Next, God spoke to Jonah a second time:
"Up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! Preach to them. They're in a bad way and I can't ignore it any longer."
This time Jonah started off straight for Nineveh, obeying God's orders to the letter.
Jonah entered the city, went one day's walk and preached, "In forty days Nineveh will be smashed."
The people of Nineveh listened, and trusted God. They proclaimed a citywide fast and dressed in burlap to show their repentance. Everyone did it - rich and poor, famous and obscure, leaders and followers.
When the message reached the king of Nineveh, he got up off his throne, threw down his royal robes, dressed in burlap, and sat down in the dirt.
Then he issued a public proclamation throughout Nineveh, authorized by him and his leaders: "Not one drop of water, not one bite of food for man, woman, or animal, including your herds and flocks!
Dress them all, both people and animals, in burlap, and send up a cry for help to God. Everyone must turn around, turn back from an evil life and the violent ways that stain their hands.
Who knows? Maybe God will turn around and change his mind about us, quit being angry with us and let us live!"
God saw what they had done, that they had turned away from their evil lives. He did change his mind about them. What he said he would do to them he didn't do.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)