Jonah At Nineveh
Sermons by Monday Club
Jonah 3:5-9
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth…

I. NINEVEH'S SIN. Nahum describes Nineveh as "the bloody city, all full of lies and robbery." Zephaniah calls it "filthy and polluted," " the oppressing city." The Ninevites were gross and sensual, cruel in war, eagerly self-indulgent; a people of splendid physique and surprising courage, but cultivating bodily excellences and seeking physical pleasures without thought of their higher nature.

II. JONAH'S PREACHING. Dove-like, he was timid and despondent. He naturally shrank from delivering a message which might save a godless and hostile people from destruction. Jonah's mission was one of great risk.

III. NINEVEH'S REPENTANCE. The Ninevites stand aghast before Jonah. Though an immoral, yet they are a religious people. They believe in a higher power. They are moved by the voice of prophets. Jonah's terrible words are not unheeded. A panic seizes the inhabitants. The king also heard and believed; but he and his advisers discerned a ray of hope. A possibility of pardon seemed to be hinted in the very language of the message, and had foundation in the teachings of natural religion. What causes human misery? — Sin, nothing but sin. If the cause be removed may not the result cease? Still, in this chain of reasoning there is one broken link, and the Ninevites were not certain it could be welded. To stop present sin is indeed to stop the cause of woe; but repentance does not affect the past, and the momentum of sins before committed may hurl a train of miseries far into the future. Repentance is, in fact, of itself an insufficient ground for forgiveness. It does not touch the past. The wonder is, how God, on the ground of man's repentance, can make it consistent to forgive him. Had not God at this very hour of Nineveh's sin had it in His plan to send His Son to earth to die for man there could have been no forgiveness for Nineveh. The turning or repentance was the condition on which God would forgive. Was this repentance sincere and lasting? It did not produce permanent results upon the nation. But this is no reason to suppose that the reformation in Jonah's time was not thorough. A nation easily relapses into sin. There is no evidence that pains were taken to confirm the work at Nineveh.

IV. GOD'S FORGIVENESS. "God repented." How shall we reconcile this statement with God's unchangeableness? It is man that changes, not God. How shall we reconcile the state-merit with God's veracity? When God threatens, if the condition of things be changed which makes the evil necessary, the threatening may be mitigated, if not given up entirely. How shall we reconcile God's forgiveness with God's justice? Repentance does not atone for the past. It simply is man's part in making Christ's work efficacious. Repentance stops the entrance of further evil into the heart. The narrative strikingly illustrates God's love, His eagerness, we may say, to forgive. The love-side of God's nature is peculiarly prominent in the Christian dispensation. Notice, in conclusion, the contrasts suggested by the text. The case of Nineveh stands before the impenitent to-day as an expostulation and a rebuke.

(Sermons by Monday Club.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

WEB: The people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

God's Purpose of Grace in the Salvation of Sinners
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