Jonah #5 – God is Good…All the Time?
“Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jonah 3:1-10).
One of the first and most obvious lessons from the story of Jonah is that God is a God of Second Chances. In chapter one, God had called Jonah to go and preach to Nineveh, but Jonah refused, and rebelled against the Lord. However, instead of being consumed by God’s wrath in the storm and the whale, God extended mercy and forgiveness to Jonah when he repented. Here we see such grace-filled words, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time…” This time when the call came, Jonah was obedient to the word of the Lord.
Today, let us look at a second great lesson that we learn from this story, and it is the truth contained in Romans 11:22, “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” The Bible tells us to look at both His goodness and severity. However, in many churches today, they will either ignore or reject the idea of God as being severe. They say, “God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good.” Catchy lyrics, to be sure, but I guarantee that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah never sang such songs. Why? Psalm 7:11 says, “God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.” Psalm 5:12 says, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.”
I know this isn’t a popular message, and it won’t win the most encouraging devotional of the year award, but it is the truth of God’s Word, and I must proclaim it. It is absolutely true that God will bless the righteous, but it is also true that God is angry with the wicked every day. There is coming a “day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.” (Romans 2:16). Praise God that in the story of Jonah, when God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. But know this, that if the people of Nineveh had not repented of their sin, that God would surely have destroyed their city as He had said. “Cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?”
Pastor Chris Jordan