III. The Prophet’s Preaching (Jonah 3:1-10)


III. The Prophet’s Preaching (3:1-10)

3:1-2 In saying, Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you (3:1), God told Jonah the same thing he’d told him the first time. This time, Jonah went to Nineveh (3:2).

It’s important to note that Jonah still had to choose to obey God and go. The fish didn’t drop him off at Nineveh. Instead, he was taken to the place of his disobedience and given a second chance to make a right decision. Valuable time and energy had been wasted, and the prophet was no doubt stinky and sticky from his ordeal. When God calls you to obedience, you need to understand this: he’s not going to change. So it’s best to do things his way from the start.

3:3-4 Jonah went to Nineveh and proclaimed the Lord’s message: In forty days Nineveh will be demolished! (3:4). There are two parts to this summary of his sermon: Nineveh would be judged for its sin, and the Ninevites had a forty-day window to fix the problem. God had every right to destroy this wicked city. But, in this case, he graciously gave them a chance to come clean and repent. To repent is to give God the opportunity to limit or reverse his judgment. And when repentance happens, you have revival: as people turn, so God turns. And if you’re still alive, there’s still time to repent.

3:5-9 In response to this message from the Lord, the people—the entire city!—repented. They believed God, but they also proclaimed a fast (3:5). Furthermore, the king of Nineveh urged everyone to call out earnestly to God and turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing, so that God might turn from his burning anger (3:6-9). In other words, the people put their money where their mouths were. Their actions were a visible demonstration of a heart change. They assumed a posture of repentance.

3:10 That God relented from the disaster is a reminder that God never changes, but he can adjust to the changes in humans. While he doesn’t change his holy standards, he will alter his intended outcome in response to our actions. In this case, repentance produced something for his grace and mercy to respond to. Not only had God shown grace to the sailors and to Jonah, but he also showed mercy to some of the wickedest people on the planet. He has enough grace and mercy for everyone—including people whom you have given up on. God can get through when you can’t.

Jonah reluctantly preached one sermon, and it resulted in the greatest revival in human history. That’s the grace of God. But Jonah almost missed the privilege of participating in this great evangelistic event because he didn’t like what God told him to do. So remember: if you run from God’s will, you might miss out on one of the most significant moves of God in your life. God doesn’t always explain himself in advance. We have to walk by faith to see what he’s up to.