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I hope that you all are as excited as I am about continuing our study through the book of Jonah.
In my humble opinion, you would have a hard time finding a more action-packed book of the Bible then this little book.
You know, the entire book of Jonah is only forty-eight verses long, and yet think about all of the action that takes place.
We started out in chapter one by studying what happened when Jonah thought he could run away from God’s command to go to the Ninevites.
We saw how God prepared a big fish to swallow Jonah, to put Jonah back on the right track.
And as we saw in Jonah chapter two, Jonah learned some valuable lessons from inside the belly of the whale.
And as you probably noticed, there is this theme that runs throughout the book of Jonah; and truthfully, it runs throughout the entire Bible.
It is the theme of mercy.
When we deserve something bad, God responds by giving us something good.
And while this theme runs throughout this whole book, it runs especially throughout Jonah chapter three, which is where we will be studying this morning.
So if you are not already there, I ask you to turn to Jonah chapter three, and we will be reading all ten verses.
Jonah 3:1-10.
“And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, ‘Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.’
So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.
Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.’
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, ‘Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything: let them not feed, nor drink water: but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?’
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and He did it not.”
Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.
The title of this morning’s sermon is “A God of Second Chances.”
We are going to first look at how God gave Jonah a second chance in his life.
Second, we are going to look at how God gave the Ninevites a second chance.
And finally, we are going to fast forward a couple thousand years, and look at how God has given us a second chance in life.
Sound like a plan?
All right, let’s begin.
Point #1: A second chance for Jonah
Really, we see this first point very beautifully in verse one of this chapter.
Look at what verse one says.
“And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying.
“ It’s easy to miss, but do you see God’s grace in this verse?
Why don’t you flip back a page in your Bibles and look at the first verse in the book of Jonah.
Do you see what it says?
“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying.”
And now in verse one of chapter three, the Bible says that the word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time.
Reading this verse forces us to remember everything that has happened to Jonah so far in this book.
It forces us to recall the painful story of Jonah trying to flee the God that created him, flee the God that loved him.
And then we think of Jonah’s darkest moment.
When in chapter two Jonah is praying as he is sinking towards the bottom of the ocean.
When it seems like all hope is lost, when it seems as if Jonah has gotten the punishment he deserved; we don’t see God’s wrath, do we?
No, we see God’s mercy.
We see how God prepared a big fish to swallow Jonah, and how God, in His time, allowed for Jonah to be thrown up back on dry land.
So when you read this verse, and you see that little phrase, a second time, I hope that it reminds you of the amazing grace of our great God.
Jonah did not deserve this verse in the Bible, did he?
No, if Jonah got what he deserved, then the entire book of Jonah would just be one chapter.
It would end with Jonah 1:15, which said that the sailors threw Jonah into the sea to calm the storm.
And yet, that’s only the first part of the story, because Jonah has received grace and mercy.
And, you know, “grace” and “mercy” are two words that we throw around quite a bit in church, but do you really know what they mean?
I’m sure that you have a good idea in your heart what they’re all about, but I’m going to give you some real easy definitions for these powerful words.
You see, really, grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin.
“Mercy” is when God does not give you the bad things that you deserve.
And “grace” is when God gives you good things that you don’t deserve.
Do you see the difference there?
Take our situation, for instance.
Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death.
So as Christians, we deserve death in hell because we have sinned against God.
But after we accept Christ, there is no longer the promise of hell in our future.
So, I ask you, is that mercy or grace?
Yes, it’s mercy.
Mercy is when God does not give us a punishment that we deserve, and we deserve hell, and yet He doesn’t give it to us.
The second half of Romans 6:23 says that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So the Bible promises Christians that we will have eternal life.
Now, is that grace or mercy?
Yes, that’s grace.
Grace is when God gives us good things that we don’t deserve.
We deserve hell, and yet God saves us.
That’s mercy.
We don’t deserve Heaven, and yet we’re going there.
That’s grace.
The word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time.
Praise God for His amazing grace and mercy!
Look at what verse two of our chapter says.
“Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.”
You know, this is the exact same command that God gave to Jonah back in chapter one.
God tells Jonah to go preach to those stinking Ninevites again.
But after all that Jonah has been through, what do you think he’s going to do this time?
Look at what verse three says.
“So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.
Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.”
Jonah got up and went to Nineveh!
This is an excellent example of what we should do when we receive God’s grace in our lives.
We do what He tells us!
Jonah didn’t need to be thrown in the belly of the whale again.
He gets the picture!
And maybe I’m alone in this, but I grew up imagining that the whale threw up Jonah just outside the city gates of Nineveh.
I always imagined Jonah landing on the beach, and knowing that Nineveh was just over that next hill.
But you know what, there’s a little problem with that theory.
Nineveh is more than 400 miles from the nearest part of the Mediterranean Sea!
If we assume that the whale took Jonah as close as he possibly could, then Jonah would still have a 400 mile journey to obey God’s command.
Now is it possible that Jonah found a horse or a camel?
Yes, but the Bible doesn’t mention that important detail.
Jonah didn’t go to the Joppa Regional Airport and catch a red-eye to Nineveh.
There was no Greyhound station.
No, as far as we know, Jonah had to walk that entire distance.
And we’re not talking about 400 miles of nature trails, either.
We are talking about rough terrain.
I’m sure that Stoney could tell you that this isn’t the kind of country you want to walk 400 miles in.
And yet, that’s exactly what Jonah did.
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