Grace for Today: Jonah’s Second Great Commission

Grace For Today

Jonah Experiences His Second Great Commission

Thank you for joining me today for another edition of Grace for Today.  As we continue working through the Book of Jonah, we’ve been blessed to see the work of God’s grace in the life of Jonah.  Today, together we’ll see the work of grace in the lives of the Ninevites. Let’s get started.

Jonathan Edwards in his book called, A Narrative of Surprising Conversions written in the 1700’s, writes about the effects the work of God had on people in Northampton, Mass.  One of the first surprises that Edwards experienced was with a woman in town known to live a very ungodly life.  To his surprise she was converted.

Edwards writes, Particularly, I was surprised with the relation of a young woman, who had been one of the greatest company- keepers in the whole town. When she came to me, I had never heard that she was become in any wise serious, but by the conversation I then had with her, it appeared to me, that what she gave an account of, was a glorious work of God’s infinite power and sovereign grace; and that God had given her a new heart, truly broken and sanctified. I could not doubt of it and have seen much in my acquaintance with her since to confirm it.

He goes on, Though the work was glorious, yet I was filled with concern about the effect it might have upon other. I was ready to conclude (though too rashly,) that some would be hardened by it, in carelessness and looseness of life; and would take occasion from it to open their mouths in reproaches of religion. But the event was the reverse, to a wonderful degree. God made it, I suppose the greatest occasion of awakening to others of anything that came to pass in the town.

In this account in the Book of Jonah this morning we are given Jonah’s Narrative of Surprising Conversions.  In his book the wicked Ninevites would be the last ones he thought would ever repent and surprisingly enough, those he wished would not repent.

*Please read Jonah 3:1-10

Isn’t the Lord wonderful?  When his people return in repentance He is ready to receive them back.  God holds no grudges. He doesn’t hold our past sin over our head ready to remind us should we start to slip again.  God is omniscient…all knowing, yet He will not remember past sin that has been forgiven.  One great attribute of God is that He forgets.  We have a greater problem forgiving others than God does.  God isn’t like a politician who while running for office brings out all the past sins of his opponent while hoping that his own are never found out.

God shows mercy to Jonah. He recommissions Jonah to go to Nineveh, that great city.

What made Nineveh great to God?  And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?

There is one thing about being a pastor that frightens me.  I am responsible to God for warning the church about the dangers of living in sin and outside of God’s will.  I am responsible to tell the church the truth.  What you choose to do with it is your business.

In ancient days of walled cities the people would place a watchman on top of the wall to watch for a coming army. (For further reading see Ezekiel 33:1-9)

Jonah was the watchman for Nineveh. By allowing Jonah a second chance, God spared him from being responsible for the blood of Nineveh, that great city.

It’s important to notice that God set Jonah on his way prior to giving him the message.

Jonah, go and when you get there I’ll tell you what to say.  The emphasis was that Jonah was going to have to exercise faith in his going.

Let’s look at Jonah’s sermon found in our text today…

[3] So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth.  [4] Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Jonah now is operating in the realm of obedience. So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. What do you think Jonah was thinking?  Ok Lord, I hope you know what you’re doing.  Here goes…

Have you ever had your faith tried?  Were you willing to step out in faith when the Spirit of God wanted you to?  Often times we think too much.  We can come up with a million reasons not to go if we think hard enough.  Have you ever talked yourself out of following the Lord?  Be like Jonah in this text… Jonah arose and went.

Did Jonah deliver a great oratory speech?  Did he read the book 12 steps to better sermons?  What made Jonah’s message so powerful?  The key in understanding this is to realize that Jonah was only the mouthpiece of God.  He was only saying what God told him to say and God did the rest. In preparing Jonah to deliver the message God was more interested in Jonah’s heart than in Jonah’s speaking ability.  There have been great preachers in the past and there are great preachers today.  What makes these men great is the condition of their hearts.  Jonah’s heart was different.  In the first commission God issued He said Cry out against Nineveh.  Here in this text in the original language it says Jonah called out to the great city.  Jonah was a saved sinner who wasn’t preaching down to the Ninevites but was pleading with them.  He was preaching to sinners as a saved sinner himself.  That’s important when we speak to others about the Lord that we aren’t arrogant or think we have things all figured out.  Don’t cry out against them but cry to them, there is a difference.

We see a great and proud people reduced to humble repenters, from the king to the meanest citizen. Their repentance began as a result of Jonah’s message of destruction.  They heard it and believed it and wanted to escape it. It was prompted by faith.  And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. God opened their hearts to believe His Word.  While Jonah preached, God was working in the hearts of the hearers.  Even those who didn’t hear the message from Jonah himself repented. The king repented because he believed God.  God’s grace was at work in the lives of everyone.

Let’s look at the nature of repentance…

[8] but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.

Here we see something of the nature of repentance.  We see the people turning from wickedness and sin.  No doubt they turned from that to God but we are not given that part of the account.  John Murray in his book called Redemption: Accomplished and Applied gives us this definition of repentance: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner out of true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after new obedience.

Have you experienced God’s work of repentance in your own life?  Have you turned from sin and turned to God for salvation?  Do you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?  I pray you do.  If you’d like to know more about the idea of repentance and salvation from sin, please e-mail me at brianevans1689@yahoo.com

I’m Brian Evans, pastor of Grace Community Church in Waverly www.gccWaverly.com thank you for joining me for Grace for Today.

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