Repentance Removes Wrath
This is a salvation message. Here is an amazing account of God’s grace and mercy upon wicked sinners who only deserve His wrath.
- Warning of Judgment (vv. 1-4).
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
This is part of the theme of the whole book—God is patient, merciful. He delights to show His mercy to Jonah, and to Nineveh, and to us. He is the God of second chances.
2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”
3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. –
This time Jonah is obedient. He is willing to do the hard thing, because he is willing to obey God “according to the word of the Lord.”
-The word of the Lord is living and powerful, and sharper than any sword. But God’s word is also healing and life-giving. We will save ourselves from countless miseries if we will take God at His word and commit to obey what it says.
Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth.– three days’ journey, meaning a day’s journey in from the suburbs, one day for business, and a third day back out (Wiseman, quoted in Baldwin).
4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
Here is Jonah, a foreigner, from the tribute nation of Israel, in the middle of the great capitol city of Assyria—proclaiming God’s judgment.
*As a note, years later, when Jeremiah would preach a similar message in Jerusalem, he would be arrested and charged with treason (Jer. 26:8).
History tell us that prior to this time in Assyria, there had been famine, a great solar eclipse, and rebellions had arisen in some of the cities. Perhaps God had already been preparing the hearts of the Ninevehites to hear this message.
Jonah doesn’t preach a message of hope, or a promise of prosperity. He is there to warn them of the fierce judgment of the holy God because of their sinfulness.
2. Faith and Repentance (vv. 4-9).
5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. —“believed,” same word used for . . .
Abraham– And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to Him as righteousness. (Gen. 15:6)
Israel, when Moses told them God was going to rescue them– And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. (Ex. 4:31)
Israel, when they crossed the Red Sea– Then they believed His words; they sang His praise. (Ps. 106:12).
“believe”– to be convinced; they believed, were convinced that Jonah’s words were God’s words.
They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.—
This is the summary statement that the following verses will describe more fully.
Fasting and putting on scratchy old sacks for clothes were outward signs of their repentance. They believed God’s message, and wanted to show the Lord how serious they were about being sorry for their sin. They were trying to express their humility and submission to the great and holy God of heaven.
This wasn’t just the response of a few people, but throughout this faith and repentance swept like a flood throughout the entire city.
6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
Again, this city revival came about from the prophet proclaiming the Word of God.
“the word reached”–or could be translated “touched, affected” the king.
“removed his robe”– strong word here, not carefully or royally, but like removing or dirty garment, (“off like a dirty shirt”, my Grandma used to say); the same word for how the LORD will remove false prophets from Israel (Zech. 3:4; 13:2).
Even the king feared the judgment of the Lord for his sins and the sins of his people.
The king, of such a great city, normally seated in royalty on his throne, humbles himself in a shocking way. Removing his luxurious and I assume comfy robe, he puts on a scratchy old bag and sits in dirty ashes.
7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water,
They certainly took the message to heart, and their fear of the Lord brought about this intense decree—everyone, including all the animals, was to show their repentance.
8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.
Fasting (v. 7)– they wanted God’s mercy more than food
Sackcloth– symbolizing humility
Prayer– “Calling out mightily to God”
True repentance– more than verbal, and more than demonstrations of regret, like fasting and sackcloth. Everyone was to turn from his evil way. A change of heart…a change of life.
9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
God is sovereign. It will be up to Him–but we are sorry, we are changing our ways, and we hope He will spare us!
They would “turn” and hope that God will also “turn” from destroying them in His “fierce anger,” lit., burning, heat of His anger.
They were not sure of the nature of Jonah’s God. But they were repenting. Was it too late?
3. The Mercy of God (v. 10)
10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it.
“When God saw”– and He sees everything
“how they turned”– connotes to change direction; they repented of their evil ways
“God relented”– Carries the meaning that He was moved with pity. Chapter 4 tells us more about this.
All forgiveness and mercy is only possible because Jesus has suffered the ultimate “disaster” in the place of those, like the Ninevehites, who repent and turn away from their sin toward God.
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them,” (2 Co. 5:19).
“The LORD has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all” (Is. 53:6).
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us’”– (Gal. 3:13)
The Ninevehites discovered what Jonah already knew, “Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (2:9).
The writer of Jonah intends his audience to respond the same way—repent of sin and rejecting God, and depend on His mercy. Have you?
In the NT, Jesus pointed to the Nineveh revival as significant—a pagan city repented because of a Jewish prophet’s message. How much more should we turn from our sin when the very Son of God
1. Today, there is again a warning of coming judgment.
The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:12-15)
2. God requires of us Repentance and Faith.
Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mar 1:15).
The missionaries arrested in Philippi were asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31).
Jesus told the Apostle Paul that He was sending him to the nations, “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:18)
3. God will show mercy because Jesus absorbed the wrath we deserved.
Paul the Apostle said, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He has appointed; and of this He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31).
In Romans we read: 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:6-8)
The Apostle John tells us, “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2).
ILLUS: This past winter we broke records for snowfall here. We saw roofs of garages and homes collapse under the weight… the people of Nineveh felt the weight of their sin, and they feared the judgment of God would crush them. So they repented– believing in God, and hoping He would spare them. He did. Do you feel the weight of your sin? Do you fear God’s judgment against you?
Jesus took all the crushing judgment of God for your sin on Himself, when He died on the cross. God raised Him from the dead to give you eternal life. God will show mercy to you if you will turn from your sin and trust Jesus to save you? Will you call on the Lord today and be saved?