We continue in Jonah Chapter 3, where we discover so many relevant lessons for our ministries today.
Jonah preaches, and God is behind the word he proclaims and heralds, and it is simple and uncomplicated.
The people are penitent. There is a repentance which is real.
It would have taken a month for Jonah to travel to Nineveh.
Did he only preach once? But consider the weight of the message!
Every word went home to every one who heard it – God can do that. We have never seen or heard of anything like this!
Is this not as great and mighty a miracle, as the great fish?
All that we need is for men to be willing to do his will! It is quite amazing.
Jesus went as meek as a lamb to the slaughter.
If we are reluctant God can bring the equivalent of the storm – recalcitrant disciples can experience this, so that they might co-operate with him.
The city was on its last chance – judgement was a-coming. The city would be destroyed and they with it. It was not a popular message, but it was what Almighty God wanted preached and proclaimed.
They believed what this messenger said about the forthcoming destruction and they declared a fast.
Sackcloth is a sign of woe and grief despair and dereliction.
The king took it to heart just as seriously as the people. He sat in the dust and decreed that all the people would do the same.
The king believed that God is just, and that God is angry about all the violence and wickedness, and God must punish this until people perish, or repent.
But God is also merciful. Here is a peculiar unusual picture of Almighty God, and it is a picture of a God, our God, the only God there is, who can and may change His mind.
It is always worth crying to God – cry mightily and pray mightily. God can forgive, and will do so when people cry to Him.
And, let everyone turn from his evil way. People turned from their personal sin.
Is this perhaps the most difficult miracle – to read and learn that God repented and changed His mind – when God saw what they did? God saw the proof. God saw them turning from violence and luxurious living.
They wanted to be saved – rescued.
The unchangeable and unchanging God, changes His mind.
He never changes in His mercy, love, or judgment. He does not have moods.
His character does not change, but God’s behaviour changes when the situation of the people changes.
When people run away, He chastises and judges. There can be storms and deep waters – but even in such times there is rescuing and deliverance.
When people run towards Him he shows mercy and love and grace.
His actions change, and His attitude changes, as the result of a man’s repentance.
When a man turns from his sin, God turns from His anger.
Do you see how this can apply – to an individual – to the church – to the nation?
Because of Jesus we see a loving God prepared to turn away from anger. He desires to see people come to Him, that they may be forgiven and loved and healed and transformed and strengthened.
God has no joy in the death of the wicked, but there is joy in the death of wickedness and cruelty and violence, as people repent and turn to Him.
Salvation is of God and we must never ever overlook or forget that, and salvation comes through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and through Jesus Christ alone, otherwise the life and ministry and cross of Jesus Christ is meaningless, and without eternal significance.
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