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!” Jonah 3:4 ESV
We don’t know what the reason as to why Jonah decided to stop in this particular part of the city or neighborhood. Maybe God gave him a “Holy Geiger counter,” to alert him to the place of most importance within this massive city.
From there he delivered what is translated to just 8 words in English. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” The cynic in you might say, “I know he must have preached more than that.” The realist in you is going, “I wish that was the length of your sermon!”
In all reality, as you will see next week these words prove to be very effective and moving the hearts and minds of the people of Nineveh. How?!?!? Because the Gospel is not a used car, and it does not need a used car salesman to do its bidding. We treat the gospel as if it were “weak and ineffective.” That we need to “spruce it up,” a bit before we deliver it. That we need the music or lights “just right,” or people will not respond. We say things like, “your life will never be better.” When we know that is NOT promised in the scriptures. All the gospel needs from us is our voice box, our willingness to be used.
God is not entrapped by our clever words or tone of our voice. We fail to share the Gospel so often because we believe we are unqualified or need more training to do it right. When God just needs you to open your mouth and He will take care of the rest.
Sometimes we need to deliver a message that no one wants to hear… God has called Jonah to go preach a message of repentance. Preaching repentance is never a popular message. You are telling people they are living in sin or in rebellion against God and they need to ask God for forgiveness and turn away from their sin. A message of repentance is difficult even when folks are somewhat aware of God and His grace, (but can you imagine going to Nineveh where the people are especially heinous). Yet Jonah is faithful to his second call and delivers the short 8 words that God calls for him to speak.
We need to pause here. God has called us to do the same thing in Matthew 28
, Acts 1
, and every call he gave to his disciples. We are to tell the full Gospel
. Without the full Gospel we do not know what we are saved from or how precious the grace of Jesus actually is. It is going to be just like telling your mom her prized china has been destroyed and it may go over like a lead balloon, but that is for God to work out. The good news does not need our polishing for it to be effective, we are not called to lessen the blow either. When we attempt to make the good news of Jesus more palatable it is no longer good news.
It is nothing more than moral religion and cosmic child abuse.
The truth is, there is a hell, and we will go there if we attempt to live however, we want. Grace is free for those who are willing to repent and turn from their sin. But where there is no repentance there is no forgiveness of sin. That is the message of the Gospel. Jesus did not call for us to be perfect or that we would become perfect in this life….But but but…. we cannot say that we have fellowship with Jesus and still walk hand-in-hand with Satan doing whatever we want.
According to the scriptures we cannot profess Jesus as Lord when our lives are completely embroiled with sin. We are called to have honest gospel conversations with our generation pointing them to the cross where grace came down and set us free.
Like Jonah we will be going into enemy territory to do it. But to not do it would be the definition of hate, because when we don’t we are saying to them…I would rather not offend you in this life more so than save you from the eternal life you will lose if I don’t.
But we feel disqualified because of our past…. If anyone should have been disqualified from preaching a message of repentance it would be Jonah. This dude had to be eaten by a fish…eaten by a fish to have his heart wrecked by God. Yet God, put him right back out there on the mound to pitch the Gospel. Just because you have done some dumb things in your life does not mean you are unable to ever speak from a place of authority again. Culture has setup this false paradigm where if you make a mistake, you can never lead or speak truth again. God has always used broken people to share his message of repentance to the world. This is a tool the enemy has sowed into our society because it effectively discredits anyone from being able to speak from a place of authority on the scriptures or moral issues.
Like Jonah when we speak, we do not speak on our authority or from a position based on our good deeds, rather we speak on the authority of the word of God. Our message is one of yielded authority wherein we say God is the arbiter of truth and His truth condemns your unrighteous actions therefore I am compelled by the word of God to speak against them.