July 2

Jonah 3:1-10

From riches to rags

The city of Nineveh was so big that it would have taken three days to walk around it. Jonah started telling everyone the message God had given him: in forty days Nineveh would be destroyed.

The people of Nineveh believed the message from God and decided to put on rags and go without food to show how sorry they were.

When the king heard the message, even he stepped down from his throne, took off his royal robe, and put on scratchy cloth. The king even went to sit in a pile of ashes. He sent out an order that no one was to eat or drink anything, and that everyone was to pray to God and ask for forgiveness.

The king thought, “Maybe if we stop our evil ways, God will change His mind and not be angry with us anymore.”

How can the heart of a wicked sinner be changed?

God had warned His own people the Israelites many times about their pride and their worship of heathen gods. But their hearts did not change towards Him. (Not even the prophet Jonah had a humble, obedient spirit). Yet God gave this heathen nation just one chance to change—and that was all they needed. They immediately humbled themselves and asked for forgiveness. After hearing Jonah’s warning, they stopped their evil deeds straight away.

If you push something hard enough, it will move. If you make something hot enough, it will melt. But how can you change the heart of a person? What can make a wicked person want to be good? Only the Spirit of God can change a person. “It is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord. No human force can change a person’s spiritual attitude. Only the Holy Spirit can change a person’s heart towards God.

Verse for today

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:19