Sermon on Jonah 3:1-10
Title: Jonah, Go! Take 2
Theme: To Jonah’s horror, God gives second chances.
Goal: to encourage believers that God’s second chances are extend through bringing the true message.
Need: we often begrudge the second chances offered by God.
1. Our Problem is that we know of second chances but perhaps we don’t really like idea.
2. Jonah’s Problem is that he knows God gives second chances but he doesn’t want it for himself or for the Ninevites.
3. God Grace then: He rescues Jonah and puts him on the right path again. God rescues Nineveh after they repent.
4. Grace through Christ today: The second chance is that Jesus is the willing prophet who has endured three days in the belly of the earth. Jesus is the prophet who calls us back for repentance and a second chance with God.
God sent the big fish to swallow Jonah down. The fish spends three days and nights with this foreign object living in its stomach. Then God gives the fish tremendous relief when he finally vomits Jonah back onto dry land again.
We heard that Jonah ran away from God and we learned that God’s purpose for us can’t be ignored. When god calls on us to do something he will make sure that we do it.
Jonah discovered this truth in the form of a terrible storm that God threw at them until the sailors threw Jonah back into the sea again. Jonah plunged down into the depths and recalls for us in Jonah 2 what the despair was like. How he plunged down into the abyss, down to the roots of mountains. Suffocated by seaweed wrapped around his head.
But the last verse of chapter 2 says brings us to what is a kind of the end of a terrible ordeal. It says, And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
It doesn’t say where he made it back to dry land again. But all we know is that God has returned him to fulfill the purpose he is supposed to live out. He is supposed to go to the Mecca of his day, Ninevah and tell them of God’s judgement.
Let’s read the passage together now.
Second chances are not always a positive event in our lives. We like to romanticize second chances. You get a second chance. Angela and I watched the movie called Management with Jennifer Anniston. Well, this guy falls in love with a girl that stays at the hotel that he is the manager of. She lives on the East coast, this hotel is in Arizona. He tracks her down eventually, only to find out that she has gotten back together with the deadbeat exboyfriend and they are getting married. Oh dear. Whatever might happen? The exboyfriend is a jerk. The girl comes to her senses and the hotel manager gives her a second chance at love. And they live happily ever after.
I wish second chances were always like that. Hollywood can make anything seem glorious and wonderful. But second chances are only nice if you really liked the other possible outcome.
I bet there are many situations that we would rather not have a second try at. Some things are just better to not experience all over again. How about a serious illness that you recovered from. Would you ever look back and say, I sure wish I could have the H1N1 again, and this time I won’t get quite so worried. Wouldn’t it be great to have a second go around with a serious flu virus. How about in the death of a loved one. We might have discovered something about ourselves as we grieved, and learned to rely on the comfort of God through the process. We would never say, “I hope I get to have a second chance at that sort of grief again just so I can show that I am so much better at the grieving process.
Unless you live the Hollywood life, second chances tend to be tougher than the first chance and are just as unwelcome.
Jonah discovers that God’s purposes can’t be thwarted. And he discovers that as long as God’s plan for the future is in place, there will be second chances to follow his will.
I used to look at this story and picture Jonah getting vomited on dry ground by the big fish. Then with a quick comb through of his locks of hair, he sets off to do what God told him to do: preach a message to the Ninevites.
But if you noticed in the text it didn’t give us any sort of time indication at all. It doesn’t say immediately or after a week or month. In verse 1 it simply says, “1Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 3Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.”
No indication of time. Jonah may have even gone back to his home for a time until God thought he was ready again to make the journey to Nineveh. But whatever the time frame, its pretty clear that God is giving Jonah a redo on this mission trip to Nineveh. Almost identical to chapter 1:1, the first chance, 3:1 says The word came to Jonah a second time. Take 2.
You wonder if Jonah really wanted this second chance. What we find in the rest of Jonah’s time is that he is very ungrateful, unwilling prophet of the Lord. You wonder if Jonah looked at this second chance any differently. We would hope that he quickly went and obeyed, but in his heart, perhaps he was continually ungrateful. Perhaps he didn’t even want this second lease on life if it meant he still had to follow the plan of God.
The difference in take 2 is what it says in verse 3. “Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. He might not have wanted this second chance, but God is a God of second chances. The tough thing to hear is that it might be a second chance to do something we really don’t care to do. Maybe it’s a second chance to actually make things right with your family member where YOU have a lot of apologizing to do. Maybe it’s a second chance at helping with someone whose disability or financial status or lack of social graces makes you completely uncomfortable around. Maybe it really is a second chance at sticking up for Jesus Christ in your circle of friends as people take turns ridiculing people who have faith. Maybe it’s a second chance at sharing in the bumbling stumbling way, the reason you have an ongoing relationship with Jesus. God is a good of second chances to follow his plan, not so that we can more easily follow our own.
But that’s not all of the second chances in this chapter. We find out even more about this second chance God of ours when Jonah makes it to Nineveh and proclaims the word he has received from God.
So here goes Jonah through the streets of Nineveh. He’s one day into the walk that takes three days. That’s how big this city is. But as he is going around proclaiming this message, the people start listening. The people change their ways and they acknowledge that they have been sinful. They repent to God. Jonah has been saying, “40 days and Nineveh will be over turned.” And the people believe.
Verse 5 makes pretty clear whose plan this is a part of. It says, “5The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.”
The Ninevites believed Jonah, right? These foreigners had to believe what Jonah was saying. Give Jonah some credit.
No this is not about the messenger. This is about the one who sent the message. The message from God is: I hate sin. It is always against my plan. I punish sin. 40 days and the punishment will come on Ninveh. And the people who might have heard of this God of the Hebrews before believe God. They believe that he will enforce his plan. They believe that he will invoke his wrath on them if they don’t do something. They believe God.
Too bad us believers don’t have the faith of Ninevites sometimes.
But they turn and once again God shows that he is the creator of the second chance. He is the God of the mulligan, the do over, the take 2 and the let’s try it again. He is the God that has compassion on the people he made if they turn away from sin and wickedness. When God saw the Ninevites from the King all the way down the animals fasting and sitting in dust, God gives them the second chance.
Verse 10 “10When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”
The God of the second chance. And we know that God is and always will be the one who gives us second chances. This is true through Jesus Christ and what he proclaimed to everyone. Jesus even says in Luke 11 that he is the one who is greater than Jonah with the same message as him.
“This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. Luke 11:30,32 Jesus says 30 For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
To those who have stumbled away from the plan of God, there’s a second chance. To those who find themselves in wicked places, say you’re sorry. And get ready for a second chance.
So we can be challenged by this to see that we have been given a second chance. We are all in the same sinking ship together with everyone else. We are a part of a wicked generation. We need to turn back to God again.
And we need to dare to be the voice that speaks up with the word of God to a generation that needs to hear about the second chance love of God. We didn’t ask for a second chance to proclaim that message, but God gave it to us.
LORD JESUS THANK YOU FOR OUR CHANCE. HELP US TO NOT WITHHOLD THE TELLING OTHERS THAT THE SECOND CHANCE IS THERES SINCE YOU ARE THE SECOND CHANCE GOD!
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Jon 2:10). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Lk 11:29-30). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (Lk 11:32). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.