Journey Through The Scriptures

Jonah: God’s Reluctant Prophet

Lesson 4: A Second Chance at Nineveh

(Scripture to Read: Jonah 3:1 – 4)

As Jonah lay somewhere on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, he must have rejoiced to see the sun again. God had miraculously spared the prophet’s life for a reason—which Jonah surely knew, but which God confirmed by calling Jonah “a second time” (v. 1).

This time Jonah obeyed without hesitation, although we know that deep in his heart, he still was not eager to help save the people of Nineveh from destruction. Jonah was chastened and repentant, but he was still a loyal Israelite! Nineveh was the heart of a hostile empire, and the Assyrians were widely known for their cruelty to their enemies.

But in spite of Jonah’s strong feelings, he knew obedience to God was the only path to take after getting his life back. Thus, “Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh” (v. 3). It was such a large city the Scripture seems to imply it was as much as sixty miles in circumference. We also learn later that it was heavily populated. We can imagine Jonah’s sense of personal distaste, and surely his sense of awe, as he walked through Nineveh proclaiming God’s message.

Study Questions

  1. What is different about God’s call to Jonah in 3:2 as compared to 1:2?
  2. Throughout the book of Jonah, Nineveh is called a “great city” (1:1; 3:2; 4:11). What message was God trying to get across to Jonah?
  3. How was Jonah able to reach people he did not really care about?
  4. Why was Nineveh’s repentance so important to God?

Something to Think About

Jonah carries a valuable lesson for all of us as we look at the world around us. We may not see any possibility of repentance and goodness among people whose actions are evil, but we need to remember that the potential for goodness is there. Our attitude toward others should reflect God’s desire to see judgment forestalled.