Repentance Unlock Grace

God Gave the Greatest Revival in History to People Who Humbled Themselves

Jonah Chapter 3

epentance Unlocks Grace

Nov 15, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (Acts 17:30; Luke 3:7)


A.    We have seen God’s grace (His kindness) shown to Jonah, to the Sailors, and even to the whale (got a troublesome man out of its belly)!

B.     Now the Grace of God is Extended to the Ninevite people


1.      Grace is GOD’S kindness to unworthy people - undeserving

2.      There were no people LESS worthy of God’s kindness than the Ninevites (Assyrians)


C.    These Ninevite pagans didn’t know:


1.      Just how high their sin record had accumulated (1:2) – there IS a record keeper!

2.      They were about to reap for all their sins (Rom 6:23a) “wages of sin is death

3.      More importantly, That there actually was a way to miss out on the reaping!

4.      That way is through repentance!


D.    Repentance is…


1.      NOT only a change of mind.


a.       Judas changed his mind about what he had done against Jesus

b.      But he didn’t humble his HEART – instead, he went off and killed himself!


2.      But repentance is a deep sorrow about how we were living, and a decision to change direction as well. Change of attitude (not just your mind) towards what we love!

3.      Isa 55:6,7


a.       NEW DESIRE - Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

b.      ABANDON (let go of) - Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:

c.       FAITH - And let him return unto the LORD, (BELIEVING he will have mercy upon him; and that he will abundantly pardon)

d.      RESULT - and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.


4.      There is NO mercy on someone who doesn’t repent (let go) of wicked habits, ways, or thoughts – no matter how much they may believe IN God.


II.    Message


A.    Jonah’s Second Chance (Jonah 3:1-3)
And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.


1.      What a great thing… God spoke to Jonah again


a.       Jonah got a second chance


1)      To LIVE again

2)      To do something with his life again

3)      To serve God again!


b.      Second chances are wonderful!


2.      Who else experienced a second chance?


a.       Saul of Tarsus

b.      Simon Peter

c.       All the apostles

d.      Adam and Eve

e.       Cain

f.       The world after Noah’s flood

g.      Loads of people get second chances all the time


3.      Not everyone gets a second chance


a.       King Saul lost communications with heaven and never got it back

b.      Felix never got a convenient season to call for Paul again

c.       The rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22

d.      I know loads of people who are dead today, lost and in hell, and WISH to God they had just one more chance to hear the Gospel – one more chance to repent and get saved!!!


4.      Jonah finally repenting, and yielding to the will of God, made it possible for Jonah to hear God’s still, small voice again!  IT WILL WORK FOR YOU TOO!

5.      And what was God saying? The same things He always was saying…


a.       God Repeated His Instructions


1)      No change in the instructions

2)      They were right the first time!

3)      It is US that always need to change to get in line with God’s will


b.       “Get up off the ground”


1)      God didn’t allow Jonah to waste any time!

2)      He was still sitting there, just vomited up out of a stomach

3)      He was still recovering


c.       “Go to Nineveh”


1)      Such a big task, daunting, fearful, overwhelming – but God’s will for Jonah!

2)      The clock was about to start, and there was no time to lose!


d.      “And preach!”


1)      Say I what tell you to say

2)      Not what THEY want to hear (2Tim 4:1-4)

3)      Not what YOU want them to hear

4)      God’s words are not what WE would say or even want to say – out of step with every culture


e.       Don’t worry about your audience


1)      Our audience often is not preacher friendly

2)      See Jeremiah’s audience
Jer 1:7,8  thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

3)      Micaiah’s audience
1Ki 22:7,8  And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.

4)      Noah’s audience while he preached, and built that boat

5)      Jesus’ audience of Pharisees – they hated Him

6)      Yet all of the above men HAD to say what God said for them to say


6.      Jonah obeyed - took the opportunity God gave him (Jonah 3:3)
So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.


a.       That’s a great testimony to have


1)      To have obeyed God

2)      We think doing things our own way is so cool

3)      But not when it comes to God


b.      Jonah got up off the sand… dripping in whale mucus

c.       Walked and travelled all the way to Nineveh


1)      Took him weeks to get there

2)      Probably nobody gave him a ride


d.      Nineveh was a massive city of 600,000 people - would take 3 solid days to wind his way through it! It was THAT crowded, twisty, windy through all the streets and lanes


B.     A Stern Message (Jonah 3:4)
And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.


1.      As Jonah began to enter the city, Jonah began to preach


a.       Just a short warning – absolute, and stern.

b.      And he repeated his short message over and over as he approached the centre of the city


1)       “Yet…”

2)      “Forty days…”

3)      “And Nineveh shall be overthrown/destroyed!”


c.       8 words in English, 5 words in Hebrew

d.      I can only imagine that Jonah preached in Hebrew and everybody heard him in clear, crisp HEBREW (a foreign language to most of them), and it made them all the more curious about what he was saying, and what it meant


2.      Not a complicated message


a.       Not too deep theologically

b.      This is all that God wanted Jonah to say

c.       You have 40 days before God judges this city and destroys it!

d.      Jonah did not describe their sins… they at that time were weighed down by them

e.       Jonah did not describe how to get forgiven


1)      They would have to figure that out! They needed to WANT to get forgiven!

