Jonah Lesson 3 - Saving The City Of Nineveh


Well, good morning everyone. Pardon my taking a sip there. My throat was getting a little bit dry. It is wonderful to see everybody here. I appreciate you very much for the fact that you are here, that you're here to worship our God together as as we have been doing so far this morning. I pray that you've lifted your voice in song and he, we've praised him together in spirit and in truth. That you did it with the understanding of the words that we sang. As we praise God in song. We teach and admonish one another, but we also have the obligation to look at God's word and study from it and we're going to do that this morning. We're going to pick back up with this series on Jonah now and we're going to be in the third chapter, but I want you to look at the screen for just a moment.

If you've watched movies at all, you're probably familiar with this field right here, aren't you? To me, it's one of the best movies, sports movies is baseball movies that was ever made called field of dreams. It is a movie in which a farmer is, has a, has gone out and into his field and he hears the voice and he hears it over and over again. But he hears the voice. If you build it, they will come. Build it and they will come. And I got thinking about that and, and you think Roger Shouse for sticking this thought in my head because he's the one that put it there. He, makes mention of this very thing in a similar sermon, but he, he points this out that we use this quite often, don't we? This concept of building and they will come is something that is seen all around the world.

You can see it at amusement parks. What do they do? They build it. And what happens? Disney World, you got Branson, cities like that, that, that have places for entertainment. What happens? You build it. People come. Well you see it's the same thing when it comes to sports, you know, big arenas, big bigger stadiums. You know, they call it the the stadium down in Arlington, Texas, Jerry world. I've heard it called that for the Dallas cowboys, but what did he do? He built a bigger and better and grander stadium so he could pack more people in. So what? So that people would come. Unfortunately the same type of attitude has overtaken the religious community. You build it and they will come. What do you mean by that? You build all these multipurpose facilities and and people are going to come and you know what? That tells you the mentality of the individual that believes that way.

They're telling you that the gospel is not enough to draw people to Christ. We've got to do things bigger, better, grander, larger scale. I've seen some, some quote campuses and that's exactly what they call them. Campuses where they have facilities that they have a workout centers, they have bookstores, they have coffee shops, all of these things that are available for the physical person, for the materialistic person. And then they say, we draw you in with that and then we'll teach you a little bit about God. The thing is, God never did things that way, did he? God never did things that way. And you think about that. Jeremiah Chapter Seven and verse 25 says it this way, when he's talking to Jeremiah said, Jeremiah says, "the day that your father's came out of the land of Egypt, until this day I have even sent to you my servants, the prophets daily rising up early and sending them.

God sent men. And when you think about that, when you come to the New Testament, the same principle is true. Jesus, before he ascends into heaven, he gives his disciples that a great commission, bigger, better commission because he was going to go and they were going to go into the whole world, but what were they going to do? They were going to go, he said, go into all the world and preach the Gospel. The message of God has been sent to man the same way from the beginning of time. He sends people with a message and that brings us to Jonah because that's what Joan is doing. Jonah is one who is sent. And when we look at at the the book of Jonah and, and we understand that. We see go back in the first two chapters. You go to Jonah chapter one and you see that very thing Jonah was told to go to the city of Nineveh when the word of the Lord came to him and Joe, Jonah chapter one, it told him to go to the city of Nineveh.

He told him to go east. Jonah decided to go west. He tried to flee and because he, he went his merry way and went the direction that he wanted to go while he was found, when he was on that boat, God created this storm on the sea. God made the men on that boat fearful. And, and because of that, Jonah up being cast overboard and God prepared a great fish. Chapter two you see that fish prepared, it swallows up Jonah. And while Jonah is in the belly of that fish for three days and three nights, Jonah learns some lessons. One, he needs to repent. And you see that in words like you see right here in Jonah chapter two where he says, "but I will sacrifice to you with the voice of Thanksgiving. I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord."

