The Book of Jonah Survey
Gods Mercy to the Wicked
Pr Edi Giudetti
The more time you spend with a person the more you come to know what they are truly like. What makes them happy, what makes them sad, what gets them angry and what pleases them.
You come to know their weaknesses and their strengths, you come to know their tastes, what they like and don’t like.
It does not take long, but they will soon become predictable to a degree, you know how they will respond in certain situations.
If you are in a good marriage, you know what I am talking about.
If your marriage is to a wicked person, you find the opposite of predictability.
They are capricious. In other words, un knowable, unpredictable.
You don’t really know how they will respond to a given situation. One minute they are pleased and the next angered for no apparent reason.
In a way, Jonah’s historical account is much like that.
The behaviour and actions of the Lord are consistent and known by Jonah;
The Ninevites in this account, were unpredictable, and did that which was not expected by Jonah.
And that was all that saved them. One right but unpredictable decision.
GODS MERCY IS TO THE WICKED
1 Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (Jon 1:1-2)
Immediately in the first TWO verses of chapter ONE we have our purpose of the Book. And that is GODS MERCY IS TO THE WICKED.
God does not desire to cry against man unless it is to save man.
If we are to see a man about to step in front of a bus, we CRY to him for only one purpose, to save him. In this case we have the Lord call a man to cry his call to a wicked city.
The Lord calls Jonah, the son of Amittai.
We should remember the origin of all Surnames, is to properly single out and identify individuals. Some of your surnames represent a city or region from where your ancestors originate, many Italian names begin with the Prefix “De” which simply means “From” and it could be a place, person, occupation etc.
English Surnames are similar, the Black Smiths of England obviously had many children, so too many men named John had sons. The two most popular surnames in England? Smith and Johnson.
Jonah the son of Amittai is no exception, the description was to single him out from any other Jonah.
Turn to 2 Kings 14:23-25
23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. 24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. 25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher.
Here we are given some clarity on several things of Jonah;
- Location = Gath-hepher, which is a little South West of Galilee.
- Timeframe = Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria. This is Jeroboam II and places the life of Jonah in the mid 8th century BC.
This fits perfectly with the history of the Northern Kingdom of Israel as they were not yet taken by the Assyrians into Captivity, and the Assyrians of Nineveh where not yet destroyed by the Babylonians as described in the Book of the Prophet Naham.
With a clearer historical placement of Jonah, we come to consider the underlying message of the book which I find presented to us in the second verse;
2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me
In one sentence we come to see the heart of the Lord. To extend MERCY TO THE WICKED.
Here we have God command one who knows him, to preach to a world that does not know him.
And not just any world, one of the most wicked regimes of history whose atrocities and barbarity in dealing with those they conquered would take our breath away.
The god they followed in the goddess Ishtar, known previously as Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, sensuality, fertility, procreation and war. She is represented as Astarte in the Phoenician culture, as Aphrodite in the Greek, and as the Bright morning and evening star of Venus in Roman culture.
Jeremiah in scripture refers to her as “the queen of heaven”, an Idol worshipped by the remnants of Judah.
And finally she is ignorantly celebrated every year TODAY at Easter time. That’s why we give eggs and speak of Bunnies, this is traditionally a celebration of the Goddess of Fertility and those are two of the symbols.
It is celebrated during the Vernal Equinox in the Northern hemisphere. A time when Autumn turns to Spring, where pagans and wiccans consider the dead turn to life.
Equinox is when the day and night is of equal length. And Easter is the Sunday after the full moon.
In line with her nature worshippers in Nineveh indulged in all forms of Sexual observances. Sacrifices involved cannibalism and the offering of the first born child to the demon goddess.
And so much more.
The Ninevites were so evil that their wickedness was come up before the Lord and he desired to have a cry pronounced against them.
God desires that those who know God will cry for those who do not. We will see that the cry given to Jonah was not eloquent, but direct and given to him exactly as God commanded.
There are times we may feel that the world is too wicked, or times when you look at a person and they look so filled with evil, and yet the Lord desires that those who know God will cry to them on his behalf.
If the Lord commands a cry to a nation that had no fear of God then, how much also today?
THE BALANCE OF CHAPTER ONE
The rest of the Chapter describes Jonah fleeing from this command of the Lord.
Crying to his own people for the benefit of his own people did not seem to be a problem for him in 2 Kings 14, but to cry to a nation that has been so evil to his own people, for their benefit, is too much for Jonah.
JONAH did not obey to make opportunity for these gentiles, and found himself three days and three nights in the belly of a whale.
Jesus obeyed to make opportunity for all and found himself three days and three night in the belly of the Earth.
Jonah was the only sign Jesus approved of to witness him to those who sought a sign.
