Series: Jonah: A Gospel of Grace
Subtitle: Jonah Does the Unenvied (Part 2)
Scripture: Jonah 3:5-9
Subject: Jonah uses four illustrations of God’s grace to motivate his readers to repent of their sin
Scrutiny: How does God demonstrate His grace?
Solution: There are four ways in this passage that demonstrates the display of God’s grace
Sketch: 1A through the renewal of the commission (1-2) God gives Jonah a second chance to obey him. Throughout Scripture God is portrayed as a God of a second chance.
2A through the response of the courier (3-4) Jonah obeys God’s call the second time. He travels to Nineveh as a living testimony of God’s grace. Jonah proclaims the Word of God to the Ninevites.
3A through the repentance of the citizens (5-9) The citizens of Nineveh believed the Word of God proclaimed by Jonah. From the King to the lowest citizen they demonstrate their repentance by their attitude and their actions. Everyone, including the animals wear the outward signs of inward repentance.
4A through the restraint of the creator (10) God observes the attitude and the actions of the Ninevites. God chooses to relent from performing His judgment upon the citizens and the city.
Scheme: To provide examples of God’s grace as motivation to repent of sin in order to maintain a right relationship with God
Statement: God is gracious
Jonah Does the Unenvied (Part 2)
Jonah 3:5-9 (Repeat)
Today, we continue our study in the third chapter of Jonah. So, if you have not done so already, please take your bibles and turn to Jonah chapter three (3).
We are continuing in what I have called the third division of Jonah, and I have called this division, The Preaching Prophet. We have already looked at The Prodigal Prophet, The Praising Prophet, and we will look in the final chapter of Jonah, The Pouting Prophet.
This is the second message of Jonah the Preaching prophet. It is entitled, “Jonah Does the Unenjoyable. Jonah does not want to preach to these people. He does not enjoy this task given to him by God. It is of no fun to him. Jonah takes no joy or pleasure from this task.
The main theme of this chapter is the principle that God is gracious. God is gracious to Jonah. God is gracious to the Ninevites. God is a gracious God. One of the aspects of God’s graciousness is the gift of repentance. So, this section of chapter three (3) unfolds for Jonah’s readers the reaction to Jonah’s preaching. Remember Jonah has been walking around Nineveh, proclaiming, “Yet forty (40) days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”
The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance which actually and violently collides with man’s respectable “goodness.” And so the Holy Spirit, produces the struggles, which begins the formation of the Son of God in a person’s life (see Galatians 4:19).
“My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.”
Salvation is not simply praying a prayer, or making a decision, or walking an aisle, or raising a hand – it is the HS of God forming Christ in your soul upon repentance from sin.
This formation of Christ in your soul by the HS results in new life will reveal itself in repentance followed by holiness. It is never the other way around. The foundation of salvation is repentance. A person cannot repent when he chooses— repentance is a gift of God. If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you will allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant
Never forget that Repentance is a biblical word. The Old Testament is full of warnings, such as, “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin” (Ezekiel 18:30, NKJV).
The New Testament also vigorously exhorts men and women to repent. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish,” said Jesus (Luke 13:3, NKJV). “Repent … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,” said the Apostle Peter (Acts 3:19, NKJV). The Apostle Paul said, “Now [God] commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30, NKJV).
The Bible commands it, our wickedness demands it, justice requires it, Christ preached it and God expects it. The divine, unalterable edict is still valid: “God commands all men everywhere to repent.”
What is Repentance?
[First of all, let me share with you…]
A. What Repentance is not – there are at least three things that is not repentance
First, repentance is not penance.
Penance is the voluntary suffering of punishment for sin and does not necessarily involve a change of character or conduct. People who lie on a bed of spikes or throw themselves headlong on the ground are doing penance, but this act does not mean that their guilt has been absolved or their sin removed.
Second, repentance is not remorse.
Judas was very remorseful over his sin of betrayal of the Son of God, but his shallow regret led to his suicide instead of repentance to God. Remorse or feeling bad or guilty is not true repentance.
Third, repentance is not self-condemnation.
You may hate yourself for your sinfulness, but self-condemnation only opens wider the wounds of guilt and despair. We should hate our sins, not ourselves. Hate your false ways, hate your vain thoughts, hate your evil passions, hate your lying, hate your covetousness, hate your greed, but do not hate yourself. Self-hatred actually leads to self-destruction, and it is wrong to destroy that which was created in God’s image. Repentance is not self-condemnation.
So, true biblical repentance is not penance, remorse, or even self-condemnation.
[So, we have to ask ourselves…]
B. What is Repentance?
There seems to be at least three (3) elements intricately entwined within genuine repentance.
The first element of genuine repentance is conviction.
