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.