I. "SO THE MEN OF NINEVEH BELIEVED GOD." THIS CERTAINLY MUST BE A MIRACLE OF GRACE.
A. Look at the minister.
1. He hated his calling.
a. The whole first part of the story deals with how he sought to escape from the call of God.
b. He was determined not to go.
c. To get as far away from the call of God as possible.
d. He asked to be thrown into the sea. He felt that it was better to drown than to go to Nineveh.
e. He sat and sulked in the belly of the whale enduring unthinkable misery for three days and nights before he caved in and called on God.
2. He hated the people he was called to minister to.
a. He wanted God to destroy them.
b. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria and the Assyrians were known for their cruelty.
c. There are pictures of the Assyrians leading their captives with hooks through their noses, and their bodies mutilated.
d. The Assyrians were a rising power in the ancient world and and were a threat to the nation of Israel, and finally did conquer Israel and led them away into captivity.
e. As far as Jonah was concerned, nothing would suit him better than to see Nineveh destroyed.
f. The very reason he tried to escape the call of God was the fear that his ministry might be successful. He was afraid that they would repent and God would not destroy them.
B. Look at his message.
1. It was monotonous, "Forty days and comes destruction."
2. No fancy illustrations to draw the people's attention.
3. No suggestion of hope.
4. No call to repentance.
5. No promise of God's mercy.
6. Just "Forty days and comes destruction."
II. THE PEOPLE BELIEVED GOD AND REPENTED FROM THE KING ON DOWN.
A. What a miracle of God's sovereign grace.
B. Next time you are prone to think that your success has come from your charming, winsome ways, think again.
C. Next time people respond to the invitation you give them to accept Christ and it resulted from your brilliant rhetoric, think again.
D. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that you be boorish and rude, just don't think more highly of yourself than you ought.
E. What a classic illustration of the truth that Jonah discovered while in the belly of the whale, "Salvation is of the Lord."
1. This is comparable to the salvation of the dying thief hanging next to Jesus on the cross.
a. Two men equally close to death.
b. Two men equally close to salvation.
c. One is saved, one is lost.
d. How did he know that Jesus was a king?
e. How did he know that He was coming into His kingdom?
f. Even the disciples at this point did not understand this.
2. This is as remarkable as the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.
F. What a classic illustration of the statement of God to Isaiah, "My ways are not your ways saith the Lord, My ways are beyond your finding out."
1. If we were going to plan and strategize on how to reach Nineveh, imagine all the planning and devising.
2. We must get a large stadium, and spend thousands of dollars in advertising.
3. We must gather a great team of highly qualified men, and send them ahead to train follow up leadership.
4. A city of this size would take a budget of over a million dollars before we could even consider a campaign there.
5. If someone should suggest that we send just one man to walk the streets yelling, "You are going to be destroyed in 40 days," we would be thought crazy by the planning committee.
G. What was the basis of their repentance? "Who can tell?"
1. No real promise.
2. No absolute hope.
3. Who knows?
III. NO WONDER JESUS SAID IN MAT 12:41
, THE MEN OF NINEVEH SHALL RISE IN JUDGMENT WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SHALL CONDEMN IT: BECAUSE THEY REPENTED AT THE PREACHING OF JONAH; AND, BEHOLD, A GREATER THAN JONAH [IS] HERE.
A. The men of Nineveh heard only one message and that of judgment.
B. They had only one bitter messenger who hated them.
1. Yet they repented in sackcloth and ashes.
C. What an interesting character Jonah is, he did not want to follow the call of God to minister because he was afraid that he would be successful.
IV. GOD REPENTED.
And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent.
God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?