This week I have been focusing on how fasting is a way that we can confess our sin to God and change our ways. I also looked at how we need to get rid of the idols that we hold fast to and have a fast to symbolize the change in our heart. Today, I want to look at the city of Nineveh at how they used a fast to repent. Before you turn to Jonah, please picture in your mind a large city; a city with 120,000 citizens. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire; an empire known for its evil and cruelty. Because of their wickedness, God wanted Jonah to go to them and pronounce God's judgement on them. Chapter 3 opens when Jonah goes into Nineveh and begins to proclaim the impending judgement day. Please read Jonah 3.
Those in Nineveh and the king took Jonah's message seriously and declared a fast. The king called on all the citizens to give up their evil ways and to call on God during their fasting. Picture a city that takes three days to travel through with 120,000 people all fasting and calling out to God. Once again, this is a culture that is not quiet about their mourning; they cry out and tear their clothes. In this culture, it was a very public scene. Verse 10 tells us, "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened." God saw their sincerity and chose to offer mercy instead of judgement. What an incredible God we serve!
In this scripture reference, it seems as though the people used a fast to get God's attention so He could see that they were serious. Have you ever changed something in desperation and wanted to have it noticed? God always notices when there is a heart change that brings us closer to Him; no matter the reason it happens God will notice a change of heart. A fast can teach us to seek after God because we realize that He is all we need. He satisfies us.
Is it time for a desperate change?