Proclaim: To declare or announce publicly . (Meriam Webster Dictionary)
When we proclaim something or someone we talk about it openly to whoever will listen and we all tend to proclaim things that we love to talk about whether it is in sports, fishing, hunting or shopping. Jonah was called to proclaim a message from God to the city of Nineveh and warn them about a judgment that was coming because of their sin. God cared for Nineveh even though their sinful lifestyle was going to bring judgment from God that did not keep God from wanting to give them a second chance.
1) Proclaim the Message of God
Jonah 3:2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”
Matthew 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
When we began the book of Jonah we said that Jonah was an unusual prophet because he gave God the silent treatment and ignored God’s command to go and warn the people of Nineveh. Many of us ignore the commands of Jesus which simply commands us to go and tell others about Him that He died for our sins and put us in a right relationship with God. If we are honest there is something inside of us that makes us uneasy for some reason when we think about sharing about Jesus. We may think about people who shared about Jesus very rudely or because Hollywood has mocked Christians we do not want to appear to be one of those people.
Jonah began to go into the city
We do not know exactly how Jonah began sharing the message that God had for Nineveh but some believe that he would have followed a normal pattern of anyone who went into a city by setting up meetings with officials, bringing them gifts or maybe he went to the town square where people would have meetings and find out news for the day. Some believe that Jonah was seen being vomited up on the beach and that the news could have traveled to Nineveh about such a man and with Jonah’s appearance having been changed by being in the large fish it would have made a crowd curious about what happened to him and what he had to say.
Whatever the circumstances Jesus has told us to go into the world and tell other people that He came to rescue sinners and that we are at odds with God because of our sinful lifestyle. This is not a message that will be easily accepted by our generation but it was not an easy message for Jonah to proclaim to Nineveh either. People deserve the truth before they reach eternity that Jesus came into the world to save us from the wrath of God and our job is to tell them. (John 3:16-17; 14:6)
2) Proclaim the Message Repeatedly
“Forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
This was a short message from Jonah with not much explanation and only about judgment that was coming. (5 words total in Hebrew language) What Jonah did do was tell the message consistently as he went throughout the city. We have a responsibility to tell people and it will take more than one time (most cases) for them to understand the message of God to them. Our entire society is built on short burst of information so we have to know that it will take repeated effort on our part to communicate the gospel.
Those born 1995 -2010 are called Generation Z . The National Center for Biotechnology says the average attention span has gone from 12 Seconds in the year 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015 and they go on to say that a Gold fish has an attention span of 9 seconds. With the attention spans of people and with the distractions we have in America we are going to have to talk to people repeatedly about why they should give their lives to Jesus Christ.
“Bottom line? Whatever is we are attempting to convey, much less explain, will need to be communicated more frequently in shorter bursts of “snackable content”…The good news is that once something does gain their attention and is deemed worthy of time, they can become intensely committed and focused. The very internet that forced them to develop eight-second filter is the same internet that allows them to go deep on any topic they desire and learn from a community of fellow interested parties…The bad news? We have eight seconds to get past their filters. (Meet Generation Z, PG 116, James Emery White)
God hates sin so much that He came to earth and died for it and we have to figure out ways to get people to hear the bad news that they are separated from God but the Good news that God , through Jesus Christ, has provided a way back to Him. For that to happen we have to have gospel conversations as part of our daily life.
One of the most famous verses on the planet has good news but also a warning and I think it is important for people to realize the bad news as much as the good news that is attached to this verse.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life
Perish? That does not sound like a loving God. Some will even say they do not believe in a God who would send people to Hell. Whatever you believe about God you have one opportunity in this life in order to find out who is telling you the truth. If all roads lead to Heaven then Jesus died for nothing. God is concerned for those outside of His will and He wants us to make sure they realize that He loves them but if they do not turn to Him then they will perish by being separated from Him for all eternity.
The people of Nineveh were given 40 Days to repent and people on earth are only given so much time to repent as well. After we die there are no second chances.
