Jonah 3

Second Verse, Same As The First

God's amazing grace extends to unfaithful servants as well as those outside of his people. The Lord does not insult or shame the disobedient prophet. Instead, he repeats his call to his prophet to go to the same city and proclaim his message to a wicked people. The Lord did not leave any room for doubt as to what the disgraced prophet should do next. God does not change or compromise and so when God's command to Jonah came the second time; he left immediately for Nineveh. God never sends a messenger without a message, and he explained to Jonah that he would tell him what to say. Scripture does not indicate how long the journey was or how far Jonah had to travel, but it is clear that no matter the distance or difficulty Jonah obeyed and reached Nineveh. When Jonah arrives, he discovers that Nineveh is an exceedingly great city. Most cities would require a visitor to declare their purpose for visiting at the city gate, but as soon as Jonah was given passage, he entered the city and began to proclaim God's message. Jonah declared to everyone in the city that Nineveh would be destroyed in forty days. The forty days was a grace period, and although it is not stated, one cannot help but wonder if the people realized that any delay between the message and destruction was an opportunity to repent. 

The People Believed

Jonah, a Hebrew prophet, proclaims destruction for a rival nation and the people don't riot or kill Jonah, they receive his message and believe God. It was not the compelling sermon that Jonah delivered; it was the merciful God that the people believed. The people called for a fast, and everyone put on sackcloth. Word spread throughout the vast city until the news reached the King of Nineveh. This pagan king did not respond defiantly. Instead, he arose from his throne, removed his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. He issued a decree in conjunction with his nobles that the entire city was not to eat or drink anything and he extended these restrictions even to the animals of the city. This was an absolute fast to be observed by everyone. He also instructed his people to call out to God, turn from their evil ways, and put away violence. This king hoped to find mercy from the Lord and avoid his divine judgment. 
The king was not sure that even these drastic measures would prevent the city's impending destruction. The hope was that God would relent and spare Nineveh. God saw the actions of the people of Nineveh. They had experienced a genuine change of heart and turned from their wickedness. Repentance brought pardon, and God did not destroy Nineveh. 

Things To Consider:

  • How do we see God's faithfulness to Jonah and to Nineveh?
  • Why should we be quick to extend grace to others?
  • Can you think of a time that God granted you a second chance? What were the circumstances?
  • Why did God's message speak of judgment?
  • Do you think Jonah expected this response from the people? Why or why not?
  • Do you fast? Why or why not?
  • What does the king's response teach us about God's sovereignty over the nations?
  • Why do you think God spared Nineveh?
  • Spend some time meditating on God's grace and then tell him why you are thankful for it.