“And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).
Long before Jesus gave His life for our salvation, there was a need for repentance, and even Gentile nations were offered a chance to repent. Nineveh was the capitol of Assyria. They were a vicious, brutal nation and feared far and wide. They were Gentiles who worshipped pagan gods, such as Nabu, Assur, Adad, and Dagon and practiced child sacrifice among other wickedness. In spite of their evil ways, God wanted them to repent and turn from their wickedness. Even though this nation had no love for Him, God called Jonah to deliver His message to Nineveh.
“Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:1-2).
God would forgive their wickedness, but only if they repented. Jonah only wanted that city destroyed, so he fled from God. “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:3).
Instead of obeying, Jonah hopped the first ship sailing in the opposite direction, but the truth is, nobody can hide from the omnipresent God of all creation. When you try to run from God, trouble follows.
Most of us know what happened next. The ship set sail, but a mighty wind came up. “Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep” (Jonah 1:5).
It’s not surprising that he ran from God and ended up with pagans. The sailors had many pagan gods, and each of them prayed to his own god. Only God Almighty could save them, and a prayer of repentance from Jonah would have stopped the storm, but Jonah slept. The sailors cast lots to figure out who was the cause of this storm. The answer was Jonah. His disobedience to God not only put himself in danger, but everyone around him was also in peril.
“And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them” (Jonah 1:9-10). What a poor testimony he showed to the sailors.
When the sailors asked what they should do to him to calm the sea, Jonah should have said, I’ve sinned against God. I repent and ask forgiveness. Instead, he told them to throw him overboard. Apparently, he’d rather die than repent. Surprisingly, the pagan sailors called upon God Almighty.
“Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee” (Jonah 1:14).
They threw Jonah overboard, and the tempest stopped. They got rid of their trouble, but Jonah’s trouble continued. He came to the end of his endurance, and was sure his life was over. Then, God stepped in. “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).
People have tried to explain this miracle for years using human understanding, but this was a supernatural act of God. Scripture says that God “prepared a great fish,” so the fish didn’t just swim by and swallow Jonah. It wasn’t pleasant for Jonah, but the result of sin is never pleasant.
It was then that Jonah finally did what he should have done long before. “Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, and said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice” (Jonah 2:1-2).
When there’s nowhere else to turn, that’s when even a non-believer will cry out to God. Jonah now turned to “his God.” He had three days to consider his plight and finally repented. He couldn’t save himself by his own efforts, so he cried out to God.
“When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy, But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (Jonah 2:7-10).
The Lord performed miracles for Jonah’s salvation, and Jonah promised obedience in gratitude.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has done miracles for your salvation, but is your gratitude real? Do you only turn to him when the storms rage? Do you, like Jonah, promise God many things if He will only get you out of a predicament, but forget what He’s done for you once the trouble passes? There’s no possible way for humans to save themselves, so God made a way. Never take God’s gift of salvation for granted.
Jonah finally obeyed God and spoke His message in the streets of Nineveh. “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” (Jonah 3:4).
Jonah obeyed God, but he didn’t really want them to repent. Even a half-hearted witness can accomplish God’s will. “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. 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. 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; 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” (Jonah 3:5-8).
As always, when there’s repentance, God is forgiving. The city was spared from God’s judgment for a number of years. Eventually, they turned back to their sin, and destruction came to them; but for the time being, they were spared.
“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry” (Jonah 4:1). Jonah accepted God’s mercy for himself, but didn’t want it for wicked Nineveh. Does that sound familiar? Do you praise God for your own salvation but don’t care if your neighbor comes to salvation? Jonah wanted God’s mercy on his own terms.
“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 evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:2).
Jonah ran instead of doing God’s will because he knew that God’s mercy would be given to Nineveh if they repented. God had saved Jonah from death, but now Jonah wanted death and destruction on Nineveh.
This happened at a time when people saw signs that made them nervous. In 763 BC, there had been a solar eclipse. This is one of the strangest phenomena to be experienced. Did you see the solar eclipse in 2017? I live where it was total, and there are no words to describe what I saw. In 765 BC and in 759 BC, there were plagues, and many people died. It wasn’t COVID-19, but, like us today, they felt like something was about to happen.
Jonah lived at the same time as the prophets Hosea and Amos. Both of those men spoke to the Northern Kingdom of repentance, and Amos begins by mentioning a great earthquake that took place two years after the events he wrote about.
“The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1).
An even greater prophet told of signs that would happen before the Great Tribulation. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:7).
These events have always taken place, but as we draw near to the end of time, they’re increasing in strength and frequency. The world is aligning itself against God, and the Great Tribulation is fast approaching. That means that the Rapture is even closer. This should be a wake-up call for every Christian to witness to the unsaved people around us and urge repentance.
There’s a lesson here for Christians. We’ve been saved from eternal damnation because we’ve accepted the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for salvation. We repented and were forgiven. We should be the most thankful people anywhere and desire to share the Gospel with everyone. As we study the failures of Jonah, we can see many similarities between him and our Christian walk. He had a calling from God, but he ran from it. Jesus gave the command to go into all the world and preach the Gospel. That means to go to foreign lands, but it also means to witness to the cashier at your local grocery store, your neighbor, and anyone who will listen.
Wickedness is all around us today. Do we not share the Gospel of Christ because we don’t want wicked people to find God’s mercy? There can be no salvation without repentance, and there can be no repentance unless God’s word is shared with the lost.
Brothers and sisters, the storms are raging around us because we’re running from God. Rather than honoring Him and witnessing to the non-believers around us, we keep silent. Instead of standing upon God’s word to guide us, we accept the ways of the world and push God away. Our silence has allowed prayer to be banned from schools while transexual cross-dressers are allowed to read stories to the children. No wonder the liberal lunatics are running around like rabid dogs trying to destroy America.
There’s a storm raging, and Christians are asleep. America needs to repent. Christians need to repent. Many people pray to demon gods, such as Allah, but Christians sleep as pagan ways infiltrate our daily life. We’ve been saved by the grace of God and been shown His mercy, but we forget that Jesus Christ is all powerful. It’s time we wake up and share the Gospel, and call for repentance.
Jonah is a lesson in what we shouldn’t do. We shouldn’t try to run from God, but we should be overjoyed when someone repents and comes to Christ.
Paul is an example of what Christians need to do… spread the Gospel. Paul was very bold in sharing God’s word. When he entered a city, the first thing he did was to preach Christ and repentance to the lost. He didn’t use gimmicks but only shared God’s truth. If he was among non-believers, he shared the Gospel, and if he was with believers, he made sure they weren’t being led astray. The Gospel he preached was the same Gospel that he had heard, and it’s the same one we’ve heard. We must share it.
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
Paul reminded them that faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is necessary for salvation. It’s only through faith in His shed blood that we are eternally saved. Then, Paul told of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after the resurrection. Paul had also seen Him. One day, everybody will see Him. If you’ve placed your faith in Him, you’ll see Him when you die or when you’re Raptured. If you’ve rejected Him, you’ll see Him at the judgment seat of condemnation or at the Second Coming, which will be in wrath. Repent now and accept Jesus Christ for your salvation.
No matter what you’ve done in your life, God’s grace is waiting for you, but it takes repentance to be forgiven and to find salvation. First, the lost must hear the Gospel. Don’t be like Jonah who had no desire for heathens to be saved. Share the Gospel and take joy in the repentance of a lost sinner.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at https://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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