Would life not be better if we could get a second chance at some of the things we attempted in life? In Golf they call them mulligans which means you can get another chance at the shot as if the shot did not count. Of course mulligans only count if you are not a professional golfer but if you just play for fun it is a great way to have a better score at the end of the day. Jonah is given a mulligan by God in order to have a do over that seemingly does not count against him. God is a God of second chances and He allows Jonah an opportunity for a do over.
Read Jonah 2:10-3:3 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,[a] three days’ journey in breadth.
The God of Second Chances: Forgives Your Past
“Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time” The word “Then” because Jonah repented in chapter two which meant he changed his mind and put his eyes back on God. God is ready to take you were you are at and take you were you need to be but He wants you to turn (repent) from the way you are going and turn back and cry out to Him.
God does something remarkable in this story and that is not bringing up Jonah’s past. The God of second chances does not remind Jonah of the sin of rebellion but simply tells Jonah it’s time to start over. No scolding, no holding it over Jonah’s head about his past, like we do, just are you ready to begin again?
Isaiah 43:25 I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
“To “not remember” is a simply a graphic way of saying, I will not bring these matters to you or others in the future.” Jay Adams God
Prophets of God were usually judged more quickly than the people of God because of the position they held and the intimacy they had with God. (Numbers 22:22-35; 1 Kings 13:20-25; Jeremiah 23:23-40; James 3:1) Jonah experienced the grace and mercy of God that he did not deserve and it was a grace and mercy that he was not willing to show to Nineveh. The concept that God will take us back so quickly after we have sinned so much is a concept that many people struggle with because it goes against our way of doing things. Jesus was trying to teach His Disciples the correct view of God when He told the story of the prodigal son and how the son had squandered his inheritance, which he should not have been given yet, and went and lived a life of sin. After all the things the son did and how he insulted the father we read the ending of the story to see how God treats us when we turn from our life of sin.
Luke 15:20-24 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[c] 22 But the father said to his servants,[d] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
The story of Jonah and the story of the prodigal son both do not bring up the past sins of the one who rebelled but only focus on the present and how they can move on from there. Our problem is not that God remembers our past but that we do. That does not mean you ignore your past or that you do not have to make amends to those you have hurt, but your focus should be on what God is doing in your life today and how God has forgiven you.
Philippians 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
I am sure the apostle Paul wished he could take back all the lives he had ruined and people that were imprisoned and put to death under his authority. Paul’s Idea in this verse is of a runner who does not focus on anything but only on what is in front of him as he strains to accomplish all that can be accomplished for God till he reaches the finish line. Do you know what you can change about your past? Nothing. All of us wish we could do things differently in our lives but we can’t go back and unlike golf with our friends we cannot have a mulligan. We have to live with the shots we have taken for good or for bad but God will meet us where we are forgiving all that has already taken place with a clean score card.
If God has forgiven you of your sin then who do you think you are by not forgiving yourself for the sin you have committed?
The God of Second Chances: Puts Us Back On Course
“And the fish vomited up Jonah on dry Land” We do not know where the fish vomited Jonah back up but some believe it was in Joppa where he paid for the ship to run from God. It does not matter if it was back to Joppa what matters is God was taking him from where he was to where he needed to be. Jonah was getting a second chance to fulfill the mission God gave him to do.
Jonah 1:1-2 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil[a] has come up before me.”
Jonah 3:1-2 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”
The command of God is exactly the same in these verses with a few exceptions. God makes Jonah know that He only wants Jonah saying what He tells him to say because God wants Jonah to focus on just proclaiming the truth and not condemning the people of Nineveh. Jonah’s job was not to critique the message or change the message he was just to proclaim the message that God wanted him to say.
“Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh”, God’s chosen people, the Israelites were not His chosen people meaning no one else was getting in, they were chosen because God was going to use them to tell the rest of the world about Him. Jonah did not like the evil people of Nineveh and he did not want to see God have grace and mercy on them. Our job is to proclaim the message of salvation through Christ to everyone no matter if we think they deserve God’s grace and mercy or not.
Isaiah 42:6-7 I am the Lord; I have called you[a] in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
The reason God wants obedient children is because the rest of the world is watching to see if God truly makes a difference in the lives of His followers. The problem is most Christians live their lives the same way the rest of the world does and it keeps people from seeing the true God of the universe. We care about the same things the world does, we stress about the same things the world does and because of that they see no difference in how we live our lives. Too many Christians are trying to fit into the world instead of living for God and allowing our lives to be a lighthouse to those who are trying to be fulfilled by the world and who realize that the things of the world are leaving them empty inside. We are called to be light to a world that is lost in darkness as we provide a light to help them find God. Jonah forgot that as a prophet of God he did not just exist for those who knew God but he also existed for those who did not know God.
If you have rebelled against God and have not lived the life He has called you to live or done what He is called you to do you can know that He is a God of second chances. God will take you where you are and take you where you need to be. Turn to God and focus on your future and watch how God will use you to help lead others to Him.
The God of Second Chances: Offers Second Chances to Others
“A Great City “or Important City” The entire reason God commissioned Jonah to go to Nineveh was to warn the people about the upcoming judgment from God because God cares for Nineveh as much as the Israelites. Jonah hated the people of Nineveh because they were horrible and rotten people and he thought they deserved God’s judgment but God was giving Nineveh a second chance to change their ways. We are to remember the grace, mercy and salvation that we have received and pass that same grace, mercy and love onto others as we point them to Christ. God’s word is clear that those who receive mercy but do not show mercy will be judged harshly by God.
Matthew 18:23-35 Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.[g] 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.[h] 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant[i] fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii,[j] and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers,[k] until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
We will see with Jonah that he liked receiving the mercy of God but he did not want Nineveh to receive the same mercy and grace that he did. For those who have come to realize that Jesus is the only way to God (John 14:6) and that all other religions are a lie, we have to be broken hearted for the people who are separated from God and will be separated from Him for all eternity unless they trust in Jesus Christ. (Acts 16:31)
Who do you need to tell about Jesus Christ? Who do you need to give a second chance too? Do you realize the grace and mercy you have received from God? God is a God of second Chances and He will not bring up your past but only reroute you to get back on track and He wants you to do the same for others. (This does not mean that you allow someone in your life that has not repented or put yourself or your family in a harmful situation to just try and show mercy.)
If you have never received the grace and mercy of God it is about calling out to Him because the debt is too much for you to pay. You have not out sinned God’s grace and either can anyone else.