And the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,…
And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee, etc.
I. REINSTATEMENT OF THE PROPHET. "The word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time." Jonah's rebellion had had a twofold effect on his relations to God - broken up his personal fellowship with him, and suspended his official function as a prophet. God's grace restored him both personally and officially, as afterwards in the case of Peter; but, as in this case, the restoration of the first did not necessarily include that of the second. Servants of God who have fallen need a second call to public service; it needs to be shown that God trusts them with his work again. It is natural for ministers who have been publicly dealt with and censured to desire to be reponed; but this cannot be rightly done without some token that God again calls them.
II. THE NEW COMMISSION. "Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." We know not where Jonah was - where he had been landed - what had happened in the interval. Imagination can picture the prophet on the shore making for Gath-hepher, and probably arriving there. Again the message is preceded by the word of stimulation, "Arise;" brace thyself, prepare for arduous work; and this time it would bring a lesson of warning - remember how easily you were turned aside before! The work was not to be made easier out of regard to the prophet's proved weakness, but the prophet must seek a higher strength. The greatness of Nineveh is again dwelt on - "Nineveh, that great city" - "an exceeding great city, and great unto God" (ver. 3). "Think of a whole vast city, full of this humanity, of this God-breathed life; and is it surprising that a great city should be great unto God? What flashings of intellectual lights in one day! - as many almost as the separate rays of the sun. What throbbings of moral or immoral purpose, the moral faculty acting in each! What a sighing of wandering spirits, unconsciously or blindly seeking the lost portion! What a swell and heave of the great tide of animated life composed of the blended individual streams I London is like a great and wide sea of life. The daily agitations which stir in her bosom are felt in feebler pulsings even in far off shores; and in multitudes which no man can number her thoughts and acts, and in these her checkered moral history, are going up to God's heaven. Such was Nineveh of old, and for such reasons as we have named, it was still, as at first, a city great to God" (Raleigh). The message is somewhat different from before: "Preach the preaching literally, 'cry the cry'] that I bid thee." This may either mean, "the cry that I will bid thee at the time," or "the cry that I already bade thee." Either Jonah was to go, like an admiral, with sealed orders to be opened at a certain place; or he was to say what he had been ordered to say before, but had shrunk from saying. The latter view is probably correct - a further trial of Jonah's sincerity and submissiveness - in the very matter which had dissatisfied him before, he was called to place himself in God's hands, and to engage to do precisely as God would direct. In all cases, true preaching is "the preaching that I bid thee." It is a simple message from God; it becomes effectual when it is given as such. All very well to be able to reconcile it with reason and commend it to the conscience, and to set it forth with the enrichments of learning and, the embellishments of art; but there is danger lest its true simple nature be thereby disguised; nothing should be allowed which prevents it from being presented as a simple message from God: "the preaching that I bid thee." "How often did our Lord disclaim the authorship of all that he said, and assign it continually to the Father! 'Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me; the words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself' (John 7:16). Himself personally cognizant of all truth, he acts as the Church's Teacher under the responsibility and within the exact limits of his office. Officially ordained the Father's Ambassador, he confines himself to a declaration of the Father's words.... Exactly as the Father had said unto him, so he speaks" (Martin).
III. THE OBEDIENCE OF THE PROPHET. "So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord." "How different every way from what he was when he fled to Tarshish? We see him no more consulting with flesh and blood, but yielding prompt obedience to the heavenly call. No more running away, but asking, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Here am I; send me.' The Lord saith, 'Go to Nineveh;' he instantly goes without gainsaying or resistance" (Jones). "In the present case, Jonah would resume his commission with a new obedience; with a meekness, a faith, a courage, to all of which his punishment and pardon had been the signal means of disciplining him. He would resume his work and mission with another spirit -
(1) as a sinful man, whose sin had been eminently forgiven;
(2) as a prayerful man, whose prayer had been eminently answered;
(3) as an afflicted man, whose affliction had been eminently blessed" (Martin). "The Word says, 'Arise,' and Jonah arose; the Word says, 'Go,' and Jonah went. It is beautiful It is grand. We must not indeed exaggerate. For we know that there is something dark and bitter in this man still, which will break out again. But meantime, and in this act of obedience, so far as we see it, there is a grandeur like that of an angel - a simplicity like that of a child" (Raleigh).
IV. THE MESSAGE DELIVERED. "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 in Nineveh - what a contrast to Gath-hepher, Joppa, or even Jerusalem! What temples! what tombs! what monuments! - what new impressions of its vastness and power! Perhaps new impressions of its horrible treatment of those who opposed themselves to it. It was no uncommon sight to witness a row of prisoners, each impaled alive on an iron spike; or men of mark flayed alive; or captives, with hooks in nose, dragged by halters, carrying the bleeding heads of their kings or nobles. Anyhow, pictures of such things abounded. They made no undue impression on Jonah. "Strong in faith," he went boldly forward and delivered the message. "He cried, and said" - lifted up his voice like a trumpet - under the windows of the rich, in the resorts of the poor - before the proud military array - before nobles and judges and all His message was more specific and startling than before. Stern, but faithful and honest preaching; no flattery; no shrinking from exposure of the true mind of God. They might do with him as they pleased; he had not a single friend in that vast multitude - no protection but God's - nevertheless, he would proclaim the message. As John Knox said long afterwards, "I am in the place where I am commanded of God to speak the truth; and the truth I will speak, impugn it whoso list." Contrast the feeling of Jonah now and when he fled to go to Tarshish. His soul tumultuous and agitated then, in peace and serenity now. "He that sayeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Acknowledge the reality of Divine protection and strength - sense of peace and proof of it, for, after all, fidelity to God is the true policy. "Them that honour me, I will honour" (1 Samuel 2:30). - W.G.B.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,