Hebrews 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
The reason that Jesus is good news is because there is bad news and your job is to tell the news and it is up to other people to respond. Jonah did not know if they were going to accept or reject his message and he probably was not sure if he was leaving the place alive because of how they treated other people in the past. However we are treated it is an important enough message for people to realize that only through Christ (God in the Flesh) and His sacrifice on the cross is the way we can have eternal life with God.
3) Proclaim the Message with Grace and Truth
We know that Jonah was not excited about Nineveh being spared by God and it may mean that He did not tell the entire story of what God wanted but God used Jonah even with a bad attitude and a bad presentation. Some believe that the people of Nineveh understood what judgment meant because they knew the stories of Noah and how God flooded the earth. (Genesis 6) There are other flood accounts in history because people had to describe what happened to the earth and the story was passed down from generation to generation from Noah.
There is no indication that Jonah, a prophet of God, interceded for the people and they had to go to God directly on their own. One of the things you can do before you talk to someone about Jesus is to pray for them. When we pray for people it will help us love them more and want to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ. We are not to speak only Judgment and we are not to speak only grace we are to teach both of them together something Jonah did not do.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[a] from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The reason the people love false preachers who say that they can live however they want and still go to Heaven is because they do not have to give up the lifestyle they are living. People believe that accepting Jesus is like having fire insurance but Jesus wants you to believe, trust and place your faith in Him today. Our relationship with Christ is always talked about in the Bible as a marriage. A couple that gets married comes together to make one family and the woman will change her last name to reflect that of the husbands family. Christians are called the Bride of Christ because we give up our name and follow Jesus and become something we are not already. If you had a friend of yours that got married but she did not take his last name and she does not even live with him it would cause you to be concerned if they really got married in the first place. The same is true with those who say they are Christians but their lifestyle does not reflect that of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:31-33 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
We will talk about repentance more as we move through the book of Jonah but so many people think they can live how they want and still be in a relationship with Jesus. The Bible does not show this type of attitude that is so prevalent in our society today.
A prophet would announce doom to get people to change their behavior but it was also a chance for them to repent (change their mind which lead to a change in direction) and God would withhold His punishment from them. Most people either focus on the grace of God or the Judgment of God but we are to tell both sides because God has both Grace and Judgment as part of who HE is.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The message has power not because of your presentation but because of God who wants the message to be shared. God chooses to use sinful, fallen, messed up followers of His to deliver a divine message to the entire world and then He supernaturally saves people by allowing them to see that He provided the way for salvation through Jesus Christ. Your job is to proclaim the message and leave the results up to God.
In the movie Gravity with Sandra Bullock there is a part in the movie where she believes she is going to die. As she is sitting there it is troubling to hear that she had never really explored what happens to us after we die.
“Oh, I’m going to die…I know… we’re all gonna die, everybody knows that. But I’m going to die today! It’s funny that…you know, to know. But the thing is, is that I’m still scared. I’m really scared. No One will mourn for me, no one will pray for my soul. Will you mourn for me? Will you say a prayer for me? Or is it too late? Ugh. I mean, I’d say one for myself, but I’ve never prayed in my life, so…But nobody every taught be how. Nobody ever taught me how?
How will the world know that there is a God they can pray to if they do not hear that we can pray to Him through Jesus Christ? The Curse of Knowledge is when the person communicating believes that the person who is listening understands what is being said. We sometimes believe that everyone has the same information that we have and so when we communicate they do not understand what we are saying. We live in a post –Christians America and many people are not aware of the significance of Jesus Christ. Those who grew up in church think that everyone has knowledge of Jesus Christ but that is not the case anymore. If you study Acts 2 and Acts 17 you will see two approaches to sharing the gospel because the groups were totally different. We have to meet people where they are and we have to communicate to them so that they understand the message that God wants us to share with them. God has placed you in people’s lives for a purpose and God wants you to proclaim His truth.
Romans 10:14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[a] And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
We have a message to proclaim that Jesus is the only way to God and our message needs to be repeated and retold to help people understand the message that God would have them to know.