Jonah 2-3 The God of Second Chances

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The God of Second Chances (Jonah 2-3)

-        We have heard many times that God is the God of second chances, but we know that He is the God of multiple chances!

-        This is made clear to us in the New Testament in the story of the prodigal son

-        The story of Jonah is the story of the prodigal son in the OT, reassures us of this wonderful truth of God

-        He has been disobedient: directly disobeying a direct command from God, the Word of the Lord, the message was clear there was no misinterpreting it

-        He was on a downward path trying to flee the presence of the Lord

-        God sent a Great storm and a great fish to change his attitude

-        When we pick up this morning, Jonah is in the belly of a great fish in the depths of the sea, what a predicament!

I.                 Jonah’s Deliverance (2:1 – 3:2)

A.     His Prayer from the belly of the whale (2:1-9)

·        Jonah’s cry for deliverance (2:1-2)

Ø  God had finally gotten the attention of this disobedient prophet

Ø  Jonah through this horrifying set of events finally cries out to God

Ø  “Because of my affliction” -  trouble, tossed out into the middle of an angry see, into the darkness of the storm

Ø  Jonah had cried out to the Lord from a watery grave, from a place of certain death by drowning

Ø  The Lord answered Him, the Lord heard his voice: The Lord sent a great fish to swallow Jonah

Ø  Now just imagine with me, going through this experience, one commentator painted the image vividly, better than I can

In his last conscious moments, he cried to the Lord for deliverance. Suddenly, everything went black. Perhaps the dark form of the approaching fish was noticed by the prophet. Then, there was a sense of motion, of being carried along. There may also have been the near birth-like experience of passing from the fish’s mouth into its stomach, probably through a very small opening. This could have served to extract any water from his lungs, something akin to artificial respiration.  As Jonah regained consciousness, imagine the horror of his first sensations: the feel of the stomach lining of the fish pressing about him; irritation of the acidic stomach juices of the fish beginning to bleach his skin; the foul smell of the place; the passing-through of the normal diet of the fish; the darkness of this place.  

Ø  “Belly of Sheol”: the world of the dead, the grave, the pit, Jonah had reached the very edge of death, the belly of the fish likened to death enveloping him

·        Jonah’s description of the experience (2:3-7)

Ø  “Cast into the deep”: a very deep place, an abyss, sinking endlessly into a deep abyss of water

Ø  “Heart of the seas”: this wasn’t a new shore experience, he was beyond land, thrown into the middle of the sea

Ø  “Floods surrounded him”: everywhere he turned was angry water, it encompassed him and besieged him

Ø  Billows and waves passing over him: huge breaker waves dropping on him, passing over him, completely in the hands of an angry sea

Ø  Waters surrounded him even to the soul:  he was soaked through even to his inner spirit with water

Ø  Seaweed wrapped around him: nothing more horrible than drowning without having the opportunity to keep yourself afloat, seaweed wrapped around his head

Ø  “Down to the foundations of the mountains”  bottom of mountains in the depths of the sea

Ø  The earth with it bars closed behind him: became imprisoned within the depths of the earth

Ø  Notice that he attributes this whole experience to the sovereignty of God: verse 3 “You cast me into the deep” not the sailors on the ship

Ø  Verse 3: “Your billows and Your waves”, the sea was in the control of the Lord

Ø  But now in the belly of the fish, Jonah realizes that he has been delivered because he is now safe within the belly of the fish

Ø  Verse 4: thought he was cast out, but no knows that he will look upon the temple

Ø  Verse 6: Testified that the Lord had brought up his life from the pit of the watery grave.

Ø  Verse 7: God had heard his cry, and had saved him from drowning

Ø  Amazing what God sometimes does in order to get the attention of our stubborn hearts!

Ø  Perhaps these poetic phrases, many borrowed from the Psalms, could describe the situation you are in

Ø  Touching the edge of death, spiraling into an abyss of mental or spiritual darkness…..Cry out to the Lord, especially when your soul faints within you

Ø  Don’t wait for the storm if you are disobeying the Lord, repent now, cooperate with the Lord now

·        Jonah’s Thankfulness (2:8-9)

Ø  Jonah affirms that His God is the one true God who can deliver

Ø  Those with worthless idols find out how worthless they are in the day of trouble….they find no mercy or loving-kindness or grace

Ø  Jonah will sacrifice and pay his vows out of great thanksgiving

Ø  “Salvation is of the Lord”: salvation of his physical life from drowning

Ø  There is much talk among the commentators as to if and when Jonah ever repented of his disobedience

Ø  Some say this happened when he admitted who he was to the sailors and asked them to throw him overboard

Ø  Some say that his repentance is evident by this prayer, but is this prayer really an indication of repentance?

