Summary: 1) Jonah’s Commission (Jonah 3:1–4) 2) Nineveh’s Confession (Jonah 3:5–9) and 3) God’s Compassion (Jonah 3:10)
If you are a fan of classic comedies, you are probably a fan of the classic: “Ground-hog Day”. In this 1993 comedy, “a weather man (played by Bill Murray) is reluctantly sent to cover a story about a weather forecasting "rat" (as he calls it). This is his fourth year on the story, and he makes no effort to hide his frustration. When he awakens the next morning, however, he finds that it's Groundhog Day again, as is every day thereafter, forcing Phil to relive the day over and over again. First he uses this to his advantage, then comes the realisation that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day. Eventually, he learns from his experiences and used the opportunity to do what was right, and escapes reliving that day. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107048/faq?ref_=tt_faq_2#.2.1.8)
Jonah chapter 3 represents Jonah’s ‘ground-hog day’—a chance at a re-run of that monumentally significant day when he began the long defiant walk from his home in Gath-hepher, headed for the port of Joppa (1:3) and kept on going. Now God speaks again (Mackrell, P. (2007). Opening up Jonah (p. 67). Leominster: Day One Publications.)
Do you find yourself trapped in a situation? Making the same mistakes? Or seemingly unable to overcome past failures? Jonah is a book of opportunity after failure. Often we a harder on ourselves that God is. We feel we are either disqualified or removed from service for past sin. But if God has forgiven the sin that we have genuinely repented of, who are we to say to God that it is not really forgiven and cleansed.
1) Jonah’s Commission (Jonah 3:1–4)
1) Jonah 3:1-4 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (ESV)
Charles Spurgeon said, “Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle. He who obeys God, trusts God; and he who trusts God, obeys God.” When God first called Jonah to go to Nineveh, the son of Amittai simply could not trust that Yahweh was right in extending His mercy by giving the enemies an opportunity to repent. Jonah did not trust that God knew what He was doing. We have no reason to assume that Jonah had changed his basic prejudices about the Ninevites when his second call came. His harrowing scrape with death in the deep forced the prophet to trust God for his survival. The “death-water” conversion shocked Jonah into promising that he would obey God. And so, God began again with Jonah. The willful prophet ran away from God and, in a terrible crisis, ran back to God. Now for a time at least, Jonah ran with God, doing what he was told. Chapter 3 shows us the magnificent results that can happen when we (obey) God. There is only one way to do anything—God’s way. Obedience is the secret of spiritual power (Ogilvie, L. J., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1990). Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (Vol. 22, p. 437). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.).
It is a measure of God’s graciousness that we read, Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time. Although God’s word came to Jonah a second time, demonstrating his forbearance and mercy, examples in Scripture show that not everyone has a second chance to do what God has commanded (cf. Gen 3; Num 20:12; 1 Kgs 13:26). The Lord did not wait for Jonah to go to Nineveh on his own initiative. God cannot compromise with the prejudices of his spokesmen (Smith, J. E. (1994). The Minor Prophets (Jon 3:1–4). Joplin, MO: College Press.).
• This text should bring thanksgiving to the heart of every believer who has been given another opportunity to do what God requires. This text, more than anything else, points to God’s sovereignty and his insistence upon the accomplishment of his will (Smith, B. K., & Page, F. S. (1995). Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (Vol. 19B, p. 255). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).
Please turn to Isaiah 40 (p.600)
The story of Jonah is a story of disobedience and restoration. It is a story of hope not only for the disobedient Israel, but us also. It calls us to put aside preconceptions, prejudices and fears. Replaced with all of that is the confidence in God and His sovereign plan: