And the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,…
Jonah was foolish, Jonah was wise; foolish to expect to balk God, wise to learn so quickly his folly. Misery, calamity, peril, and the sense of an ever present God who had brought them, did their work; and the prophet, back again at the starting-point, heeds the Divine voice, and turns with an obedient heart to fulfil the mission which he had thought to escape.
I. GOD'S AUTHORITY. The Being who speaks is conscious of His right. He does not mince words. God's demand on Jonah now is precisely what it was in the first place. There is no effort to compromise because of Jonah's former flight. Now comes the command again, plain, stern, uncompromising — "Arise, go, preach." The slight change of form in the expression seems full of meaning. "Arise, go, and preach the preaching that I bid thee." See that thou preach no other message than Mine. God owns men. All that we are, all that we have, all the service of our lives belongs to God. We delude ourselves with any sense of self-ownership. We get the idea that we own what God only loans to us.
II. GOD'S WAY WITH THE DISOBEDIENT. See how God goes to work to bring this man's will into subjection to His own. What a complex of world-wide, universe-wide machinery the Sovereign of all can set in motion for the subduing of a human spirit! Jonah is not more obdurate than Pharaoh. The storms, the seas, the worse tumults in his own bosom, the upbraidings of the crew, his thoughts of his past, his fear, — all are God's instruments, and under His direction each does its unconscious part toward the subjection of Jonah, and the salvation of the Assyrian capital. Jonah is a changed man. From a coward he has become a dauntless hero and prophet. Jonah thought himself free when he fled, but in fact his first real enjoyment of freedom came when he started to fulfil God's command.
III. GOD'S MISSIONARY MESSAGE AND ITS EFFECT. Jonah was the first foreign missionary. The men of far-off Nineveh were to learn of God, His love and holiness. The very heart of our conception of God as a moral being is His holiness. The holiness of God compels Him to insist upon holiness in all men. In Nineveh sin had taken on its most frightful developments. Nineveh had much, but it lacked just one element of fortune — righteousness. Nineveh's cup of iniquity was well-nigh full. Jonah's preaching was plain, earnest, effective, impressive. God went into the city with Jonah, but God had also gone before. The men of Nineveh were ready for the missionary. "The people believed God." To believe God is a great thing. The best possible evidence of the Ninevites' belief in the missionary's sermon was their conduct. They acted. They bestirred themselves as if they believed that the sin of their hearts and lives was endangering them. The ringing cry of Jonah reaches even the royal palace, and the king, humbled, joins his subjects in their plea for God's mercy. The people turned from their sin, and cried for mercy.
IV. GOD'S MERCY. God's heart was moved; doom was averted; Nineveh was saved. God was merciful to Jonah in following him through all his flight, in bringing him back to the starting-point, in using him though he had shown himself unworthy. God was merciful to Nineveh in sending the messenger to warn the city, and in preparing the hearts of the people for the message. And God is merciful in listening to their cry for forgiveness. God repented. His attitude toward Nineveh was changed. What changed it? Nineveh's attitude toward sin. What is meant by God's repentance? Speaking to man, God must use language with which man is familiar. Repentance means a changed attitude. The whole attitude of the Ninevites toward sin, and so, toward God, being changed, in that same hour God's attitude toward them was changed.
(John H. Mason.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,