GODS MERCY IS TO THE REPENTANT
2 Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly, 2 And said,
I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me;
Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
The first two verses of chapter two gives to us also a picture of GODS MERCY TO THE REPENTANT.
Jonah did not raise up at this time a Cry to the Ninevites, but he did Cry unto the Lord, in repentance even out of the fishes belly, the belly of hell.
And then one of the most profound verses in the book of Jonah, verse 8
8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
Jonah seems to admit his error in this verse. The lying vanities refer specifically to the thoughts of his own mind.
He believed his own mind, he “Observed lying vanities” and as a result “forsook his own mercy”.
As a result of the Repentance of Nineveh Israel where given another 50 years grace to repent of their sin before they were taken away by the Assyrians.
The mercy that the Lord extended to Nineveh by first giving them an opportunity to repent, had the added benefit of mercy to Jonah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel
Brethren, we do not often know why the Lord does what he does and for what purpose, but what we have seen throughout this series of studies is that the Lord is GOOD, and his MERCY ENDURETH FOREVER.
GODS MERCY IS TO THE REPENTANT
Jonah admitted here, for a time, that to observe the vain thoughts of our imaginations finds us forsaking our own mercy.
Many years ago I went through a very stressful time in my life, my company was on the verge of collapse and I was having great difficulty being paid by those who owed my company money.
One time I was on my way to a client builder who had given me a relatively difficult time in settling his debts.
The night before our meeting I could not sleep, I found myself arguing with this person in my head, I was anticipating how I thought the meeting would go.
- I would say this, and he will say that;
- Then, when he says that, I will say this;
- But if he says this in response to what I said; I WILL SAY THIS
Now, you must understand that this imaginary conversation/argument, was not on a positive spiral but A NEGETIVE SPIRAL.
The Mind does not naturally think positively when we OBSERVE LYING VANITIES, it always thinks negatively, and its only ever related to RELATIONSHIPS / PEOPLE.
Not only did I not sleep that night, but I argued with this individual the entire drive to meet him. My entire body was so tightly wound that I was sick with how this meeting would turn out.
When we OBSERVE LYING VANITIES, we are the ones affected, NOT THOSE WHO CONSUME OUR THOUGHTS. The Ninevites had no thought of Jonah, but his vain thoughts landed him in deep water.
We also find that it places us in situations where decisions may be made based upon them.
Think of this for a moment, we IMAGINE a given situation from nothing other than our own minds (this is a LYING VANITY), then we make ACTUAL IMPORTANT decisions based solely ON THAT WHICH WE CREATED IN OUR HEADS.
Ever done that?
Jonah took a boat in the opposite direction, found himself in the depth of the sea and swallowed by a whale. All because he thought what he thought was true, even though all he knows of God tells him to trust him.
Brethren, relationships the world over are broken to pieces because “THEY THAT OBSERVE LYING VANITIES FORSAKE THEIR OWN MERCY”.
If you determine a course of actions based only on what YOU THINK will be the outcome, you may find yourself affected the most.
The NET RESULT of “Observing lying vanities” is ALWAYS against you.
But THOSE WHO’S TRUST IS THE LORD, there is rest for their souls.
I got to the client, exchanged “hello’s” and he handed me my cheque.
ALL THAT FEAR, ALL THAT PENT UP ANGER, ALL THAT CONVERSATION AND ARGUMENT WITH NONE OTHER THAN MY OWN MIND, was for nothing.
I would not be as grey as I am if this did not happen to me often.
GOD’S MERCY IS TO THE REPENTANT
If you have suffered with this OBSERVATION OF LYING VANITIES, there is mercy with the Lord. Turn to him and have him give you rest for your anxious heart.
GODS MERCY IS TO BE PREACHED
3 And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
Here we now have the first two verses of Chapter three that tell us with all plainness that GODS MERCY IS TO BE PREACHED.
It is the WORD OF THE LORD that we are given and it was the WORD OF THE LORD that came AGAIN to Jonah. It is through the preaching of that ‘Gospel hope of God’ that men receive mercy.
Turn with me to Romans 10:13-15
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
We see right at the beginning, that the Gospel is not limited to “Good” people, but to “Whosoever”.
If Jonah was to preach to “good” people I am sure he would have gone willingly, but he was to preach to the most wicked.
We will see in Chapter 4 that it was not fear that prevented him. We get no hint of fear in Jonah about the people, but more fear that THEY WILL REPENT and GOD WILL SHOW MERCY.
Are you a good person? Or are you a “Whosoever”?
