About Jesus Steve Sweetman
3 is interesting in light of the fact Jesus' words in Matthew 12:38 to
40. Jesus compares His death
and trip to Hades to Jonah's trip to the belly of the fish.
If we think about this, and carry this analogy from chapter 2 to
chapter 3, it is clear then that the saving of a Gentile city is
prophetic of the saving of Gentiles because of the cross of Christ.
Therefore, this is the meaning behind chapter 3.
1and 2 tells us that God is now giving Jonah a second chance to preach
verse 3 we see that Jonah obeyed the Lord this time and he went to
see the number 3 here, as we do throughout the Bible.
This is one reason why liberals don't believe that this is a
historical event, rather a story with a moral meaning.
Since certain numbers are used a lot in the Bible and therefore
have a clear and distinct meaning to each number, these liberals say
that much of the Bible is just
stories with a moral meaning, link together with a narrative of numbers
verse 4 we see Jonah's simple message.
In 40 days the city "would be destroyed".
This is clearly a predictive prophecy.
We will see later that the residents of Nineveh
repented, so I suggest that Jonah's preaching was well inspired by the
Holy Spirit. This simple
message could not have been accepted by those living in Nineveh
simply on Jonah's preaching.
we see an important Biblical number, and that is 40, often seen as a
number that represents testing. So
again, liberal theologians say this is not an historical event but a
story with a moral meaning. I
would suggest that the 40 days were a test for those in Nineveh, and as we will see, they passed the test and were not judged.
one thing we need to understand about predictive prophecy of judgment.
Jonah predicted that the city "would be destroyed" in
40 days, but it wasn't. What
happened? The population of
text in my opinion suggests that Jonah preached that judgment
"would come" for certain.
That is why we will see later than when it didn't come, Jonah was
upset, thinking he was made a fool of for a false prophecy.
Did Jonah misread God's message?
Should he have preached "repent or else judgment will
come", instead of "judgment will come"?
It's hard to say for sure. Jonah
preached for 3 whole days and we only have one brief statement of what
he preached. He might well
have preached "repent or else" and not "you'll be
destroyed in 40 days". What
we do know is that in verse 10, from God's perspective, Jonah's message
was meant to be a "threat", or, a warning.
So, this might shed light on Jonah's message being more of a
"repent or else" message.
5 says that those in Nineveh
"believed God". Note
the text says that they "believed God".
It doesn't say that they "believed Jonah".
Clearly, the Holy Spirit's involvement in Jonah's preaching
caused these people to believe.
this time in
5 states two things these people did that proved that they believed God.
One was that they called a fast.
We need to understand that fasting in the Bible is mostly
associated with repentance. We
tend to think in modern times of fasting being associated with asking
and receiving what we ask from God.
That's not the case here and it's not the case in most Biblical
with the fast was the act of wearing sackcloth.
Basically, this was a symbolic act of humility.
Humility is the basis of repentance.
One recognizes his sin, recognizes he is in the wrong, and
therefore one needs to be humble in order to recognize his unholy
position before the Lord.
in verse 6 the progression of repentance.
It was instituted and promoted by the king.
I suggest that without national leaders repenting, there is no
national repentance and there is no safety from God's judgment.
the "king of Nineveh". We don't think of
cities having kings. In
ancient times nations were city states, that is, cities were nations
with kings. Now at this
point in time Assyria was the nation and
7 is a proclamation from the once wicked, but now repentant king.
Proclamations from national leaders are important.
They state the direction the nation is going, and how the nation
goes will determine how God deals with that nation.
This proclamation was very important to the immediate future of Nineveh.
king's proclamation is found in verse 7 through 9.
He first calls a major fast – no eating and no drinking.
This fast would include animals.
This is one major fast. People
would war sackcloth. Everyone
must repent and show their repentance with outward actions.
Then, "everyone must call urgently on God".
The word "call" here means "to cry out".
This is heart felt repentance, heart felt cries to God.
In order for the people to make such a heart felt cry to God,
they must believe who Jonah's God claims to be.
might wonder why the animals would be involved in this repentance.
I think the main reason is to show God that the people of
not sure exactly when Jonah preached to Nineveh, but there was a brief time in the history of this city that a move
toward monotheism was taking place. This might well be that time, or
this might be one reason why Jonah's message was accepted.
calling out to the Lord the king says that the people must "give up
their evil ways and their violence".
Again, this is repentance in action.
last part of the proclamation shows true humility.
They aren't demanding God's favour.
He says, "who knows? God
may yet relent …" They're
hoping for mercy. They're
not demanding mercy. This is
the attitude of true repentance. This
should be the attitude of all true Christians today, but it's not
always. We demand from God
way to often, especially those who teach the "Prosperity
we see in the king's proclamation is the response that we all need,
whether Jew or Gentile, whether and individual or a nation.
that this proclamation was spoken to each and every person in
the word "relent" in verse 9.
The Hebrew word that is translated as "relent" comes
from a word that means "to sigh, to breathe out in relief".
Simply put, the king was hoping that God would take a deep breath,
release His breath in relief since Nineveh
repented. That is what did
10 shows the clear response by God to a repentant people.
He had compassion on the city and He did not destroy them.
The message of this chapter, that is, the message of repentance,
is the message for all nations of the world today, but it's a message
that is seldom preached in our churches, let alone preached to the
nations in our day, and therefore not accepted.
need to understand that God deals with humanity on two levels. He deals
with us individually and nationally.
Therefore, to escape judgment, both the individual and the nation
must repent. The nation's
leaders in my thinking reflect those in the nations.
Thus the reason for national leaders to repent.
The statements and the legislation that government makes is very
important in how God deals with a nation, more important than most of us
I said earlier in this chapter, the word "threatened" is
important here. It shows us
that from God's perspective, Jonah's message was to be a message of
repentance to avoid judgment.