Summary: We can think Jonah saved the people of Nineveh but it was God who saved them. This lesson will show that it is ONLY the word of God that saves. No amount of entertainment preaching from us will do if the Holy Spirit is not present and active.
Jonah 2:10 “And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.”
Sometimes we forget God controls all of life, not just humans. He still controls all the breath and actions of animals. What a powerful, all knowing God we serve!!
So now Jonah finds himself thrown up on shore from the belly of the big fish.
Jonah 3:1,2 “Then 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 obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days”
Jonah could easily have said to God “I may be dumb but I am not stupid. I don’t want back in that fish again plus I know it is futile to run from you.” In a time of great deliverance from a problem, addiction or other form of chastisement we are relieved that IT is over. We are grateful for the Lord’s grace. Jonah’s disobedience is the very essence of God’s grace. Instead of God using someone else and Jonah becoming food for this big fish God still used Jonah. Today you may be deep in a certain sin BUT God loves you enough to keep loving you out of this sin. Some drastic measure may be taken to get you out of this sin because sin looks so enticing when we are in it. But when the veil of sin is turned back for what it really is we look at a dark and evil mess.
Jonah did not want to go back. So God gives Jonah a second chance and Jonah “Obeyed”. Now it is easy to look at Jonah’s life now and say “Why didn’t you go to Nineveh in the first place and prevent this madness”? Some of you today are doing the same thing because you don’t know the outcome of how bad things will get if you stay on your current track. Fortunately God desires that all of us will be saved, that is His grace.
Jonah showed up in Nineveh and proclaims this next statement. Now remember before Jonah says this to the Ninevites, the Ninevites are ruthless people that are known for their horrendous torture practices. But I can’t help thinking what is worse, going back in the belly of that fish or being beaten by the Assyrians. Jonah trusted God and preached!!
Jonah 3:4-10 “On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”
ALL the ruthless Ninevites from the commoner to the King of Assyria repented and God did not send destruction. But why did these ruthless people listen to Jonah who was just one man? I have been struggling with this very question and asked God to help me speak to you this morning about this. Then God gave me this answer.
There have been very engaging preachers who make us laugh and cry and we feel really good when we listen to them. Maybe you could say we were entertained. Then there are some preachers who don’t look great on the outside, don’t wear $ 500 dollar suits and don’t look very effective. But they only have to utter a few phrases and people are cut to their heart and people weep throughout the Sanctuary. What happened?
Francis Chan wrote a great book titled “Forgotten God”. When I saw the title I was thinking that “Yes people have forgotten about God in our culture today.” But no what Francis Chan is talking about is the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The forgotten God in today’s world is the Holy Spirit. No power comes without the Holy Spirit’s presence. Jonah spoke words BUT the only way they were effective was that God’s Holy Spirit was moving among the people of Nineveh. The Holy Spirit was convicting, encouraging and loving the Ninevites into repentance. Without the Holy Spirit’s presence Jonahs words would have well, just been hollow words and he would have probably been beaten and killed.