Jonah Episode 11

Beth's Notes

21 “‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go ahead, add your burnt offerings to your other sacrifices and eat the meat yourselves! 22 For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices, 23 but I gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you. 24 But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.’” Jeremiah 7:21-24 (NIV)

18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.  Isaiah 1:18-20 (NIV)

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!   2 Corinthians 9:10-15 (NIV)

God is not after our slavish obedience rather His desire for His children is obedience motivated by our love for Him and our trust in Him.  All things come from the Lord. 

“The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer.”  F. B. Meyer 

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”  3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city--a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”  Jonah 3:1-4 (NIV)

Our God is a God of second chances, is He not?  Quite frankly, He is a God of chances giving way to chances giving way to chances – Praise Him!  We discover in our verses for today, the Prophet Jonah freshly regurgitated on to dry land from a great fish that was surely as happy to get rid of him as Jonah was to have been gotten rid of!  God had divinely provided deliverance from certain death for Jonah through the unusual means of the belly of a big fish.  Our God is not only patient with us but also VERY creative in His actions toward us.  He knows how to get our attention, to say the very least!

Regarding second chances as our Protagonist Jonah had been given, I am reminded of the story of Sampson in Judges – a Nazarite from birth by God’s commission.  A Nazarite Vow meant one was set apart by God for His works and His glory for a period of time and a man or woman could take the Nazarite Vow on their own.  But Sampson, however, was made a Nazarite by God – he was to be a “lifer” so to speak.  Samuel was another as was perhaps John the Baptist and Paul.  The Nazarite vow was serious business in God’s sight, it was to be no flippant vow, meaning if one took it they better do what it said.  Actually, all vows we make to the Lord He takes very seriously.  A vow was binding.  Numbers 30:1-2 states:

1 Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the LORD commands: 2 When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.”   Numbers 30:1-2 (NIV)

We are also told from Scripture what a Nazarite vow consisted of in Numbers 6:1-8:

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, 3 he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. 4 As long as he is a Nazirite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins. 5 During the entire period of his vow of separation no razor may be used on his head. He must be holy until the period of his separation to the LORD is over; he must let the hair of his head grow long. 6 Throughout the period of his separation to the LORD he must not go near a dead body. 7 Even if his own father or mother or brother or sister dies, he must not make himself ceremonially unclean on account of them, because the symbol of his separation to God is on his head. 8 Throughout the period of his separation he is consecrated to the LORD.” Numbers 6:1-8 (NIV)

Sampson was fully aware of all of this yet allowed his fleshly appetite toward women to cause him to toy around with God’s command treating it flippantly.  God had set him apart for the important job to begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.  This was no small thing in God’s eyes.  Most of us know the story.  His fetish for women overruled his love for God and his desire to follow God’s ways.  Be careful of your Achilles heels ladies as they, like Humpty Dumpty, can cause a great fall.  Darling Delilah had captured Sampson’s attention and by a series of events persuaded him to tell her the secret of his great strength of which she immediately divulged to the Philistines.  She lulls him to sleep and shaves off his hair and his strength left him.  The Philistines captured him, gouged out his eyes, and used him as a source of their entertainment.  Yet, Scripture states, his hair began to grow again after it had been shaved.  We pick up the story when God gives Sampson a second chance.  We find recorded in Judges 16:23-30:

23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.” 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.”  25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “O Sovereign LORD, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”  29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. Judges 16:23-30 (NIV)

Such a sad ending because of his own poor choices when it could have been such a delightful one.  That’s what sin does - it wreaks havoc in both the life of the one who sins and in their spheres as well.

Now back to our story!  Most assuredly, Jonah would have been seen by others arriving in such high fashion when he emerged covered in the vomit of the fish’s previous night’s dinner!  Certainly others were around when the great fish disgorged him onto dry land.  The story also must have spread like wildfire and perhaps even preceded Jonah to Nineveh.  That could help explain the reception the city gave him.  More than likely Jonah had been bleached by the fish’s gastric juices perhaps making him look so peculiar that nobody could doubt who he was and what had happened to him.  Jesus stated in Matthew 12:38-41 that Jonah was a “sign” to the Ninevites, and this may have included the way he looked as well.  In Matthew 12:38-41 Jesus tells us: 

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”  39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.”  Matthew 12:38-41 (NIV)

