Posted by: Brad Beaman | November 15, 2007

A City Turned to God, Jonah 3:1-10

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                                               A City Turned to God, Jonah 3:1-10

In the Book Hudson Taylor- God’s Man in China, the story is told of when Taylor was traveling by ship from Shangahi to Ningo. Among the passengers was one Chinese man who spent some years in England and went by the name of Peter, he was on Taylor’s heart, although the man was acquainted with the Gospel he didn’t know it’s saving power. Nearing a city of Part Judson heard a splash and cry from his cabin. It was Peter overboard. It was pointed to Taylor where his friend went down.

As Taylor looked around he caught sight of some fishermen with a dragnet. Just the thing needed. Come he said a man is drowning. The amazing reply was it is not convenient. Doesn’t talk of convenience come now or it will be too late. We are busy fishing. Never mind you’re fishing come at once I will pay you. How much? Five dollars. Don’t delay and save life. Too little they said. We won’t come for less than $30.00. But I haven’t got that much with me; I will give you all I got. How much? About $14. The fisherman came and brought up the man. All efforts for separation were in vain. Life had been lost because of men’s wicked hearts.

When hearts become this calloused and hardened men will not only destroy others but, themselves. True repentance is the only hope. This was the heart condition in Nineveh the city God was calling Jonah to preach too.

Jonah was re-commissioned Jonah 3:2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah was sent to what was at that time the chief city of the gentile world. Proclaim to it the message I give you.

The way God dealt with Jonah is the way he deals with every believer. God calls upon us to count the cost. He clearly lays out our task; Make disciples, He gives us the resources Acts 1:8. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Serving the Lord is impossible in our own strength, but with God all things are possible. Only when we recognize our weakness do we know that with God all things are possible.

God expects obedience from Jonah. He must go to Nineveh in faith. He does not even have the message yet. He must go to Nineveh and wait on the Lord for the message. Believers are to walk by faith Jonah was told where to go, but he was trusting by faith for the message.

Nineveh’s repentance
This is one of the most spectacular events of history. A proud and great city transformed into a city of humiliation from the king down to the least citizen. Nineveh received God’s message for what it was “God’s Word.”

When Lot announced to his relatives that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed they said, you are joking,” they mocked him. Here is a contrast to that. The people believed God. They believed Jonah’s message without signs and miracles. Nineveh had only the sign of Jonah. They believed God and called for a fast.

It is faith that saves. Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Faith is the assurance of things hoed for, the conviction things not seen. We are to walk by faith, not by sight. This means we must fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith.

Why did Jesus say, “The Ninevites will rise in judgment against us, for they believed God and repented at the preaching of Jonah? (Luke 11:32) It is because their repentance had an element of hope. They had hope because of the warning. If the destruction was fixed then why the 40 days warning. They had hope.

God’s Compassion.
 In Jeremiah we read of God’s compassion. Jeremiah 18:7-8, If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.

This compassion of God brought salvation to Nineveh. It was a major turning to God. The population of Nineveh was over one-half million people. It has also been called the most wicked city in history. They turned to God. That is more than believed God on the day of Pentecost by over 150 times. Jonah 4:2 says God is slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness.

God threatened to destroy the wicked city of Nineveh. The city God threatened to destroy had totally changed. The old Nineveh was gone. This was now a city of humility, fasting who were crying out to God, turning from their wicked ways. The moral change had made it a different city. Nineveh had become a sort of new creature, with the old things passing away.

This is not the same Nineveh God threatened to destroy. The threat does not apply now. . God say their deeds that they turned from their wicked ways. God’s nature is love, his integrity means unchanging principles, when men’s morale states are changed God has a corresponding change in action.

We see God’s love in action when he spared Jonah. Now we see God’s love as He spared Nineveh. We see God’s love clearest of all on the cross. Mat 12:40 say: In the same way that Jonah spent three days and nights in the big fish, so will the Son of Man spend three days and nights in the depths of the earth.

God’s message was evidence of hope. In Sodom and Gomorrah no announcement was given. Jonah cried in the streets warning Nineveh. They had additional hope because Jonah himself had been saved. Jonah was a walking sign of hope of God’s mercy.

How much more should our hope be today. We have the sign of Jonah. We even have the sign of Jesus Christ in the resurrection, 3 days and 3 nights he was in the heart of the earth and He arose.

Nineveh repented. They had faith and hope in God and turned from their sin. We can see the sincerity of their repentance. Jonah 3:8 says, But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.

This was not a formal, ceremonial outward repentance. This was a spiritual transformation evidenced by a new obedience to God. This was a complete change of heart, mind and attitude. It is this kind of repentance that is essential to having new life in Christ. Not merely outward appearance, but a change of heart.

The inward repentance was evident by outward appearance and the king himself led the way. Jonah 3:6-7 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles.

A complete change came over the once wicked city. This was genuine. If there is outward expression without genuine change of heart it is nothing but hypocrisy. The decree was: They were to fast. They were to put on sackcloth. They were to utter an audible cry. Most importantly they were to turn from their evil. Jonah 3:8 Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.

There is true repentance when there is a change of heart that results in a changed life. If we expect to see God work in our life there must be true repentance. There is no greater proof of God’s love than Him sending His only begotten Son to the die on the cross. Oh how he loves you and me. He gave His life what more could he give?

Christ’s love meant giving his own life. His command is for us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and to love our enemies.

In the story of Hudson Taylor we condemn the men that let his friend Peter die. But what about when we let people perish, not telling them about Jesus? Do you believe God or will the Ninevites stand to Judge you, as those of Christ’s time? Don’t let the Ninevites become your judge. Give your life to Christ and experience His love and mercy.

Jonah 3:10 10 When 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.

Like the city of Nineveh, maybe you need to turn to God.

Click here to read: Assurance of Salvation

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