Text: Jonah 3 + 4
Following up from last week’s study of Jonah 1+2, this week we find Jonah washed up on the seashore and commanded by God, again, to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh for their wickedness. And this time, Jonah is quick to obey.
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.
Jonah 3:1-3, NIV
My attention is caught by this immediately because I absolutely love how generous God is to give Jonah a second chance after he blatantly disobeyed Him the first time. As we saw last week, when Jonah repents, God extends His mercy, grace, and love to him; and now He even allows Jonah another opportunity to follow through with the original plan.
This is the God we serve: The God of Second Chances.
Much like Jonah, we too, are given second chances (and third chances and fourth chances, etc.). God gives us grace upon grace (John 1:16). I’m sure I’m not the only girl who can say I’ve had a million chances provided to me, and I know I am incredibly grateful for each and every one. Repentance can be hard, but God’s forgiveness and fresh starts are so very good!
What happens next in the story is amazing. As Jonah preaches that the people of Nineveh will be destroyed if they do not cease their wicked ways and turn back to God, the hearts of these citizens are instantly transformed. Everyone, including the king of Nineveh, believes God, fasts and puts on sackcloth to show their repentance.
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
Jonah 3:7-9, NIV
And then we see God do it again – He gives the people a second chance – fruit that comes from Jonah’s obedience.
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
Jonah 3:10, NIV
Because God gives Jonah a second chance, Jonah is able to provide the people of Nineveh with a second chance. Isn’t that beautiful?
What do we do with our “second chances?” How do we make the most of taking God up on His renewed invitation to follow and trust and believe Him for our lives?
Imagine the impact we can have on this world if we will let go of whatever is holding us back and turn to God, allowing Him to redeem us and set us back on the right path. The possibilities of what He can do through our repentant and renewed hearts are limitless. Jonah is proof.
What is ironic about Chapter 4 is how angry Jonah becomes over God saving the wicked people of Nineveh from destruction, after Jonah himself had been saved by God following his own disobedience. God teaches Jonah a lesson through a plant and a worm (Jonah 4:5-11), and despite Jonah’s continued dismay over saving their lives, God’s message is this:
He loves all of us, regardless of who we are and what we’ve done. And if we will just come to the end of ourselves and return to Him, He will give us a second chance. Time and time again. This is who God is. This is what He does. And there is power to be found in His grace.
Let’s examine our hearts today, friends, and find what areas need to be reconciled to God. And then let’s claim His truth over our lives – that He bestows ‘grace upon grace’ and will do amazing things in and through our repentant and obedient hearts for His kingdom and glory.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24, NLT
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Join me in the coming weeks as I participate in the #SheReadsTruth #SheSharesTruth devotional writing challenge. Every Friday during Lent I’ll post a teaching on here based on Scripture(s) provided at the beginning of the week. I look forward to what the Lord will teach me and put on my heart to share with all of you through this journey. Thanks for following along!