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Those who believe they are good people CANNOT BE SAVED
GOOD PEOPLE ARE NOT EVEN CALLED, Jesus said “for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mt 9:13)
If you don’t think you are sick, what need do you have of a doctor? Jesus said “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick:” (Mrk 2;17)
The Lord clarifies again in John 9:41
If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
People who think they are good will not come to the Lord to be saved, for they don’t believe they have anything to be saved from. Its that simple.
Most people think they are good and have no need of a saviour. Those that don’t think they are lost will not seek to be found!
This is what is called the Broad way that leadeth to destruction, why? Because many people go in that way.
go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
A preacher is needed.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent?
GODS MERCY IS TO BE PREACHED
3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.
The vessel that carried him to land was a great fish, (it is clarified as a Whale in Mat 12:40).
His journey will not be a small one. Nineveh is over 600km away from any large body of water.
Whether it is the Black sea to the North, the Caspian Sea to the East or the Mediterranean Sea to the West.
As Jonah was headed to Tarshish (No one knows for sure where Tarshish is but all believe it was within the Mediterranean area or thereabouts), and as the other seas are closed seas and not open to ocean waters, we expect only the Mediterranean Sea would welcome a whale.
At 20km per day it would take Jonah at least 30 days to get to Nineveh.
The Lord tells us the expanse of the City was three days journey. Archaeologists have not found walls that extend that distance and presumed the passage an exaggeration.
But the passage may refer to a fenced city or the City state.
Today the area is known as the “Nineveh Governorate” and it extends to the city of Mosul on the banks of the Tigris River, the very place taken over by ISIS and the venue for the most atrocious killings of Christians including their Children.
I have seen footage and can only say that it was greatly disturbing and the wickedness of ISIS was in line with the nature of the Nineveh of Jonah.
Read with me the miracle of ancient Nineveh from verse 4
4 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.
This is the literal extent of the preaching of Jonah, this is what the Lord bid Jonah to cry to the people.
5 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.
What astounds me about the passage is that ALL the people knew that it was God that cried unto them. They were without doubt.
It always astounds me as I see the Lord hold his own people accountable to know it is he who prophesies to them through the voice of men.
What is there that is so distinct about the cry of the Lord than that of an ordinary man?
Why is it that Gods own people often to not hear his voice and yet here we have those who do not know God and yet recognize the voice of God through a reluctant prophet?
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
Notice that Jonah’s words had no hint of ultimatum for the people, this was not received as a warning but as a certain outcome WITHIN A TIME FRAME.
And yet the people Knew it was God who made the declaration and they fell upon his mercy. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? A mercy that they no doubt rarely provided to those they afflicted.
10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Each of us deserve the end for which Nineveh was destined.
We stored up wrath each day unto the day of wrath. We all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God, there is no good in man, all our works and all our thoughts are only evil continually.
We are swift to shed blood, we hate so readily, destruction and misery is in our ways and the way of peace we had not known.
No matter how often you hear of that word ‘Hate’ come out of another, know that they too are tarnished with the same brush.
No matter how often we concern ourselves of feeling judged by others, know of a certainty that that feeling we have is the greatest evidence that we feel righteous enough to judge others. Those who so quickly judge others for their sin are the greatest sinners themselves.
There is none good, no not one.
The ten commandments are the single finest reference standard for Good.
It’s not you and I who can judge between ourselves, it is God alone that sets the standard and he gave ten single DOT POINTS for us to consider.
The Ninevites did not fit the standard, they broke them all even though they never had “The Oracles of God” to measure themselves by as far as we know.
Jesus clarified the standards for us, and we have had them for the last two thousand years. Our Governments Legal system and Laws are based on the ten commandments and we too have BROKEN THEM ALL.
Let’s cut to the quick and pick the worst of them to our minds;
Oh, but I have not committed adultery!
Jesus said if you look at a woman with lust you have already committed adultery in your hearts.
Oh but I have not killed!
Jesus said if you have hated another person you have already committed murder in your hearts.
These are the two worst we like to measure ourselves against, what of the others?
Dishonour of parents?
Blasphemy by mouth or life?
Lust and envy?
Unwilling to serve God?
Friends, Jesus did not die because you stole a grape from the supermarket Fruit and Vegie section. He died for the wicked heart that thinks that is justified!
Jesus died for those who look to others to justify their sin rather than God.
All this and YET WE HAVE THE TEN COMANDMENTS AS THE UNDERPIN OF OUR SOCIETY?
WHO DESERVES THE GREATER JUDGEMENT?
Us or Nineveh? Think about it; if you know the law and yet break it, are you better or worse that those who break the law never knowing there was a law?
Turn to Matthew 12:41
41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
We have seen the evidence of the truth of Jesus Christ for two thousand years.
Will the men of wicked Nineveh have the right to judge you?
GODS MERCY IS TO BE PREACHED, but it has no effect unless it is received by broken hearts.
