And the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,…
I. A GREAT RESTORATION. After his recreancy to duty, who had been surprised if Jonah had been thrust out of the prophet's office? The guilt of his flight, the moral insensibility into which he had sunken, rendered him, many would think, unfit to be God's spokesman to men. But God had mercy on him. And saved, he had presently the assurance of it. He was reinstated in the prophet's office, and solemnly commissioned anew to the prophet's work. A "second time" bidden go, he went. It was a great restoration, and openly marked by the great errand on which he was sent. The work showed that the worker was restored. For that still the backslider is recovered. Not for mere personal enjoyment in religion. Not merely to have the assurance of individual safety. But also to "show" what great things God hath done for him. Was Peter restored? Let him prove it: "Feed my sheep .... my lambs." So was Jonah comforted; restored, he had the assurance of it in the renewed commission, "Go to Nineveh."
II. A GREAT SPHERE FOR WORK. God himself, in giving this commission, spoke of Nineveh as "that great city." Jonah knew from human testimony that the city was great. But God says it is. Then let Jonah be ready for difficulties. It is no little work to which he is bidden. And is the greatness of Nineveh mentioned only to prepare him for the magnitude of the task before him? Is there not implied therein a reason, should the people repent, for the Divine compassion? "Should not I spare Nineveh, that great city?" (Jonah 4:11). In a town, with its many homes, families, cares, virtues, vices, - how much to impress a human imagination, to affect a human heart! But in great cities, throbbing with restless life, each man of the millioned multitude with his own history, his own destiny, how the solemn interest is deepened! Great cities are great to God. Religion is the only protection of city or state. The repentance of the Ninevites averted the doom of Nineveh; its wealth, valour, fame, availed not to effect this. This punishment of nations as such comes in this world. The sins of nations have destroyed them. May our own nation know the time of its visitation, that it perish not!
III. A GREAT EXAMPLE. Jonah is here seen at his best. There is a moral sublimity in his promptitude. "Arise, go." He went. The difficulty of obedience always grows by delay, it may be hard at the beginning, but it will be easier then than ever after. "God loveth a cheerful giver," whatever be the gift. Bold was Jonah. Wisely bold. As soon as Nineveh was reached he began his solemn cry. Bold, though alone. He had no human companion to encourage him, to help him. Bold, to utter the cry of woe. Destruction was the burden of his oft-repeated message. Nothing in that to gather affection to him - loving, joyful attention. May his courage be ours! We have glad tidings to tell; and no such lonely path to tread as he. With such a message, and with the viewless presence of the Messenger, we may well be of good courage. - G.T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,