Well, Jonah's salvation at this particular time. It's this great fish because he didn't die in the sea. He may have given up. He may have said, well, just throw me overboard and let me die like this. God had plans for him. God was going to send him, and when you come back to Jonah chapter three at the end of chapter two where where do we see, where did we leave Jonah? He had been vomited up onto dry ground by that great fish. Jonah chapter three in verse one we come to that and Jonah now is going to this city. In Jonah chapter three we see a city being saved. I want to suggest to us along the way is as we're looking at this and and and going through this chapter this morning, that there are going to be some things that we're going to talk about.

What are the very similar to what we've done with the previous two chapters. We're going to talk about those things directly in the text first and then we're going to come back and then we're gonna make some applications. Some principles that we can use even today. Because I believe that even though we tend to to go through Jonah and we teach it in one lesson, there is a lot within this book that when teaching in one lesson isn't covered. So when you're looking at Jonah this morning and you're looking at Jonah chapter three there are going to be some things that are going to stand out, some textual facts that we're going to talk about and one of those is that if you notice, this chapter is more about the city of Nineveh and its people than it is about Jonah. Now you get that from just simply breaking down the number of verses.

Four verses talk about Jonah's six verses, talk about the city of Nineveh, but this chapter is not about the Messenger as much as it is the people and their need to repent. The passage there. When you think about it and you look at this, the entire book, the entire book shows that there are basically three conversions that take place. You look at Jonah Chapter One and verse 16 the sailors are the men on that boat. They feared the Lord exceedingly and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. That's something that you wouldn't have expected of unbelievers or idle worshipers at the time. You come here and Jonah chapter two, three and verse 10 you're going to see this. What happens 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 do it.

What happened? This is an idolatrous group of people. This is people that do not serve God, but evidently what Jonah had said to them caused them to repent and change, didn't it? There was at least temporarily, these individuals were converted because we know that that Nineveh and Assyria at times still stray from God, but at this particular time, these people repented. Not only when you think about this, you think about some other things. Nineveh in this chapter is described as that great city, the great city. Now, why is nit of a called a great city? Well, Nineveh is called a great city because it wasn't a small town for one. It took Jonah three days to walk through that town. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't know how fast Jonah walked, and I really don't know exactly the, the, the size of this city, but even a Jonah just walked two miles per hour, 12 hours a day. It's 24 miles and the whole time he's walking, he's preaching.

Did he travel 72 miles while he was walking through Nineveh? I don't know that Nineveh was that large, but that gives you an idea at least, you know, that's two miles per hour walking two miles per hour. That's a leisurely stroll. You're not gonna get very far walking that pace. The normal average individual generally walks about four miles per hour. Anything faster than that, and then you start jogging. But you consider this, it's a great city. It's three days journey across this town, this, this capital of Assyria. And Jonah is there because it's a major city. It's the capital of this kingdom of Assyria. It's their seat of power. It's the residence of the king. It's a city that was not just large in size, but it was great in many other ways. It has some historical significance to it. Nineveh was the religious center for the Mesopotamian Goddess Ishtar. Think about that from the time of a previous king Ashurbanipal II. There was considerable architectural expansion in that city. If you see the picture there on the lower right hand section of the screen, that is one of the gates that has been reconstructed from archaeological findings. That is the Adad gate. Now, unfortunately, that particular gate was destroyed by ISIL and I think 2017 or 2016. Maybe a little bit earlier or later or earlier than that, but this goes to show that there was something there that people wanted.

You see Nineveh is first mentioned in genesis chapter 10. Nimrod was expanding his kingdom. Nimrod is the one given credit for Babylon and the Tower of Babel I guess. But from from there he expanded his kingdom from that land. He went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah. And because it's such a large city, it has a large population. Now I've got chapter four and verse 11 up there on the screen for you to consider the population wise. What I want you to go over there real quick and I want you to read that verse. Read that verse with me. Chapter four verse 11 God is talking in it, Jonah and we'll deal more with this next week, "And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, which we're more than 120,000 persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left and much livestock." Now once you think about that for just a minute. Is God telling Jonah that there's only 120,000 people in Nineveh?

