Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)
God Is Aware
The great city of Nineveh is one of the oldest cities in the world. It was founded by Nimrod, great-grandson of Noah. It was a great and populous city that would one day be the capital city of the empire of Assyria. The city lay on the eastern bank of the Tigris river along which it stretched for 30 miles, having an average breadth of 10 miles or more. Few cities in antiquity can rival the size and power of Nineveh. Located almost six hundred miles from Jerusalem, the city of Nineveh would play a pivotal role in the history of Israel. The Assyrian army would annihilate the northern ten tribes of Israel by the hand of God and the prophets Nahum and Zephaniah would preach against the city and predict its final destruction through the will of God. Jonah is sent to the city to preach a message of repentance because God knew how great the wickedness of the city was.
Nineveh was nearly six hundred miles from Jerusalem but God knew how great the wickedness of the city had become and sent Jonah to try and change the hearts of the people. Jonah was very effective in his preaching as the whole city repented with sackcloth and ashes proclaiming a fast from the greatest of them to the least. Even the king was penitent in begging for the mercy of God to spare the city. When God saw their works that they turned from their evil way He relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. God was aware of their wickedness and He knew the sincerity of their hearts to repent.
Jonah tried to evade the command of God taking a ship to the furthest reaches of the known world but God knew where he was. It would have seemed probable that when the Lord came to Jonah to tell him to cry out against the city of Nineveh, the prophet would have known there was no place to hide from the Divine. His attempts failed. The wickedness of the city had come up before the Lord because God was aware of how wicked the city had become. Only through His grace and mercy was He extending a chance of pardon to the inhabitants of Nineveh if they would repent. Jonah preached a message of repentance telling the people that in forty days God would rain destruction upon the great city if they did not repent. What the people of Nineveh believed was that God knew their hearts, their lives, and their purpose. Their repentance came from the truth revealed in the message of Jonah that God knew all things and He was aware. It changed their hearts.
To make God laugh is only to see a man trying to hide anything from the all-seeing eye of the Creator. Some men will engage in criminal activity that may never be known to the human eye but God knows. The suffering, neglected and dispossessed is known by the one who created all men. When the heart is filled with anger, the eye of God sees. If the spirit of man is penitent, the mind of God knows. A broken heart is heard by the mercy of God. For the city of Nineveh, their wickedness had come before the Lord. Everything is open and lay bare before the eye of God. There is nothing that man can do that will not be known by the Lord whether good or bad. For the wicked, this should be a warning. The righteous are blessed in the comfort of knowing that the Father cares for them and He knows their pain and their joy.