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Tuesday: Mission Accomplished — 18 Comments

  1. Last century (doesn't that make me sound ancient)! Last century, the road from Sydney to Avondale College (now University) comprised the old Pacific Highway until you got to Doyalson, where you turned left and followed Cessnock Rd until you arrived at Cooranbong. Interestingly one of he local charismatic congregations had put up a huge sign at Doyalson, "Repent". So we used to tell first-time visitors coming up to Avondale from the direction of Sydney, to follow the Pacific Highway until they saw the "Repent" sign, and turn left. It was simple, easy to follow and most people who followed that instruction arrived at Avondale. Today with our busy divided highways we tell visitors to put Avondale in their GPSs and follow the instructions. They end up in some funny places as a result.

    If only preaching repentance was that easy. "Turn left at the "Repent sign! I don't think that the story of Jonah is really the model for preaching repentance - and that may just be the result of splitting the lesson into "day bits" again. The really big lesson is that in the end, Jonah, and by inference, God's professed people have plenty to repent of themselves.

    Here is a question that we may like to think about today: Is it possible that God will bypass our proselyting to work on people's hearts, and in doing so surprise us?

    • Maurice, I was thinking about that very same question when I read the statement in the lesson saying the Holy Spirit must have moved in their hearts as Jonah preached. I was thinking the Holy Spirit must have been working in their hearts even before Jonah arrived at Nineveh, even as He worked in Jonah's own heart as Jonah repented as he waited in the belly of the fish. Or perhaps the reason God called Jonah was because the Ninevites felt the need for repentance without fully understanding what it meant, even before Jonah was called.

  2. "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights" (Jonah 1:17 NKJV)

    Jonah did not solve his problem by running away from it. Running only plunged him into more difficulty. The God who commissioned him to preach repentance in Nineveh was fully capable of sustaining,supporting, and strengthening him.

    God never gives us a task without giving us the ability to accomplish that task

  3. "Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not it"
    (Jonah 3:10 NKJV)

    When they repented, God "relented". Jonah's preaching had been a success, but the reluctant prophet did not recognize it. He felt like a failure, but centuries later Jesus cited Jonah as an example of faithfulness in his preaching to Nineveh. Here is incredibly good news:

    God does not give up on us easily

    Jonah needed the gospel as much as the Ninevites. God pursued him, would not let him go, and held on to him until Jonah recognised His mighty hand.

  4. Why is repentance such a crucial part of the Christian experience?

    Repent, and if you are not hanging on a cross when you ask the Lord to remember you in His Christ Kingdom. Out of love for Christ, obey His command and get baptized. John 3:5.

  5. Steps to repentence.
    1st we show them God's love.
    2nd we reveal a need for Christ.
    3rd reveal a need for repentence. If we ask the Holy Spirit to go before us, He will. Their hearts will have been prepared for repentence, if they choose God's love and allow the Holy Spirit to create a need for Christ. The woman at the well had a need for Christ living water, after she saw the love God had for her through Christ. That is why John the disciple said, Christ was given to us so that we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9. I do believe that if we are living through Him. The rich current of His love will flow through us to those we come in contact with.

  6. In reading and reflecting on Jonah 3:1-10, my mind also went to Exodus 34:6,7 in conjunction with 2 Peter 3:9 and John 3:16,17.

    God is not willing - does not desire - that any should perish but that all come to repentance. God's preference is to save everyone - but at the same time God is sadly aware that not everyone wants to live in accordance with the only way that is actually viable - ie, abundant life (John 10:10). Sadly, some people unfortunately have a core preference (heart-desire) for evil - ie, maleficence that has no problem using and abusing others in the course of self-seeking self-indulgence (as per Genesis 6:5 'diagnositc' statement).

    Even though this is a sad truth, God, in compassion, mercy, grace and long-suffering-patience and perseverance invites people to be informed of where their commitment to evil/self-seeking inevitably leads and instead invites them to seek the way of life.

    Exodus 34:7b affirms that God is unable to change the reality of 'the law of sin and death' (Romans 8:2) that prevails for those who embrace evil as their heart's desire. But as far as God is concerned, He is super-abundantly compassionate and gracious - leaving no stone unturned in His efforts to try and 'draw' (John 12:32) us to salvation via repentance as per the Ninevites (see Jonah 3:5-9 in comparison with Matthew 23:37).

    In response to awareness of the above, I resonate with the sentiments of Isaiah 63:7.