Ø  He confesses nothing in this prayer

Ø  The Lord will have to ask him a second time to go to Ninevah

Ø  He will still wrestle with the command that God has given him concerning his mission in Ninevah …. (skip ahead to 4:2)

Ø  This is the prayer and praise of a prophet who is glad to be alive, albeit, in the belly of the fish, but he is till struggling with the command

Ø  Comical scene: bleached white from stomach acid, a bandanna of seaweed, water logged to the core, pitch blackness, stench of dead fish still being digested, praying a pious prayer with much language borrowed from the Psalms but still not really getting it!

Ø  Repentance is a full 180 Degree turn!  Turning from your sin and turning to obedience unto the Lord

    A small boy dialed "O" and asked the operator to call a number for him.  He didn't speak clearly, so she couldn't understand him.  After repeating it four times, he blurted out, "You operators are dumb," and slammed down the receiver.  Hearing this, his mother was shocked.  She called the operator and made the boy apologize.  Later, when his mother left the house, the lad got on the phone again.  "Is this the same operator I talked to a little while ago?"  "Yes," came the reply. "Well," said the boy, "I still think you're dumb!"   That boy's apology reminds me of a missing element in the lives of many Christians -- genuine repentance.  Facing up to sin is often forced on them by getting caught or by embarrassing circumstances. But there's no change of mind, no new action, no new motivation.

B.     God Delivers Jonah (2:10 – 3:2)

·        Physical  (2:10)

Ø  The Lord commanded the fish to “throw up” Jonah

Ø  Not a pleasant experience I’m sure, to be a part of fish throw up

Ø  He is out of the belly of the whale, now on dry land

Ø  Most likely on the shore of Palestine

Ø  I wonder what the sun bathers on the beach thought about this: A bleached white prophet with seaweed wrapped around him, vomited up on the shore

Ø  Jonah has been delivered from a death of drowning and now from the belly of the fish

·        Jonah’s recommission (3:1-2)

Ø  The word of the Lord came to Jonah a Second time

Ø  Try Number 2!  Hopefully Jonah will respond appropriately

Ø  I’m so glad the Lord is so merciful and compassionate

Ø  Look how He longs to use His people to accomplish His work

Ø  God has a plan for you, no matter how miserably you have failed Him in the past.  Be used of the Lord.

Ø  Don’t wait for the storm or the fish: be used now, repent now

  David Brainerd, the great missionary to the American Indians, was on one occasion witnessing to a chief, who was very close to deciding for Christ. But he held back; there was some pause or hesitation. Brainerd got up, took a stick, drew a circle in the soft earth about the chief, and said, "Decide before you cross that line." Why this passion and urgency? Because Brainerd recognized that at that moment, that chief was close to God. If he missed that moment, he might never be so close again.  Bruce Thielemann, "Tide Riding," Preaching Today, Tape No. 30.

II.                Jonah’s obedience (3:3-10)

A.     Jonah obeys the command (3:3-4)

·        Journey (3)

Ø  Jonah went to Nineveh and would preach throughout the city

Ø  The extent of the city was a 3 day journey

Ø  8 Mile wall: some have argued that this is not accurate, 8 miles in 3 days?

Ø  He stopped to preach his message, could also include the surrounding suburbs of Nineveh

·        Message (4)

Ø  Look at his message, not a very profound message: “Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown”

Ø  Not a very evangelistic message, not polished with illustrations or slick quotes

Ø  But the response to the message was awesome!  God used that message.

Ø  All effective messages must be empowered by the Spirit of God.

B.     Response of Ninevites (3:5-10)

·        The People (3:5)

Ø  The people of Nineveh believed God’s message of judgment and began showing remorse over their wickedness: fasting, sackcloth and ashes

Ø  Amazing response!  And this would be to the shame of Israel.

