Read: Jonah 3
Reflect: “The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time”. (Jonah 3:1) What? A second time? Is that what it says? Jonah messed up the first time and now God was giving him a second chance. Unbelievable!
Now, I give out second chances all the time – you must, in order to be a 1st grade teacher. Just the other day, the kids were making a snowman. The very first thing I did was hold up the sample snowman that the teacher had made and showed the class what theirs was to look like. It had the three big balls of snow for the body, it had the coal placed exactly where it should for the eyes, and of course the long carrot that protruded from the head to bring this snowman to life. Everything was explained to the kids so that they could make their own jolly creature. At least, that is what I thought! The paper was passed out, the kids began to cut out everything: the circles for the body, the black construction paper for the coal and the carrot for the nose. Next, they began to put everything into place, and they finally got to show me their masterpieces. One boy’s snowman had an orange tail with black legs. Another made his snowman in a horizontal position as if he was hibernating for the winter. But the one I loved the most was the one with the carrot coming out of his head as if he were the first “unicorn snowman”. So, what did I do? What any 1st grade teacher would do in that situation: I gave the kids a second chance. Fortunately, there were only a few that needed a complete makeover. I repeated the instructions and gave them some more construction paper, scissors, glue, and a little more oversite!
God’s instructions to Jonah were very clear: Go to Nineveh, preach the gospel, and clean up that city. So instead of doing exactly what God wanted him to do, Jonah decided he would make his own snowman and he would make it look the way he wanted it to. But praise God that I’m not the only one who gives out second chances.
Jonah’s response improved the 2nd time around. Jonah 3:2 contains some very encouraging words: “Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh”. As a result of that obedience, an entire city was changed overnight. “The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast and all of them from the least to the greatest put on sackcloth”. (3:5) Even the king took off his robes and put on sackcloth and sat down in the dust.
I was reminded of a revival in another major city that happened in the 1800’s. Jeremiah Lanphier felt called by God to bring the Gospel to the city of New York. September 23, 1857, Lanphier began a Bible Study in the city with only 4 people. It grew to 16. In 3 weeks, he had 40. Conversions began numbering in the thousands in New York City. As Jonah affected Nineveh and Lanphier touched NYC, they both discovered what happens when someone is obedient to the Lord. They both saw a city changed through the preaching of the Gospel. Unfortunately for Jonah, his experience came as a result of his disobedience.
Apply: I believe in the God of second chances. And third. And fourth, and so on. All of us have faced something in our lives that we just couldn’t deal with. It has seemed to have a hold on us, tempting to destroy our lives. Whether it has been a hatred for someone that we just couldn’t stand to be around for over a decade, a lie that we knew wasn’t true and were afraid that someone would find out about it, or maybe a never-ending addiction to pornography. There are many areas in life that we have failed to be obedient to the Lord. Listening to the Word of God and submitting yourself to his will, is you can go to that can correct the problem. Jonah was one of those guys who learned the hard way. So, if your snowman looks like a “unicorn snowman” or your life feels like you have just been swallowed up a whale, remember, Jonah got a second chance and so can you.