Summary: Unwillingly, Jonah preaches to Nineveh
“Jonah: The Preaching Prophet”
David P. Nolte
Can you envision Jonah after being tossed into the sea, swallowed by a huge fish, imprisoned in the Haddock Hoosegow for three days and nights? Can you fathom how he must have stunk after being barfed up onto the beach? Can you imagine him with skin bleached out and wrinkled up like a prune? Can you see him with seaweed wrapped around his neck like a scarf? And can you imagine him staggering around, blinded by the sudden glare of sunlight? He looked like something the cat wouldn’t drag in!! And can you hear God restating His call, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.”? “Okay, Lord – I hear you loud and clear!”
This time, Jonah got his compass bearing correct. He headed for Nineveh to become the Preaching Prophet! What can we learn from this fellow today? What does the text have in store for us? Let’s see:
“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.’ So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days' walk. Then Jonah began to go through the city one day's walk; and he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.’ Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. He issued a proclamation and it said, ‘In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.’ When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.” Jonah 3:1-10 (NASB).
Have you ever been called upon to do a job for God and you ignored it, or made excuses, or agreed with crossed fingers, or flat out disobeyed? I think we all have – and since life has no “Undo” or “Do Over” buttons, it is very good that God is gracious!
I. GOD IS WILLING TO GIVE ANOTHER CHANCE: V1:
A. The word of the Lord came a second time! God didn’t speak once and then, not being heeded, didn’t speak again! God is the God of another opportunity!
B. I do not want to make it seem that God has gone soft on sin – just that when we sin it is not all over for us if we repent. He gives another chance
C. See who got a second chance here:
1. Nineveh did! It was a wicked city, corrupt, violent, immoral. Yet God wanted to save the people there!
2. Jonah did! He had been a rebel, a shirker, a disgrace to the name prophet. Yet God wanted to use him!
3. Neither Jonah nor Nineveh had gone too far to be reclaimed, redeemed, and used IF they’d repent and turn from their sins.
D. The Gospel is first and foremost a message of another chance! The call to “repent!” is one of the most positive calls ever issued. It is an invitation to turn around and get right with God. It is an opportunity to go God’s way..
1. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
2. “There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” Luke 15:7 (NLT2).
E. Man! Talk about giving a second chance! The following news item appeared in the Grand Rapids Press: “A man who survived at least six attempts on his life, allegedly masterminded by his wife and her lover, wants the charges against his spouse dismissed because they have reconciled. Lawyers for the husband have filed a motion seeking to dismiss the charges of conspiracy to commit murder and shooting with the intent to kill. The motion said that the man and his wife Phyllis reconciled after the death of the woman's lover 2 months ago. According to the motion, the husband has decided he won't testify against his wife. The district attorney said that he wouldn't have a case without the husband's testimony.” And regardless of how often we have sinned, when we humbly repent, the Lord continues to extend unlimited forgiveness.