A Second Chance

Jonah 3:1-3a

God does not allow us to fail or disobey and then just move on. There is purpose to such experiences for our good. In fact, God has a purpose in all things he does, all things he permits. Big purpose over all subordinate ones – that God would be glorified. Next to that, God is working all things out for the good of those he has called – necessary steps to conform us to image of his Son. Don’t forget… we were called “according to purpose”, in this case… God’s purpose.

Shouldn’t live in past, at same time must not simply forget either. Things that took place before our past were done and written down for our instruction. God intends our past experiences to change and equip us for greater usefulness to him, more conformity to Christ. True as much for Jonah as for us. God did not expect Jonah to live in fish’s belly, is why he ended up back on dry land. Yet, even if he could forget, God did not want Jonah to leave that experience behind and not be changed by it.

Regardless of what he thought, Jonah not in good place when God first told him “Arise, go to Nineveh”. Jonah perhaps comfortable where he was, yet lacking one essential trait – not comfortable in obeying / pleasing God in all things. Could obey willingly, could do what was pleasing to God so long as God didn’t ask him to do certain things… like witness to people he disliked, ones he thought of as enemies. Jonah demonstrated unwillingness, yea, outright rebellion… until ran head-on into God’s firm hand of discipline. Notice, I said discipline, not punishment. God’s goal in Jonah’s life was correction, not simply consequences. In fact, God’s desire was for Jonah to do right thing for right reasons… because Jonah desired to do what was pleasing to God

Once again are introduced to God’s plan for Jonah’s life, at least his next assignment. Then are informed of God’s instruction to Jonah, finally the impact Jonah’s experience had on him.

A. introduction v.1

God takes the initiative

has not abandoned Jonah – did not tell fish to spit up Jonah, then leave to fend for himself as best he could… like we would

true in more than ultimate sense of eternal destiny – think of John 10:28-29 in that sense, no one can snatch sheep out of either Jesus’ or Father’s hand… at any point during this life either

makes clear: Jonah’s time in submersible meant to correct, not condemn – don’t know for sure the exact way Jonah “heard” God, but he knew who was speaking and what was said

when heard God again, same tone of voice, letting Jonah know they were reconciled – perhaps there on shore when Jonah got reoriented, perhaps after sacrifice and paying vows

God still sovereignly working his Plan A – Jonah’s bad behavior had not forced God to come up with another plan for Nineveh

God’s original plan A included that piece… for Jonah’s learning and for all those who hear his story

communicates verbally, not visually

primary way God communicates with mankind – words, spoken or written – prophetic intro: “thus says the Lord”

when God did use visual aids, always included explanation – Passover, dad explained; Ezekiel, living visual aid… with explanation; true even in Revelation

btw, written word carries same weight as spoken – authority comes from source of the word, not the means of communication

parent, leaves instructions, expects same response as if spoken in ear; God expects no less from his children, his Word

pictures illustrate what words say/mean – pictures rarely communicate whole story… movie adaptation of book for example

picture of OT sacrifice, NT Lord’s Supper aid understanding and remembrance, still need words to get details

a second time

Jonah a competent prophet, but… was lacking one of essentials that would make him even more useful to God

did not have thorough understanding of God’s mind and heart toward lost sinners, thus how he should think/feel/act

divinely provided instruction – gave Jonah small preview of what would be like to face imminent death without sense of God’s presence

took Jonah most of 3 days and nights to catch on but he did – decided he really didn’t want to go that route

now, let’s try that again – do that often when training children: explain wrong behavior, remind of right behavior, give another opportunity for practice

same for Jonah – bad behavior not going to earn him a pass; God wanted Jonah and all those who hear story to know just how determined God is to take Gospel to world

B. instruction v.2

Get up

“let go and let God” sounds pious but is unbiblical – at least in sense of quietly, passively letting God do whatever he wants

