READ JONAH THREE
We’re coming quickly to the end of Jonah’s story (Lent is right around the corner!). Even though we’re only through two of four chapters, we’re going to notice something this week: the author is going to pick up the pace. Where the first chapter gives us details about Jonah, God’s activity and call, and even little details about where Jonah is sleeping, chapter three is going to zoom out, as it were, and give us some of the broader brushstrokes.
Side note: I know we spent almost five weeks in chapter one. Five weeks! This week, I questioned whether or not that was wise. After all, there are only so many weeks before the Lent study starts. But the more I’ve thought on it, the more foundational I find chapter one to Jonah’s overall story. I think this week we’re going to see why. But in the chance that you asked yourself why we spent so long in that chapter, rest assured – I asked myself the same question!
Read Jonah 3:1-5. What does 3:1 remind you of? Where have we seen these exact words before in the book of Jonah?
Using nearly the exact same sentence structure as chapter one, the author wants to make it painstakingly clear to us: God is giving Jonah a second chance. The same God gives Jonah the same call, and Jonah has the opportunity this time to make a different choice.
Do you think Jonah deserved a second chance?
What do you think this repeat call reveals to us about God’s character?
This time, Jonah obeys. I imagine he leapt at the opportunity to obey. After all he has been through, all he has experienced, and all the displays of God’s power he has seen, I imagine he was eager to walk in obedience this time.
The words God has given Jonah to proclaim are harsh words with a prominent call to repentance. What does the author tell us Jonah proclaims throughout the city?
How do the people respond?
Does the way this narrative unfolds in these verses surprise you in any way?
Most scholars agree that Jonah likely said much more and explained the call to repentance at greater length than this, but the author is being intentionally brief. It is as if the author wants to rush us through these events – both Jonah’s call to repentance and the nation’s response – to get us to the end of the story.
Why do you think the author might want to make little of Jonah’s call to repentance?
Jonah, the runaway prophet of Yahweh, finally obeys God’s call, and the author intentionally makes little of it. It is as if the author is reminding us: Jonah doesn’t get glory for obeying God when God calls him a second time. But, God gets great glory in calling the nations to repentance! It would be easy for you and me to stop at this point in the narrative and admire Jonah’s obedience – and easy for us to miss the glory due to God in calling the nations to Himself!
Have there ever been times where you feel you deserve more recognition for your own obedience to the extent that you neglected to give glory to God?
Just like at every other point in the text, we must fix our eyes on God. He is due all praise and glory for His faithfulness to call the nations to Himself. It was God who called Jonah, God who pursued him, God who rescued him, God who called him a second time, and God who called the nations to repent. Glory be to God!
PRAY & REFLECT
Reflect on God’s faithfulness to the nations – praise Him! Consider God’s faithfulness in your own life – give Him glory!