I don't believe so.

I don't believe that at all, but, and the reason is God distinguishes the people that he's talking about here. How can 120,000 adults not know their right hand from their left hand. It is thought that Nineveh actually at this particular time was the city in excess of about 600,000 or more people. But when you start talking about individuals that do not know their right hand from their left hand, who do you think he's talking about?

Children, infants, toddlers, people that you know need. Think about it. When did our boys growing up know the difference between their right hand and their left hand? Now some might look at it to [inaudible] this and say they don't know right from wrong. They don't know God from their gods and that is a possibility too. But you think about it, if he's talking about children, which I believe he is, then you have all the other adults. All the other population that is there. But it shows a side of God that people say God is a mean God. God is not a terrible God in the Old Testament who just kills infants and children all the time. He's not wanting to do that to Nineveh, not at all.

And so he's talking about those types of things that he's, he's addressing this and Jonah, if you remember, Jonah didn't care about any of this. That's why he fled the first time. That's why he ended up in the belly of that great fish. That's why he was there three days and now he's going to go to them. I want to do something here real quick. I want to contrast Nineveh in Sodom for just a moment. And think about this for just a moment too because you think about it in Genesis Chapter 18 verse 20 the Lord said, because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and because their sin is very grave." That's why they were being destroyed. None of it is being destroyed because of their evil, but there is some differences to this and learn. I want you to see it in this way. Sodom did not have a prophet sent to them.

There's no indication that a prophet was sent to them. You had righteous lot living there, but no other prophet was sent to them and there was no message of repentance for Sodom. There was no message to given to them, at least not in the text. I believe that they had ample time to change, but here, that's going to be the message. When it comes to Nineveh. Nineveh is going to have an opportunity to repent because in the text, when you're looking at the text, it goes on and you're going to notice this. Then Jonah didn't perform a sign or a miracle while he was there. Because when you look at Nineveh and you look at Jonah as he enters the city and he begins walking on that first day, what are his words?

"Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown." We're not told anything else. If he communicated any other message other than this. This was the words that God gave him to Nineveh. Jonah's message, eight words. How in the world can you use eight words and convince an entire city to repent? Unbelievable. Isn't it? Because if you notice Jonah entered that city, said those words, what's not mentioned there? Jonah never once tells them what they're sin is. Not one time in that message. Does he? Notice again what's not there. He doesn't tell them what to do. Now, I'm not saying that they didn't know what to do because I believe by their actions they did. But also in this message. Notice this, he doesn't mention God's name.

So how can this message change the hearts of these people? This people will notice that I said before this that Jonah did no sign Jonah performed no miracle in the city, but there was a sign. There was something that took place that could have convinced these people that the words that Jonah was talking came from a living God. Came from someone that they believed had the power to destroy them. And where do we get that information? Well, not necessarily from Jonah chapter three but we can get it from Luke chapter 11 verses 29 and 30 in Luke Chapter 11 Verse 29 and 30 Jesus is talking to the people who were wanting to sign and he talks to them about the sign of Jonah. Now listen to this, and while the crowds were thickly gathered together, he began to say, this is an evil generation. It's seeks assigned and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah, the prophet for as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the son of man will be to this generation. What was Jonah? Jonah was the sign.

Now I don't know what condition Jonah was in. The text doesn't tell us this, what condition he was physically in. We don't know if the people had heard about what had happened to Jonah, but I believe that it's implied. Jesus is saying that Jonah became the sign to these people. There was something about Jonah, not just his words, that God used to prick the hearts of the people of this city, to convince them that they would truly be destroyed in 40 days if they did not change. God then gave Nineveh time to repent. When you look at this, God said through the message, how long did they have? 40 days. I don't know that it took them 40 days to be convinced to repent and change. But they were told that if they did not 40 days, you know as he entered the city at three days, journey yet 40 days and Nineveh will be overthrown. And so you see the people of Nineveh next.