You must know what is right before you can know what is wrong. If you get on the wrong road, you will never know it until you have some knowledge of the right road. You stray off the highway, and first you miss the familiar markings, the customary scenery, and then suddenly the conviction strikes you that you have lost your way. There can be no turning back unless first there is a conviction that you are going the wrong way.
Spiritual conviction is like that. It is a signpost planted in the heart saying, “Stop. Look. Listen! Danger ahead!” The Spirit of God, your conscience and your better judgment all join together to warn you, “Detour! Change! You’re on the wrong road!” If you have this conviction, be thankful. God is waving the red flag, directing you to a proper path. Before men and women can come to the cross of Christ and have their sins forgiven, they must be convicted of their sins, and that convicting work is done by the Holy Spirit upon the soul.
The second element of genuine repentance is contrition.
The Bible says, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NKJV). Contrition, or “godly sorrow,” as it is called in 2 Corinthians 7:10, is not a shallow sentiment nor empty emotion. It is a sincere regret over past sins and an earnest desire to walk in a new path of righteousness.
Peter, that rugged man who meant so well and erred so often, when he denied his Lord “went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75). He was never more lovable nor more admirable than when he stood there alone, apart from the crowd, with his frame trembling as the hot tears of contrition ran down his cheeks. In his heart was a noble resolve to live for the One who would die for him. Brokenness, with its godly sorrow for sin, is the second step toward true repentance.
The third element of genuine repentance is conversion.
Genuine repentance carries the idea of converting your thinking, or changing–changing your mind, changing your attitude, changing your ways. The Bible says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV). If we are truly repentant, our will is brought into action and we will make a reversal of direction. And God, seeing that we are in earnest, gives us the gift of eternal life.
Raise a Need
Do you remember when Jesus took off his outer garment, his cloak, and then tied a servant’s apron around his waist? He poured water in a bowel and picked up a towel. He approached the disciples, knelt down, pulled the sandals off of one of his disciples and washed his feet. He dried the feet with a towel.
Then, he moved to Peter. Peter retracted his feet, and said to Jesus, “You shall never wash my feet!” When Jesus told Peter that if he doesn’t allow Jesus to wash his feet, it is evidence that Peter doesn’t belong to Jesus. So Peter said, well wash all of me. Jesus told Peter in essence, once you have had a bath you are clean, but your hands and feet get dirty.
There are two types of people who need to repent; sinners and saints. Sinners need to genuinely repent in order for the HS to form Christ in their soul.
Saints need to repent daily because, although we have been bathed in Christ and are clean, our feet get dirty from walking in this sinful and wicked world. Saints need to repent regularly of their daily sin.
You must repent and you must repent frequently. You must seek the forgiveness of the sins that you commit. You need to understand what repentance is. We will learn a great deal about repentance from the Ninevites.
Orient the Text
This morning, I want to continue to speak to you about God’s outrageous grace. An element of God’s outrageous grace is the gift of repentance.
God commissioned Jonah, not once, but twice, to take a message of judgment to the citizens of Nineveh. God had determined to completely destroy the city and everything in it. So, he sent Jonah, to inform the Ninevites that He was going to destroy them in forty (40) days.
And the Ninevites do something very unusual. They repent. They don’t try to bargain with God, earn God’s favor, or even plead with him. They repent. Their repentance results in God extending outrageous grace and relenting from destroying them. These people may have deserved to be destroyed as much or more than the people of Sodom or Gomorrah or all of the people on earth when God destroyed the earth by a universal flood.
But God was gracious. In this chapter we will see the outrageous grace of God. As a matter of fact, Jonah uses four illustrations of God’s grace to motivate his readers to repent of their sin.
Last week we asked ourselves the question we have to ask ourselves is, “How does God demonstrate His grace?”
We determined that there are four ways in our passage that demonstrates the display of God’s grace; He demonstrates His outrageous grace…
1A … through the renewal of the commission (1-2) God gives Jonah a second chance to obey Him. Throughout Scripture God is portrayed as a God of “a second chance.”
2A …through the response of the courier (3-4) Jonah obeys God’s call the second time. He travels to Nineveh as a living testimony of God’s grace. Jonah proclaims the Word of God to the Ninevites.
3A …through the repentance of the citizens (5-9) The citizens of Nineveh believe the Word of God proclaimed by Jonah. From the King to the lowest citizen they demonstrate their repentance by their attitude and their actions. Everyone, including the animals wear the outward signs of inward repentance.
4A …through the restraint of the creator (10) God observes the attitude and the actions of the Ninevites. God relents from performing His judgment upon the citizens and the city.
