The city of Nineveh in the Book of Jonah had a population of 120,000 and a cityscape which took 3 days to walk across.
Using Singapore as a reference, that’s about the number of people living in Toa Payoh, and a slightly smaller district size.
Now if you were to stand at the edge of Toa Payoh, and started walking and shouting “40 days and the city will be overthrown”, you’d not walk very far before you get picked up by the police and charged with some intent for terrorism. Adding to that, Jonah wasn’t a citizen of Nineveh – so a stranger in your city, shouting strange words, walking around for 3 days, unstopped.
Why didn’t he get stopped?
What’s more interesting, they believed him. And word got to the king. Why would you escalate news of a stranger to the king, the message of doom aside?
And the king believed Jonah, and called for everyone in the city to start fasting and repenting.
Was it from how Jonah looked after he got spewed out of the fish? Probably rather patchy looking, after 3 days of stomach acids and probably ripe from the smell too. Did the fishermen working the shores where Jonah was alighted’ follow along and share with everyone that a whale dropped him off?
Or was it the Glory of God upon Jonah? That the people of Nineveh could see, believe and take action. Something supernatural happened, which was left unsaid in the text. And as a nation, they repented, and the destruction was spared.
I’ll muse a little more on how One voice is able to influence and impact 120,000 people, when the Lord is behind you.