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Jonah Chapter 3

Memory verses for this week:   Prov 20:5  Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out. 

Introduction:  In last weeks lesson on Chapter 2, Jonah found grace from the Lord when he repented while inside the whale.   The Lord had the fish to vomit up Jonah onto dry land so that he could do the job the Lord had called him to do.

I.  The Second Commission

Jonah 3:1  And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

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

This was the second time God called Jonah to go to Nineveh.  God patiently waited for Jonah.  He could have chosen someone else to carry out the work he had called him to do, but he stayed with his chosen man.  You and I should never wait for a second call from the Lord, but go now and do the things God would have us to do.   The Lord was the one that called Jonah both times.  You and I have been called by Christ.

John 15:16  Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Note that it says that we should GO and bring forth fruit.   We have to put forth effort to fulfill the great commission.  We cannot fold our hands and expect things to happen without any effort.   We need to be obedient to God.

Verse 2 says that he was to arise and go unto Nineveh.  You and I are also to go.   Notice four things about this commission:

1.  ARISE – He was not set and hope that something would happen.

2.  GO – This is what you and I are to do.

Mat 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Mat 28:20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

3.   PREACH—Make known the good news of the Gospel.

4.  PREACH WHAT I BID TO THEM… The plans we are to follow are God’s and not our own.

II.  Jonah’s Obedience to God

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.

Jonah arose and went unto Nineveh according to the words of God.   There are probably many today who are not following the exact instructions of the Lord.  We must really keep our hearts humble and keep a learning spirit to be sure that we are in the perfect will of God.  Unless we do things lawfully, we will not be crowned.

2 Tim 2:5  And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

Nineveh was a large city.  It appears that it took three days of walking to get across the full breadth of the 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.

As Jonah began to enter into this great city, he went a full days journey into the city delivering the message that God had given him.   Jonah preached every word that God gave him to preach.   There were only 8 words in the message… “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”  The power lay not in the number of words, but rather in the fact that they were God’s words.  The effect of God’s words upon the Ninevites was remarkable.  The words God gave penetrated their hearts and moved them to repentance.

III.  The Repentance of Nineveh

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.

If someone was to come and preach in our cities today a similar message that Jonah preached, people would think he was insane.  This was one of the greatest revivals in history that broke loose as Jonah continued to repeat his warning of just eight words.  The people of Nineveh believed God and they believed His word.  They trusted in the mercy of the Lord.   It is one thing to believe the facts surrounding Jesus Christ, and a totally different matter to place personal faith in Christ as Savior.

J. Vernon McGee said this about verse 5.

“So the people of Nineveh believed God”—that is a marvelous statement to find in the Old Testament. All God has ever asked any person, any sinner, to do is simply to believe Him. What does He ask you to believe? Believe what He has done for you. Believe that Christ died for you—that He died for you and for your sins. Believe that He was raised again and is now at God’s right hand. The people of Nineveh believed God—that is still the important thing today.

I am afraid that we have in our churches many people who are as busy as termites—they take little courses, and they talk a great deal about the Bible—but they do not know God. I was speaking with a man the other day who is that type of an individual; he goes to everything that comes along. I had gotten a little weary of hearing him tell about where he’d been and what he’d seen. He has done very little, but he is always telling about the great meetings he attends. I asked him pointblank, “Do you believe God?” He thought for a minute and then said, “Well, I think I do.” May I say to you, all of his work is of no value because he does not really believe God.

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast.” They demonstrated their belief. Faith always leads to works. “And put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”[1]

Notice that Jonah is not mentioned again in the rest of the chapter.   Nineveh believed God because of the message Jonah preached.   A true message will hide the messenger.

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.

The people of Nineveh put on sackcloth regardless of their rank or position in the city.  Even the king set the example and covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes.

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:

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.

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

We find the Ninevites did four things that brought about a revival.

1.  They heard the word of God.

2.  They believed the word of God.

3.  They obeyed the word of God.

4.  The named their sins and turned from them.

IV.  God Saw Their Works

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.

The works God saw were works evidencing true repentance.   They were the results of believing in God.  When God saw that they had turned from their evil ways, he had mercy upon them and did not destroy the city.

2 Chr 7:14  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Matthew Henry said this about verse 10.

Here is a wonder of divine mercy in the sparing of these Ninevites upon their repentance (v. 10): God saw their works; he not only heard their good words, by which they professed repentance, but saw their good works, by which they brought forth fruits meet for repentance; he saw that they turned from their evil way, and that was the thing he looked for and required. If he had not seen that, their fasting and sackcloth would have been as nothing in his account. He saw there was among them a general conviction of their sins and a general resolution not to return to them, and that for some days they lived better, and there was a new face of things upon the city; and this he was well pleased with. Note, God takes notice of every instance of the reformation of sinners, even those instances that fall not under the cognizance and observation of the world. He sees who turn from their evil way and who do not, and meets those with favour that meet him in a sincere conversion. When they repent of the evil of sin committed by them he repents of the evil of judgment pronounced against them. Thus he spared Nineveh, and did not the evil which he said he would do against it. Here were no sacrifices offered to God, that we read of, to make atonement for sin, but the sacrifice of God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, such as the Ninevites now had, it what he will not despise; it is what he will give countenance to and put honour upon.  [2]


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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