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Rambling Thoughts on Jonah Chapter Three
It's snowing again in Central PA and I've just been sitting back and contemplating the events of Jonah chapter three. It's such an unlikely scenario, but God is the God of the impossible. I guess that's what makes the account so great.
In verses 1-3 we have the recommission of Jonah. Notice the stability of the God we serve. He pronounces the exact same commission in Jonah 3:2 that He gave in Jonah 1:2. We may change, but God is the same yesterday, today, forever. We can count on God's Word.
Too, God is the God of second chances. Jonah failed the first time. He failed miserably, but God still intended to use him. God could have used anyone He wanted, but He chose to go to Jonah a second time. I'm glad God is the God of second, and third, and fourth chances. We may give up on Him, but He never gives up on us.
Think about this man Jonah, for a moment. He was no doubt very weak from his ordeal in the belly of the fish--not someone especially appealing to the eye, but God used him. As far as we know he preached only one sermon, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." He did not one sign, wonder or miracle. There was no call for direction or repentance. Yet verse five tells us that "...the people of Nineveh believed God...." God did the work. The power to change this wicked city was in the Word of God, not the messenger.
In verse six we see that the Word came unto the king of Nineveh. He set the example for the people by humbling himself first. You see, when God is the central figure everybody is on equal ground. The king as well as the people needed to seek the One, True God. The leader had the same need that his followers had. (That's just a side note for the preachers). Nevertheless, the king led his people into humble submission to the God of Heaven.
Notice that in verses 7-10 that the king preaches a message of repentance. Even as I'm writing this I wonder if it was the message of the king rather than Jonah that brought such a great revival to the people of Nineveh.
Think of it--one washed up prophet who obeys God out of duty, not love, enters a heathen city with no compassion or desire to see their salvation and God reaches down in His compassion and saves them. God can, and I believe does override our shortcomings many times to accomplish His will. God is God. He will do what He chooses, but He never twists our arm to make us do it.
What a sad thing it is to read chapter four and see that after all God did for Jonah in chapters one and two, and after he used Jonah mightily in chapter three, Jonah was still disgusted with God's working. I've read the book of Jonah many times. I preached on Jonah many times, but I still wonder--How much am I like Jonah?