Jonah 3:1 "Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time."
Here is one of the most wonderful chapters in the entire Old Testament. This chapter proves beyond any shadow of a doubt that God is not only sovereign, but He is absolutely gracious. The chapter begins with Him using a prophet who had been in total rebellion and it ends with Him saving a city that was totally wicked.
When a rebellious child of God repents, God will use that to bring many other people out of their wickedness. A repentant prophet is recommissioned as God recalls Jonah.
Notice carefully the text says the “word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time…” Here is one of the great verses of the Bible for God’s people for it clearly and plainly proves that God is the God of a second chance. Even when His people have blatantly rejected His Word and walked away from His will, if they will repent, God will give them another chance.
Jesus doesn't give us a second chance, or any chances. He comes to us in the morgue and says, "Come forth!"... and we rise. The gospel isn't about God giving us a second chance. God left nothing to chance when he gave Jesus as our substitute. God's name is Redeemer, not “ReDoer.” He gave us the Second Adam, not a second chance. Hallelujah!
Father, you are our substitute before you are our model, our life, not our life-coach, our second Adam, not our second chance. So, thank you for giving the word again to Jonah and leaving for us an encouragement when we think we have exhausted your grace. Father, living a double life is too exhausting -- especially since none of us are whole persons to begin with. Help me walk the straight and narrow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 3:2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
What’s more dangerous than going to Nineveh?
Not going to Ninevah.
This verse shows us God still wanted to use Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach. God had not given up on Jonah and He hadn’t given up on Nineveh. Jonah had his Nineveh. What person, people or place do WE not want to see God's mercy given? Jesus, help us today.
A sign you're growing in grace: You buy a ticket to Nineveh, not Tarshish. The compulsion Paul knew to preach the Gospel is the compulsion that drove Moses to preach to Pharaoh & Jonah to Nineveh! Are you compelled in this way?
2 Cor. 4:5 “For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord,and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
What if your city became the most wicked city on earth, but with Jesus present, his blood flowing in cleansing power? Glory! Abraham pleading with God for the sake of God's people amid a wicked city is an example to us all. Do we pray for our cities?
Father, may a vision of the coming City encourage us as we serve in our cities today. Goodness, truth, and beauty will remain. It's your church, city, and world. May we live and love, weep and laugh, work and play accordingly. Father, use your churches as conduits of Jesus' grace and truth. Bring revival to our cities through them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 3:3 "Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it."
This time Jonah did not run from God’s will—he obeyed it. Jonah immediately went to Nineveh and began to proclaim the exact message God wanted—namely, Nineveh will be destroyed by God in forty days.
Genuine faith trusts God and obeys God. What God commands in His Word, He gives all-sufficient grace to obey. We can keep the Scripture only by His Spirit who works within us. And Jonah relearned this after all he had been through the last several days.
"We must obey God rather than men." - Acts 5:29b
I'm thankful for "calling", but never forget that it can be subjective. Our primary motivation to obey is not calling, but the glory of God. Scripture has relatively few examples of people struggling to
know God's will. It is full, however, with people struggling to obey His will.
Whatever God commands of Christians, he will supply the power to obey and the perfect obedience of Christ as satisfaction when we don't. When we obey God's laws, we become a means of grace to our neighbors.
So, find your justification in the triune God, not in your performance, people, or personalities. Don't obey God to put a smile on his face, for he already greatly delights in you nonstop. Obey God because you love him. Jonah did—it just took him a while, by grace, to get there!
Father, thank you for the opportunity to be known by you. Thank you that we have been called to go on mission because you are a missionary God. We know this because you sent your Son to die for us. Large city like Nineveh or small city like a country county seat, be glorified, Lord, in all that you call us to do. We thank you that you are worthy! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 3:4 "Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, 'Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.'”
What would you do if you had only a few days to live and there’s nothing you could do about it? It is popular today to accomplish your “bucket list,” that is, the fun and adventurous (and sometimes serious) things in life you always wanted to do. If you must have a bucket list, let it consist of what you want to do for others before you die. Yet, most importantly, a bucket list presupposes that heaven is going to be a letdown.
So, what was going through the minds of the people of Nineveh as they heard Jonah’s message? At first, we can probably imagine that there was some sort of apprehension, if not for any reason than because Jonah was a foreigner. Why should they listen to him?
Although we must not seek to be offensive, we must discard the idea that there is some way to preach the Gospel without scandal or offense. True Gospel preaching will always be “foolishness” to every culture. Any attempt to remove the offense diminishes the power of the Gospel.
Next, notice the shortness of Jonah’s message. It is very probable that he actually spoke more words than were recorded here. However, his message is not unclear. The Bible is not sentimental about heaven and hell—not hesitant, and not mushy. The message is clear and alarming (Isaiah 65:13-15).
Would you pray that your pastor is clear in his message? Would you pray that your church is clear in the Gospel message? Would you pray that we all stand on the Gospel and biblical truths, even if it costs us finances, freedom, or popularity?
