The Power of Obedience

I remember as a little girl being stunned and shocked by several things about Jonah’s story. Of course there was the whole “big fish” incident that left me wide eyed and filled with inquisitive wonder but I was also stunned by the immediate, overwhelming conviction that spread like wildfire through an entire city of people when Jonah spoke God’s Word to them.

“Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4).

That was it.

In the Hebrew language, this sentence is a grand total of five words—no illustrations, no funny stories, no icebreakers to butter up the audience. Just a little bitty message. Heavy on judgment and light on personality.

Yet it was a message that would stir unprecedented, house-by-house repentance in a pagan city.

"The people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes” (Jonah 3:5–6).

Even as an adult, I’ve wondered, How’d that happen? How could one simple five-word message create that kind of impact?

  Three distinct events in Ninevah’s history might give us interesting insight into this phenomenon. First, in 765 BC, and again a few years later in 759, two different plagues ravaged Ninevah. Disease and sickness swept through the region, killing many. Second, Nineveh’s walls and ramparts, which had always been considered an unassailable protection from enemy attack, didn’t prove strong enough to stop an epic invasion. “These plagues, coupled with a total eclipse of the sun in 763 BC [a phenomenon that would have stirred unprecedented fear and terror in their hearts], were enough to soften the Ninevites to Jonah’s preaching.” [i]

So get this, Jonah’s five simple words were sufficient because God had already been at work to prepare the ears of the people in Nineveh to be receptive. Each of these disastrous events, which Jonah may have known nothing about, would have left an odious environment in the city that left the Ninevites eager to seek a solution.

Jonah’s little part to obey. To say his five little words and move on. To do what God had told him to do. God would take care of the big ol’ rest.

So today, I want to encourage you to obey, my friend.

In whatever thing the Lord is asking you to do – no matter how simple or insignificant it seems to you - obey Him. He has already gone before you in ways that you may never know to prepare for your arrival on the scene of that situation. Your obedience is a puzzle piece being added to a big picture God is already putting together. So, do what He’s asking.

The result will be supernatural.