Reading For Wednesday Jonah 3:1-10
Jonah’s recalcitrance did not mean that the Lord would change his mind about Nineveh or the message of warning designed to bring the people to repentance. Jonah was finally ready to listen, and experience had taught him that disobedience brought could bring about serious consequences. God called to Jonah again because he is the God of second chances and how gracious is this second call. There is no remonstrance and no mention of the first call and Jonah’s disavowing of responsibility. This second commission is the same as it was earlier. The Lord did not wait for Jonah to go to Nineveh on his own initiative. Nineveh was in God’s crosshairs as an object of loving significance. God was determined that this great city should have the opportunity to repent. Jonah was not on his way to share his thoughts or his feelings; he was headed there to speak the words that God would give him. God never sends his messenger without a message. This time, Jonah's response was different, and he obeyed the divine commission.
Jonah found Nineveh to be “an exceedingly great city.” Some of its greatness is described by its geographical size. Jonah's sermon was bold, plain, and uncompromising. He said you have forty days to repent, or the city is doomed. The forty days was, in essence, a grace period. Jonah does not narrate any questions that surely must have been asked. Jonah simply states that “the people of Nineveh believed God.” The Ninevites accepted the words of the Hebrew prophet and believed that their city was under the threat of divine judgment. They expressed their contrition and sincerity with fasting and sackcloth. The king of Nineveh repented, arose from his throne, put aside his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on a heap of ashes. From that humble position, he issued a proclamation in his own name and that of his nobles. The king called for an absolute fast that included man and beast. The king ordered his subjects to call out to God and turn from their wickedness. One of the particular transgressions of which Nineveh was guilty was violence. The king was not sure that even these drastic measures would avert the calamity, but he hoped that God would withdraw his burning anger and spare Nineveh. The king, though he was a pagan, recognized the sovereignty of God. Only God can change the disposition of the heart. God saw how the Ninevites responded, and he relented of the disaster that was headed straight for them.
Things To Consider:
- Why is it important that we understand grace in order to appreciate it and extend it to others?
- Can you think of a time that God granted you a second chance? What were the circumstances?
- Why is it important for us to stick to God's message and not simply give our opinions?
- Do you think Jonah expected this response? Why or why not?
- What does the king's response teach us about God's sovereignty over the nations?
- Spend some time meditating on God's grace and then tell him why you are thankful for it and sing a song about his grace, perhaps Amazing Grace?