05 May 2024

THe God of Second Chances [Jonah 3]
  • Topic: Called, City, Deserve, Elliot, Evil, God, Gospel, Jonah, Life, Mercy, Nineveh, People, Relent, Repent, REPENTANCE, Share, SIN, Tells, Turn


In Jonah 3, we witness the imminent destruction of Nineveh because of their wickedness. Although they deserved it, God in His mercy, sends Jonah as a mediator to warn them, giving them opportunity to repent. If they do, God would relent of the judgment he was going to bring upon them. Isn't this akin to the Gospel? Just as Nineveh faced judgment for their sins, we too stand under God's judgment due to our own sins. But praise be to God that He sent Jesus as our mediator so that through Him, forgiveness of sins is made possible by His sacrificial death. When we repent and believe, God relents from the eternal wrath we deserve. Praise be to God for His mercy!



Sermon Transcript


I know my life is like a K-drama. Really like a K-drama. Full of ups and downs, twists and turns. Because when I was growing up, I almost became a PhD student. Poly, half grade, dropout student. Twice, I was called to the principal office. And just now during the first service, then I realized that the principal was actually a Christian. Thank God for that. But what happened was that I was almost expelled twice. I was called to the office twice. The principal asked me, I have been seeing that you have not been coming to school that regularly. I have been seeing you skipping classes and coming to school late. And you know what, this is not the way to be a student in Republic Poly. We decided that we want to expel you, but can you give us some reason? Why are you coming to school late? And I have to explain. Because growing up, if you know my story, both my parents passed away, right? My stepfather kicked me out of the house when I was 15. There was no allowance, there's no money. So, what happened is that when I go to Poly, from 8:30am, all the way to 4:30pm. At night, I have to work to survive. I need allowance and salary so that I can live, right? So, every night 6pm all the way until 11 to 12am, I have to work to earn money, so that I can survive. And I shared with the principal. And the principal says, you know what, I'm gonna give you another chance. I understand your situation. And thank God, I was a Christian then and I think God answered my prayer. Not because I was a good student, even though I have good result. But my attendance really cannot make it. I messed up. But the principal gave me another chance, not just another chance. In my third year of Bali, same thing happened. Cause no choice, right, I was too tired, and I can't wake up and I was late. And I feel very discouraged. And the principal gave me another chance, again. 

You know, my story is like a K drama, full of God's testimony, of the mercy of God, that I was given second chance, third chance, fourth chance. In the same way, you and I have received many chances in our life. Maybe by your spouse, by authorities, but more importantly, we are given second chances in life by God. And that's what we want to see today. A God that gives second chances, a God of full of mercy and compassion, a God that is a God of second chances. What we see from the last two sermons by Raynor and Luzerne, we saw that Jonah, rebel against God right? God called Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh, to preach the message that I have given to you. But Jonah ran away from God. Jonah disobeyed, he went on to a ship, he was thrown off the ship. A big fish swallowed him up. And then he prayed a prayer in the great fish belly, and then he was spit out. In Jonah chapter 2 verse 11, God tells us that the Lord spoke to the fish. And it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. Where in the world was Jonah right now? We have no idea. Is it near Joppa? Is it near Nineveh? We have no clue. Was it covered in fish waste? Was it extremely smelly, dirty? We have no clue. But one thing that we do know from the scripture in Jonah chapter 3, is that God gave Jonah a second chance. 

