Have you ever heard of the K.I.S.S. principle? It’s been popular in all levels of sports for a long time – “Keep It Simple Stupid” (the modern PC version ends with “Silly” instead). The idea is that sometimes the plainest, most straightforward and simple strategy is the best.
Jonah’s preaching to Nineveh is a prime example of K.I.S.S. at its finest. He had one very simple sermon point – “Your city is about to be destroyed.” No fancy words, no elaborate illustrations or stories, no jokes about his family – just a powerful message from God of certain judgment. He did not need to tell Nineveh why they were about be overthrown. As we will see in the next post, they did not need an explanation. As soon as they heard the words from this stomach-bleached prophet who had survived three days inside a giant fish, their own hearts condemned them. They clearly realized that they had filled up the measure of their sins; they had been weighed by the one true God and found wanting. In 40 days, they would finally pay the just penalty for their sins. They had only one faint ray of hope – repent at once of all of their evil deeds and throw themselves down upon God’s mercy and grace in the hope that maybe, just maybe, He would let them live.
Jonah’s sermon would not have been popular in most church and chapel services today. It may have been longer than one line; the Bible does not tell us one way or the other. But God preserved through Jonah’s own writing the heart of the message that He wanted us to know. The application for us is clear: the power of God is more important in our witness for Christ than having all the right words or telling the most interesting stories. Jonah had just spent three days alone with God. His heart, mind, and soul had been purified by God’s holy work in his life. Nineveh saw this in Jonah’s preaching, and God’s Holy Spirit went to work on them right away. If we want to see more of our friends and family won to Christ, we must spend more time with Him ourselves. We must first repent of our own sins ourselves before we can call on others to do the same. We must be holy as God is holy. People can tell when we have been transformed by Jesus. Let Him give us power as His witnesses today.
The Text (Jonah 3:1-4)
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to 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-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
Questions to Think About
- When was the last time that you remember hearing a strong sermon about specific sins that ended with a call for you to repent of those sins and get right with God? How did it affect you?
- Do you think that sermons like Jonah’s are common in church and chapel services today? Why or why not?
- Do you want to be holy like Jesus? Why or or why not?
- When God tells Jonah to “arise” and head to Nineveh, it’s possible that He said that because Jonah had gone home for awhile after escaping the fish. Of course, Jonah could have just been lying down on the beach exhausted and then gotten the word from God right away. Either way, the most important fact it that this time, Jonah obeyed the Lord immediately. A major theme of Jonah is “obey the Lord or else!”
- Nineveh was definitely a gigantic city for its time. Some scholars estimate that by being “a three-day journey in extent,” the Bible means that the greater Nineveh area (including surrounding villages and towns) was almost 60 miles in circumference! Many of the people probably did not hear Jonah’s preaching directly, but got the message from neighbors and friends. Because the people believed the warning so strongly, they were quick to spread the word once Jonah arrived.