Here’s the notes for my sermon on Jonah 3 “God’s Relenting Mercy” preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship in Naperville. You can listen to the audio here.
Jonah 3: “God’s Relenting Mercy” (1/29/23)
Intro: What’s the theme of Jonah? I believe it’s God’s mercy: God’s mercy toward his people and all who call Him.
-What is mercy? Mercy= God not giving us the punishment we deserve.
-Different parts of the Jonah help us see different aspects of God’s mercy.
Ch 1: Unexpected Mercy of God—God’s mercy is often comes in unexpected ways.
-God calls his prophet Jonah to proclaim His message to Nineveh
-Nineveh was in Assyria, an extremely violent and cruel nation (cut of body parts, skinned people alive)
-An enemy of Israel. A wicked city that deserved judgment, but could experience mercy
-Jonah disobeys God’s call and takes a boat to Tarshish (opposite direction of Nineveh)
-God sends a great storm on the sea to thwart Jonah’s plans and punish him for his disobedience.
-Ship about to sink, Jonah is to blame, and asks to be thrown overboard into the Mediterranean Sea.
-After being thrown over, the sea calms, and the sailors place their faith in the LORD.
-Examples of GOD’S UNEXPECTED MERCY:
-Mercy to Jonah (God thwarts his plans to disobey Gods’ call on his life)
-Mercy to pagan sailors (they are converted, and place their faith in the LORD).
-God’s mercy often comes in unexpected ways!
Ch 2: Saving Mercy of God—God’s mercy is a mercy that saves.
-As Jonah was sinking into water, he cried out to God for help. God heard his prayer and appoint a fish to swallow him!
-Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of the fish and prayed to God, and recommitted himself to follow God.
-After Jonah spends 3 days and 3 nights in the great fish, God appoints the fish to vomit him back on dry land.
-God’s mercy is the kind of mercy that saves!
Ch 3 (TODAY): ‘God’s RELENTING MERCY of God.’
God shows his mercy by relenting of judgment when people repent of sin!
-To “relent” means to not continue in the way pronounced. (Our use: Great snow storm relented).
-God warns of a sure judgment for sin, but when people repent of sin, God shows mercy and relents of judgment
-Wonderful aspect of God’s mercy! ONLY it can give us hope when as consider our own sin & God’s judgment!
M.P.: “Brothers and Sisters: take heart, though we have sinned, God shows us mercy through Christ!”
1. Jonah’s 2nd Chance (READ 1-2)
This is Jonah’s “recommissioning”
-God’s word comes to Jonah a “second time”
-The task is the same as earlier: “go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you”
-Jonah is recommissioned and called to proclaim God’s message to Nineveh.
*OBSERVE WITH ME: God’s tender mercy to Jonah–Giving him another chance to obey!
-God’s tender mercy to us! He gives us so many ‘second chances’ to obey and do what is right.
-For me—I see that in various sins and immaturity: right now, it is self-control in phone usage.
-God is gentle and kind to help us, even as we sin again and again.
2. Jonah’s Obedience (READ 3-4)
Jonah responds very differently from ch 1.
-Jonah obeys and goes to Nineveh: Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.
-There is a goodness in obeying God. It is pleasing to Him and good for our souls.
– Don’t let pride stop you from doing what is right, even it’s different from before.
-Nineveh was huge: Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth.
-This would have been a daunting task for Jonah.
-A very violent city too: there enemies feared them. -Jonah proclaims God’s word: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
-Message of God’s Judgment: Nineveh shall be overthrown
-Timeline of Judgment: 40 days
-Commentators note: Jonah’s preaching was probably longer
-Also, Jonah likely mentioned his own experience in great fish (Matt 12:38-41)
-If 3 Jonah’s days in whale was a sign to Nineveh, they probably heard something about it.
OBSERVE: God is holy and he judges sin and warns of a future day of Judgment and future punishment of sin in hell.
-God judging sin and sending people to hell is not popular today, but God is just in punishing sin: NCC 18
-Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone else in the Bible.
-We will not treasure God’s mercy fully until we grasp what we have been saved from.
3. The Ninevites Response (5-9)
The response of the Ninevites is astonishing and wonderful.
-They believe God (5a): And the people of Nineveh believed God
-They believed the message they heard from Jonah, and the terrifying truth about impending judgment.
-Their belief shows itself in repentance (5b-8)
-Humbling themselves, fasting (intentionally abstaining from food in order to humble oneself before God)
-The king humbled himself and issued a proclamation to fast
-Greatest to the least!
-Called out to God “and let them call out mightily to God”
-Turn from their sins and violence: “Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.”
-TRUE Faith shows itself in repentance and good works (Jas 2:17)
QUESTION: Is your repentance as thorough as the Ninevites?
-Ninevites hoped that God might show mercy and relent from the message of judgment (9)
-Hope expressed: 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
-They did not know, but they hoped in God’s mercy.
-Opposite of arrogant presumption, or assuming God never punishes sin.
*OBSERVE Jesus’ Comment on this chapter: Matt 12:38-41
–POINT: If Ninevites believed in Jonah, how much more should we believe and repent at words and signs of Jesus!
-The light of Christ is much brighter than Jonah, how much more should we respond with repentance & faith!
4. God’s Response to the Ninevites’ Faith and Repentance (10)
HOW WILL GOD RESPOND?
-God notices their repentance: When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way
-Nothing is hidden from God, but here Scripture is speaks of God particularly taken notice of their repentance-God RELENTED: God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
-“relent” is to choose to respond in a different way.
-God relents of judgment=he chooses not to bring judgment upon Nineveh. “he did not do it”
-See also Jere 18:7-8 (proclamation of judgment includes hope of repentance)
-God does not change, but responds to those who repent
ESV Study Bible note: “From a temporal perspective, God responds to human action; from an eternal perspective, God chooses the means (human repenting) as well as the end (divine relenting).”
-It turns out that God’s message of judgment always carried with it the promise of mercy!
GOSPEL CONNECTION: THE FULFILLMENT OF GOD’S MERCY IN THE GOSPEL
-We deserve God’s judgment (Titus 3:3)
-God saves us, not because of our own works
-We are saved “ACCORDING TO HIS OWN MERCY”!
-Justified by his grace.
-Jesus took the judgment for us, as we repent of sin and believe the gospel!
-Romans 10:9-10—Saved by faith!
1. Believe on Jesus and repent of sin. You will experience the mercy of God, a mercy that relents of judgment.
2. Brothers and Sisters: Take heart as you see your sin.
-If you have believed in Jesus and trusted in Him as your Lord and Savior, you can be assured of God’s mercy.
-You have peace with God now (Romans 5:1)
-You have assurance of a future without condemnation (Romans 5:9-11)
“Brothers and Sisters: take heart, though we have sinned, God shows us mercy through Christ!”