#1 The Commission of Jonah (v1-4)

 God recommissioned Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh to preach a message. The Bible tells us the Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time. There is the grace of God, there is the mercy of God. Jonah is supposed to be a prophet, a mouthpiece of whatever God says. he has to declare. By yet Jonah ran away. But God was merciful. God gave Jonah a second chance. Just that how God gave those testimonies. The people that shared the testimonies. Second chance to come to Him. God gave Jonah a second chance. Just that how God gave Peter, who denied Jesus three times, a second chance to go to preach to the people of the Gentiles. God is a God of second chance and God is a God of mercy. So, God gave Jonah a second chance to do what? The Bible tells us. God called Jonah to arise again to go to the people of Nineveh, that great city and called out against it. The message that I have told you. Remember in Jonah chapter 1, Raynor shared with us that because of the evil they have come upon God. Nineveh was an evil, brutal city. They were people that were wicked, they were people of witchcrafts, sorceries. They were idol worshippers to the point that scholars have been debating and saying that, hey, these are the Assyrian people. They were enemy of God, and to the point that when the enemy come and attack them. And when they conquered their enemies, they would skin their enemies alive. They would gouge out their eyes, they would cut off their ears, their mouths, their hands and their feet. Those were the brutal evil Assyrian, the people in Nineveh. 

God said, go to this evil city. Go and call them out, go and declare the message that I have tell you to, say whatever I say to you, proclaim whatever I proclaim to you. And Jonah, the Bible tells us in chapter 3, verse 3, he arose, and he went to the city of Nineveh, according to the Word of God. Chapter 1, he ran away. God called him arose and go but he arose and flee. But in chapter 3, we see a change of heart, which we see that he complied to the will of God. He arose and went to the city of Nineveh. When he ran away, he ran away to the left side. But Nineveh was on the northern east side of the city. And this is the journey when God spoke to the fish and spilled Jonah out from the fish. We don't know where it was, but he was on a dry land. But probably it will take about one month, or more than one month of journey, to go to the city of Nineveh. so, Jonah began to go. One month's journey, by donkey. If by foot, probably another two months or three months. But what we know, Jonah complied and Jonah went to Nineveh. The scene changed to the city of Nineveh. Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days journey in breadth. So, Nineveh was a great city, an evil city, not just in terms of its evilness, not just in terms of his size, but also in its importance. Because when you look at the Bible, the Hebrew word, exceedingly great city in Hebrew, it literally means a great city, to God. A city is where most people will populate, where there will be many souls, where God desire this many souls to come to faith. To turn from their sin and turn to Jesus. So, God said, this is a great city to God, because these people mattered to God. Not just in a size but also in its importance. And God called Jonah to go. Jonah began to go, complied, went into the city, into a day's journey. Can you imagine what Jonah is going through? When he was in the city? These people, will they kill me? These people, are they going to destroy me and skin me? And these were the evil people and Jonah maybe did not want. 

The reason why Jonah did not want to go to the people of Nineveh at the start, was because Jonah did not want them to be saved in the first place. Maybe that's one of the reasons why. So, he began to go into a journey. And this is the message that God called Jonah to say. In 40 days, Nineveh shall be overthrown. Eight English words. But in Hebrew it's actually five words. And in these five words sermons, probably a summary of what Jonah shared. The author was intentionally putting these five Hebrew words there to show us maybe this is a summary of what Jonah said, or maybe it's literally just five simple words. We do not know why the author intentionally leave all these details. But one thing that we do know is this. It's a message of judgement. It's a message that Nineveh shall be overthrown. The word overthrown means. There is dual meaning. One is completely destroyed,


eliminated. Another meaning of overthrown means to turn upside down. So, Nineveh is going to be completely destroyed. Or they will be completely transformed. And that is the message that God told Jonah to go and declare to the evil brutal Assyrian in the city of Nineveh. God recommissioned him. God gave Jonah a second chance to do His will. 

