Summary: God is a God of second chances. He creates those second chances. God's mercy changes lives.
Read Jonah 1:1-3, 3:1-5, 4:1-3
God is eager to forgive. He is glad that people are given second chances.
• If there's one thing that is true about man, it is this - we have a great capacity to mess up, to err and sin.
• But even more infinite than our ability to sin is God's desire to forgive. We see that in the messages of the prophets.
This biblical story is straightforward. God orders Jonah to far-away city Nineveh, his enemies, to warn the sinful people that their days are numbered.
• Jonah plays the truant. He flees in the opposite direction and boards a ship for Tarshish (likely South of Spain, the most distant place known to them then).
• Just after it embarks, a great storm arises and threatens to sink the ship.
Jonah is forced to confess to the sailors. They throw him overboard so that the sea will cease raging.
• Instead of drowning, the prophet is rescued by a great fish that swallows him whole.
• He survives inside the fish. He prays and is consequently delivered safely back onto dry land after 3 days.
God commissioned him again. This time Jonah submits and travels to Nineveh.
• The people believe the prophet's prediction of doom, and they repent.
• When the Lord relents and forgives the people, Jonah is angry. He walks out of the city and asks God to let him die.
He sits by a shelter and a cooling vine.
• A worm comes to attack his leafy shade, and the prophet is mad. He cares more for his own comfort than for the fate of the people.
• God speaks to Jonah about His compassion. He reveals His heart.
• Whether the prophet comprehends God’s mercy is left unknown.
I believe the writer left it unresolved because he wants his readers to ponder.
• Will Jonah finally understand God’s heart? Can he accept it? Do you? Can you.
• Even a prophet finds it hard to believe that God would spare Nineveh.
The message here is - no one who is beyond redemption. No one can sin beyond the reach of God’s mercy because His mercy knows no limit.
• God is no respecter of persons (Peter says in Acts 10:34); He shows no partiality, no favouritism.
God is the God of the second chances. In fact, God creates the second chances.
• The people in Nineveh sinned greatly and faced the threat of being destroyed (3:10), and God sent them a prophet. Only God could do that.
• Jonah disobeyed and went the opposite direction. God prevented him from walking out of His will when He sent a storm. Only God could do that.
• Jonah was thrown into the sea but God kept him alive when He provided a great fish that would swallow him whole. Only God could do that.
• God gave him time to ponder and pray. God brought him up to dry land and have him start all over again – He re-commissioned him (3:1).
God creates opportunities for us to do it right again. If you need a U-turn, God makes a U-turn available for you.
• “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor 10:13)
• Nothing happens by chance. God creates those chances.
We see that throughout the readings of the books of the prophets.
• God is relentless in giving His people warnings and opportunities to repent.
• It is not a lack of opportunities that man suffers the consequences of their sin. It is the lack of the willingness to take up what God has to offer.
Look at disciple Peter – he denied knowing Jesus 3 times and yet the Lord used him.
• In less than 60 days after his denial, Peter preached his first sermon and 3,000 were saved.
• Look at Saul, a Pharisee. He started off persecuting the church and killing Christians, but ended up being God’s great servant.
God gives us second chances because God is merciful. It is His attribute, not even an attitude. God is merciful.
• Don’t take God’s mercy for granted. Even if it is not acknowledged, all people, including you and me, are recipients of God’s mercy.
• The fact that the people of Nineveh are alive, that sinners are alive and well today, is because God is holding off His judgement through mercy.
We need God’s mercy. If you do not know Him today, you need to repent of your sin, receive Jesus as your Saviour, and be reconciled with God.
• The penalty of our sin is death. God’s mercy postpones your execution. God is given us a chance to repent and return.