6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
The greatest and most powerful man in the Kingdom left his throne to kneel before Gods throne.
The most wicked leader of the most wicked people, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes, yet most of us just sit here and think we have nothing to repent of.
Many will also listen to this message and think they made their plans well and have no fear of the Judgement of the Men of Nineveh!
“THE QUESTION ISN’T ‘WHY WOULD A LOVING GOD SEND PEOPLE TO HELL’,
THE QUESTION IS ‘WHY WOULD ANYONE CHOOSE HELL OVER A LOVEING GOD?’
Gods MERCY IS TO BE EXPECTED
4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. 2 And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.
Finally, in the first two verses of the forth chapter of Jonah we see clearly that GODS MERCY IS TO BE EXPECTED.
In short we have only expounded the first two verses of each chapter to give to us the witnesses we needed to know that;
GODS MERCY IS TO THE WICKED
GODS MERCY IS TO THE REPENTANT
GODS MERCY IS TO BE PREACHED
GODS MERCY IS TO BE EXPECTED
Jonah knew that God would show mercy to the Ninevites, but he did not know that such wicked people would hear the word of God and express such sorrow for their sin.
Jonah knows that God is Gracious, in other words he gives good that is undeserved; God is slow to anger, he knows the heart and limits of every man; God is of great kindness, even to command us to love our enemies.
Jonah knew all this about God, but he did not know the hearts of the Ninevites and that’s part of why Jonah ‘OBSERVED LYING VANITIES’, he made decisions based, not on faith and trust that God knows what he is doing, but on the hatred he built within his heart desiring the destruction of the wicked.
But the hearts of these wicked people melted before the words of a Holy God and God spared the city for a time.
was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Says Jonah.
Knowing Gods nature was the very reason he fled from God, choosing rather to die in the depths of the sea than to preach to the enemies of his people,
In the third verse again Jonah would rather have died than to see these wicked people repent and be spared Gods wrath.
So he chose to disobey God than to give opportunity for his enemies to repent.
There are people today who take pleasure in knowing that Death will come upon the wicked that and hell will be the eternal torment of the sinner.
For example, they see the evil of the homosexual agenda and take pleasure in believing that “they will receive in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Rom 1:27).
But preach the truth of God in the nature of the Love and Mercy of God? They won’t. Preach that Gods desire for them is eternal hope in heaven? No.
I have spoken to men who even believe they should not be allowed in the Church. They told me simply, “I hate them”.
Is that the Love of God demonstrated to the wicked? These Christian men even admit to a lack of love, and there is a great problem with that.
These are the Jonah’s of today, reluctant prophets who have the hope of God in them but will not share it, is this Christ in us?
Is this the heart of the Lord? He died for these people and yet these hypocrites won’t live for them.
I told one individual that there are many who sit comfortable in their church pews and even some who stand in their pulpits, who’s sin is worse than that of the homosexual. What do we do there?
They have the word of God in their laps, the Spirit of God in their hearts, the grace of God in their lives and the hope of God on their lips, and yet they can also be;
Dishonouring to parents
Blasphemers in life
Lustful and envious
Unwilling to serve God
Yet they think the homosexuals are sinners above all the Galileans, and hope the tower of Siloam will fall on them! (Turn to Luke 13:1-5)
13 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
But the GODS MERCY IS TO BE EXPECTED, PREACHED to the REPENTANT and the WICKED.
The will of God is that none should perish but all come to repentance.
Sometimes we do need to remove the beam from our own eyes to see the wonderful Hope that God offers to all of man.
We need to pray for those in sin and not run from them. Love them like the one who died for them, so they can see the love of Jesus reflected in us. This is not unreasonable, this is our duty!
Forgive them of their sin against you, for it is certain that many of them also OBSERVE LYING VANITIES AND FORSAKE THEIR OWN MERCY.
If that describes you, then there is one message for you, and how I pray it will sink down in your hearts and even be a splinter in your side.
Jonah cried to the wicked, 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
I preach to you saying. Your life could end much sooner than you think, if you die in your sin you will live for all eternity suffering the conscious torment of hell with the Devil. THIS IS AN ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY.
NONE WHO DIE IN THEIR SIN WILL EVER “REST IN PEACE”.
Most people who die today have made plans for tomorrow;
Do not forsake your own mercy.
I don’t know the decision you will make today, you are unpredictable and, like the Ninevites, you may indeed humble yourself and seek his forgiveness and “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that YOU perish not?”
But for as long as you live you know that God is predictable, his mercy and grace will provide you with opportunity all the days the candle of your life burns.
But if a slight gust extinguishes your life’s candle, so too is extinguished Gods mercy upon you.