Summary: Lessons from Jonah

“The God of Second Chances”

October 17, 2012

Jonah 3:1-10; 4:1-11

Tom Watson, Sr. founded IBM and guided Big Blue for over forty years. One of his most impressive moments in leadership occurred when a junior executive lost an enormous amount of money for the company. The promising young man had been involved in a very risky venture for IBM and ended up losing over $10 million dollars in the gamble. Watson called the man into office and the nervous junior executive blurted out, "I guess you want my resignation?" Watson replied, "You can't be serious. We've just spent $10 million dollars educating you!"

How would you like to work for a boss like that? What a wise man! I would bet that junior executive went on to become one of IBM’s best employees.

God is a God of second chances. I pretty sure if I took the time to interview each one of you – every single one could testify to second chances in their life. Maybe not 10 million dollars worth – but we have all blown it in some way and have been given a second chance. God gave some second chances in this event of Jonan and Nineveh.

First of all there was Jonah’s second chance. In chapter one God gave Jonah a command. Jonah got some instruction from the Lord. The only problem was that he didn’t want to do it! He ran away from the Lord. BIG mistake! How many of us have learned the hard way that to run from the Lord or disobey the Lord results in pain and unpleasantness? Probably ALL of us!

I think Jonah must have been a young man. He was so impatient; so prideful; so angry. I think he had a problem with his own importance and seemed to be more concerned with himself and his reputation, and how he looked to the world, than he was with obeying God and the welfare of the people.

He was kind of cold inside. I came across a poem called “The Cold Within” in my research for this message. Nobody knows who wrote it, but it has an important message to it.

“The Cold Within:


Six humans trapped by happenstance in black and bitter cold.

Each one possessed a stick of wood (or so the story’s told).

Their dying fire, in need of logs, the first woman held hers back,

For on the faces around the fire, she noticed one was black.

The second, looking across the way, saw one not of his church,

And couldn’t bring himself to give the fire his stick of birch.

The poor man sat in tattered clothes; he gave his coat a hitch.

Why should his log be put to use to warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought of the wealth he had in store

And how to keep what he had earned from the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge as the fire passed from his sight,

For all he saw in his stick of wood was a chance to spite the white.

And the last of this forlorn group did not accept for gain:

Giving only to those who gave was how he played the game.

The logs held tight in deaths’ still cold hands was proof of human sin.

They didn’t die from the cold without; They died from the cold within.

Jonah was cold toward the thousands of people in Nineveh. More than 130,000 of them were innocent babies. That’s pretty cold. It reminds me of how cold we are as a nation allowing 20 million babies a year to be killed through abortion. We ought to be upset about it. But we have grown cold. We ought to march in “Right to Life” marches and vote only for those politicians who oppose abortion. That is one of my litmus tests of a Politian. Is he for or against abortion? The Declaration of Independence says we all have a God-given right to life. The Bible declares it. But we have grown cold. It hardly bothers us.

So Jonah runs from God and suffers for it. Make a mental note here. Running from God is not a good thing! Running from God will result in pain. To resist God is to open yourself up to God’s correcting hand – and that can be a very unpleasant experience.

But after getting thrown into the ocean, swallowed by a fish, and puked up, Jonah gets a second chance. This time he obeys – but he obeys reluctantly.

I wonder how his message was delivered? He said, “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” (v4) One version says he ‘shouted’ to the crowds.

I can see this angry prophet, caring less about the people, shouting angrily at them that they are going to be destroyed, and the people shocked – listening to what he said. The bible says,

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