But I thought, I find one other thing interesting too before I get into the people of Nineveh here is that at this particular time, God had not spoken to Jonah until chapter three from chapter one. When the word go back over to chapter one, verse one "Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, arise, go to Nineveh, that great city and cry out against it for their wickedness has come up before me." What did Jonah do? He fled. Don't know how long it took him to get to the boat that he was traveling on. But when he got there three days in the belly of this great fish thrown up on the dry ground and now you come to first one of Jonah chapter three and what happens? "Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah as second time saying, go to Nineveh, that great city and preach to it the message that I tell you." Basically the same thing that he was telling him in verse one of Chapter One and if you get right down to it, when you look at chapter three and you see the outcome and you go to verse 10 and you hear that God relents. Chapter three should have been the end of the story.

You think about that at the end of the story, but now there's more to it and we're going to get to chapter four a little bit later. But you think about this, that should've been the end of the story, but what happens? You look at these people have been given time to repent, so the people and then have a believed God. They believed God. Proclaimed a fast, put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them, from the oldest adult, from the king to the oldest adult to the youngest, to the least of them. They did this. This wasn't something that took place for one individual. It wasn't just the king doing this, it was the entire city.

You know, it blows my mind sometimes when, when I think about this, it truly tells me the power of God's word. But I want you to think along these lines for just a moment. That all of these textual facts, all of these things that have taken place, those are well and good, but what is, what are the things that we learned from it? Well, I want to suggest three things to you this morning and then the lesson will be yours. And the first of which is this, that God's word doesn't change when we returned to him. Jonah, you fled. You ran away after what you were instructed. And in chapter one, in verse one, you come back, God saved you. He did not let you perish. And now the word of the Lord has come to you a second time and it hasn't changed. The message is going to be the same. You see that what we've learned is that God's word never changes.

Well, when you think about this, now the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time saying. It didn't change, did it? Then you think about that. What happens? We think about Jonah. Is there any place that we can go where we can see something similar and I believe there is. Turn your bibles to Luke Chapter 15 for just a moment. Remember the story of the prodigal son that is, that is a, uh, a beautiful New testament Account that talks of one who is left, who ran away to do what he wanted to do, the way he wanted to do it, when he wanted to do it, and where he wanted to do it. Only to come back to his senses and want to return to his father. Well, what happens is that we learn from this that even though God's word does not change, neither do his expectations.

What God expects of us. Never changes. Now I want you to look beginning at Verse 24 Luke Chapter 15 and begin now verse 16 go back to Verse 16 and the young man here, the prodigal is saying, and he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that slide eight and no one gave him anything. "But when he came to himself, he said, how many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and despair and I perish with hunger. I will arise and go to my father and I will say, father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants. And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight and I'm no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his son, servants, bring out the best robe. And put it on him and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet and bring the fatted calf here and kill it and let us eat and be merry.

Beautiful scene of repentance, beautiful scene of forgiveness, wonderful news that you can come back to the father. Jonah, you have come back to God, but God's word is not changed. Your responsibility is to preach what God gave you. But listen now what did God...what is not stated in this story of the prodigal son? Because what God expects never changes. What the father here expected of the son has not changed. Because what you will notice is when the prodigal came back home, the father did not tell him, I'm so glad that you're home. I'm going to change all the rules of the household just for you. He didn't do that, did he? He didn't say, you know what? You're 21 years old now and you're smart enough. You've lived life a little bit, you, you've overcome some difficulties. You come home, we're not going to have any rules at all. That's not there either, is it?

God does not say things like that to us. God still expects the same from us when we return to him that he expected from us when we left him. He expects us to be his children. He expects us to be faithful to him. He expects us to do what? See their expectations. Here's one of the things when we leave God, what does he still expect us of when we return? He still expects us to worship him regularly. When you think about that and you think about the Hebrew writer talking about some who had forsaking the assembling of themselves together as the manner of some of you is, he was trying to get them to understand. God expects you to be together with other people worshiping me regularly.

