And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey. — Jonah 3:1-3
A while back, my computer was not working properly. When I would open up a program and click on an icon, a strange info-box would pop up. It said something like: “Your computer is busy. It has either stopped responding or is waiting for a command from you.” Well, I knew it wasn’t waiting for a command from me, because I had just commanded it to do something, which was what had caused the box to pop up.
The buttons at the bottom of the info-box gave me two options: I could wait a little longer, or close the program entirely. I would usually wait for a few moments and then give up and close the program. This box continued to appear for several months, and each time, I would wait and then close the program.
One day, I turned on my computer and I could tell something was wrong. I couldn’t open any of the files. My computer had crashed. In the end, its hard drive had to be wiped clean and all of my programs had to be reinstalled.
The words of the info-box kept coming back to me. God frequently sends us commands concerning our lives. For some reason, people do not always respond to His direction, so He waits a little while and then sends it again. However, it is dangerous to ignore the Lord. Eventually it can lead to a spiritual crash and the need to start all over.
Jonah was an example of someone who ignored God’s instruction and eventually “crashed.” What a warning to us! Yet, God in His faithfulness restored Jonah when he repented. Today’s focus verse tells us, “The word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time.”
Let us determine in our hearts to be open to what the Lord would say to us and to answer Him with willing hearts the first time He speaks.
Although it is unknown where the great fish actually deposited Jonah, the Lord was right there to repeat His command to go to Nineveh. Jonah was faced with an exceedingly large challenge. Four times in the Book of Jonah, Nineveh was referred to as a “great city,” a term well deserved according to archeologists. The city was actually founded by Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-11) and was great in size; the circumference of the city with its suburbs was sixty miles with a population of approximately a million people.
Besides being a city of great size, Nineveh was great in its wickedness. It was one of the major cities of the Assyrian Empire, which was known for its violent treatment of enemies. One practice included beheading people by the thousands and displaying their skulls by the city gates. Jonah may have wondered if he would end up with the same fate, but he was determined to follow God this time.
It was not his own message that Jonah preached, but God’s: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” The message was one of judgment, and it was proclaimed to all. The number forty seems significant in Scripture, when identified with testing or judgment, (for example, it rained forty days and forty nights in the time of Noah, Jewish spies explored Canaan for forty days, and Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years). The text of Jonah’s sermon may have been just a portion of his message to the people of Nineveh, which could have also included God’s displeasure with their wickedness and their need to repent.
The forty days of grace were not needed however, because the people of Nineveh repented. All classes, from the king down, participated in a national repentance. An official fast was decreed, and it was proclaimed that the people should put on sackcloth, and cry out and humble themselves before God. The English word sackcloth is derived from the Hebrew word sak, which was a dark, coarse cloth usually made from goat’s hair and worn when the people were in a state of mourning. All who heard Jonah’s message received it and were in a true state of mourning or repentance. God evaluated it and knew it was genuine. The Scripture says, “God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” God did not change His intentions toward dealing with the sins of the Ninevites, but He deferred judgment because they repented.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The obedience of Jonah
A. The recommission (3:1-2)
B. The obedience (3:3-4)
1. The trip (3:3)
2. The message (3:4)
C. The consequences (3:5-10)
1. The action of the people (3:5)
2. The action of the king (3:6-9)
a. His repentance (3:6)
b. His proclamation (3:7-9)
3. The action of God (3:10)
We can avoid a spiritual “crash” by heeding and quickly obeying God’s commands.