Debra Isenbletter - Pastor, Christian Assembly, Springfield, Missouri
In Jonah chapter 3, we see the Power of the Word of God. We see the Messenger: Jonah and the Message: Judgment. We see the Reaction: Repentance and we see the Result: Mercy. We also see a contrast as well as a comparison. The comparison is that of Jonah and Jesus but the contrast is striking because Jonah preaches after disobedience but Jesus preaches from obedience. Jonah preaches judgment and is disappointed when grace is shown. Although Jesus did preach judgment, we see the possibility of grace and mercy throughout His message. He was not willing that any should perish.
V. 1, “And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying,”
In this first verse we see Jonah’s Commission. We see God’s Word, God’s Prophet and God’s Grace.
God’s Word: “And the word of the Lord.” This “word” is a commandment to preach, one that Jonah had previously received and denied. It is a “word” of judgment and the judgment is certain and it is inescapable. The word “repent” is not mentioned and yet it is seen. They were not told to repent that we know of and yet the message and messenger cause them to repent. This “word” is from “the Lord,” from Jehovah. It is the same message given in Jonah 1:2. His Word has not changed because His attitude toward sin never changes. His Word will only change when Nineveh changes, when their attitude toward sin changes. It is the sinner that must change their attitude. The Word of God has the power to change us and the power of that Word is seen in the two miracles in Jonah. The first miracle is Jonah’s submission and the second miracle is Nineveh’s submission. The submission of Nineveh pictures the day when all will submit to God. (Isa.45:23)
God’s Prophet: The word”came unto Jonah.” The Lord still uses and still chooses Jonah as His prophet. Paul says, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Rom.11:29). The Amplified Bible translation of this verse is: “For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call].” The gift was there, the office was there but Jonah had refused to use it. He had disobeyed, now he obeys. He had departed, now he had returned. God’s Word had not changed but God’s Prophet had changed. He accepted his position as a prophet and his responsibility to preach. God’s Word and God’s Grace will change us. Jonah will see God’s grace in action in Nineveh but he first experienced it in his own life. The Apostle Paul was someone whose message of grace had a powerful impact because he had experienced God’s grace in his own life. If Jonah had entered Nineveh with that attitude he would have rejoiced in their repentance.
God’s Grace: It came “the second time, saying.” I really believe this “second time” shows the grace of God to both Jonah and to Nineveh. Jonah was given another opportunity to preach because he had repented. Nineveh will be given an opportunity to repent because Jonah preached. Jonah obeys because he is a different man, he is a new man. He has seen God’s grace in his own life. He is God’s servant, and he serves. Now he must walk by faith and preach by faith. Jonah starts out as a changed man in his attitude and his ministry. He walks in the power of an obedient life. He walks in the power of resurrection life. He walks in the power of an overcoming life. He will see amazing results, unexpected results. Through him there is a visible lesson in God’s grace for others.
This is not the first time the Lord speaks “a second time” unto one of His servants. He did so with Abraham after Abraham willingly offered up Isaac. (Gen.22:15). That “second time” included an oath and a blessing for Abraham’s obedience. (Gen.22:16-18). The Lord appeared unto Solomon a second time. He did this after Solomon had built the temple. (1Ki.9:2-3). In that second time, He gave Solomon a command (1Ki.9:4), a promise (1Ki.9:5) and a warning (1Ki.9:6-7). In that second time the Lord gave Solomon a greater light and responsibility. The Lord met Elijah’s need a second time to enable him to go on. He had been discouraged. He had run away. He had given up. But the angel of the Lord came a second time and provided what he needed for the journey (1Ki.19:7-8). And in the strength of what was provided he was ready to listen to the Lord and again renew his calling as his prophet.
That second time demands a greater responsibility and provides greater enabling and grace. We draw from the grace that is provided to us and we each have experienced “a second time” and it can be a precious time as we yield to His Will and His Word.
Continued in next issue