Not only that is you have this then too. He expects this to continue to walk by faith daily, doesn't he? It's you come back and everything's fine. Everything's going to be different. No. The only thing that should be different when you come back to God as you, your attitude toward God. Jonah, his attitude toward God now is I'm going to preach the message that have been given, but for us, when we leave God, when we run away to the west like Jonah did or like the prodigal did from his father and we finally returned to him, the expectations don't change.

He still expects us to be a light in the world. Salt of the earth, influence in the world. He expects us to be kind, forgiving, tender hearted, loving one another, preferring one another. Being kind, you know, love your neighbor as yourself. He still expects those things from us, doesn't he? And when you think about it, he expects us to be fully engaged in his kingdom. This morning we were looking at the parable of the pounds in the Bible class and we were looking at, at the 10 servants that came to to the nobleman are the Nobel came to them and gave him the minah and he told them to conduct business until he returned. Here's the thing, in order for them to conduct business until he returned, they had to be fully engaged in his business. And for us as children of God today, we must remain fully engaged, be fully active, be fully working in the Kingdom of God.

When we separate ourselves from him, and when we come back, he doesn't give us time off. He doesn't say you don't have to do anything. But you work in his kingdom. You're active in his kingdom so that you can be that light in the world. You be active in that kingdom by by being kind and forgiving and tenderhearted. You be active in that kingdom because even though God isn't speaking directly to us like he did, Jonah as the word of the Lord came to him a second time. The word of the Lord has come to us right here and where to take it, we're to share it, where to give it to other individuals. So God expects those things from us. Second, I want you to understand that we do. You know we do not well. We do no one any favors if we hide the reality of God's judgment.

Here's the scary part of this list. What would have happened to Nineveh had they not listened to this message? They would've been destroyed in 40 days wouldn't they? See Jonah was doing Ninevah no favors when he ran away from them the first time, John who had it in his mind, we'll see this in chapter four. He knew God would forgive them. He knew God would relent if they repented. He didn't want to go because they're the enemy, but here's the thing. The enemy deserves the message of God just as much as we do. Here's another thing too in this. When you think about this, we do them no favors by not letting them know that God will punish the wicked. Think about this for just a minute, yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

See, Jonah needed to let these people understand that sin is never okay. Sin separates us from God. We know that don't we? Isaiah chapter 59 verses one and two we see that right there. We look at Romans Chapter Three in verse 23 we know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans six verse 23 we know that the wages of sin is death. We do no one any favors. If we do not talk about sin and the consequences of sin and what that means, then we need to talk about destruction, punishment and oh no, that is not, that is a horrible subject to talk about. And I agree it is a horrible subject to talk about. But people need to know about hell.

People need to know what's going to happen if they are going to remain separated from God. If they're going to remain in the west and not come back to the east where God is. You think about this. They need to understand that hell is real. Have you ever been paying attention to the scriptures? Do you pay attention to how hell is described in scripture? Matthew chapter nine verse 44 I mean Mark chapter nine in verse 44 it's described as a place where the worm never dies and the fire's not quenched. It's described in revelation chapter 20 and verse 14 as a lake of fire is described and Matthew Chapter Eight and verse 12 as outer darkness. Matthew Chapter 25 and verse 30 a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Revelation Chapter 20 and verse 14 describes it as the second death. It's everlasting.

It is eternal separation from God. It will be a place worse than anything that you will ever experience here on earth. And you may have heard somebody talk about how bad their life is and how they living. You know what their, their life right now is hell on earth. It's nothing compared to what it will be if you're separated from God. You think about that because hell is punishment. It's not a playground. It's not an amusement park. It is a place of eternal torment and punishment. Hell wasn't made for us. It was made for Satan. It was supposed to be his eternal home and not ours. Man was not created to live eternally there.

