– When have you received a “second-chance” and what difference did it make?
God commissioned Jonah to go to Nineveh, but he fled away from the presence of the Lord. God pursued Jonah with a storm & a fish, along with a 3-day period of waiting for God’s renewal. Then, God gave Jonah a second-chance to prophesy to the Ninevites.
Repentance is possible (Jonah 2:1-9)
Jonah is broken over his contrariness. God’s discipline of being swallowed by a fish turns Jonah to repentance. Jonah had left God but God never left Jonah. Therefore, Jonah was able to pray to the Lord HIS (2:1) God from the belly of the fish. Jonah’s deep distress turned into digested truth
– God never left Jonah (1:17-2:1)
– God is God, Jonah was not.
– God hears our cries of distress (2:2)
▪ Before, Jonah could not pray (1:6) but his distress finally led him to cry out
– God’s discipline is His love to turn us around (2:3-7)
▪ God’s discipline was not a death sentence but a time to heal
▪ God’s discipline wasn’t over (still in fish) but Jonah was able to pray & praise (2:7, 9)
– God satisfies with steadfast love [hesed] ; Idolatry promises to please but fails to fulfill (2:8)
▪ Jonah’s idolatry was personal comfort, fear of man (not God) issues; lacking compassion for unreached.
ð What is your idol? Where do you turn for comfort or refuge?
– Prayer & Praise are tools of hope in midst of trials (2:9)
– Salvation belongs to God, not Jonah (2:9; 4:2, 10-11)
▪ Therefore, believer’s role is to live & tell the gospel and allow God to bring salvation as He wills.
- Don’t get caught up in theological debates (Hyper Calvinism)
- Plant & multiply gospel seeds as possible, even in “hard to reach” persons or places; and then trust God with the results.
- Do not be silent, speak up (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8)
ð Why would Jonah turn to God since God was the reason he was in the belly of a fish?
ð What do you think gave Jonah hope during those 3 days of darkness? What gives you hope in the midst of difficult & dark circumstances?
ð Which of these truths stand out to you?
Repentance is powerful (Jonah 2:10 – 3:10)
God delivered Jonah. The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out. God’s sovereign power is emphasized throughout this book. Then God gave Jonah a second-chance, giving His word again (3:1). Jonah’s rebellion did not erase His call. God renewed Jonah’s role. Notice also, God does not alter the command “Arise, go to Nineveh and call out against it”. The need of Nineveh was still urgent.
Jonah traveled throughout the city of Nineveh, taking 3 days, to preach God’s message. The prophetic message was simple: In 40 days Nineveh will be overthrown [if it does not repent and turn to God].
ð In sharing your faith, how essential is it to speak of coming eternal judgment? Compare Mark 1:15
In response, the Ninevites called for a fast, mourned & repented over sin and turned to God (3:5-9). Note that verse 8 shows their fasting was not just abstaining from something but combined with affection for God. And further, they knew their repentance did not automatically obligate God’s grace and mercy (3:9). How often do we think our meager repentance obligates God in some manner and then we move on showing we never took God seriously? But indeed, God relented (delayed?) judgment upon Nineveh.
ð Jonah wasn’t the only one receiving a second-chance, so was Nineveh and both seemed to take advantage of the opportunity.
ð What is the purpose of fasting? How does withdrawing from an object or action help spiritually?
Repentance is reiterated (Jonah 4:1-11).
The NInevite’s experienced spiritual revival from the least to the great (3:5). As God’s anger was avoided, Jonah’s anger was aroused. Jonah was bitter; his rebellion re-emerged. He selfishly (note his prayer focused on himself 8x with “I” or “my”) and privately wished that Nineveh would not repent and God would destroy the city. Provokingly, Jonah was telling the Ninevites, “Go to Hell!” It was very likely Jonah had some Hebrew nationalism and racial prejudice against the Assyrians.
Jonah’s rebellion led to
- Moved away from God; God was at work bringing revival in Nineveh and yet Jonah is leaving the city.
- Sitting under shade in contrast to God’s command “arise and go”. Jonah appears lazy, angry and self-centered in contrast to every other prophet.
- NOTE: The fact that Jonah is a book in the Bible should give us confidence. Rather than hiding the truth of this sort of prophet the Scriptures share it so we may learn about God, His work among believers & unbelievers and principles for ourselves in the life of faith.
- Begging God to just let him die – twice (4:4, 4:8) or three times if counted originally from 1:12.
Jonah’s actions & attitudes are a stark contrast to that of God’s. Jonah wanted to die but not sacrificially for God. God lived and died sacrificially for people.
NOTE: Jonah had confidence (contrast Ninevites lacking assurance in 3:9 of God’s gracious character… but He failed to act properly in proclaiming redemption, instead he attempted to play God and withhold salvation from them. He even has compassion toward a plant but not people!
God is gracious & merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love (4:2; cf. Exodus 34:6-7; Psalm 86:15; Nehemiah 9:17; Hosea 6:6, 10:12, Joel 2:13)
God has pity upon sinners and takes no delight in their destruction (Jonah 4:10-11; 1Timothy 2:4; 2Peter 3:9)
4:11 pity those who do not know right hand from left… and also much cattle.
those who lack moral understanding but still guilty, that’s why God sent them Jonah! The reference to cattle is God’s attempt to instill grace in Jonah – perhaps he would care about cows over people – smh!
ð Who or what is the “Nineveh” of your life? (difficult person; unfriendly place; unpleasant task; unresolved circumstances…?)
- Don’t miss the grace that the Ninevites received
Matthew 12:39-41 “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
ð What can you learn in the positive about your anger?
ð Is the need for continual repentance encouraging or exasperating?
- Grace should instill humility
- We are undeserving, desperate & doomed without God. Our need is great!
- Grace should instill hunger
- We are genuinely grateful and servants of the Savior
ð Thank & Praise God for his gracious love and saving power.
µ What are ways we are like/unlike Jonah?
µ What typically keeps you from doing something God wants you to do?
µ Millions of people will spend more than 3 days in eternal darkness and departed from God’s presence. What can & should we do to take the gospel to unreached people groups?
µ What insights or questions do you have in this introduction to Jonah?
µ We do not know Jonah’s final response but we do know Israel’s. We must ask, “Am I Jonah?”