#2 The Confession of Nineveh (v5-9)

Secondly, not just we see the recommissioned of Jonah, we see the confession of the people of Nineveh. That five Hebrew words, or the eight English letter words, in summary or in full, we do not know. One thing that we do know is this. The people of Nineveh believed in God, and they turned from their wicked ways. Sometimes we wish Pastor Jason come and share five English words, repent, Jesus is coming again. And then we all believe and repent. Can you imagine the power of God during that period of time? Of course, we don't wish PJ to preach five words and then we can go home, right?  Maybe that five Hebrew words is a summary of what Jonah shared. But one thing we do know is that the people repented at the Word of God, when Jonah, declared to them. Not just that they believed in their head, but you will see their life being changed. You see true repentance. What we see here is this. The Bible tells us that they called for a fast and put on sack cloth. It's an ancient practice, to express remorse, humility, sorrow for their sins and repentance. So, from the greatest to the smallest, to the least, from the King, to the noble, to the villagers to the commoners. Every one of them, put on sackcloth, and repented at the Word of God. Not just the commoners, the Bible tells us the word reached the King of Nineveh, the authority in that evil city. He arose from the throne, removed his robes, covered himself in sackcloth and sat on ashes. And not just that, he issued a proclamation and published throughout Nineveh. By the decree of the kings and nobles, let neither man or beasts, herd or flock, taste anything. Let them not feed, or drink any water, let man and beasts be covered in sackcloth. Let all of them cry out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way. From the evils, the violence that is in his hand. Remember, this brutal, carnal, evil, Assyrians people, that skinned people alive. Plucked out the eyes of the enemy, involved in witchcraft, sorceries. These evil people were living in sin. 

Now they turned from their wicked ways, and turned to Jesus, turned to God for salvation. They were not just someone that believed, but as someone whose lives change. It showed a true repentance. It's not just someone that is feeling sorry of what they have done. They truly repented of their ways. Let everyone turned from his wicked ways. All the things they have been doing. They stop doing. And they started living for God. Maybe some of you are sceptic here. Are you sure? How can just because of Jonah preached this short summary of this sermon, and the whole city. The whole city, by the way, it's not just a few people. The whole city turned from their wicked ways. Because they feared the Word of God. What actually happened? We do not know exactly what happened. But one thing that we do know. It's a miracle of God. At the Word of God, these people repented and turned to God. Are you sure? Are you sure they're not just pretend only so that God will relent from the disaster that is upon them. What we know is that the Bible tells us Jesus affirmed their repentance. It is a genuine repentance, not a fake repentance. Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 12. Some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we want to see a sign from you. And Jesus answered them. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it, except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. And this is the key. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah. 

Their repentance is not just one that they believed in their heads that they believed in God. That belief and repentance resulted in a change of their lives. They were not being sorry for their sin, they were genuine. This is my son. Some of you have seen him before. Some of you, oh so cute so angelic. Oh, I want to touch him. I want to pinch his face. He's a cute little boy. But one thing you do not know about him is he actually very naughty. Just yesterday when we went to our in-law’s place celebrating the daughter's birthday, Elliot went to the toy that the girl has just opened. He went to the toy and said, it's mine. And he sat on the bicycle and he said it's mine. And when the daughter came and asked him, hey, can you excuse me and Elliot pushed her and then scolded her. Elliot is not that nice, in a sense. There were times that Elliot would bite people. There were times that Elliot would disobey. There were times that, by the way Elliot, maybe he's in a playgroup now. He would push people, pull their hair, punch them in their face. But what happens is that even as he rebels, as he does all this naughty stuff. Even though he may look like this normally, but there were days that he's like that. So, what happened is that every time when he disobeys. I will sit him down. I asked him to face me, and Elliot, what have you done? Elliot, do you know what is wrong? Can you share with me what you have done? 


I don't know what he's talking about. But, one thing I do tell him is, hey, you're a sinner. You have done something wrong. Yes, right at the start of 19th month, I told him that he is a sinner, and he needs the Savior. And eventually, I will ask him to say, can you go and say sorry, to the lady or the guy that you punched, you


