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Jonah Chapter Three: A Wicked City is Saved March 25, 2005

Posted by mjtilley in Uncategorized.

This chapter opens very much the same way as chapter one: God comes to Jonah with a mission. But this mission is an amazing and undeserved second chance for the wayward prophet. This time, instead of running, Jonah complies with the order.

However, his commitment to the cause is doubtful at best. While it is true that Jonah obeyed the command, that’s all and exactly what Jonah did. His only recorded message is “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overturned.” He offers no reference to the author of the threat, no indication of the cause – only the imminent destruction.

But it appears to be enough. Immediately, we find the previously wicked people of the city not simply believing the message but actually repenting of the sin that merited God’s wrath. Further, the actions of the people move the political leaders to declare national worship for the Lord. And this change of heart is done without any assurance of reprieve from the coming disaster.

Upon seeing this genuine repentance, God expresses His endless mercy by not imposing the destruction He sent Jonah to promise.

Key Questions to Consider:

  • Why was it necessary for God to reiterate His command to go to Nineveh?
  • Is there anything significantly different about God’s second command from His first?
  • How can you tell that the people of Nineveh have repented of their wickedness? What does that tell you about your own repentance?
  • Notice how the “revival” starts with the people and finds its way to the government. Could it have worked the other way around?
  • The king of Nineveh proclaimed a fast to assist in seeking God’s mercy. Are fasting and other physically sacrificial acts necessary or helpful in appealing to God? Why or why not?
  • God cannot stand sin and His holiness demands sin be punished. In holding back the promised punishment, does God compromise His holiness? Does His change of mind indicate that God can lie?

Tomorrow — Jonah Chapter Four: Arguing with God



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