Jesus said “take my yoke”, means some kind of work; Paul pressed toward the goal, told Corinthians to run so as to win, Philippians to work out their salvation

“let’s go and follow God” what was expected of Jonah – let go and let’s go… let go of prejudices and follow instructions

often need to let go of things so we can be useful to God – pet ways of doing things, comfortable places to be/things to do, hangups that get in way of willing service

get out of recliner – Jonah not to be in cheering section but in the game, involved as God’s mouthpiece with skin on

God wasn’t going to pick another prophet to do Jonah’s assignment; same true for his people today – each has a divinely appointed place of service

Go

beyond limits of your comfort zone – Jonah would be content to stay within boundaries of what he knew and liked

had no desire for minstry to Nineveh, partly because knew God intended to change his mind about people of that city

place / people you think undeserving – God and Jonah not on same page about Ninevites, especially value of their souls

Jonah convinced (like most of Jewish people) that enemies were worthy only of condemnation and destruction

obvious friends welcome to immigrate, put down roots, maybe even convert to Judaism but not those treated as enemies

couldn’t come to terms with truth of God’s perspective – Jews apart from God just as lost as Ninevites… or any other people

all are just as undeserving of God’s grace and mercy, yet God loves all kinds of people and intends to redeem them from ruin

don’t expect them to make first move – even if Ninevites figured out what was missing in their lives, would never go to Israel to find it… animosity went both ways

Jonah got a fair hearing because of his experience – his story probably known, may have even been obvious from appearance something strange had happened

God uses all sorts of ways to bring people within hearing of Gospel – we need to be careful what means we try to use

Give the message

don’t add – particularly needful for Jonah to stick to script: very tempting for him to add all sorts of harsh things to message

God’s gonna get you, it will be horrible, prepare for long slow excruciating death, and there’s no way to avoid it

don’t subtract – Jonah really didn’t want Ninevites to get saved, could easily left out things that would lead to genuine repentance

whether in evangelism or other teaching, God expects his entire truth to be told – remember warning in Rev. 22:18-19

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

from God’s message – whether Bible as Jonah had it, as we have it, or smaller portion intended for Ninevites, was God’s word

Jonah had no authority on his own, nor do we – authority and power of Bible comes from God as he accompanies proclamation of his Word

work of preacher as well as prophet – to “declare to you the whole counsel of God” – not sticking to easy parts, comfortable ones, popular texts

one of merits of preaching and teaching through books or large portions of Scripture – get to cover it all

good reminder: we cannot make God’s word and Gospel more attractive or effective by modifying it; God has expressed himself perfectly and we must be content to communicate what He said

Grasp the change

1:2 “Cry out against it” – same as calling down judgment on city because of sin of its people… similar to God’s action against Sodom and Gomorrah

3:2 “Preach to it the message” – specifically the message God would give to Jonah, no more, no less

in change of wording a hint at least of grace God was planning to show to people of Nineveh, in spite of Jonah’s reluctance

C. impact v.3

he got up

same as before – as soon as God spoke, Jonah moved… he arose from his comfort zone, knowing where he needed to go

so far so good – obedience is good even when only incremental baby steps; besides, God knows us, is patient

he went

first time he ran – pretty sure he knew what outcome of his prophetic ministry in Nineveh would be, wanted no part of it

second time he went in proper direction – north, then east over several hundred mile journey, thru dangerous territory

he obeyed

this behavior nearer goal God had for Jonah – ultimately God would be pleased if Jonah developed same heart and mind for Ninevites (the lost) as God has

doing right even though not feeling it – to do less is to increase guilt before God… not following instructions and bad attitude

God prefers undivided heart – one that is fully loyal to him, desiring to obey him and please him in all things

graciously works with less than perfect instruments – this is really good thing, none of us will arrive in this life, yet we can be blessed when we serve God to best of ability

God still gives second chances, still expects us to move past comfort zone. Closer we are to Jesus, easier it will be to be obedient, more useful will be to him.

 

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