pushed him out of the playground? Can you go and say sorry to your friend here? So, Elliot being a good boy, he will go there and pat the guy or the girl. Sorry, sorry and then he will come to me and then play again. But five minutes later, he does the same thing. Again, and again. And again. My question is, was he really repenting, even though he may have that action of being sorry. Or was he just being remorseful, fearing the consequence of his sin, fearing what I will do to him. Fearing the guilt that he holds. My answer is he was just feeling remorseful. He wasn't repenting. He wasn't in a mode of repentance. A lot of times, we say I repent of my sin. But maybe our repentance is a false repentance. Because we still do what we used to do. True, being remorseful is good because you need to feel sorry for your sin. But repentance is not just feeling sorry for your sin. But true repentance is feeling sorry for your sin enough to make a change. That is repentance. It's not just oh I sin sorry, I sin sorry. Then our lives remain the same. True repentance is I'm sorry enough to turn to God and ask Him for help. I'm not saying it's perfect repentance. I'm not saying that you will live a perfect life, full of no sin. Because we know that our Christian life is a sanctification process. We will never be perfect, but our life will be full of repentance. Every day I repent of my sin. Every day I turn to God for His mercy and His grace. So true repentance is not just feeling sorry. True repentance is feeling sorry enough to make a change. 

I believe that's exactly what Nineveh did. They weren't just sorry; they didn't just worry about the consequence of the disaster that God is going to pour upon them. They weren't just worried of the wrath of God. They were truly repentant, because we see that in their actions. And the king continued to say. This is quite fascinating because the king revealed to us something in his heart. Who knows, as we repent of our ways, God may relent of the disasters upon us Who knows, God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger so that we may not perish. The king was clinging on to the mercy and the sovereignty of God. He knew that God can withhold, relent, the punishment that they due deserve. And he clings on to that. Who knows, if we repent, God will relent. By the way, mercy is an act of withholding deserved punishment. Nineveh realized that they deserve their punishment. And they cried out to God. God, please, without the punishment. And that is mercy. And we see the repentance of the people of Nineveh. 

#3 The Compassion of God (v10)

Lastly, not just we see the repentance of Nineveh, we see that compassion of God. When they repent, the Bible tells us God relent. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their wicked ways, genuinely repenting of their ways, God relent of the disasters, that he has said he will do to them. And he did not do that. That tells me the compassion of God, to the point that God's desire this wicked, barbaric, Assyrian to be saved. To have a chance to receive the message and to repent. That speaks of the compassion and the mercy of God. Unlike Jonah, Jonah did not want the people of Nineveh to hear this message in chapter one. He desired them to receive that punishment, that divine punishment that they due deserve. Because of their wicked ways. But God is not like Jonah. God is compassionate and merciful, and He desire these evil people to come to repentance, and to believe in Him. That is the story of Jonah, chapter three. You see, sometimes we think that the God of the OT (Old Testament), is the evil, angry God. And the God of the NT (New Testament), is a God that's full of compassion and grace and mercy. That is far from the truth. Because the God that we know in the Bible is the same God yesterday, today and forever more. The OT God is not an angry God. The OT God is also at the same time, a compassionate, merciful, gracious God. He is the same God. And God allows them to repent. God gave them chance after chance, after chance. And Nineveh repented and believe. But the Israelites did not repent. 

God sent prophets to the people in Israel, and Judah, God's chosen people. God called prophets to come and warn them. Turn from your evil ways, keep my commandments, and my statutes in accordance to the law that I have commanded your father. And that I sent to you by My servant, the Prophet. Yet they would not listen. And they were stubborn, as their father has been, who did not believe the Lord their God. These are God's people. They have witnessed the power of God. They have seen the parting of the Red Sea. They have seen how God provided for them. But yet, at the word of the Prophet, they choose not to repent. You see, the contrast of the people of Nineveh and the people of Israel. Nineveh was a Gentile nation, that deserve that wrath of God because of their sin. But yet the people of Israel that know and have taste and seen God, yet refused to obey Him and turn from their wicked ways. That is the story of the book of Jonah. God is the God that desire people to repent and believe. God is the God of second chances. I don't know about you, but I have received so many chances in my life, and God is gracious towards me. If without the mercy of God, the Bible tells us, we will all be consumed. Thank God for His grace, thank God for His mercy. And that is Jonah chapter three. A God that gives second chance. But I don't want to leave you guys just with stories. I want to leave you guys with some applications that we can take home. 

