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Summary: What is written in big letters all over the book of Jonah is God’s great grace and patience; His amazing mercy and kindness. How little we deserve it; in fact we don’t deserve it at all. As Richard Baxter put it: “What an astonishing thought it will be to

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JONAH CHAPTER THREE

INTRODUCTION

During the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge over San Francisco Bay, the work fell badly behind schedule because a number of workers had accidentally fallen from the scaffold to their deaths. The engineers and administrators couldn’t come up with a solution to these costly delays. Then someone suggested that a huge net be hung under the bridge to catch anyone who fell. Despite the enormous cost involved the engineers finally opted for the net idea. After the net went up there were hardly any interruptions to the work. One or two workers did fall but were caught safely by the safety net. What happened was that all the time that had been lost to fear was regained by the replacement of that fear with faith in the net.

What is written in big letters all over the book of Jonah is God’s great grace and patience; His amazing mercy and kindness. How little we deserve it; in fact we don’t deserve it at all. As Richard Baxter put it:

“What an astonishing thought it will be to think of the immeasurable difference between our ‘deservings’ and our ‘receivings.’”

We are not above Jonah; we are not better than Jonah; we are Jonah. We should identify with him. Like Jonah I deserve to be cast away by God; but like Jonah I can know the depth and height of God’s grace.

A SECOND CHANCE

JONAH CH 3 V 1 “The Word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time”

Thomas Edison was working on a strange contraption called a ‘light bulb.’ You know, it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put a single light bulb together! The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried up some stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands clearly frightened of dropping the precious piece of work. You’ve probably guessed by now: the poor boy dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men another twenty-four hours to make another bulb. Tired out and ready for a break Edison was ready to have his new bulb taken upstairs. He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one.

In the case of Jonah we’re not looking at a nervous therefore clumsy boy but a deliberately disobedient self-seeking prophet. And we see God deal with Jonah in totally the opposite way to what he deserved.

Around ten years ago a ‘Three Strikes and Your Out’ policy was introduced in response to a general increase in crime in the USA. That meant that once you were convicted for a third felony you could be locked up for 25 years to life. Some States adopted this policy, others didn’t. Today California is the only State in which three felonies of any kind can trigger a life sentence. Thank God He doesn’t enforce such a policy!

God deals with us as he dealt with Jonah – He doesn’t strike us out when we mess up; doesn’t write us off when we badly blot our copybook. He could do; we couldn’t say He was unfair if He did. But God is gracious; that’s His character; that’s what He is like. R T Kendall has said: “God is not obligated to any man and, in so far as Jonah is concerned, God did not even have to send wind! But He did. He did not have to prepare the fish. But He did. He did not have to eject Jonah from the fish. But He did. And He certainly did not have to come to Jonah the second time. But He did!”

God in His unfailing love comes to you and me the second time and secures our heart by his grace; overwhelmed by grace Jonah humbly obeyed God’s call.

A SERIOUS COMMAND

JONAH CH 3 V 2-3 “’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.”

Do you remember why Jonah was reluctant to go in the first place?

He was fearful and anxious: A lone Jew going into the heart of the empire of a cruel and merciless enemy – the capital city of Assyria.

He was prejudiced: here were a people without God whose lives disgusted Jonah. Proud, violent, cruel beyond measure and worshipping false idols, they were ignorant of the true and living God.

He had a secret suspicion that God actually intended to show some good to Nineveh by sending him with this message. Surely it was far better for God’s people to destroy the evil empire not spare it!

But inside the sea-creature a compassion had been born in Jonah: he began to see the Ninevites as God saw them; sinners in need of salvation. God was preparing to go and do what He wanted him to do in the first place.

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