Father, may those of us who preach the gospel make it clear that no one needs the gospel more than us. Increase our humility and gratitude. Continue to make the gospel clear, real, and dear to us. Father, by a clear sighting of Jesus, sabotage every excuse we might offer today for being petty, easily offended, and selfish. Lord, grant us a clear sighting of Jesus today in the Word, quicker-than-Usain-Bolt repentances; and irrepressible compassion for others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 3:5 "The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth."
As we see the results today of the preaching of Jonah, let’s remind ourselves of some important facts we didn’t cover yesterday.
Fact #1) - The judgment of God is certain. The words “will be” indicate that God’s judgment will most certainly come in the future. Truth is it eventually did come even though Nineveh repented. In 612 B.C., the Medes and Babylonians demolished Nineveh.
Fact #2 - The judgment of God is timed . God knows the precise date of His judgment. In the case of Nineveh, it would happen in forty days. That was God’s appointed day of judgment against that city.
Fact #3 - The judgment of God is total . The word “overthrown” is the same word used to describe the judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah, when God rained fire and brimstone from heaven (Gen. 19:24-25). The destruction was so complete that it destroyed the cities, the valley, all the people and anything that had grown on the ground. It was a total destruction. The people viewed God’s judgment as meaning they would perish (3:9).
Here is the greatest revival in all the Word of God: “the people in Nineveh believed in God.” I love what J. Vernon McGee says: “This is all God has ever asked of any person, any sinner, to simply believe on Him.”
Nineveh was the greatest city in the world but after it believed on God, it was the humblest. In fact, this city humbled itself before God in a way that even Jerusalem didn’t. This whole city was in deep, humble repentance. When a person is truly getting right with God and getting out of sin, there will be total humility. When someone has truly repented, there will be no pride but broken humility before God.
Do you believe God can do this in this your family, workplace, city, church, or nation? If you don’t—then you don’t understand the power and presence of God!
Father, wow, is all we can say. This is, perhaps, the greatest revival at one time in one place, all given by you the one true God. Father, bring a no-holds-barred, no-prisoners-taking, all-things-renewing grace revival to our hearts and churches. Intensify our longing for revival. Send your Spirit. Forgive our lethargy and satisfaction with our current experience of the gospel. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jonah 3:6 "When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust."
A wonder of the world. "The people of Nineveh believed God." (Jonah 3:5) In the mouth of a conflicted, angry prophet. When the men of Nineveh rise up at the judgment to condemn unbelievers, it won't be out of a fictional story. This is why Matthew 12:41 says:
“The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.”
In other words, because of the immediate response to the message of judgment spoken by Jonah, those in Nineveh will stand up on the day of judgment and condemn many generations and ask, in a sense, “Why didn’t you repent, too?” "The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (Matt. 9:6). That is, Jesus alone can remedy the root of our national paralysis.
Read these words again:
“The king of Nineveh removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.”
May we pray for such national repentance! May we pray for such personal repentance in our families and churches! What matters most is not national survival; what matters most now and forever is peace with God through Jesus. Ultimate reality.
Have you prayed today for this type of response in Jesus’ name in your country? Your city? Your county? Your church?
Father, may we repent like Zaccheus, dance like David, worship like Asaph, trust like Ruth, serve like Esther, and love like John. Let us never see anyone as unredeemable. Thank you that you didn't do that to those who have trusted in Christ alone for salvation. Father, help us to remember that our calling today is to glorify you and enjoy you, not exalt ourselves and fix others. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Jonah 3:7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink."
Upon hearing the message of judgment preached by Jonah, the king of the city “covered himself with sackcloth” and sat down in the dust. This mighty man humbled himself to such a degree that no one would have second guessed his intentions.
Yet, he doesn’t stop there. Wielding power only a king could, he proceeded to declare a total fast in all of Nineveh. But notice it isn’t just the king – but also “his nobles.” God’s message through Jonah had completely upended the powerful establishment of this mighty city. So much so, in fact, that the king makes it law that no one—whether animal or man—is to eat or drink. He wants to make sure there this fasting is truly complete.
As Christians, may we be challenged to remember that this pagan king took more seriously the commands of God than we often do. It is true, isn’t? C.S. Lewis famously quipped, “If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
Fasting is the soul's directed, focused feast on the all-savoring, all-satisfying Christ. Fasting says before God, "As much as I desire food, I desire you and your presence and your help more than I desire to eat."
For most of us, fasting means assassinating an idol. Giving, praying, and fasting are disciplines that God gives us as good gifts to help push back against the temptation to bow down to idols.
Fasting isn't about starving ourselves to get God's love and attention. Rather, it's about fueling an insatiable appetite in our hearts for Jesus.
Christian, what is it in your life that you need to fast over (a big decision, a spiritual change, salvation of someone, etc.)? What will it take for you to be committed to that?
Father, we thank you that nothing ever changes you. We thank you that fasting is something you command us to, even when our culture doesn’t like the stopping or slowing down of pleasure. Father, thank you for giving up yourself for us, and for fasting your very life. Because you did, we are forgiven, righteous, and free. Help us to respond quickly as these people did. In Jesus’ name. Amen.