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Here is Colson's message to the recipients. July 5, Culture , Missiology. Stay informed. Sign up for our Free newsletter. Christianity Today strengthens the church by richly communicating the breadth of the true, good, and beautiful gospel. Learn more. A schoolteacher spoke to me when I was teaching the Book of Jonah at Mt. McGee, suppose Jonah had bought a ticket again for Tarshish and started out, what then?
In a parallel situation, I have never read of the prodigal son asking his dad to stake him the second time or the third time to go out into the far country. He had one fling and that was it, because he was a son of the father. And Jonah, this backsliding prophet, is now on the way to Nineveh, I can assure you of that. I like to think of our God as the God of the second chance. He gives us a second chance. And, by the way, He gives us more than two. God has been so gracious to me!
He gives us many chances, and He has always done that. For instance, you may remember Jacob in the Book of Genesis. God had made wonderful promises to that man, yet he failed God again and again.
25 Important Bible Verses About Second Chances
But God would not let him go. And one night at the Brook Jabbok, God crippled his leg to get him. God would not give him up. He is the God of the second chance. And then David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, committed an awful sin. They feel like God made a terrible blunder choosing David and letting him have a second chance.
Without question the double sin he committed was awful. David slipped, and God gave him a second chance. Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail…. And God gave him a wonderful lifelong ministry. God did not give him up. Also, John Mark is an example in the Scriptures of one who failed. Do you think I would take a man who had so failed on the first missionary journey? But Paul was proven wrong. God gave him another chance. After giving these messages on Jonah on a radio program in downtown Los Angeles many years ago, I received a letter from a doctor in Beverly Hills.
He had been an officer in a church in Chicago, and some problem had arisen. Charges had been brought against him. He said he was not guilty at all, but everyone turned against him. He found no sympathy, no understanding from anyone in the church. So he walked out. He even moved his practice to Southern California and became a success out here, but he would never darken the door of a church.
However he did listen to our radio program.
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And, friend, may I say to you, that has been the wonder of radio. We never know who is listening. And that doctor was listening the night we came to this third chapter of Jonah.
Only God will do that. And God will give you and me a second chance. At last he is out on the dry land, and we believe God has raised him from the dead. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent. Jonah Now if you were to go back to the nineteenth century, you would find writers of the school of higher criticism ridiculing this story, not just on account of the fish, but on account of the statements attributed to the Lord that Nineveh was a great city; and Jonah says it was an exceedingly great city!
Even Babylon in all of its glory was not a great city in size. It was compressed together, with very narrow streets, so that in time of a siege people could get inside of it.
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Babylon was walled in, and that had to be true of Nineveh, the critics reasoned; and in their view, by no means could it be said that it was an exceedingly great city. Well, that was before Sir Austen Layard, the French archaeologist, and others with him were in Mosul. They could see across the Tigris River a very large tell or mound two and one-half miles long in the shape of a trapezium. These men began to make inquiry of the natives there and came to the conclusion it must be ancient Nineveh. When they began to excavate, they found that it was, indeed, the ancient city of Nineveh.
So these men probed further and found there was a tremendous valley there, a valley that was filled not with just one city but quite a few of them; and three of them were prominent cities. You see, Nineveh was located at a juncture of the Tigris River and the upper Zab.
It was the city farthest to the north. About twenty miles south of Nineveh, at another juncture of the upper Zab and the Tigris River, was the city of Calah. Then on the upper Zab and about ten miles east of Nineveh was the city of Khorsabad. Now there were other cities also in this area. It was low, rich land—in the South we would call it bottom land—which was easily farmed. And so this was a very rich and apparently irrigated area. It was the center of a tremendous population.
So we know now that Nineveh was a tremendous area by all standards. Obviously, the man who wrote the Book of Jonah was an eyewitness. He had been there! Frankly, I think it would correspond to the Los Angeles basin in many ways. They had natural fortifications with the Tigris River on the west, and on the south and to the east the Zab River; plus, there was a wall. As a result, this entire area could be protected from an enemy and was protected for many centuries. It was actually a flood of the Tigris River which took out a portion of the wall that finally permitted an enemy to come in and destroy this city.
Nineveh was an exceedingly great city. This man comes into the city with this very startling message, a message that would shock the people. His only problem was, how would he get a crowd? He was not known in the city of Nineveh. So how did Jonah get a crowd? If you were a preacher you would worry about this. It would be of great concern to you, especially in these days of apostasy. How would a prophet of God, going into the pagan city of Nineveh, get a crowd? Well, let me call you back now to this man Jonah who had spent three days inside a fish with the gastric juices working upon the epidermis of this backsliding prophet.
I can tell you that he was a mess when he came out of that fish! I have given one account of a man being swallowed by a fish near the Falkland Islands. But, let me briefly give you another. Briefly, the account stated that in an attempt to harpoon one of these monstrous sharks the man fell overboard, before he could be picked up again, the shark turned and engulfed him.
Forty-eight hours after the accident occurred, the fish was sighted and slain. When the shark was opened by the sailors, they were amazed to find the man unconscious but alive! He was rushed to the hospital where he was found to be suffering from shock, and a few hours later was discharged as being physically fit.
Rimmer was in London, England, two years after that, and this man was being advertised as the Jonah of the twentieth century. When Dr. God hurls a storm at you and appoints a big fish to swallow you. Do you believe this? It is an act of faith, you know. God called Jonah a second time to respond in faith, and he did.
God did more than Jonah could have ever imagined. God did this in spite of Jonah. Imagine that. What can God do for you and through you if you choose to experience the mercy of God through humble repentance? Do not become bogged down in the guilt of your failures, but see them as opportunities to turn to the Lord in faith. Then expect Him to do some fantastic things for you and through you.
Jonah failed to be used by God, to rescue Nineveh. Jonah chose to run the other way. But God persevered. He would not let go of Jonah. Maybe God was rescuing more than Nineveh. Could it be God was saving Jonah too? Have you ever wondered why God perseveres so long with you?
Admitting Failure Gives You a Second Chance From God
The story of Jonah was not just about a divine rescue of Nineveh. God is full of mercy—to His children and His enemies Matthew The implication of this passage is quite intrusive. Your sin does not disqualify you from the Christian life. That kind of thinking mocks the gospel. But you can sit in the belly of a fish for a long time if you want to. It is up you to follow through on your second chance opportunities.
You can have God spit you out of a whale and send you in a better direction. All you have to do is own your sin, turn to God, and receive His free pardon. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD! The implication of sin, as well as the gospel, is that we need second chances from God. Are you like Jonah? Are you resisting the Lord? Will you be like Jonah and turn from your idols? God was glorified through Jonah as Jonah responded to God a second time.
There is no doubt it was the Lord who brought Nineveh to repentance, but He chose to use His prophet to bring about their repentance. God will use you if you accept the second chance He extends to you, which comes from His amazing mercy. Also published on Medium. Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers.
Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking. His organization is a training center for IABC. Our mission is to help people by providing practical tools and ongoing training for effective living. Used by permission. All rights reserved. In compliance with IRS c 3 policies, please know that all political opinions and legislative type statements made on this site are the opinions of the writers of this site and not necessarily the opinions of our company, The Counseling Solutions Group, Inc.
Skip to content Skip to primary sidebar Skip to footer. It is one of those things we say about God. If you are a Christian, you have received a second chance. How do you perceive your troubles? Are you in a storm? Could it be your storm is your opportunity to respond to God? Is God giving you another chance? Jonah rejected the word of the Lord.