    "I will make known the LORD’s loving devotion and His praiseworthy acts, because of all that the LORD has done for us—the many good things for the house of Israel according to His great compassion and loving devotion." (Berean Study Bible)

  7. Being able to convince others of what they may be reluctant to accept requires a special tact and skill. IF this is coupled with the Holy Spirit's power to bring deep conviction, it will be possible to have results similar to that which took place from Jonah's warning to that city. Those 3 days in the belly of a fish seems to be an important part of this success doesn't it? In laying plans for outreach, we cannot forget the “inreach” we need to gain the fitness for our great task. If there is repentance needed in our lives, can we expect to call others to repent with much success? I also wonder if the account of the storm and the great fish was somehow part of the equation as well?

    Keep in mind that the inhabitants of Nineveh were heathens responding to a call for repentance by Jehovah, who's law defines both sin and righteousness. Their repentance was over their disregard for His law, otherwise it would have been useless. Have you ever considered the reality of John 16:8? Our work for the lost becomes much simpler if we do.

    • If you read the chapter in Prophets and Kings on this story, it is pointed out that the Holy Spirit had been already working in their hearts. Scripture does not say that, but the result of Jonahs warning would lead to that conclusion. They were a wicked and brutal people, and not likely to change at the drop of a hat. God had heard the longing in their hearts and knew they were ready to repent and obey.

  8. Most likely, Jonah had more to say than what is recorded, but whatever it was, the words he spoke reminded them that, in spite of all their success, God was still in control of their lives.
    They knew the God of Israel from their warfare; when He warned them that their lives were hanging in the balance, they listened. Actually, the record says: "Yet, forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.". So, maybe they were not so much concerned with losing their lives as they were to loose their way of life in a prosperous city. 

    Assyria had caused utter destruction on so many cities and caused thousands upon thousands to be slaughtered, but Christ Jesus points to them as an example of true repentance. 
    I try to understand what might have been the heart-condition of the average citizen and their leaders. The record states that their hearts were more receptive than the hearts of Israel and their religious and civic leaders - Matt.12:41KJV.
    When Jonah brought the word of God them, they 'ruled' the world by terror, whereas Israel had been given to carry the banner of the God of Love to be a testimony to establish power through His Justice, Mercy and Grace - and they lived in constant rebellion against their God.  

    What does it mean to repent? "So the people of Nineveh believed God .. . Yes, the Holy Spirit was hard at work; he is doing his 'hard' work all the time, but not everyone is ready to listen and recognize the power of God to destroy. Some remain haughty and self-willed unto their own destruction as everyone can see in the example of the people of Israel. 
    I understand the sin everyone is called to repent of is self-will, - rejecting God's claim that He holds the power of life in His hands -, and with that rejecting God's Grace and Mercy to find and accept life; when accepted as Truth, everything else will fall into place.

  9. Jonah 4:2 KJV:And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD,
    was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.(compare this text in the NLT)
    Deuteronomy 18:20-22:
    22. When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

    • Peter, I was also wondering if Deut 18:20-22 was in Jonah's mind when he was discussing his commission with the LORD before he ran away.
      To me the book of Jonah is a bit like hearing only one side of a telephone call. I imagine we hear Jonah saying to the LORD "I told you so! The message should have been God is loving and compassionate, not He is going to destroy the city in 40 days". I wonder would the city have responded to such a message in the same way.
      I believe that sometimes people need to be woken up to realize their need of a higher power.

      • I wonder if the knowledge of the runaway prophet being thrown overboard to save the sailors got to Nineveh before the prophet did?
        The sailors had Jonah's story about his mission before being thrown into the sea.

        • Peter, good point, maybe during the 3 days Jonah was in the fish?
          The sailors offered Jonah as an atoning sacrifice to the God who made the sea and the dry land and God saved them from the storm. Then they worshipped the Creator God.

          I could imagine the Ninevites were amazed when Jonah miraculously turned up in their city.

  10. Reading Jonah 3:6-9 why would the king include the animals to wear sackcloth and fasting. The animals don't understand repentance

    • Hallow Ronald,
      We need to bear in mind that when sin entered the world, all creation was affected, and the work of reformation and restoration is to all creation.

      Ecclesiastes 9:5-If anyone takes ones life, he will be punished the same as the animals. The judgement of God will be centered on the ten commandments upon all creation. The same sentiments are echoed in Ecclesiastes 3:18-21-I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. (The wages of sin is death-Romans 6:23)

    • Ronald, I believe the sackcloth and ashes represents complete surrender of one's life to the LORD, heart, mind and body. By putting sackcloth on their animals they were indicating they were surrendering their wealth to the LORD as well.

  11. I agree Shirley. Perhaps an additional reminder that "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof"......
    People and animals


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