2)      Evidently, it is in every man how to repent! Especially in kings!


C.     The People Believed God (Jonah 3:5)
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.


1.      What? So quickly?


a.       It took so much effort to get Jonah to repent and yet the Ninevites did it almost instantly!

b.      The Ninevites did not know God – only knew ABOUT Him (had heard about Him)

c.       Yet here they are, believing the God they do not really know!

d.      By the way, They had no symptoms of the coming judgment; there was no gathering army off on the horizon; no other evidences that Jonah was telling the truth. Only the words of this Jewish prophet echoing down the streets of the city!


2.      What a crazy thing to just “believe God”


a.       But it is the smartest thing to do!

b.      That is God said something, He meant it!

c.       Don’t be too surprised when some people just believe, when it took YOU months and years to finally admit God is right!


3.      Believed God how?


a.       Believed Jonah, a hated and mocked Jew


1)      Probably heard his own life-lesson of being rebellious himself, swallowed by a whale, then 3 days later being spit out, and he was now obeying the God of heaven!

2)      Remember, Jonah STANK

3)      And he looked like he had been to hell and back – skin burnt off by hydrochloric acid


b.      Believed what was preached by Jonah

c.       That God was going to destroy the whole city of Nineveh


4.      These Ninevites feared God, and believed God when He pronounced judgment against them (Mt 12:41)


a.       Mt 12:41  The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.


5.      By the way, God did not just threaten them… (Parents make the mistake of threatening their children instead of carrying out judgments)


a.       Your kids should just believe it when you warn, or say something

b.      They should NEVER think you are just threatening, and that you really WON’T take away their phone, or their privileges

c.       Just be MAN or MOM enough to say, “That’s it. When we get home, you are grounded, getting a slap” And then carry through!

d.      Your children need to know you mean things when you say them!


D.    The People Repented (Jonah 3:6-9)
For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands


1.      Jonah’s preaching was the “talk of the town”


a.       Right preaching WILL be heard

b.      Not always agreed with, but straight up, strong preaching gets attention!

c.       Even the king of Nineveh heard Jonah’s preaching

d.      What Jonah said was enough to scare the king – did no miracle, just his very presence was a miracle!


2.      The king was convinced – that’s what “convicted” means… convinced that God is right, and you and I are wrong!

3.      The king acted! He used his authority for good - He FORCED everyone and everything in his kingdom to:


a.       Fast (not eat or drink even water) – deny themselves what they needed just to live


1)      2Chr 20:3  And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.

2)      Ezra 8:21  Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

3)      Joel 2:12-14  “Therefore also now, saith the LORD,


a)      turn ye even to me

b)      with all your heart,

c)      and with fasting,

d)      and with weeping,

e)      and with mourning:

f)        And rend your heart, and not your garments,

g)      and turn unto the LORD your God:

h)      for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

i)        Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him?”


b.      Exchange their wealthy clothing for sackcloth (every one of them to wear sackcloth)

c.       Cry out publically, emphatically, mightily, to the God of the Jews, the God of this Jonah guy to have mercy on them as sinners


1)      See Luke 18:13,14!!!

2)      Romans 10:13


d.      Commanded everyone to “Turn away” from (repent of)


1)      Every man his evil way – all knew what they had been doing wrong - conscience

2)      And the violence that his / her sin ultimately breeds

3)      TURN AWAY from theit lifestyles, their ways of thinking, loving, hating


e.       To understand a king-led repentance better, I have discovered that many South African tribes function this way.


1)      The chiefs of certain tribes swear allegiance to a specific Political party. When there are elections all the members of a specific tribe will vote for the political party to which its chief swore allegiance.

2)      Evangelism in rural Africa always works through the chief of a village. (I am not aware of any exception.) If a missionary is in good books with the chief, the chief can decree that the whole tribe must be Christians.


4.      Think about it! Jonah’s preaching moved the entire city to repent before God!


a.       What if your life and what you say was the only Bible people ever read?

b.      Would ANYONE repent and turn to God???


E.     The King’s Faith (Jonah 3:9)
Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?


1.      Remember, these people were reacting to the fear of God – they knew all too well of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction 1,200 years earlier


a.       Faith doesn’t run FROM God in fear, but to Him out of fear of His coming judgment

b.      Why? Because we discover that there is a way to avert the wrath, BY so coming close to Him and humbling ourselves before Him!

c.       In case you think fear is so low of a motivating force, ANYTHING is better than the listlessness, the indifference, the deep slumber, in which multitudes of sinners are steeped, and trapped in!


