Jonah 3:6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust.
Jonah is a book with a lot of ups and downs! When the Lord tells Jonah to rise up, he goes down. Down to Joppa, down to the bottom of the boat, down to the belly of a great fish. When God says rise up, Jonah goes down.
Jonah had some trouble obeying God the first time he was given the Word of the Lord. In chapter 3, when given a second chance, Jonah reluctantly obeyed and went to Ninevah. He delivered the Word of the Lord, a five word sermon warning of coming judgment.
When the Word of the Lord reached the king of Ninevah, it required a response. As the greatest, strongest earthly king of his time, he could have announced his own judgement on the prophet. But when he heard the Word of the Lord, the king responded differently.
Jonah 3: 6 says the king of Ninevah rose up…
…wearing his royal robes…what he proudly wore to show his strength, his royal position…
…from his throne…the place where he sat to rule, a place he would share with no one else.
And then he bowed down…
…wearing sackcloth…he put aside his royal robes for sackcloth, a sign of great humility…
…before the throne of God, in the dust, the earthly king bowed down before the Heavenly King.
From that place of humility, the king issued a decree that all of Ninevah should put aside their violent ways and pray.
God’s Word is alive and powerful! It always requires a response. When God told Jonah to rise up, his response to go down. Going down put him in the storm of his life until God caught him up in grace.
But the king’s response to the Word of the Lord was to rise up from his throne so he could bow down before the throne of the Lord. He humbly stepped down from his own throne, to submit to the authority of the One on the eternal throne. He put away his violent ways and prayed.
What a lesson we can learn from the king of Ninevah! When we hear the Word of the Lord, the correct response is to rise up from the throne of our hearts, from the places we have tried to control, the places we have not yet given over to Him. We are to rise up, and as we rise up, we relinquish our throne and humbly bow down before His. We are to submit to His will, His ways, and His work in our hearts. There is no better place to be than the place of humble submission before the throne of Almighty God!