000 children in that city who could not grow up in God-fearing homes, with a chance for salvation.
So here is the question: if you knew that God would be judging you and the entire Earth in 40 days, what would you do? Are you certain that you are born-again and thus going to Heaven? And if so, then there is another question for the Christian. If Judgment Day was in 40 days, what would you do to improve your walk with Christ? What would you do to show that you are making your body a “living sacrifice” for God (Romans 12:1-2)? And for your friends, family and loved ones, how urgent and passionately would you witness to them if you knew there were only 40 days before the ones who were lost faced eternal damnation? How much would you plead with that stubborn family member to listen to the message of salvation in Jesus Christ? How many more people in your phone book would you start contacting to check on their spiritual state? When God says you have 40 days before you face Him, priorities change. The to-do list, “5 year plans” and other goals in life that we set would probably see a huge shift if we knew we were on the clock before God Almighty would judge us.
But beloved, truth of the matter is that we do not know if we have 40 years, 40 hours or 40 seconds before the end times. But that should not change our attitude. If you love God and seek to serve Him, then let that solitary fact be enough to realize how important and urgent it is to live a Godly life and spread the Gospel to the unsaved. We are not commanded to take it easy until the end. We are commissioned to spread the Gospel to all people’s and to live our lives for Christ daily by taking up our cross, denying ourselves and following Him. So if you are unsaved or not 100% sure you are going to Heaven, make today the day of salvation. And if you are saved, do not be reluctant like Jonah. Do not run from your mission. Pick up your cross, worship our Lord Jesus Christ and proclaim God’s Word. You never know how many lives could be at stake.