Summary: God's great desire is not to bring judgment to people but for people to repent. God's great desires if for believers and non-believers alike to turn to Him.
Intro: In this third chapter of Jonah we see God’s great desire for people to turn toward Him. It doesn’t matter the depth of their sin or the degree of their violence.
What we discover in this chapter of Jonah is what John R Stott said, “The Gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales.”
I. God’s persistent patience with His prophet
Why do we get second chances as God’s people?
A) In order to share God’s specific message
That specific message was designed for a specific place and people. God told Jonah, “Get up! Go to the city of Nineveh.” It reminds me of our commission Go and make disciples of all nations.” God has given us Church a general commission to make disciple of people of all ethnic groups. He has given us a more specific commission like Jonah’s to make disciples of the people of Carlisle. God tells us as you go about your normal day in Carlisle, make disciples.
What was the specific message? Judgment is coming. Today we don’t like to talk about sin, judgment or hell. The simple straight forward message of Jonah was unless your turn your lives over to Yahweh your city will be overturned and destroyed. The same is true today families, cities, businesses, countries are being overturned because they will not turn to God. Unless our government repents it will be destroyed. Unless our country repents it will be destroyed. We do not need cooperation between Democrats and republicans we need public repentance of all our political leaders.
B) In order to share God’s special mercy
Jonah was restored to fellowship in the presence of God as His prophet. The restoration did not remove his scars. God is gracious to restore anyone but he does not remove the scars of disobedience. In fact Jesus still carries the scars of our disobedience in Heaven. Revelation 5:5-6. It is the scars we carry that often give us the opportunity to share with others about God’s grace and mercy.
Jesus said that Jonah was a sign to the people of Nineveh. It was the scars he carried from his time in the big fish that marked Jonah and was used of God to make “The men of Nineveh believe in God.”
Jonah points to Jesus. Jesus was in the belly of the grave for three days and nights.
II. God’s powerful performance in the city
How do we see God’s power displayed?
A) The transformation of the prophet
Jonah 3:4 “So Jonah Got up and went according to the Lord’s command”
Do you really want to know when spiritual transformation is taking place in your life? When you do what the Lord commands. What was Jonah’s excuse for disobeying God? We have to look to chapter 4.
4.2 “He prayed to the Lord: “Please, Lord, isn’t this what I said while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster.”
Jonah disobeyed God because he disagreed with God’s just and fair treatment of other sinners. How often have you disobeyed God because you thought you knew better?
B) The transformation of the people of Nineveh
1) The people of Nineveh believed God. (They looked to Him by faith)
2) The fast they turned away from the physical to address their spiritual need
Fasting is a way of seeking mercy and instruction from God. Putting sackcloth on was a way of showing repentance.
3) The king humbled himself and repented with his people
4) The king commands them to cry out to God and turn from their evil ways
We see true faith in the king and the ninevites actions. Faith is not just believing God exists it is acting on the belief. Abraham acted on his belief by taking Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice Him to God. The people of Nineveh acted on that belief and turned toward God in prayer “crying out to God,” and turning from their evil ways.
Church we must act on our belief of God’s grace and mercy. We have a commission given to us just like Jonah. We are called to carry the message that God will overturn people’s lives to Carlisle.
III. God’s perfect forgiveness for the people
Jeremiah 18:5-12 “The word of the Lord came to me: 6 “House of Israel, can I not treat you as this potter treats his clay?”—this is the Lord’s declaration. “Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, house of Israel. 7 At one moment I might announce concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will uproot, tear down, and destroy it. 8 However, if that nation I have made an announcement about turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the disaster I had planned to do to it. 9 At another time I announce that I will build and plant a nation or a kingdom. 10 However, if it does what is evil in My sight by not listening to My voice, I will relent concerning the good I had said I would do to it. 11 So now, say to the men of Judah and to the residents of Jerusalem: This is what the Lord says: I am about to bring harm to you and make plans against you. Turn now, each from your evil way, and correct your ways and your deeds. 12 But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless. We will continue to follow our plans, and each of us will continue to act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’”