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A Second Chance:
Discovering God's Love in the Old Testament
This article along with video, powerpoints, etc. can be found in BFF's Old Testament Training Library.
A Second Chance: Discovering God's Love in the Old Testament is an expository sermon from Jonah 3:1-10 enabling us to see how a proper view of God's mercy enables us to experience personal revival that can even run through the veins of our big cities.
A second chance is given to Jonah to show that the Lord patiently works with His people even when they disappoint Him.
A second chance is given to Nineveh through a preacher that God sends, calling for repentance and more.
5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. 6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat on the ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8 “But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. 9 “Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?”
What happened? How is it possible that the wicked people of Nineveh would believe in God instead of their idols, self and violence? I wonder, in speculation, I admit, that if story of what happened on that ship got to Nineveh ahead of him. But it really does not matter.
The Word of God that went from Jonah’s mouth, severe though they be, was used by the Spirit of God to bring faith to the people. They believed in God. We should not think that this meant that they became Jewish, but like the boatmen, they now believed in God as Creator and saw that He was real and needed to be rightly responded to. Somehow, God only knows, the emperor was also taken aback, and commanded his whole kingdom, beasts included, to cover themselves with burlap and fast from food and water. Beyond this, they must earnestly call on God and turn from their wicked ways and from all the violence.
Their hope was not demand. They all of a sudden realized that they were under God’s wrath and life was about to be taken from them in just over a month’s time. They knew God’s anger had already reached beyond the saturation point, but they sought His mercy and grace.
Messenger brings God’s Word
People hear God’s Word
Gain conviction about the truth of God’s Word
Change their lifestyle to please the Lord
Pass on their newly found convictions
Larger societal forces, like government, follow
Humility precedes extra grace from God
God relents on the judgment
This movement, remaking the path of a great empire, undoubtedly strives to be one of the historic moments of any kingdom in the history of the world. The capital of Nineveh went on after this point to its zenith, though unfortunately, later hardened itself and was destroyed. Remember it was God-initiated, God-desired and God-glorifying.
God did not become real when the Ninevites believed in Him; they finally could apprehend the reality of God and His fierce and justified anger against them. Here are a few applications.
It is never too late to repent, for you or another. For man it might be too late to hope for reform, but not for God.
Never put any person, city or country beyond possible faith and repentance. This is hard considering how wicked a people might be.
Any of us can now repent and seek God for forgiveness. The message is the same; perhaps God will relent and forgive.
Are you humbled and broken by your sin, seeking God’s grace?
“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”
Observe in verse nine man's heart and hope, “Who knows, God may turn and relent, and withdraw His burning anger so that we shall not perish?” Their small faith in the message of God brought a meager but true hope that God would relent from His anger so that they would not perish.
Mercy does not come if there is no repentance. Repentance shows that there's a change in the condition of the heart and life by which we can seek and find the mercy of God.
Are there things in your life that you need to change? Pride, arrogance and insolence are dangerous because they do not allow a person to change and reform.
The Ninevites turned from their wicked ways. All can but not all want to. God released a vision of His love here in Jonah 3 in anticipation that our misunderstandings of Him and His ways will be corrected. Instead of all the doubtful statements about God, often heard around us, we discover a bastion of hope streaming from God’s gracious works here”
“God cares for this world!”
“God must be good to bring this about!”
“God is so powerful!”
If this is God’s mercy, please allow me (us) to experience it!
God’s work in us is not to just ‘experience Him’ but to live it out in loving others as He loves and telling others of the message of repentance and hope.
Revival starts with a proper view of God, touches one’s life and remakes societies!
God really wants to work in much greater ways through our lives. Our problem? Like Jonah we are disobedient. We are not sold out on God. We doubt Him. We question His ways. It is time that we ourselves repent and give our lives to the Lord so that He can extend His extreme mercy to many others, even our large cities. If God leads you, be obedient and you will see the amazing riches of God poured out in your life and those around you!
(End of Jonah 3; study questions in study guide below)