So far the Lord’s words to Jonah are almost the same as before (1:2). Just in case we wondered whether Jonah’s escapades had done anything to change the Lord’s intentions, we hear the same word that got the whole story going at the beginning.
Yet there is a slight difference, a clarification perhaps. Jonah is to call to Nineveh, not just call out against her. His voice is to go to these people and get into their ears rather than rising up over them to heaven. We are getting our first hint that Jonah’s message to Nineveh is not to be all destruction, despite our first impressions.
Once again the word of the Lord sets everything in motion, but this time in the mode of obedience rather than flight. The will of Jonah is, for the first time in the book, actively conforming to the word of the Lord. At least for a little while we are seeing a new Jonah, the way we expect when one is converted to God and reborn.
But we should also know—and unless we are complete fools, we Christian readers should know this from our own experience—that the reborn self still contains much of the old Adam who was to be drowned in baptism. The story of sin and redemption does not end with rebirth.