Summary: In God’s economy failure is never a defining outcome because God never gives up on anybody – therefore we should always expect the miracle of transformation to take place.

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Jonah 3:1-10

Recommissioned By A Merciful God.

Do you remember the first time you tried to ride a bike? It’s such a tranquil and joyful occasion isn’t it. But that is only after a lot of other things have happened. Eventually your bike riding efforts look like this. But usually learning to ride a bike looks like this

… or this

… or this

… or even this

It is not any easy thing to learn to ride a bike. You will make a lot of mistakes … and you will fall down heaps … and you may even do yourself great harm. But eventually, with the help of people around you who pick you up when you fall and keep encouraging you when you fail,

you do get the hang of it

That’s what happens when you are learning to ride a bike. But it is also what happens when you are learning to serve God. Let’s see this truth in action by turning to Jonah 3:1-10

On Jonah’s first attempt at following God’s instructions, his bike veered off the path, down to the dock, onto a boat, through a ferocious storm, over the side, and into the mouth of a big fish. But now Jonah is standing on the beach having been vomited up on dry land. And notice what doesn’t happen.

God doesn’t say, “Jonah, try and follow direction, your track record is not very good.”

And God doesn’t say, “Jonah you are now on probation. If you don’t get it right this time you’re sacked”.

And God certainly doesn’t say, “Jonah you’re a failure, I’m going to find someone else”.

Without mentioning the mistake. Without giving him a lecture. Without any sarcastic remarks.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Jonah 3:1-2

We have heard something like this before.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

Jonah 1:1-2

This is déjà vu – with Jonah, and by association Nineveh, getting a second chance.

Jonah has failed. He knows it … and God knows it even more.

The word of the Lord came a second time. The same description is used in Jeremiah and Haggai. But there it is talking about an addition, a clarification, or an extension to a prior revelation.

Only in Jonah does the phrase mean a second chance. This is the Lord in his mercy recommissioning Jonah. And Jonah picks himself up, washes the fish vomit off himself

… and “Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.”

With the encouragement and support of the Lord Jonah is now successfully peddling in the right direction. That is the unanticipated mercy of God isn’t it.

The unanticipated mercy of God means that failure does not lead to dismissal.

The manager of an IBM project that lost $10 million before it was scrapped was called into a meeting at the corporate office. “I suppose you want my resignation?” he asked. “Resignation nothing!” replied his boss. “We’ve just spent $10 million educating you!”

In the Bible we have people running from God, attempting suicide, committing adultery, murdering, making false idols, disobeying God, lying, stealing, hiding, disconnecting and generally doing all manner of evil. It isn’t the most pleasant set of people you could gather in one room.

Yet God still used them to accomplish his kingdom plans.


In spite of the fact that God promised him he would have a child with his wife Sarah, he still took bad advice and fathered a child through his wife’s servant. But God didn’t give up on him. After Abraham came back to God, he still became the “Father of many nations.”


In spite of the fact that David committed murder and adultery, after coming back to God, He still became known as “a man after God’s own heart.”


In spite of the fact that Peter denied that he even knew Jesus in the presence of many people, when he came back to God, he was used to be one of the Early Church’s greatest leaders. Indeed he gave his life for Jesus.

All of these Biblical saints, and so many more, failed … miserably failed. Yet they all still are used by God for his kingdom purposes.

And here is Jonah … the most epic failure success in the Bible.

Think about it this way.

When Peter preached the first Pentecost Day sermon, “3,000 people repented”.

We look at this and are amazed.

Jonah’s preaching saw more than 120 000 people in Nineveh … from the greatest to the least … believe in God.

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