Summary: You don’t have to like it: Just do it!
JONAH: UPCHUCK BUT NOT UPBEAT
I’ll do it but my heart is not in it!
Jonah Chapter 3 & 4
It’s the fish that attracts the most attention in Jonah. But there are several other miracles too.
First, the storm—unlike any other storm;
After the fish… and Jonah’s survival… we find the shade tree… then comes a worm… followed by a hot, dry, east wind.
In the past couple of weeks… we too have encountered unusual storms.
Even today… another threatens us.
God is still in command.
Every thing—plant… animal… and mineral… yields to the voice of God.
Only man resists… rebels… ignores… and despises the voice of God.
As we begin our look into Jonah today, the question is: Are we looking into Jonah as though he were a mirror… and seeing our own reflection?
Can we see, at least, a glimpse of ourselves in him?
Jesus and Jonah have their parallels with 3 days in the place of the dead... and then a resurrection.
But there is a great contrast too: Jesus was faithful—let this cup pass from me…but not my will but thine!
Jonah, on the other hand, spoke with his feet… and ran the wrong way—not thy will… but mine be done.
Our question: Where do we stand?
In Chapters 3 & 4… we see just how gracious our great God really is—not willing that any should perish… neither the blood-thirsty heathens of Nineveh… nor his reluctant… arrogant… self-serving servant.
3:1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you."
No one knows exactly where the fish deposited Jonah on the beach… or how long it was before God called him the second time.
But the language suggests that Jonah was, once again, settled into a routine when God spoke again.
One thing for sure: Jonah had learned his lesson: Being reborn out of sure death will do that to you.
Or as Jesus says: A tree is known by its fruit.
Our life-style… our priorities… what we do and why… openly testifies to the nature of our real birth… whether it is only of the flesh… or truly of the Spirit.
3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent.
Nineveh was a city of perhaps a million people—the capitol of Assyria.
From the front gate to the back gate was a 3-day journey.
A great wall with 1500 towers surrounded it.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
These 8 words are all that God left us of what Jonah proclaimed. It could have been the entire message or just a summary.
Can’t you just imagine the story Jonah had to tell when he got to Nineveh?
Their primary god was Dagon—half-man, half-fish—actually a fish head on a human body.
I can imagine that Jonah used the fish story to illustrate that Dagon was no match to the true and living God.
He told the sailors aboard ship the Lord is God of both heaven and earth and master of both land and sea.
But all we have are the 8 words:
Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 So the people of Nineveh believed (literally, there was absolutely no doubt. Nineveh was totally convinced) Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Nineveh’s faith and repentance can be explained by several factors:
(1) The power of God and His prophetic word;
(2) The physical presence of Jonah—a man
• Filled with the Spirit of God…
• Full of the power of God… and
• Enriched with an experience with God.
And then… his visit followed…
(3) Shortly before Jonah’s visit… Assyria had suffered:
• 765 B.C., a plague;
• 763 B.C., a total eclipse of the sun;
• 759 B.C., a second plague;
(4) They were the world power… but they were politically insecure… new enemies were rattling swords to the south… and east;
(5) The repentance of the nation’s leaders… both locally and nationally… trickled down to the people.
Paul’s strategy was to win the leaders and the others would follow.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
This was a universal symbol of sorrow and repentance.
It was coarse, dark cloth unfit for normal wear.
Sitting in ashes was a sign of helplessness.