Ø  Nineveh readily accepted the message of God through a stranger and took heed to that message

Ø  Israel would not listen to their own prophets and ignored the threat of judgment

·        The King (3:6-9)

Ø  The king of the Ninevites got word of the message and also showed remorse

Ø  He issued a kingdom wide decree for his people to change their ways

Ø  All required to fast and mourn with sackcloth and ashes, including animals

Ø  Cry mightily to God, turn from evil ways

Ø  Wondering if God will turn from His message of judgment

Ø  Validity of their conversion has been questioned: no mention of this in other historical records.

Ø  But there was a mass revival, could have been brought on by other events:

Ø  2 Plagues had erupted there in 765 and 759 BC

Ø  Total eclipse of the sun occurred on June 15, 763

Ø  There was a temporary turning from sin and judgment to seeking the Lord, Not a conversion that would last, Nineveh would be destroyed 150 years later as predicted by the prophet Nahum, they would also take Israel captive 37 years later.

·        God’s holding back of judgment (3:10)

Ø  God saw their deeds and their repentance and relented from the judgment

Ø  Was Jonah a false prophet?  When a prophet spoke, it must happen or that prophet is a false prophet.  They were not judged.

Ø  Prophecy of judgment is always conditional upon the response of the people.

Ø  God will hold back judgment if people respond appropriately

Ø  He will judge but He will also extend mercy and grace when the situation arises


-        God is the God of second chances and third and fourth and fifth and so on….

-        Second chance for Jonah: even though he has still not fully come into line with the Lord

-        Second chance for Nineveh: they turned from their ways

-        There are chances for the non-Christian: your judgment is conditional upon what you do with the Lord Jesus Christ, you have a chance to be saved from the judgment of sin

-        There are second chances for the backslidden Christian: return to the Lord

-        God stands ready to forgive you and restore you, no matter what condition you are in, turn to him now

|   On a short flight from Tucson to Phoenix, as I got on, I noticed a young woman with her baby. They were both dressed in white pinafores. The mother was smiling, and the little baby was saying "Dada, Dada." And the little baby was darling. She wore a little pink bow where there would probably be hair pretty soon, and it was just darling. And they sat down opposite me. Every time anybody went by, the baby would say, "Dada, Dada."    The young mother said they were going home, and Daddy was waiting for them. I think they had been gone overnight--it was a long, long time like that!    Everybody was so happy, and we all enjoyed the little baby. The mother had a little Thermos with orange juice in it. She kept feeding the baby, a little fruit and then a little juice. It was a rough flight. Every time the baby cried the mother fed her a little bit more orange juice and a little more fruit.    I don't know how to get out of this story without telling you the truth. The flight was very turbulent. (The flight was so rough that the attendants had to stay seated.) All of the fruit that had gone down came up. I think more came up than had gone down; I think there was more up than there was baby, and it was startling; the carpet was not in good condition. It was a mess.    Those of us on the opposite side of the aisle were not in good condition at all. We kept trying to tell the young mother it was just fine. We were handing her tissues and things. (Most of us have been babies.) It was a very loving time, but a mess. The baby was crying, and she looked awful. We couldn't cry, but we looked awful. The mother was so sorry about it.    We landed. The minute we landed, baby was fine: "Dada, Dada." The rest of us were just awful. We began to get off the plane, and we all moved very carefully. I had on a suit, and I was trying to decide whether to burn it or just cut off the sleeve. Have you ever tried to get away from something really unpleasant and it was you? Well that's the way we were. It was really bad.    I looked out of the plane, and there waiting was the young man who had to be Daddy: white slacks, white shirt, white flowers, and a little green paper. I thought, I know what's going to happen. He's going to run to that baby who now looks awful--I mean the hair and the pinafore were dreadful. He's going to run to that baby, get one look, and keep on running, saying, "Not my kid!"    As he ran to the young mother, I wouldn't say she threw the baby at him, but she did kind of leave quickly to go get cleaned up. He picked up that baby, and I watched him as he hugged that baby and kissed that baby and stroked that baby's hair. He said, "Daddy's baby's come home. Daddy's baby's come home."    I watched them all the way to the luggage claim area. He never stopped kissing that baby. He never stopped welcoming that baby back home. I thought, Where did I ever get the idea that my Father God is less loving than a young daddy in white slacks and white shirt with white flowers and a green paper.     -- Jeannette Clift George, "Belonging and Becoming," Preaching Today, Tape No. 93. |

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