Last we were examined the first two ways that demonstrated God’s outrageous grace. God demonstrated His grace…
· Through the renewal of the commission. God gave Jonah a second chance to obey Him. Look at verse one (1) “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time…” Jonah blew the first commission but God gave him a second commission and opportunity to do His will. Verse two (2) says, “Arise, and go to Nineveh, that great city and preach to it the message that I tell you.
The second way that God demonstrated his outrageous grace was…
· Through the response of the courier. God gave a charge to Jonah to preach His word to the citizens of Nineveh. “So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city anon the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”
And so, my purpose this morning is to continue to use these examples of God’s grace as motivation in order for you to repent regularly of sin in order to maintain a right relationship with God at all times.
Our theme continues to be God is gracious!
[So, let’s now look at our…]
TRUTH FOR TODAY
[To continue to prove that God is gracious, let’s begin this morning with the third way that demonstrates the outrageous grace of God, and that is…]
3A …through the repentance of the citizens (5-9)
The citizens of Nineveh believe the Word of God proclaimed by Jonah. From the King to the lowest citizen they demonstrate their repentance by their attitude and their actions. Everyone, including the animals wear the outward signs of inward repentance.
[As we examine the response to the preaching of Jonah, we see first of all that…]
1B The Multitude Repented (Vs. 5)
[the citizen’s repentance is evidenced by…]
1C …their decision to believe
“So the people of Nineveh believed God…”
The people of Nineveh accepted Jonah’s preaching as a message from God. They did not hesitate nor project any doubt. Why?
First of all, one source that I consulted stated that Semitic people in groups or crowds were prone to being swayed easily by resounding speech.
Second, Jonah’s appearance could have had something to do with their immediate belief. After all, we aren’t quite sure what the effects of spending three (3) days in the belly of a large or huge fish would be. Some make a striking case that the gastric juices in the fish bleached Jonah into some hideous and ugly monster. As a prophet he might have had fur clothing, large staff, scraggly beard, unkempt hair.
Third, there are some to belief that Jonah’s experience was probably relayed to the city at some point prior to his arrival. How would you respond if a guy showed up in the city limits who had been thrown overboard to drown, but was swallowed by a large fish, and after three (3) days and nights was spit up on the shore alive? Fear or superstition can move people to “faith.”
Think about it – here is a man who was bold, fearless, and preached a confident message of doom. He would seem to the Ninevites to be a prophet or prophet type
Fourth, it is possible that several events taken together gave the people of Nineveh the reason to believe Jonah.
· Two (2) separate plagues had ripped through Nineveh killing a number of people (765 & 769 BC)
· There had been a total eclipse of the sun recently (763 BC)
· Their gods had been unable to keep them from the plague
The Ninevites may have thought that this was the last warning and last straw before total destruction fell on the city.
· We cannot count out or reject the notion that the Holy Spirit moved them to believe the words of Jonah.
Regardless of the reason or reasons, the multitude, or the citizens of Nineveh listened to Jonah’s preaching or proclamation and believed it. They repented. Their repentance was evidenced by…
2C …their demonstration of behavior
“…proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.”
· Proclaimed a fast – in times of danger or disaster it was thought to be prudent behavior to refuse to eat food in order to give full time and energy to beseeching the gods and deities to not wreak havoc or destruction on the people
· Put on sackcloth – cloth made of black goats' hair, coarse, rough, and thick, used for sacks, it wasn’t fit to be worn and also worn by mourners ( Genesis 37:34 ; 42:25 ; 2 Sam. 3:31 ; Esther 4:1 Esther 4:2 ; Psalms 30:11 , etc.), and as a sign of repentance ( Matthew 11:21 ). Someone wanting to show his repentant heart would often wear sackcloth.
Before we talk about the Ninevites repentance – was it genuine, was it salvific, I want to look at the fact that even…
2B The Monarch Repented (Vss. 6-9)
“Then word came to the King of Nineveh…”
1C …is evidenced by his conduct (6)
“Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes.”
First of all this is not the King or Emperor of the Assyrian Empire. This is the ruler of the city/state of Nineveh. Some scholars want to denounce or deny this text as true or inspired because they have trouble with Jonah calling the ruler of Nineveh king.
Second, there is no record that Jonah tried to have a meeting or to have communicated with any royal or governmental figures. Jonah did not go to the palace and request a meeting with the king, he walked into the city and began preaching that in forty (40) days Nineveh would be destroyed.
So the news would take a bit longer to reach the King in the palace. We are not told specifically what they King actually heard – He might have heard they actually content of Jonah’s preaching and that is why he reacted the way that he did, or we may have heard how the people had responded.
Third, we see that as soon as he heard the message or prophecy of destruction he came down off of his throne in repentance.
