2:10 Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach. 1 Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” 3 This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. 4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” 5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. 6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. 7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. 8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. 9 Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.” 10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.
- God’s still had a plan for his life
“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” Just because Jonah had pursued his own direction and disobeyed it didn’t change Gods plan. Our failure doesn’t force God to change directions; Jonah was the one who had to course correct. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “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.” So are you going to sit in the puke or pursue His plan? Today we want to sit on the shore, to stay where it is safe, but God’s plan involves proclaiming His offer of peace to other people. You don’t have to be defined by disobedience, are you going to find your identity in your failure or the Fathers forgiveness? When the Word of God came to Jonah the second time it came with the same commission that he had received at first. It was God’s plan for him to go to Nineveh and it was still God’s plan. It was Jonah that changed not God’s plan. Today many Christians claim that they don’t know what God wants them to do, which reminds me of a story Donald Grey Barnhouse, a pioneer in preaching over the radio, once told. His daughter had come to him with a request that he had denied. ‘Well then what do you what me to do?’ she had asked. He told her what he wanted and then went on with his work. She remained standing in front of him and after a while Mrs. Barnhouse called to the daughter from another room, ‘Where are you? What are you doing?’ she asked. The daughter replied, ‘I am waiting for daddy to tell me what he wants me to do.’ To which Mr. Barnhouse raised his head and said to her, ‘Whatever you are doing it is not waiting to find out what I want you to do. I have told you what I want you to do, but you do not like it. You are actually waiting to see if you can get me to change my mind.” If we were honest with ourselves we will admit that we know a lot more about what God wants than what we are doing. You and I know that God wants us to be a witnessing, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to be good stewards of our time, treasures, and talents, just to name a few. So are you being obedient to what He has already told you to do? Is it time to stop hiding behind the excuse that you don’t know what God’s wants and get busy with what you do know of His Will? I think our problem is that we often know what God’s will is we just don’t want to do it. Lastly Jonah discovered what:
- God can do with a surrendered servant.
“This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all. 4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!”Jonah became a messenger of mercy, he had a short sermon of only 8 words but it had radical results. The whole city confessed and responded to God’s message with great mourning. Verse 5 says: “The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. 6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes.” When Jonah surrendered to go and speak God used even the terrible experience of his time in the belly of the fish for His glory. God has the power to do the same thing through your pain. Out of our failure God can bring spiritual success and forge a future where there was only a mess. Only God can take the bad and use it to bless, which I believe is what Paul is getting at in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”Obedience not only benefits our life but it can bring blessing to many others. I love the truth that this chapter is bracketed by God’s mercy; it starts with His mercy to Jonah and ends with His mercy on Nineveh. But notice that the mercy which results from repentance is a limited time offer. Nineveh had forty days to seek God’s forgiveness. We have a God that pursues and is patient, but there is a limit to lawlessness. If we fail to heed His Word and continue to do what we want the consequences of our actions will eventually catch up to us and cost us dearly. What direction are you running in today, are you running toward rebellion or repentance? Are you walking in the footsteps of forgiveness or failure?