Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
This was the forlorn hope of the Ninevites. The Book of Jonah should be exceedingly comfortable to those who are despairing because of the wickedness of their times. Is this, O God, Thy way? Wilt thou make Nineveh repent at the bidding of one man? So skilful is He that with the weakest instrument He can produce the mightiest workmanship.
I. THE MISERABLE PLIGHT IN WHICH THE MEN OF NINEVEH FOUND THEMSELVES. They were like those in the days of Noah. They were rich and mighty above all people. Locked in security, they fell into abomin able sins. Their vices probably rivalled those of Sodom. Suddenly they were startled from their security, and convinced of their sin. Their miserable plight consisted in three discoveries — their great sin; the shortness of their time; the terrible character of their destruction.
II. THE SLENDER GROUND WHICH THE NINEVITES HAD FOR HOPE. In Jonah's message there was no proclamation of mercy made. It was the trumpet of the judge, but not the silver trump of jubilee. He was sent with a thundering commission, and he dealt it out in a thundering fashion. The king's answer was, "Who can tell? There may be hope." Another thing that would cut off the hope of the Ninevites was, that they knew nothing of God except, it may be, some dreadful legends of His terrible acts. They lacked another encouragement that we have. They had never heard of the Cross. Jonah's preaching was very powerful, but there was no Christ in it.
III. THE URGING OF DIVINE REASONS WHY WE SHOULD IMITATE THE NINEVITES IN REPENTANCE. God, in order that you may know His mercy, has been pleased to preserve instances thereof, that so often as you look upon them you may be led to say, if such and such an one was saved, why may not I? If you are conscious of guilt, your only hope of deliverance lies in the mercy of God. While it will be a happy thing for thee to be saved, it will be a serious thing for God to save thee. God delighteth to save sinners, because this puts jewels in His crown. He is glorified in His justice, but not as He is in His mercy.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?