“The life of Jonah cannot be written without God, take God out of the Prophet’s history, and there is no history to write.”  Charles H. Spurgeon

We don’t know where the great fish deposited Jonah, but we do know that wherever Jonah was, the Lord was there.  Remember, God is more concerned about His workers than He is about their work, for if the workers are what they ought to be, the work will be what it ought to be.  Throughout Jonah’s time of rebellion, God was displeased with His servant, but He never once deserted him.  Like the Prodigal’s Father, God was just waiting for Jonah to come home and orchestrating his circumstances to get him to look up.  It was God Who controlled the storm, prepared the great fish, and rescued Jonah from the deep.  God’s promise to us in Hebrews 13:5 states:

5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6 (NIV)

And again in Joshua 1:5:

5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5 (NIV)

God tells us through the pen of the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 43:1-5:

1 But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead.  4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  Isaiah 43:1-5 (NIV)

Now we discover in our passage for today God mercifully speaking to Jonah a second time.  He has not given up on His prophet.  After the way Jonah had stubbornly refused to obey God’s voice, it is a marvel that the Lord spoke to him at all.  Jonah had turned his back on God’s Word, so the Lord had been forced to speak to him to him through the thunder and the rain and a stormy sea.  Now that Jonah had confessed his sins and turned back to the Lord, He could once again speak to him through His Word.  Scripture states about Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

The writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 4:12:

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.   Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

“When it comes to hearing from God, I firmly believe the Bible is our source and authority. God's Word is like a megaphone to His people. Throughout Scripture God speaks through kings and queens, princes and prophets, poets and pilgrims. He speaks through weather patterns, barnyard animals and even the stars in the sky. God is not only creative, but He is persistent in getting our attention and communicating with us.”   The Sacred Echo by Margaret Feinberg

“Our claim is that God has revealed Himself by speaking; that this divine (or God-breathed) speech has been written down and preserved in Scripture; and that Scripture is, in fact, God’s Word written, which therefore is true and reliable and has divine authority over men.”   John Stott 

“Just think about what God was aiming to accomplish in the Bible. He purposed to convey the truth of redemption (the gospel) in ways that would be understood and believed by people in thousands of diverse cultures, speaking thousands of different languages, over thousands of years. Have you ever thought how incredible it is that the message of the Bible can be believed, and the gospel can be lived out, in the most primitive and most sophisticated cultures on earth — in every age?  Not only that, but God determined to make the most important parts of the Bible comprehensible to small children and uneducated adults, and yet be able to withstand the most rigorous pounding of academic literary criticism. The Bible has taken, and continues to take, more critical cannon fire than any other book in history, and the ship just won’t sink.”   Jon Bloom

89 Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Psalms 119:89 (NIV)

10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.   Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV)

One of the tests of our right relationship to God is this, does He speak to us in our hearts as we read and ponder the Scriptures?  If we don’t hear Him speaking to our hearts, perhaps we have some unfinished business to attend to that needs to be settled with Him.  Also, God does not “move on” when He, through His Holy Spirit, has made clear what He desires for us to do or not to do for that matter!  He keeps going over and over and over it until we finally get it and He is amazingly patient! 

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Christian faith is the element of forgiveness and renewal.  When we fall, the enemy wants us to believe that our ministry is ended and that there is no hope for recovery, but like we stated prior, our God is the God of the second chance, and the third and the fourth!  The Apostle John writes in 1 John 1:8-10:

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.  1 John 1:8-10 (NIV)

Scripture now tells us in Jonah 3:1:

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time.  Jonah 3:1 (NIV)

Jonah could rightly state as the Prophet Micah stated in Micah 7:8:

8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy!  Though I have fallen, I will rise.  Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD's wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.   Micah 7:8-9 (NIV)

You don’t have to read very far in your Bibles to discover that God forgives His servants and restores them to ministry.  When famine came, Abraham fled to Egypt, where he lied about his wife, but God gave him another chance (Genesis 12:10-13:4).  Jacob lied to his father Isaac, but God restored him and used him to build the nation of Israel.  Moses killed a man (probably in self-defense) and fled from Egypt, but God called him to be the leader of His people.  Peter denied the Lord three times, but Jesus forgave him and said, “Follow Me” (John 21:19) and subsequently used him to build His church.  It is never too late to turn to the Lord.  Never.  As Corrie ten Boom once said, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

