Summary: God is the God of the second chance. Jonah got to see first-hand the remarkable grace of God, and come to a renewed understanding of His love and grace.
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."
3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
Jonah, a prophet, was commanded by God to preach to the citizens of Nineveh.
• The city was the capital of Assyria. They were Israel’s enemy and Jonah was asked to preach to his enemies.
• This was hard even for a prophet of God. The Assyrians were known in history to be arrogant and cruel conquerors.
• Jonah hated the Assyrians for their atrocities and evil. They do not deserve to be saved.
Does God know how evil they were? YES. The Lord says, “…preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before Me.”
• God saw their wickedness. Jonah saw their evil. But they responded very differently.
• Jonah wanted them dead, God wanted them saved. Those Assyrians did not matter to Jonah, but they mattered to God.
It’s easy to judge when you see evil. That’s understandable. That’s most reasonable. That’s human.
• But God’s FIRST response was NOT judgement but kindness. That’s divine.
• God, being holy and righteous, is the One most qualified to judge and it was fully justifiable in this situation. Yet God chose to show kindness and grant mercy.
• Ps 103:8 “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
God is the GOD OF THE SECOND CHANCE. So God sent them a prophet.
• It’s not easy to understand God’s heart, Jonah realised. Likewise for us today.
• God chooses to love us despite our sins. He forgives us when we fail Him. He shows us kindness when we do not deserve it.
• You matters to God. No matter how bad you think you are, you matters to God.
If God did not give up on Nineveh, God will not give up on you.
• No matter how far away you have drifted from Him, God will give you a chance, a second chance, a third and fourth chance. His door is always open.
• So God directed His rescuer Jonah to travel East over land to Nineveh. But Jonah booked passage over sea, on a ship headed to Tarshish in Spain, in the extreme West.
He tried to run away from God’s assignment, he admitted.
• During that journey, a tremendous storm arose and he was thrown overboard, into the Mediterranean Sea.
• God did not give him up and called someone else to do the job. He sent a big fish swallowed him up and Jonah spent those quiet moments reflecting and prayed.
• 2:10 “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”
Jonah 3:1-2 “Then the Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."
• God did not give up on Nineveh. God did not give up on Jonah.
• Deliberately, consciously, stubbornly, Jonah had run away from God. Yet, God came to the prophet a second time and allowed him to carry on his ministry.
• God did not punish him. God did not fire him. God gave him a second chance.
God is the GOD OF THE SECOND CHANCE. God will not give up on you.
• He gave Nineveh a second chance. He gave Jonah a second chance. He will give you a second chance.
• How many second chances has God given you? Give thanks.
Chapter 3 tells us when the reluctant Jonah eventually preached God’s message, the people repented!
Jonah 3:5-9 “5The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 6When the news 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. 7Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:
"By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.
10When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened.”