2.      They knew God might NOT change HIS mind, and might just go ahead and destroy them…

3.      But then again, they believed that “He might not need to destroy them!

4.      So they worked very hard to make sure they thoroughly repented of their sins


a.       Not just believed, but repented – turned away from, in mind AND heart!

b.      They needed to show God they were broken, humbled, guilty, sorry, defeated, ruined

c.       They needed GOD to SEE all of that in them!


5.      NOW the king can have saving faith - the king fully entrusted God with their end


a.       He just thoroughly trusted God (Job 13:15)

b.      Not based on their good works, but their abandonment of their love for sin

c.       He made NO demands (i.e., Look how good we have been… etc)

d.      Gave no justifications for their past sins

e.       Only a belief in the justice and rightness of God’s decisions


6.      Because this was God’s desire from the beginning (2Pet 3:9)  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”


F.      Nineveh is Saved! (Jonah 3:10) The greatest miracle of ALL!
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.


1.      God “saw their works


a.       They turned from their evil way (walked away from their old friends, habits, culture)

b.      They did it as one man – unified – the whole city of 600,000 people!

c.       This was no fake show – it was real! No religion on Sunday, and back to sinning on Monday

d.      Why do people in the west, find it so hard to repent this way?


1)      No repentance, humbleness, sorrow for sin makes for emotionless religion

2)      It makes for only intellectual religion

3)      It makes for dead churches


2.      Real Faith results in works that proved they had repented


a.       This is what John the Baptist demanded of the people who came to him

b.      So…. Faith AND repentance always go together – one without the other is dead!


3.      And that’s when God repented of the evil HE was going to do in judgment of the Ninevites

4.      Man’s repentance changed actions of God! Halellujah!


a.       God is holy, righteous, and perfect in His judgments

b.      We are sinful, wicked, far away from God, and very much in trouble with God

c.       Just like the Ninevites

d.      And God WILL judge our sins

e.       But we can change His mind about HOW He will have to judge them

f.       By humbling ourselves, repenting of our wicked ways, and believing that JESUS CHRIST, the Son of God, came and took our place under the wrath of God

g.      Instead of the Ninevites being destroyed for their sins, God judged and condemned His only begotten Son on the cross

h.      So that we (undeserving, unworthy sinners) could be forgiven, and go free

i.        Do you want to change the way that God has to work on you?

j.        Then change the way you view your sin (that’s are your only problem), and change the way you view God’s Son (He’s your only hope)


III. Conclusion and Invitation


A.    God’s Grace Was At Work - What is the work of grace here?


1.      Warning - That God would warn this city – didn’t have to. Not everyone gets warnings!

2.      Waking us up - That God would wake it up from its slumber of sin – its apathy!

3.      Caring about our souls - That God would even care for this pagan, Gentile city

4.      Giving us time – Grace says, it was not too late! God gave them time! Gives us all time!

5.      Using unwilling people to confront us - That God would force an unwilling man to travel 500 miles on foot to them to confront them, and wake them up to the coming danger

6.      Ultimately judging wicked nations that don’t repent - That God WOULD actually destroy evil nations – that is the grace of God on the rest of the world, to wake THEM up so that the sin does not spread!


B.     Ninevah experienced the greatest miracle!


1.      The fact that the Ninevites repented should actually be known as a greater miracle than a man being swallowed and then spit out by a fish!

2.      Whatever amazing things have happened in your life, nothing could be greater than the day you humbled YOURSELF, and fell on your knees, and admitted that YOU are a sinner, away from God and deserving of God’s judgment, and then called on Christ’s name, asking Him to save a wretch like you! THAT is the greatest miracle in the universe! And THAT is what is needed in every home, and in every heart all across this land of ours!


C.    Only Repentance Unlocks Such Grace!


1.      For the most part, we all have a load of issues, and problems that we all need to take responsibility for – that is what it means to be a grown-up – we fix what we have broken

2.      But there are SOME things that none of us will ever be able to fix


a.       Like our sin-record with God

b.      And like our hardened hearts

c.       ONLY repentance can fix those problems


3.      The book of Jonah tells a story of an unrepentant preacher, and a lot of repentant sinners. It is like the description of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-12.


a.       The “good” religious kind of people WON’T humble themselves and repent

b.      While, wicked, cheating, lying publicans DO humble themselves and repent!


D.    True Repentance, that trusts God, Saves


1.      Grieving that you offended God

2.      Admitting past sins and rebellion against God

3.      Shame considering just how loathsome and wicked our sins are

4.      Fear/alarm of God’s righteous wrath. Wanting to not experience it will motivate many.

5.      Hope! That God will forgive us, if we ask! That’s believing faith!

6.      And believe this Book, that He does forgive! Completely, and forever!


E.     Mt 12:41  The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

F.      The Ninevites will rise in judgment against us, for "they believed God" and "repented at the preaching of Jonah." And so many today won’t or haven’t!

G.    There is an open window of opportunity, but that window, that open door will close one day