Chapter 3. This chapter could be titled, “The God of the second chance.” Our God is the God of the second chance!
vs. 1. “The word of the Lord came a second time.” Not too many companies, businesses, or any one of us would give anyone a second chance, but God will and He will give us more than one. Thank You, Lord! This book will teach us how God will treat us when we slip into sin. God’s grace!
Now we are going to see how God is gracious to a sinful city. This is a record of perhaps the greatest revival in the history of the world; that is, what we call a revival—people turning to God. What happened in Nineveh makes the Day of Pentecost look very small. A few thousand turned to God on the Day of Pentecost, but there were several hundred thousand in the city of Nineveh who turned to God. There has never been anything quite like it—an entire city turned to God! No one else has ever seen that happen. The apostle Paul never stayed in a city until everyone was converted; he just preached the Word and moved on to the next town. No one from that day down to the present has seen such a moving of the Spirit of God as took place in Nineveh so long ago.
It is interesting to note that all this happened in Nineveh before the church arrived on the scene, and the greatest revival of all time will take place after the church leaves the earth. You see, God is simply not dependent upon the church. If you have the notion that the church or your church or your group are the only ones God has ever had in mind, I say to you very candidly that it is a false notion. God has something even bigger in mind than the church. Now the church is to be the bride of Christ and will, I think, occupy the very closest place to the Son of God throughout eternity, but God had a purpose in mind before the church got here and even before man appeared on this earth. God was not sitting around, twiddling His thumbs and waiting for man to come along, my friend!
Today His purpose is to call out a people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. We believe that we are coming to the end of the age and that God wants the Word to go out so that everyone might hear. However, the greatest revival, the greatest turning to God, is yet in the future, and the story of Nineveh is just a small adumbration of that.
McGee, J. Vernon.
vs. 2. Jonah is the only prophet actually sent by God to preach repentance in a foreign land.
vs. 3. Notice that now Jonah is following God’s instructions, he is in obedience. “An exceedingly great city, a three day journey.” Exceeding great – Nineveh was the greatest city of the then known world, it was greater than Babylon, whose distance was three hundred eighty – five furlongs, but Nineveh was, four hundred and eighty. It is said, Nineveh’s walls were an hundred foot in height, the walls broad enough for three coaches to meet, and safely pass by each other; that it had fifteen hundred towers on its walls, each two hundred foot high, and one million, four hundred thousand men employed for eight years to build it. Of three days journey – To walk round the walls, allowing twenty miles to each day’s journey.
vs. 4. How did Jonah draw a crowd to get his message across to the Ninevites? What do you think? Maybe it was his appearance after being in the belly for three days and nights. It might have been that his walk around the city. Why forty days? Might come from Moses’s forty days in the Sinai. Though a short message, it was sufficient for God’s work.
vs. 5. This is a real good example of no matter how weak or reluctant the servant, God can still use that servant effectively to get His message out. The repentance of this huge city and large amount of people could have only been a miracle from God. Simply put, this is all God has ever asked of any of us, all people, to just believe in Him. The Ninevites by faith, produce works, they fast and put on sackcloth. Notice it says from the greatest to the least, from the rich to the poor.
vs. 6. When someone starts doing these sorts of things (Sackcloth and ashes), they are not committing sins any longer. If we ask God for mercy, we will find that He is a God of mercy. Reports of the miracle of Jonah may have been circulating throughout the city, or it was his appearance (skin color) from being in the great fish.
vs. 7. It was a Persian custom that the animals mourned as well as the people.
vs. 8. The strangest thing happened—the whole city turned to God! Now that was remarkable; in fact, it was quite amazing. From the king on the throne to the peasant in the hovel, they all turned to the Lord. They cried mightily to God, and they believed God. What a glorious, wonderful time this was!
McGee, J. Vernon.
vs. 9-10. God repents. To repent means to change your mind; that is what it means when it applies to me. When I repent, I change my mind. I did something wrong, and I now see that it was wrong. I turn from it, and I go to God and ask forgiveness for it—I come over on God’s side. To confess your sin is to come over and agree with God about your sin.
But does God repent like that? Does He change His mind? Does He say, “My, I made a mistake there; I shouldn’t destroy Nineveh”? No. We need to see that the city of Nineveh had two options when this man Jonah entered it with his message of judgment. They could reject God’s message, they could ignore it, they could pay no attention to it, and if they did, they would be destroyed—God’s never changed that. Or they could accept God’s message, they could turn to Him, and God would deliver and save them. God is immutable—He never changes. When His Word is rejected, when people turn from Him, they are lost. But when they turn to Him, He will always save them, regardless of who they are.
Therefore, who changed? Did God change? No, but it looked as if He did. Jonah had said, “Yet forty days, and this city is going to be destroyed. God is going to destroy it.” But God did not destroy Nineveh. Did God break His Word? No. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The city had two options. If they had not accepted His Word, they would have been destroyed. But they did accept God’s message, they believed God, and they turned from their wickedness. God didn’t change; He will always save people when they turn to Him. Although it looked as if God changed, it was really the city of Nineveh that changed, and that makes all the difference in the world.
McGee, J. Vernon.
vs. 10. Is miracle number 7, “God saw their works…they turned from their evil way.”