In Jonah 1 we learned that the prophet Jonah was called by God to go to the city of Nineveh and tell them that God knew of their wickedness, but Jonah did not want to do this, and tried to flee from the presence of God. Jonah boarded a ship bound for Tarshish and during the voyage a great wind arose that caused Jonah to ask to be thrown overboard so that the wind would be calmed by God and the lives of the mariners would be spared. In Jonah 2 we learned how Jonah was swallowed by the great fish, whom the Lord Jesus called a whale, that the LORD had prepared for this task. We learned how Jonah came to the end of himself, and prayed to the LORD his God. We learned how Jonah made that great statement “Salvation is of the LORD.” and how upon this word by Jonah, the LORD spoke to the fish, and Jonah was vomited on dry land. We don’t know if Jonah’s appearance was altered or not, the bible is silent on this point, so I will not speculate.
And so again 3:1 “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.” This time Jonah is obedient. He went to Nineveh “according to the word of the LORD” V3 also tells us that Nineveh “was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.” This does not mean that Nineveh was three days away from Jonah, for the next verse tells us “And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, V4 “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” It took three days to walk through the city of Nineveh, so great a city was it, it was filled with wickedness, and for three days Jonah walked through the city preaching God’s message V4 “yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown..
The response of the people of Nineveh is completely different from the response of the people in Noah’s time who watched him build the ark, or the sons of Lot, when he told them that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed and to flee. The people of Nineveh V5 “believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.” They were so convicted by the words this stranger preached to them, that they believed God, and repented. The words Jonah spoke came to the king of Nineveh, and he believed Jonah also, V6 “he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. V7 “he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by th decree of the king and his nobles saying let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:” V8 “but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands” V9 “who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if we could preach the gospel with such boldness that people would believe and receive the Lord Jesus? We are not prophets as Jonah was it’s true, but we have been given the command to preach the gospel and let every man know what the Lord Jesus has done..
And so God V10 “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.
But Jonah was very angry about what had happened, he was very displeased that the people repented. Nineveh was a wicked city and Jonah, although he was obedient in preaching the word of the LORD with power and authority, deep down wanted the city to be destroyed. And so Jonah prayed to the LORD 4:2 “O LORD was not this my saying when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil” V3 “Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” just as David said in Psalm 86:5 “for thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” Just as today He is the same, ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy to all those who believe the gospel, that they are lost sinners and who turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, and call upon him for forgiveness of sins, and salvation through the shedding of His precious blood, through His death and resurrection. “……Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…..” Acts 16:31.
Now Jonah wants to die, and so the LORD asked him V4 “Doest thou well to be angry? Jonah has another lesson to learn.
So V5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of it, and he made himself a little booth for shade so that he would see what would become of the city. But the LORD intervenes again V6 “the LORD God prepared a gourd and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.” But the next day, V7 “God prepared a worm.. and it smote the gourd that it withered.” Then, after that V8 “it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said it is better for me to die than to live.” What a miracle here, God prepares a gourd in one day to grow and cover Jonah, surely Jonah knew that this came from the LORD. The LORD was also in control of the worm he prepared to destroy the gourd. And just as when Jonah was on the ship, God brings a “vehement east wind;” and “the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, …and he wished in himself to die.” And again God speaks to Jonah V9 “Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd?” And Jonah replied that yes, he did well to be angry, even to wanting to die.. We should remember from this example that sometimes God brings “east winds” into our lives and takes things away from us that we love, and these things are chastenings, for our learning and to draw us closer to Him.
And so the Lord explained to him V10 that Jonah had pity on the gourd, even though he did not plant it or care for it, but that it grew and was destroyed in one night. And Jonah was very sorry for the gourd being destroyed, even though it was so new, Jonah wanted it to live. The Lord points out to Jonah V11 that just as Jonah wanted the gourd to be spared, didn’t He the Lord have the right to spare Nineveh where there were a very great number of people and cattle that he created? Not only were the people spared by repenting, but also everything that was in their possession.
We are not told Jonah’s response, but surely he knew that the LORD is in control, and He will have everything according to His perfect plan and will, and He will have mercy on all those who repent. Salvation is of the LORD. Amen.