However encouraging these examples of restoration may be, they must never be used as excuses for sin.  The person who says, “I can go ahead and sin, because I know the Lord will forgive me” has no understanding neither for the awfulness of sin nor the holiness of God.  Paul writes in Romans 6:15-18:

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.   Romans 6:15-18 (NIV)

Sin separates us from a Holy God Who loves us with an undying love and Who also rejoices over us with singing.  We break this fellowship when we persist in going our own ways - always to our own harm never for our good.  But God’s ways are for us, not against us – even if we cannot readily perceive that or not.  Remember as well that God in His grace forgives our sins, but God in His government determines that we shall reap what we sow, and the harvest can be very costly indeed.  Jonah paid dearly for rebelling against the Lord.  God expects His people to carry out the mission assignments He gives to each of us.  And, BTW, sans murmuring and complaining!  Grumbling has no place for the child of the King.

Jonah’s narrow patriotism and the disdain toward the Assyrians had caused him to go against God’s revealed will for his life. God loves the world so much – all the world – that He seeks to save it by leading the lost to repentance from their sin and rebellion and turning them to a committed life of love and obedience.  God was at work in Nineveh and He wanted Jonah to join Him in the work there.  Further, He wanted Jonah to give out warning to them, to pray and plead for them just as Abraham was so willing to do for Sodom and Gomorrah.  We find that story in Genesis 18:16-33:

16 When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”  20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”  22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing--to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”  26 The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”  27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?”  “If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”  29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”  He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”  30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”  He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”  31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”  He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”  32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”  He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”  33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home. Genesis 18:16-33 (NIV)

Abraham was willing to plead for those righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah and God desired for Jonah to warn and plead for the Assyrians as well.  But that was not on Jonah’s wish list to be sure.  He had other things on his agenda like prophesying good news to the Israelites!  Like being a Prophet that was applauded and looked up to by the Israelites.  We so often make the mistake of running ahead of God and asking Him to bless our hands in the endeavors we decide to be involved with instead of having Him lead us to where He is working and joyfully join in with Him there.  Oftentimes, sadly, we simply don’t want the pain or the problems or even the bother of it.  We are so busy with our own “doings” we neglect God’s plans and ways – again always to our own harm.

“God promises victory to those who endure, so He gives us enough strength – usually just enough so faith is still required – to keep us going.  He wants us to succeed and not give up.  In the walk of faith, we can’t afford to doubt, worry, fear, or complain – the very symptoms that kept a generation of Israelites out of their Promised Land.  All of these attitudes severely undermine God’s work on our behalf, not because He can’t do whatever He wants but because He has chosen to relate to us on the basis of our faith.  Negative attitudes and words undermine faith.  They devalue the very currency we have to use in God’s Kingdom.  Wherever God’s voice and your faith are leading you, do not be afraid or dismayed.”   Chris Tiegreen

“I have rightfully no other business each day but to do God’s work as a servant, constantly regarding His pleasure.  May I have grace to live above every human motive, simply with God and to God.” Henry Martyn

“There is no use in running before you are sent; there is no use in attempting to do God’s work without God’s power. A man working without this unction, a man working without this anointing, a man working without the Holy Ghost upon him, is losing time after all.” Dwight L. Moody

God gave Jonah his marching orders and this time the Lord wasn’t as specific.  He merely tells the Prophet to go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim the message that He would give him.  Interestingly, in His recommissioning the prophet, God did not repeat the reason for the proclamation.  This time our Prophet obeyed God’s Word and set out for Nineveh.  Obedience is key in the life of the believer – obedience is always the key as it demonstrates our trust in Him knowing His ways are always the best for us. The Prophet Jeremiah tells us in Jeremiah 29:11-14:

11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.” Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NIV)

“Believers who know Christ understand that delight and faith are so wonderfully united that the gates of hell cannot manage to separate them. Those who love God with all their hearts find that His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace. The saints discover in Christ such joy, such overflowing delight, such blessedness that far from serving Him from custom, they would follow Him even though the whole world rejected Him. We do not fear God because of any compulsion; our faith is no shackle, our profession is no bondage, we are not dragged to holiness, nor driven to duty. No, our piety is our pleasure, our hope is our happiness, our duty is our delight.”  Charles H. Spurgeon