We were created in the image of God. We were created to dwell with him and not away with him from Him. And the sad reality of this. If Jonah had not gone and preach to these people this simple message, this eight word message, they would not have repented and they would have suffered punishment. And the sad reality for us today is if we're not sharing a similar message then whether we like it or not, the reality is is some people are going to end up there. Our responsibility is to teach the gospel. The third God is willing to forget. Of all the messages in the book of Jonah, this is the most encouraging one to me should be the most encouraging one to everybody for that matter is that if you're willing to repent, if you're willing to change his way, then God will not punish you eternally. Look at verse 10 again, as you think about this, everybody in Nineveh has done some things. God is willing to change. Jonah chapter three and verse 10 "then God saw their works that they had turned from their evil way and God relented from the disaster that he had said he would bring upon them and he did not do it."

What did God witnessed? It said, he saw their works. What did they do? God witnessed their repentance. That's what he did. Cause you go back and you look at verses prior to verse 10 you begin there, verse seven and you see this are verse six then "the word came to the king of Nineveh and he rose from his throne and latest aside his robe covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes and he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his noble saying, let neither man nor beast herd and or flock taste anything nor let them eat or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth and cry mightily to God. Yes. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from his violence that is in his hand, who can tell if God will turn and relent and turn away from his fierce anger so that we may not perish."

They believed, didn't they? A simple eight word message. You know, 40 days you're going to be destroyed. And I didn't use all eight words. I know that that's what Jonah preach to these people. They believed it. Now Jonah was the sign. I don't know, like again, the physical condition of Jonah after spending that time in inside this great fish. I don't know if he's covered from from debris from the sea and all that as he's going through there, through this town, but something about Jonah and the message convinced these people to believe. It, convinced them to cry out to the Lord, pray that he would relent. They caused him to humble themselves before him in sackcloth and ashes. And by fasting. They humiliated themselves before him. And I don't just simply mean humiliate to be embarrassed. They emptied themselves of themselves and everything around them at this particular time to show that they believed God and they repented.

God's saw their repentance. God saw that they wanted to turn from their evil ways. See, that's the beauty of this message right here, that even though hell is real and even though punishment is real, God is willing to forgive and you do not have to go there. You do not have to live eternally there. And what that tells me then is that God is a promise keeping God." Just like we see in second Peter Chapter Three Verse Nine The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some count slackness but as long suffering toward us not willing that any should perish." Because you look at the last verse of Chapter Four, God didn't want to have to destroy Nineveh and God chose that if they repented that he would not. And they did and he did not.

God does not, is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. So the Lord today doesn't want you to perish. He didn't want Nineveh to perish. He doesn't want you to perish. So why did God send Jonah to Nineveh? Why did God send his Son to die for us? Why were the apostle sent into the whole world to preach the Gospel? Why do we continue to preach the Gospel today? Because we know that God will forgive. We know that God loves enough to forgive those who are willing to come back to him. Ephesians chapter one verses seven and eight says this "In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence. "

We have redemption today through the blood of Jesus Christ. It's not old law redemption. It's not the redemption that Nineveh had, but it's through the son Jesus Christ. And so as Ananias would ask the apostle, the soon to become apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus. "Why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." God will relent. If you do this. God will forgive. If you do that. Here's the key. Once you come to him, don't leave him. Don't head West again. Stay where he is. And amazing things will become yours, an eternal home.

A life beyond compare in this world. Because God gave Nineveh a new life and he's willing to give us a new life as well. You see what happens? Good things happen when you obey God. Good things happen when you obey God. And so we encourage you this morning. Won't you become what God wants you to be? Won't you be what he desires you to be, his child? The song that we're about to sing is that heart right with God. None of his heart became right with God in Jonah chapter three. The prodigal son's heart became right with his father. In Luke Chapter 15 the opportunity for your heart to become right with God is today. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God? Act in that faith. Repent of your sins, confess Him before men. Be Baptized for the remission of your sins to rise and walk in newness of life and be faithful to him all your days. A crown of life is awaiting you. Is that your desire? If you strayed from him for any reason, you've headed west as a child, it's time to come back home. He'll receive you with open arms, confess your sin to him. Make your heart right with God. Once again. Can we help you with your spiritual need this morning? Won't you come as together we stand and as we sing.