Books authored by Dr. James Dyet. Purchase on

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Preach It, Jonah!

When Jonah entered Nineveh, he did not take a survey to determine the community’s felt needs or interests so he could tailor his preaching to fit his audience. Nor did he offer an entertainment package or promise success to those who would simply give the Lord “a chance.” Instead, he preached the message the Lord had given him (Jonah 3:1, 4).

The Ninevites responded to Jonah’s stern message about judgment by repenting. Even the king repented. He stripped off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth (course, dark cloth made of goats' hair), and sat in ashes. He wasn’t giving God a “chance.” He was beseeching God to give him a “chance.” And them he decreed that everyone in Nineveh should follow his example. He hoped God would spare the city (v. 9).

He was right. God responded to the citywide repentance with mercy (v. 10). More than two centuries earlier, King David had prayed, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). He, too, was right!

In Colonial America, Jonathan Edwards preached a stern sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” that caused members of his congregation to grip the backs of the pews tightly because they feared they would slip into hell if they let go. Are we overdue for a similar message today? Of course, if congregants heard one, they might have to grip the backs of theater seats, but genuine repentance might buy our nation more time.

No comments: