“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it, the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3:2).
These words were said to Jonah. God, for the second time, was ordering Jonah to go preach to Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-2 cf. 1:1-2). Jonah should have listened to God the first time. However, he had tried to flee from his responsibilities. God was giving him a second chance. Jonah should have been thankful for this second chance.
Let us notice, first, Jonah was to preach to Nineveh. Alas, Jonah was a super-patriot and a sorry prophet. He did not want God to forgive these people (Jonah 3:10-4:11).
We need to be willing to proclaim the Gospel message to all. The apostles commissioned to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47). The early church went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4). Christians are expected to mature to the point that they can teach and proclaim and defend the faith (Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3). James instructed, “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality” (James 2:1). We need to care about people, all people – regardless of nationality, ethnicity, socio-economic standing, tattoos, piercings, or appearance.
Let us notice, second, Jonah was to preach what God told him to preach. “Jonah was to preach only that which God commanded – he could not preach just anything” (John Kachelman, Jr., Studies in Jonah, p. 67).
We need to proclaim the message of God (1 Peter 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:1; Galatians 1:8-9; 1 Corinthians 11:23a). Homer Hailey commented, “The prophet was to ‘preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.’ This is the only preaching that will accomplish that which God wants accomplished. One of the tragedies of today and of all time since the beginning of preaching – is that men are prone to substitute what their own wisdom dictates instead of preaching what God bids. Man can make no improvement on God’s message” (Hailey, A Commentary on the Minor Prophets, p. 75). Haddon W. Robinson has written, “The man in the pulpit faces the pressing temptation to deliver some message other than that of the scriptures – a political system (either right-wing or left-wing), a theory of economics, a religious philosophy, old religions slogans, a trend in psychology. A preacher can proclaim anything in a stained-glass voice, at 11:30 on Sunday morning, following the singing of hymns. Yet, when a preacher fails to preach the scriptures, he abandons his authority. He confronts his hearers no longer with a word from God, but only with another word from men” (Robinson, Biblical Preaching, p. 18). “Ultimately the authority behind preaching resides not in the preacher but in the biblical text. For that reason the expositor deals largely with an explanation of scripture, so that he focuses the listener’s attention on the Bible” (Robinson, p. 23). It is by the word of God that man is born again (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18), sanctified (John 17:17), built up and will received an inheritance (Acts 20:32). “Preach the word!” (2 Timothy 4:2).