Application: COME!

The first group of people I want to speak to is actually to the non-believers. If you're not yet a Christian, my encouragement to you is this. Come, come to the God of mercy. He desires to give you second chance, third chances, fourth chances. He's the God that desire you to come to repentance, and believe in Him. I have done that 20 over years ago, and many of you here have done that so many years ago. It's not because we are good, but because God is good, and God is merciful. And God desire you to come to faith, just as Jonah was sent by God to be the mediator between God and Nineveh. Despite Nineveh being an evil generation. During that time, they were brutal. God sent Jonah to be the mediator. The mediator came to preach the message that God called Jonah to go so that they have a chance. The people of Nineveh have a chance to repent and believe in God. And when they repented, God relented and they were spared from the disaster that's upon them. In the same way, you and I, we deserve punishment, judgement from God because of our sin. But God sent His Son Jesus to be that mediator, that better Jonah. That person, he came and die for your sin and my sin. He wants to show you mercy. He wants to give you another chance, another chance, another chance. And He calls you to repent of your sin and turn to him for salvation. 2 Peter 3:16 tells us, The Lord is not slow in keeping promise. Instead, He is patient with you, not wanting you to perish but to all comes to repentance. The reason why you're still living today is because God has been gracious to you, and He desire you to come to him.


So come, non-believers, come to Jesus. But you see the Gospel is not just for the non-believers. The Gospel is for us as believers. Don't think that the Gospel is just for the non-believers, but the Gospel is for us because we all as Christian, we still sin every day. We still. like the Israelites, even though we know the truth of God, yet we rebel against him intentionally. And we need the mercy of God. The Bible tells us in Titus 3, verse 3 to verse 5. This is who you were in the past, right? You were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. This is who we were in the past. We deserve the punishment. But the Bible tells us. But when the kindness and the love of God, our savior Jesus appear, He saved us not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy, because of his mercy. We as Christians, the way we live our life right now, is really because based on his mercy towards us. That's why we want to live our life, for Him, for His glory, for his namesake. Not for ourselves, but for the sake of others and for the sake of His glory. And if you, in your life, that you think that I am a Christian, but I've messed up big time. I have done things that is so terrible, that I don't think I deserve the mercy and the forgiveness of God. But let me tell you something. If you truly have repented, and believed in Jesus, His mercy endures forever. There is no condemnation to those who believe in Jesus Christ, because of Christ. So, stop living like the world and start living for Jesus because of His mercy. 

Application: GO!

The second application that I want to make to the believers in this room here. Don't just come and receive, don't just drink in the Gospel, don't just live the Gospel. Now, let's go out and give the Gospel. The mercy of God that you have received from him. Don't just stop in you, but you should be going out to bring the Gospel to the people. So, my second application to the believers here, please go. Just as God sent Jonah to the evil Assyrians city, brutal people. God calls us to go and proclaim a message. We may not be a prophet like Jonah. But we are all called to be ambassadors. So, we are ambassadors for Christ. God making His appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. We are God's ambassador, and we have a mission that God has given to us. Not just Jonah, oh, Jonah, God called Jonah. No, God calls all of us here to bring the message of the good news to those who don't deserve it. Because God is merciful and compassionate. He desires them to come to faith. Yesterday, after youth service, one of the boys that I discipled, Jonathan. He said this profound statement. He said this, why are we building bomb shelter? And not building bigger table? When he shared this, I was like, what are you talking about? Bomb shelter and table. And he began to explain. Then ahh, I began to understand this complex statement that he made. Why are we building this bomb shelter to keep us safe and secure and comfortable? Instead of building bomb shelter, he said that we should be building bigger table. Bigger dining table to invite people into our life to hear the Gospel. 

