Jonah Goes to Nineveh
1Once again the Lord told Jonah 2to go to that great city of Nineveh and preach his message of doom.
3Jonah obeyed the Lord and went to Nineveh. The city was so big that it took three days just to walk through it. 4 After walking for a day, Jonah warned the people, “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!”
5They believed God's message and set a time when they would go without eating to show their sorrow. Then everyone in the city, no matter who they were, dressed in sackcloth.
6When the king of Nineveh heard what was happening, he also dressed in sackcloth; he left the royal palace and sat in dust. 7-9Then he and his officials sent out an order for everyone in the city to obey. It said:
None of you or your animals may eat or drink a thing. Each of you must wear sackcloth, and you must even put sackcloth on your animals.
You must also pray to the Lord God with all your heart and stop being sinful and cruel. Maybe God will change his mind and have mercy on us, so we won't be destroyed.
10When God saw that the people had stopped doing evil things, he had pity and did not destroy them as he had planned.
In what ways is God merciful? How does God show his kindness? We get a clue as to the extent of God’s kindness in the first verse of this chapter where we read, “Once again the Lord told Jonah…” Here we see that the mercy of God is seen in the fact that He is a God who restores. He is the God who gives second chances.
Let’s face it, when Jonah took a ship to Tarshish, in the completely opposite direction from Nineveh, it wasn’t because he was dyslexic. He was in open, intentional rebellion against God. He was intentionally doing what he knew God didn’t want done. And yet, God gives Jonah a second chance. You get the impression that the whole rebelling, running, rescuing and returning event was like a momentary pause in the conversation; as if Jonah is vomited up on the shore and God says, “Now where were we? Oh yeah, I’d like you to go to Nineveh…”
And it’s not as if God demotes Jonah upon his return. God does not regard him as a type of second class prophet because he had failed. God does not think his life could now only be used for a “Plan B”. God used Jonah for exactly what he intended to use Jonah for. It is as if God calculated into his timeline the rebellion that he knew Jonah would take. Do you ever get in that kind of head space where you think, “I’ve messed up too big this time. I’ve ruined God’s will for my life and now I’ve forfeited God’s best and I’m on a “plan B” or perhaps even a “plan C” or “D”.
You underestimate the mercy of God that restores. He doesn’t just partially restore, He fully restores. He is the God of second chances. David had a second chance after he had committed adultery and plotted the death of the woman’s husband. Peter was given a second chance after he panicked and denied his allegiance to Jesus Christ. Now, that does not mean that consequences are removed. After Jacob wrestled with God, he we are told that he walked with a limp. But he walked with a limp with God leading. There are consequences to our wrestling with God.
Perhaps you`ve got some regret in your past and you think you`ve forfeited God`s best for you. Not a chance. You are not powerful enough to thwart God`s purposes for you. We simply need to stand up and start obeying.
Thank you Lord, that your power and sovereignty are not threatened by my sin. Thank you that you can restore failed opportunities, missed chances and even lost years. Help me to strive to take hold of a future full of your promises, as I forget what is behind and strain ahead in obedience to you (Philippians 3:13). Amen.
Merv Budd is Sr. Minister at North Burlington Baptist church and the National Director of the Equipping Evangelists (E²). Merv has served as a missionary with Operation Mobilization in India and Nepal and he holds a Master’s of Divinity degree from Regent College. He is presently working on his Doctor of Practical Theology Degree from McMaster Divinity College. He has a passion to see all people given an opportunity to put their trust in Jesus Christ. He is married to Lisa and is the father of Josiah and Danielle.