Next we discover that Jonah obeyed the Word of the Lord and headed toward Nineveh – smart move Jonah!  Interesting, the word translated “obeyed” is from the Hebrew meaning to rise up and take dramatic action – and rise up and take dramatic action he did!  God delights in our instant obedience.  Indeed, delayed obedience is disobedience.  Scripture tells us in 1 Samuel 15:22-23A:

22 But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.  1 Samuel 15:22-23A (NIV)

“Holiness is not a feeling – it is the end product of obedience.  Purity is not a gift – it is the result of repentance and serious pursuit of God.”  Frances J. Roberts

Four times in the Book of Jonah, Nineveh is called a “great city” and archeologists tell us that the adjective is well deserved.  It was great in history, having been founded in ancient times by Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod.  It was also great in size.  The circumference of the city and its suburbs was sixty miles and from the Lord’s statement in Jonah 4:11, we could infer that it was quite populated – some commentators state about 600,000 souls.  One wall of the city had a circumference of eight miles and boasted fifteen hundred towers.  The city was great in splendor and influence, being one of the leading cities of the powerful Assyrian Empire.  It was built near the Tigris River and had the Khoser River running through it.  Its merchants traveled the empire and brought great wealth into the city, and Assyria’s armies were feared everywhere. Sadly, Nineveh was steeped in sin as well.  As stated prior, the Assyrians were known far and wide for their violence, showing no mercy to their enemies.  As we discussed before, they were unbelievably cruel.  They impaled live victims on sharp poles, leaving them to roast to death in the desert sun; they beheaded people by the thousands and stacked their skulls up in piles by the city gates; and they even skinned people alive.  They respected neither age nor sex and followed a policy of killing babies and young children so they would not have to care for them.

It was to these wicked people of this large city that God sent His servant Jonah, assuring him that He would give Him His message to speak.  Oh, the amazing mercy of our God Who desires none to perish but all to come to repentance.  Paul tells us in Romans 2:4:

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:4 (NIV)

Peter echoes that in 2 Peter 3:8-9:       

8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.   2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)

Jonah had time available to meditate on what the Lord had taught him.  This is a very important point.  God is all about teaching His children right where they are, and it is His desire for us to meditate on what He is teaching us – chew it like a cow chewing cud – to assimilate it in order to manifest it – flesh it out.  His teaching is to change our lives not merely to give us head knowledge.  We are not to remain the same – the sit, soak and sour mentality.  He is all about conforming us into the image of His Son and I dare go out on a limb to say that I don’t think any of us have yet met that high mark!  The Psalmist tells us in Psalms 119:9-16:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 12 Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. 13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. 14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.  Psalms 119:9-16 (NIV)

The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you and the power of God cannot use you.  Our confidence and competence is from God.  As Paul states in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16:

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?  2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV)

And again in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6A:

5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-- 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 (NIV)

Lastly, we see him entering Nineveh, claiming to be God’s prophet, and confronting thousands of people with this strange message of judgment.  How could a Jew, who worshipped the true God, ever get these idolatrous Gentiles to believe what he had to say?  Especially with using only these eight words:

“Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”  Jonah 3:4 (NIV)

From a human perspective Jonah’s entire endeavor appears ridiculous does it not.  From the great fish experience to the weak and lame proclamation resulting in a huge subsequent revival in Nineveh, the story goes from one amazing phenomenon to another.  Certainly, for all Jonah knew, chances were as good for him that he might have ended up impaled on a pole or skinned alive as they were for revival!  But in obedience to the Lord, he obeyed. 

It took him three days to visit all the area – Nineveh was no insignificant place.  His message was brief as previously stated.  God gave them forty days.  Throughout Scripture, the number forty seems to be identified with testing or judgment.  During the time of Noah, it rained forty days and forty nights.  The Jewish spies explored Canaan forty days and the nation of Israel was tested in the wilderness forty years.  The giant Goliath taunted the army of Israel forty days, and the Lord gave the people of Nineveh forty days to repent and turn from their wickedness.  Jonah’s message does not seem to leave any room for discussion.  God will destroy Nineveh.  It seemed inevitable and decisive.

At this point it would be interesting to know more of Jonah’s ministry to Nineveh. Was this the only message he proclaimed?  Surely he told people more about the true and living God.  Yet all we know for sure is that Jonah obeyed God and went to Nineveh and declared the message God had given him to declare, and God did the rest.

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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