Those who would not destroy their souls must afflict their souls.
God threatens so He will not have to punish,
and makes His judgments conditional upon true repentance.
There is mercy for those who will, before it is too late, confess and forsake their sin.
1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
5 ¶ So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the 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:
8 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.
9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
10 ¶ And God 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.
Jonah 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Jonah 3 – A Repentant City
Peter was not only forgiven, but restored to his office; so also was Jonah again sent to Nineveh. Thank God for our second chances! There was no hesitancy this time. The prophet arose and went. The story of his deliverance seems to have reached Nineveh and to have prepared its people to receive his word (Luke 11:30). We must deliver God’s messages and preach only as He bids us. He will tell us what to say.
Nineveh is said to have been sixty miles in circuit, the distance of a three days’ journey. It was full of violence and cruelty. But the sight of that strange figure, clad in a rude sheep-skin mantle, smote its conscience. The alarm spread from the streets to the palace. Even the great king felt it within his sculptured chambers. It stirred him to action, so that king and court, peers and people, and even the brute creation, became united in one act of common humiliation. The repentance was city-wide in its scope (Jonah 3:5); was practical (Jonah 3:8); and directed toward God (Jonah 3:9). What a contrast to Israel! There, prophet after prophet was exposed to refusal and even to cruel usage. Whatever fear there may have been upon man’s side, there was no hesitation upon God’s. He abundantly pardoned (Isaiah 55:7)! —Through the Bible Day by Day
Jonah 3:1—The word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time.
We must not presume on this, but we may take it to our hearts for their very great comfort. God’s word may come to us “the second time.” Jonah evaded it the first time; but he was permitted to have a second opportunity of obeying it. Thus it was with Peter; he failed to realize the Lord’s ideal in the first great trial of his apostolic career, but the Lord met him on the shores of the lake, and his word came to him a second time.
God is not waiting to notice our first failure and thrust us from his service. He waits, with eager desire, to give us the joy and honor of being fellow-laborers with Himself. He waits to be gracious. Therefore, when in our madness we refuse to do his bidding, and rush off in another direction, He brings us back, amid bitter experiences, and says, “Go again to Nineveh with the message that I gave thee originally.”
How many times He will do this I do not dare to say. He forgives indefinitely, unto seventy times seven; but how often He will re-entrust the sacred message and mission, it is not for me to say. But there is, without doubt, a limit beyond which He cannot go, lest our own character suffer, and the interests of other souls, who may be dissuaded from obedience by our example, should be imperiled.
How wonderful it is that God should employ us at all! Yet it is like his work in nature. He is ever calling men to co-operate with Himself. He lays the coal up in mines, but man must excavate: He puts the flowers in the wilds, but man cultivates them: He gives the water, but man irrigates the fields. So He longs over Nineveh, but summons sinful men to carry his word. —Our Daily Homily
Jonah 3:3 – Come, take that task of yours which you have been hesitating before, and shirking, and walking around, and on this very day lift it up and do it. (Phillips Brooks)