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Bible Commentaries
Jonah 3

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-10



Verses 1-10:

Jonah’s Run For God

Verse 1 certifies for a second time that this book and message is of and from the Lord, directed to Jonah 1:1-2; Hebrews 1:1; 2 Peter 1:21. Our Lord recognized Jonah, his call, his experiences, and sanctioned his writings, Matthew 12:39-41.

Verse 2 calls upon Jonah to "arise", suggesting that he may have gone to his home in Gath-hepher, his birth place, or up to Jerusalem to offer thanksgiving and pay his vows before going on to Nineveh, Jonah 2:9. He was again directed to go to Nineveh, as in Jonah 1:2. His first commission was "to cry against it;" now he is directed to preach or proclaim unto it, perhaps anticipating God’s showing mercy to Nineveh, as He had to Jonah, on the basis of their repentance. He was simply to do what God told him to do, John 2:5; James 1:22. Here, again, Nineveh, one of earth’s most ancient cities, is referred to as that "great city," for the time, Genesis 4:10-12; Jonah 1:2; Jonah 4:11. As the capitol of Assyria it was great in influence as well as population and standard of living for the day.

Verse 3 recounts that Jonah did then arise, obey, and go to Nineveh, according to, or in harmony with, the mandate of the Lord. Each person (child of God) is wise when he both understands and does the bidding of the Lord for his life, Ephesians 5:18; Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:21; Proverbs 3:5-6; James 1:22. Nineveh is said, by historians, to have been about 60 miles in circumference, or 20 miles in diameter, much larger than the city of Babylon, Jonah 4:11. It had more than 120,000 people so ignorant, or children or mentally incompetent, that they could not discern from their left hand to their right hand. With the mature or competent it was estimated to have had near one million residents at that time, Jews used superlatives, in terms like "mountains of God," or "cedars of God," etc. ’

Verse 4 explains Jonah’s first day of entrance into the city as that of a day’s journey, crossing the city, proclaiming his message as he went, until he reached the east side perhaps opposite from where he had entered, Jonah 4:5. His doleful cry as an herald as he went was, "yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown," apparently an object of his delight, Yet, he also called them to repentance, before the forty days elapsed, and the City was destroyed like Sodom, Genesis 19:25; Isaiah 1:7; Luke 11:30-32; Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30.

Verse 5 reports three responses from Jonah’s preaching the message of God: 1) First, they simply believed in God, took Him at His word, as every person should, Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 4:3; Romans 4:5; John 8:24; Acts 17:30-31; Acts 17:2) Second, they announced a fast, as an act of deprivation to show their sincerity in all that they were about to do, and, 3) Third, they put on sackcloth, from youth to old age, as an oriental expression of humiliation, as Ahab had done, bringing a respite or delay of judgment, 1 Kings 21:17; 1 Kings 20:31-32; Joel 1:13.

Verse 6 relates that even the king of Nineveh heard the Divine call to repentance, descended his throne, lay aside his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes, as an expression of earnest humility, repentance, and sincere subjection to the God of the universe. His costly robes and his royal throne could not bear the judgment of Israel’s God, unless he repented, which he wisely joined the people of Nineveh in doing, for which he will be commended in the day of judgment, Luke 11:30-32. See also Job 2:8; Job 42:6; Ezekiel 27:30; Jeremiah 6:26; Lamentations 3:29; Micah 1:10.

Verse 7 relates that the king, having heard Jonah’s message from God, believed and responded to it by ordering his deputy­nobles to cause it to be proclaimed or decreed, throughout all Nineveh, that neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, should taste food or drink water, be fed or watered, from that moment, until God showed and assured mercy. Brute creatures are sharers of the effect of man’s sins, as reflected, Jonah 4:11; Romans 8:20; Romans 8:22; yet his tender mercies are also over all his works, as He sustains and preserves all His works, in the province of His will and purpose, Psalms 36:6; Psalms 145:9; Acts 17:27-28.

Verse 8 calls upon man and beast to be covered with sackcloth, a dull, coarse cloth, and ashes, and to cry mightily unto (into) the hands of the Lord, Romans 10:13; Each is charged by the king to acknowledge his sin, repent, or turn from his evil way, and from violence that was in their hand to do, in their vocation of life. Perhaps never an earthly king made a stronger call for his people to repent than did this unnamed king of Nineveh who shall be rewarded in the hour of judgment; For prayer without a change of life is a mockery, see? Isaiah 58:6; Nahum 3:1; Matthew 3:8.

Verse 9 raises hope that by repentance, confession, and recommitment to a moral and ethical standard of conduct they may find pardon and mercy instead of death and destruction from God, Job 33:27; Jeremiah 31:18. This indicates that even men, who have long worshipped dumb and lifeless idols, may hear and recognize the voice of God through the witnessing of those He sends to them, see? John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Joel 2:14; Zec 8;14, 15; Isaiah 55:10-11; See also Psalms 115:4-9; Psalms 145:18-19; 1 Corinthians 12:2; Galatians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:9.

Verse 10 announces that God was looking on and saw their works, outward and inward expressions of regret, remorse, genuine repentance, and resolution to reform their lives, a thing he sought and did not find in Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 18:25-33; ch. 19; Job 33:27-28; Luke 11:32. God will in no wise cast out or away any earnest penitent who comes to Him for salvation or pardon in this life. He will also use them thereafter, if they are willing as He did Moses, David, Peter, the Samaritan woman and the former mentally deranged Mary Magdalene, John 6:37; Mark 16:9; Psalms 145:18-19.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jonah 3". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jonah-3.html. 1985.
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