The prophet Jonah is an interesting study in grace. He is a man who was used by God to make a most outrageous statement about God’s forgiveness of mankind. At the beginning of the book we find Jonah being called by God to deliver a message to Israel’s sworn enemy, the Assyrians. Jonah was to go the capital city of Nineveh, and tell them that they must repent or die. Jonah did not want to go and tell them about God’s judgment because he was worried that God might forgive them. Jonah was quite all right with the Ninevites getting what they deserved. Jonah thought that it was about time that God settled the score so Jonah refused to go.
As a wise man once said, “When God tells you to do something, DO IT! You will eventually end up doing it anyway so you might as well do it first. Jonah tried to run away but it didn’t work. Three days in a whale changed his mind (sort of) and Jonah went to Nineveh and delivered his message.
It was one of the shortest, and at the same time, most effective evangelistic sermons in the world. “Forty days and Nineveh will fall.” Not exactly seeker sensitive or contextually appropriate. He didn’t even tell them what to do. Incidentally, here we see an important message for preachers everywhere. When God delivers a message, the messenger is utterly irrelevant: The Holy Spirit can use anyone. The Holy Spirit can make a donkey a messenger (Numbers 22:28) so He can easily use you.
The people of Nineveh were heartbroken and repented of their sins in sackcloth and ashes (a profound way of expressing remorse) and Jonah was furious. Do you see the irony of the story? Jonah preaches a message about God’s grace (even though he didn’t want to) and the people believe it, while Jonah does not! Jonah doesn’t believe, nor does he understand the very Continue reading