Wow. It's a profound statement from these 15 years old, 16 years old boy. I think it's the same thing that God has called us to do. Don't just build your life so comfortable. That we are so lazy to go out to tell people about the message that God has called us. The Gospel is the power unto salvation to anyone who believes. Do you believe that? Let me close with this simple story. It's the story of Jim Elliot, one of my favorite missionaries that I've read. In fact, one of the reasons why I named Elliot because of Jim Elliot, and I wanted to name my daughter, Elizabeth. But my wife said, no, it's too much already. But I named Elliot, Elliot, because I really want him to own his faith, the Lord is my God. And I want Elliot to be someone that don't just live for himself, but live for others. So, this is a story of Jim Elliot, Jim Elliot in 1956. He was called, together with four other missionary friends. His friends. They desired to bring the Gospel to the unreached group. In this place in Ecuador, in this tribe called Auca/ Waodani tribe. These are the people that are brutal, just like the Assyrians. They will kill anyone that come into their location, their territory. They don't like people to visit them, and they will murder and kill people, cold blooded, in broad daylight. And the missionary Jim Elliot and the four other missionaries knew of the danger there. But yet, they understood the love of Christ. They understood that is God's desire to bring the Gospel to the other parts of the earth. They have tasted the mercy and the grace of God in their life. They desired to share this mercy and grace to the people that don't deserve it. 

So, for three months, they will survey the ground, they will try to build friendship with this barbaric tribe. They will fly their planes down by the river, throw supplies and gifts, in exchange to tell them that, hey, we are friendly people, we are not here to kill you. We're not here to take revenge, we are here as a gesture. We just want to befriend you. For three months, they will send gifts down the river, down to the tribe. And after three months, they felt that it is about time for them to go and meet them face to face. So, these were actually the first encounter that were witnessed. On a photograph, they talk to them, especially the three of them, two ladies and one guy. And this is the guy that they met. They befriended them. But days after, just a few days after, all five of them were brutally murdered and killed in broad daylight. These were the five of them. They died in an attempt to share the gospel to the Waodani tribe in Ecuador. What happened? Ten of the the tribal people came out in the forest and ambushed them and killed them brutally. The story did not just end there. Because even though God called them there, to share the gospel to this unreached group. And they died as a martyr, in a sense for God. What happened next is, to me is someone that understood the mercy and the compassion and the grace of God. Their wives, their sons, less than three years later, they found a way back to this group of people. They went there to share the Gospel. They went there to build friendship, they went there to help and build a community, a Christian community. And many of them came to faith because they witnessed how these people love them, because they understood the love of God in their lives. 

One of them, Steve, the son of the guy that this guy brutally murdered. He came back and showed forgiveness. And not just forgiveness, compassion, and love. You see, when we truly understand that God is the God that gives second chances. We understand that God is the God of love and mercy and compassion. It compels us to go forth into the world to share the gospel to those who don't deserve it. I was the undeserved one. And God sent someone to share the Gospel. How about you? So come and receive the mercy of God. Drink in the Gospel, live the Gospel. But not just stop that. Let's go out and give the Gospel to the people all around us. That is Jonah chapter 3. We see that God is the God that gave second chance. He is the God that's full of mercy, compassion and love. When they repent, God relent. So go forth and tell the Gospel. Tell people to repent of their ways and to turn to Jesus. When they do that, God will relent from the judgement that we all deserve. Praise be to God that we have received this mercy. Let's bow with a word of prayer.


God, we thank you that despite how evil, how sinful, how stubborn, how lazy we are. We will rather build bomb shelter to keep ourselves comfortable and safe than to go out to declare the gospel to those who deserve it. God, will you help us? You have call us to be Gospel light for a reason, that the Gospel is not just for us to keep. But the gospel is for us to give and to share to those, the people around us. To the last, to the least, to the lost. To our relatives to our friends. God, will you give us that compassion to go because we first have received your amazing compassion and your mercy and your grace? Help us God, we need your help. We ask that you'll work our hearts to obey you and not to run away. We thank you. We love you. In Christ and we pray. Amen.