Jonah 4:11 (NKJV) And should I [God] not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left--and much livestock?"
The book of Jonah is an amazing picture of God's grace for a city full of sinful people. If you have ever heard the story, you know that God asked Jonah to preach a message of salvation to Nineveh. Jonah rebelled and attempted to flee to Tarshish (1). During the journey, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish. In the end, the people repented and Jonah did not approve of God's grace. The book ends with our verse at the top of this post.
I find it very interesting that the name Tarshish means a region of the stone (2). Since the Ten Commandments were written on stone. This tells me Jonah tried to take God to the Ten Commandments. This was a reason not to provide a means of salvation for Nineveh.
Jonah felt these people did not deserve salvation---they were lawbreakers.
However, God provided some fascinating revelation in the last three words of our verse, and much livestock. When I first read these words, they did not make any sense to me. They appeared to be out of place; after all, God does not lack livestock. I asked God what this meant and discovered a powerful message.
The Bible says in Deuteronomy 7:22, "And the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you little by little; you will be unable to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you." This verse tells us the, beasts of the field, can be a difficult challenge. I believe these are invisible demonic forces that can influence people.
In our verse at the top, the word, livestock, comes from the same Hebrew word translated as, beasts, in Deuteronomy. God told Jonah; Nineveh did not know right from wrong, and they were influenced by many beasts.
Of course, when we tap into God, we can overpower the demonic. We need to understand the influences of our enemy in this world, whether people are saved or not, there are influences. We need to take authority over them in prayer and fellowship with God. We cannot do it in the natural realm.
God has grace for Nineveh, whether you still struggle with coming out of Nineveh or someone who upset you still dwells there, we all need grace to defeat the beasts of the field. Fleeing to the law will not do it!
(1) Jonah 1:1-3 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." But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
(2) Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, copyright 1890 by James Strong, MADISON, NJ. Strong’s number, H658 - Tarshish.