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TEXT: Jonah 3:6-4:4

Acts 17:26 — “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place…”

 

Sinclair Ferguson sets us up well when he says…

“From any viewpoint it was a time of unusual grace. The circumstances that brought Jonah to the city, the unction that attended his preaching, the penitent faith of the citizens — all these are indications of the day of mercy that dawned in Nineveh. It was a story to which our Lord Jesus Christ could point back and say: ‘The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah’ (Matt 12:41; Luke 11:32).”

 

Three parts to Jonah’s response: (1. A Relenting God 2. A Listening Presence 3. A Piercing Question)

 

  1. A Relenting God (v. 6-10)

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”

 

Queen Elizabeth of England once said, “I wish I could be alive when Christ returns because I would like to be the first earthly monarch to take my crown & lay it at His feet.”

 

Desmond Alexander — Rising from his throne and replacing his royal robes with sackcloth, the king sits on the ground amid dust or ashes. In so doing he symbolizes his human frailty and worthlessness.”

 

Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn!Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” – Ezekiel 33:11

 

  1. A Listening Presence (v. 1-2)

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”

 

“The seeds of all sins are in my heart, and perhaps all the more dangerously that I do not see them” – Robert Murray M’Cheyne

 

  1. A Piercing Question (v. 3-4)

Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

 

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Anonymous

 

“Jesus never talked to two people the same way.” – Os Guinness

TAKEAWAYS: Our circumstances help…

 

  • Reveal the trap of Self Pity

 

  • Uncover Our Desperate Need For God
“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.” 
– Elisabeth Elliot (Missionary to Ecuador)
  • Display our honest emotions about life

 

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” – John 3:36