Jonah 3 - Short Sermon
The lousiest sermon ever preached converted the wickedest city on earth. What can the power of God's Word do in your life?
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Jonah 3 (ESV)
the word of the Lord
the second time,
go to Nineveh,
that great city,
and call out against it the message that I tell you.”
3 So Jonah arose
and went to Nineveh,
according to the word of the Lord.
Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,
three days’ journey in breadth.
4 Jonah began to go into the city,
going a day’s journey.
And he called out,
“Yet forty days,
and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
5 And the people of Nineveh believed God.
called for a fast
and put on sackcloth,
from the greatest of them
to the least of them.
6 The word reached the king of Nineveh,
and he arose from his throne,
removed his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth,
and sat in ashes.
7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh,
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
man nor beast,
herd nor flock,
not feed or drink water,
8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth,
and let them call out mightily to God.
Let everyone turn
from his evil way
and from the violence that is in his hands.
9 Who knows?
God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger,
so that we may not perish.”
10 When God saw what they did,
how they turned from their evil way,
God relented of the disaster
that he had said he would do to them,
and he did not do it.
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Jonah 3 Summary
God's will will be done. Just ask Jonah, who had gone as far down and away from God's call as he could.
God humorously realigned Jonah to His will with the help of a great fish who vomited Jonah back onto dry land. But then God got serious again. He told Jonah to get up and go where He had been told to go: to one of the wickedest cities that ever existed.
Jonah went, and preached as he had been commanded. But it was a lousy sermon. At only six words long, it didn't even mention God, call anyone to repentance or make an offer of grace.
But it was still the Word of the Lord that was proclaimed, and that Word has power.
Arguably the worst sermon ever preached converted a massive city know the world over for being so evil.
The groundswell of repentance began amongst the people, and was later codified into law by the king, who commanded all of his subjects to fast, mourn and to call out mightily to God (v8) and to realign their lives away from evil & violence.
And rather than bringing the disaster He had threatened, God gave them grace.
We read a few weeks ago in Romans 10 about the necessity of preaching as the primary conduit of God's grace. Certainly that's an incentive for us as preachers to work hard preparing to communicate God's Word to His people each week. The congregation's eternal lives depend on the words we speak!
But it's good to be reminded that it's not the preacher's expository skill or polished rhetoric that saves souls, or even which gives struggling saints weekly strength. Rather, it's the power of the Holy Spirit working through those spoken words that gives saving grace and continuing sanctification.
Rev. Jonah's sermon demonstrates the power that even a lousy sermon has. Keep this in mind as another Lord's Day approaches, and make sure you're positioned to experience the power of preaching.