Jonah 3

* Jonah sent again to Nineveh, preaches there. (1-4) Nineveh is

spared upon the repentance of the inhabitants. (5-10)

1-4 God employs Jonah again in his service. His making use of

us is an evidence of his being at peace with us. Jonah was not

disobedient, as he had been. He neither endeavoured to avoid

hearing the command, nor declined to obey it. See here the

nature of repentance; it is the change of our mind and way, and

a return to our work and duty. Also, the benefit of affliction;

it brings those back to their place who had deserted it. See the

power of Divine grace, for affliction of itself would rather

drive men from God, than draw them to him. God's servants must

go where he sends them, come when he calls them, and do what he

bids them; we must do whatever the word of the Lord commands.

Jonah faithfully and boldly delivered his errand. Whether Jonah

said more, to show the anger of God against them, or whether he

only repeated these words again and again, is not certain, but

this was the purport of his message. Forty days is a long time

for a righteous God to delay judgments, yet it is but a little

time for an unrighteous people to repent and reform in. And

should it not awaken us to get ready for death, to consider that

we cannot be so sure that we shall live forty days, as Nineveh

then was that it should stand forty days? We should be alarmed

if we were sure not to live a month, yet we are careless though

we are not sure to live a day.
5-10 There was a wonder of Divine grace in the repentance and

reformation of Nineveh. It condemns the men of the gospel

generation, #Mt 12:41|. A very small degree of light may

convince men that humbling themselves before God, confessing

their sins with prayer, and turning from sin, are means of

escaping wrath and obtaining mercy. The people followed the

example of the king. It became a national act, and it was

necessary it should be so, when it was to prevent a national

ruin. Let even the brute creatures' cries and moans for want of

food remind their owners to cry to God. In prayer we must cry

mightily, with fixedness of thought, firmness of faith, and

devout affections. It concerns us in prayer to stir up all that

is within us. It is not enough to fast for sin, but we must fast

from sin; and, in order to the success of our prayers, we must

no more regard iniquity in our hearts, #Ps 66:18|. The work of a

fast-day is not done with the day. The Ninevites hoped that God

would turn from his fierce anger; and that thus their ruin would

be prevented. They could not be so confident of finding mercy

upon their repentance, as we may be, who have the death and

merits of Christ, to which we may trust for pardon upon

repentance. They dared not presume, but they did not despair.

Hope of mercy is the great encouragement to repentance and

reformation. Let us boldly cast ourselves down at the footstool

of free grace, and God will look upon us with compassion. God

sees who turn from their evil ways, and who do not. Thus he

spared Nineveh. We read of no sacrifices offered to God to make

atonement for sin; but a broken and a contrite heart, such as

the Ninevites then had, he will not despise.

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