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The Book of Jonah
Chapter 3

The God of Second Chances, Jonah 3:1-10

Jonah 3:1 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, [KJV]

Jonah had heard God speak to him in 1:1, and had run away from God. Here, he is given a second chance to do God’s work. Do you feel disqualified from serving God because of past mistakes? Or from lack of knowledge? Or maybe, like Jonah, you simply did not want to do what God wanted you to do. Serving God is NOT a position we earn, NO one qualifies for God’s service. Yet God still asks us to do His work, and He means for us to do it. You may get another chance, and you may not!

Jonah 3:2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. [KJV]

Again, for the second time (1:2), God commands Jonah to go to Nineveh. The Bible tells us that this was a great city (Gen.10:11-12; Jonah 3:3; 4:11). Jonah was to preach only what God told him, a message of doom to one of the most powerful and wicked cities in the world. Certainly NOT the most desirable assignment, but anyone who brings God’s Word to others should never let social pressures or fear control their words. God calls people to preach His Message, His Truth, no matter how unpopular it may be. A true disciple will obey.

Jonah 3:3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. [KJV]

Three days’ journey is about sixty miles, allowing about twenty miles for a day’s journey. It was longer than it was wide. It seems the width was only one day’s journey. The walls were a hundred feet high, and wide enough for three chariots abreast, and the city had about fifteen hundred high towers. The population was probably several million. Nineveh was an exceeding great city.

Jonah 3:4 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. [KJV]

There were no computers, no radio, no TV in Jonah’s time. So it took Jonah quite a while to cover all the ground. I would want to think Jonah’s skin color after being in the belly of that fish for three days and three nights would have drawn people to him. I think the crowds probably came to see this strange spectacle of a man. Jonah’s message was short, plain and very blunt! “Repent, or forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed.” God’s Word is for everyone. Even though Nineveh was very wicked, they were open to God’s message and they repented immediately. If we simply tell what we know about God, we may be surprised at how many people will listen.

Jonah 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. [KJV]

What a statement! ALL the people of Nineveh believed God’s message. They all fasted and wore sackcloth to show their sorrow, everyone from the most powerful and influential to the poor, lowly peasants.

Jonah 3:6 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. [KJV]

Even the king of Nineveh stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in sackcloth and sat on a heap of ashes. God’s Word made this happen!

Jonah 3:7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: [KJV]

The king and his nobles sent out a decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals, may eat or drink anything at all.” Everyone fasted.

Jonah 3:8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. [KJV]

Everyone was required to wear sackcloth and pray earnestly to God. Everyone must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence.

Jonah 3:9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? [KJV]

Maybe God will have pity on us and hold back His fierce anger from destroying us. The Ninevites hoped that God would turn from His fierce anger; and that they would be spared. They sincerely repented of their sin.

Jonah 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. [KJV]

When God saw that they had put a stop to their evil ways, He had mercy on them and did not destroy them as He had threatened. God responded in mercy by canceling His threatened punishment. God said that any nation on which He had pronounced judgment would be saved IF they repented (Jer.18:7-8). God forgave Nineveh, just as He had forgiven Jonah, just as He forgives us today. The purpose of God’s judgment is correction, NOT revenge. He will always show compassion to anyone willing to seek Him and do His will. Did God know that Nineveh would repent? YES! God knows everything! (Isa.42:9; 46:9-10).

Book of Jonah

Ch1 . Ch2 . Ch3 . Ch4 . Whales?

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