We see this when we are told that he arose from his throne, laid aside his kingly robe, and then covered himself in sackcloth and ashes. The King’s conduct gave evidence to the fact that he also had repented.
[Secondly, the king’s repentance is evidenced…]
2C …by his commission (vs. 7)
“And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the degree of the King and his nobles, saying…”
It seems the King is giving official sanction to what had already begun in the city. His decree is a stamp of approval on what was going on seemingly spontaneously in the city. Now he has made it official government policy. By the way, it is no longer voluntary or spontaneous, it is now an order.
This order is to be proclaimed and published in all of the city.
The king is not simply relying on a show of repentance. He also demands a personal turning from evil ways. The king’s commission included and addressed five (5) specific things or areas:
· Their consumption
“…let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock taste anything; do not let them eat or drink water…”
The Ninevites are ordered not to eat nor drink. They are to experience sacrifice. Of course even outside of the bible this is a standard practice in hopes of appeasing the gods.
What is unusual is that the king includes all the animals. There is no record that the Assyrians have previously included their animals in rites or rituals when trying to appease their gods, but there is nothing in the eastern or oriental culture that would prevent it.
This order which includes the animals is really a sign of the fear, desperation of the King.
· Their covering
“But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth…”
Wool, or animal hair was very uncomfortable. It itched horribly and often was painful because of the stiff bristles of the hair. It was a sign of self-sacrifice, or really self-denial; a denial of comfort. This type of covering would make the people and the animals more miserable, which the monarch and multitude would show their gods and God they really meant business and that they were sincere.
They wanted God to know that their “prayers” were genuine. They hoped by their actions to receive mercy from their gods or God.
· Their calling
“…and cry mightily to God…”
They were to call out urgently, literally with great strength. Maybe loudly, with great effort – it was an attempt to show the depth of their conviction, contrition, and candidness.
· Their constraint
“…yes, let everyone turn from his evil way from the violence that is in his hands.”
This word is used for the “arbitrary” violation of their fellow citizen’s rights. It has the idea of “walking over” other people, trampling on them and their belongings or wellbeing. King is demanding that his subjects stop mistreating each other.
The King wants the actions of the people to match their new attitude. The language implies that this is for each and every individual personally. The King was demanding that the Ninevites turn from evil to avoid evil being done to them.
· Their concern
“Who can tell if God will turn and relent and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?”
There does not seem to be any indication in the language of this passage that God is wishy-washy, or operates with empty threats.
But it does seem to indicate that both the King and the citizens believed that God main intent or purpose was to hurt or destroy people. They were hoping that God would be persuaded to alter his plan of dealing with them for a more favorable plan. They were hoping that God would be compassionate towards them.
[What do you say we wrap this up?]
The citizens of Nineveh believed the Word of God that was proclaimed by Jonah. From the King to the lowest citizen they demonstrated their repentance by their attitude and their actions. Everyone, including the animals wore the outward signs of inward repentance.
The multitude proclaimed a fast and wore sackcloth. The monarch issued a decree demanding that both animals and peoples show their repentance through wearing sackcloth, fasting, praying, and abandoning wicked, evil behavior.
And so we have seen this morning that God is gracious. This morning we were able to see that God demonstrated His outrageous grace…through the repentance of the citizens (5-9)
Our theme this morning was, God is gracious! And so, my purpose this morning was to continue to use these examples of God’s grace as motivation in order for you to repent regularly of sin in order to maintain a right relationship with God at all times.
Lord willing next we will conclude chapter three (3) by examining verse ten (10). As we look at verse ten (10) there are at least two things I want to carefully look at in additional to the meaning of verse ten (10). Those two things are:
· What does it mean “…the people of Nineveh believed God.”
· Does God change His mind?
What does God want my people to believe?
God wants you to believe that He is outrageously gracious so that you are not hindered by anything conceivable from maintaining an intentional, strategic, and loving relationship with Him.
Why do my people need to believe this?
So many people struggle with doubts of whether God really does love them, has forgiven them, and fully accepts them. Knowing that God is outrageously gracious erases and removes any of these fears or doubts.
What do they need to do?
Seek to know both intellectually and experientially the grace of God. Bask in His grace. Delight in His grace. Pray that God would make you more sensitive to his graciousness towards you.
Let’s pray! J
Father, please, help us today to realize just how gracious you really are. Help us to know that you not only desire to be gracious to your children, but you delight in being gracious. Help all of us to remember that you are patient, kind, merciful, and gracious even when we fail you and sin against you.
Father, help us to follow the Ninevites example of responding to your great graciousness through the means of repentance. May we always be reminded to genuinely recognize our sin and to repent of our sin?
Thank you for being so loving and so gracious to us! Thank you for Jonah’s great proclamation and for your gift of repentance to the Ninevites.