Jonah chapter 3: Back Where We Started

As we begin chapter 3, the book of Jonah uses plain language to deliver the message that Jonah is being told a second time by God to do the same thing he was told to do in chapter 1: Go to Nineveh and preach to the people that they will pay for their wickedness if they do not turn to God. 

Imagine Jonah as he hears this almost identical message that he heard in chapter 1: He has gone through a singularly horrific experience in trying to resist this message and has barely escaped with his life. Despite all of the suffering and damage, Jonah is back where he started. This shows us that whatever our will may be, God’s will supersedes. Remember Paul in Acts 9 when he was converted on the road to Damascus. Paul had been causing Christians to suffer, yet God needed Paul to spread the gospel. What did Christ say to Paul in Acts 9:5? “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

A goad was a long stick used by a farmer to urge a beast of burden to continue plowing. Paul was the ox in this analogy, trying to kick against the goad, but God was in ultimate control no matter how Paul resisted. Paul ended up becoming an unparalleled preacher of Christ. Centuries before Paul, Jonah experienced the same situation of futilely resisting God. Has something like this ever happened to you? 

Jonah’s words to the people of Nineveh are very effective. It causes one to wonder . . . . if Jonah knew that it would be so easy to do what God asked, would he have put up such a fight to go to Nineveh? Chapter 4 next week will show us some close that it may have been Jonah’s poor opinion of the people of Nineveh that kept him from fulfilling the request.

The king of Nineveh decrees the following after Jonah’s message: 

“Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?”  Jonah‬ ‭3:7-9‬

After these actions, God relents from punishing the people of Nineveh. This is an impressive turn of events, considering how wicked this city was purported to be. Here are a few things we can take from this chapter: 

– God will have His way, regardless 

– Resisting God can bring suffering 

– Turning away from sin and towards God brings mercy 

Tonight, let us resolve not to be like Jonah. Challenges can build themselves up in our minds until they seem like an impossible obstacle. Yet, when actually confronted, we find a paper tiger. God knows what is best for us, period. When we align our will with His will by reading His Holy Word, we become blessed and happy in His sight.

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