"It approaches the end of forty days and the Ninevites have not repented. Prepare to leave the city before..."
"Listen, LORD, about that. How hard-and-fast is that forty day time limit?"
"Hard. And fast."
"The Ninevites were wondering if they could get an extension."
"An extension. More time."
"Well, frankly, LORD, and I mean this with the greatest respect, you know that. I mean, anybody that can create a fish just to swallow me up has got it going on, you know what I'm saying? But forty days is nowhere near time enough for Nineveh to repent."
"Help me out here, Jonah. I know that I, YHWH, am only the Creator of the entire universe and everything in it. But it seems to me that if I, YHWH, the Creator of the entire universe and everything in it, tell you to repent, you either do or your don't. Up or down."
"LORD, it's way more complicated than that. Here, it takes a lot longer."
"Once again. Why?"
"For one thing, the Nineveh Commission isn't anywhere close to finishing its work."
"What in the world is that?"
"That's the commission that's going all over Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire getting input from all segments of Assyrian society in order to put together a considered response to your request."
"A considered response!!"
"Say it, don't spray it."
"Exactly what is a considered response?!!"
"You know, they have to decide just what sins you want them to repent of, whether what you call 'sin' is actually a sin in the Assyrian context..."
"I'll help them out here. It is."
"Anyway, once the Commission decides just what it is Nineveh needs to repent of, they'll publish the Nineveh Report."
"And then they'll repent?"
"Not yet. As I understand it, the King will appoint another committee to develop a reception process for the Nineveh Report."
"What in the world does that mean?"
"That's the committee that will develop a process whereby the various groups who contributed input to the Nineveh Report will take it back to their homes, discuss it in their communities, suggest modifications and changes and then send it back here."
"How long will it take to develop this process?"
"It shouldn't be more than a year or two."
"And then they'll repent?!"
"Oh no. Then the Report will be sent out, any changes and modifications the various communites desire will be written down and sent back here to Nineveh."
"And then they'll repent?!!"
"Not quite yet. The changes will be discussed and debated here and then the Report will be put into final form. It'll be sent around one final time and then issued in final form."
"AND THEN THEY'LL REPENT?!!"
"Attitude! Now I'll see if I can get them to speed things up. But they're going to need at least five or six more years, LORD. Minimum. And I can't guarantee that they won't need additional time later on. You know how bureaucracies are."
"Two things. Go back to Israel right now. And if I were you, I wouldn't go by boat."