Demands and Dread
D. James Kennedy

Running With God - Jonah 3

In Jonah 3, we find a man who has had a turn-about in his life reluctantly relenting and pursuing the call of God to go to a strange and hostile place to proclaim a message that will have one of two results.

The first possible result would be that his message would be received with characteristic hostility, rejection, and perhaps, violence. These folks, after all, had never listened before and they were the enemies of his country.

The second possible result was almost unbearable for Jonah to stomach. It repulsed him. It was the glimmer of chance that the people might receive the message and find mercy. The judgment that he, as a prophet, had been announcing would be diverted and God would have compassion on his enemies.

That is exactly what happened.

The Man of God

Jonah became, once again, the kind of man of God that God could use. This involved three areas of submission on his part. The first was a willingness to follow orders. He didn't have to like them; he just had to follow them. The second was mobility. He had to be willing to get up and go wherever it was he needed to go to do what he needed to do. The third was integrity. That meant he had to deliver the message he was given in all its simplicity and without adding to it or taking away from it.

Jonah met those three requirements. He was not perfect, but he was available to be the man of God that God was calling for that hour.

The Hand of God

The second and more important feature of this portion of the story is the visible outworking of the hand of God through Jonah and among the people of Nineveh.

Three principles of God's handiwork can be seen here.The first is that God works through proclamation. It does not have to be complex or eloquent; it must be His Word and it must be faithful, to His Word. The second is that God works from the bottom up. He started a stirring among the rank and file people of the city and it made its way up the ladder of power. The third is that God works from the top down as well as the King of the city received the message, he also responded and exercised his leadership to issue a proclamation  of repentance.

The Heart of God

In the response of God to the repentance of the people, we see His heart. It beats with compassion. It is flexible in methodology, but persistent in purpose. God cares about people. That is His compassion. He has a purpose to be known and worshiped by all and He is persistent in it. That means that He is willing to change His announced methodology to accomplish what He wants to do.

Jonah would not be happy as we will see in subsequent verses, but God was delighted. He accomplished what He had always intended to, the redemption of a people and reconciliation.