The Fast of Nineveh
Middle East saw a new empire when the nation of Assyria risen. Nineveh, its capital city was being evaded by the Assyrians. They were expanding their territory for they took the Nineveh’s land putting Israel in danger. Fortunate to the people, GOD called upon Prophet Jonah ordering him; “Go to Nineveh, that great city and preach for its wickedness which raised up before me.” (Jonah 1:2)
Prophet Jonah who was preaching Israeli people didn’t wish to speak GOD’s word in front of the Nineveh’s for they were enemies of Israel. He believed they ought to be punished not be redeemed. His thought laid on running away from GOD’s command and so he did; he fled to Jaffa where they were sailing to Tarshish. GOD then saw him on the ship; he brought a storm with full of hurricane on him and all inside. Jonah was fast asleep but the sailors’ inboard were attempting to save their ship. Their captain came and saw his presence. He woke him up and said, “Why are you sleeping at a time like this? Awake, and call to your God. Perhaps HE will hear you and save our lives.” (Jonah 1:6)
Meanwhile the storm grew heavy and the men spoke among themselves. “There is some man on this ship who has brought us this trouble. Let us cast lots and find out who it is.” (Jonah 1:7) When the sailors cast their lots, the lot fell on Jonah. They said to him, “Tell us, who are you? From which country did you come? What is your business? To which tribe do you belong? Why have your brought all this trouble on us? (Jonah 1:8) So, Prophet Jonah told them the story of Israelis and the Nineveh’s. He then inquired them to throw him out in to the Ocean. He said, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the storm will stop and the waters will be calm, since I brought this storm on you.” (Jonah 1:12) However those men disagreed with him as they did not desire GOD to be angry at them for killing Jonah. Anon, they tried hard to sail at coast though they couldn’t. Desperate to survive, they pleaded GOD; “We pray thee, O Lord of Jonah’s people; don’t make us die for this man’s life.”(Jonah 1:14 ) Noticing there was no change, they threw Prophet Jonah into the sea. The storm seized at once and the men all feared GOD offering sacrifice promising to worship him.
Suddenly, a big fish came towards Prophet Jonah and swallowed him. He stayed inside it for three days and He pleaded GOD crying. Hearing his prayer, GOD ordered the fish to spit him on the coast. GOD called Jonah again. “Arise! Go to Nineveh, that great city and preach what I command you.” (Jonah 3:2) Anon, Prophet Jonah went Nineveh and announced to the people, “Within forty days, Nineveh will be destroyed.” (Jonah 3:4) Accepting his words, the people of Nineveh were in to repentance through fasting and soughing. Their king gave up his throne, put aside his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes, as a sign of sorrow for his sins. He also ordered his people to turn from their sinful ways seeking GOD and fast for three days.
God received the Nineveh’s’ repentance and forgave them. But Jonah wasn’t happy about it. He didn’t accept the Nineveh’s salvation remembering they are his enemies. He also feared the people would think he was a sham and a false prophet since his words did not come true. He asked, “O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious GOD and merciful, slow to anger, rich in mercy and repent thee of the evil. Now Lord, take away my life, for I would rather die than live. (Jonah 4:2)
Later, Prophet Jonah went out of the city, built a little hut on the east side and sat under its roof. He wanted to see if God would still spare the city or would destroy it for him. GOD caused a plant with thick leaves to grow up and shade Jonah from the sun. He was glad about the plant and where he sat under its shadow. Unfortunate to Jonah, GOD destroyed the plant with worm. The next day, he suffered from the heat of a wind blow. Once more, with rage, Prophet Jonah wished his death. GOD then said to him, “You were sorry to see the plant die, though you did not make it grow, it came up in a night and died in a night. Should I not have pity on Nineveh, that great city where there are more than a hundred thousand people who I created but don’t know me; people, children and animals, all helpless and knowing nothing?”(Jonah 4: 10-11) Prophet Jonah then knew that men, women and little children are all precious in the eyes of GOD, even those who didn’t know his existence.
Onward, people in the name of Christianity fast “The fast of Nineveh”, a three-days lent recognized by the Orthodox Incarnation Church, seeking a forgiveness and repentance from GOD. The fasting lasts from Monday to Wednesday, two weeks before the beginning of the Great Lent. This year’s Fast of Nineveh begins on Monday, February 10 and ends February 12, 2020