Jonah chapter 3

The LORD God sends Jonah to Nineveh, again. Jonah obeys his calling. The Ninevites are converted.





VERSE 1. The LORD’s word came to Jonah the second time, saying,

the second time. The LORD God gives Jonah a second chance.


VERSE 2. “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I give you.”

the message that I give you. The precise message is revealed in verse 4 below.

It is not easy to stand in front of people and tell them what they do not want to hear

But in obedience to the revealed will of God, that’s exactly what Jonah does:




VERSE 3. So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD’s word. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey across.

Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh. Instead of running away from the calling of the LORD God, Jonah obeys his calling. He goes to Nineveh.


VERSE 4. Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried out, and said, “In forty days, Nineveh will be overthrown!”

a day’s journey. Nineveh was a giant city. Jonah walks into it for a day. Then he starts preaching.

Nineveh will be overthrown! That implies a military force will conquer it. However, some other translations use the word “destroyed:”

New Living Translation. On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!

This is the message Jonah is called to preach to the people of Nineveh. It is a message of immanent destruction. It is the epitome of doom-and-gloom.




VERSE 5. The people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from their greatest even to their least.

The people of Nineveh believed God. This is remarkable! A giant city of Gentile people are converted to faith in the One God of Israel!

The Old Testament foresee Gentiles coming to faith in the One God of Israel and bringing gifts to Jerusalem. Here are the key Bible verses about this »

they proclaimed a fast. This too is remarkable!

put on sackcloth. This is an outward sign of repentance.

The enormous population of Gentiles repents. They observ a total fast of food and drink. Even the animals repent.

The LORD God sees their repentance and has mercy on them.

The people of Nineveh were foreign to Israel. They were outsiders. They had never heard a prophet or message of God or Scripture until now. How beautifully they responded.

How beautiful also is the grace and mercy of God.

In our own lives, we might know people who seem outside the reach of God. But nobody is beyond God’s reach.


VERSE 6. The news reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, took off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.

the king of Nineveh. Even the king of Nineveh fasts.

covered himself with sackcloth. This is an outward sign of repentance.


VERSE 7. He made a proclamation and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, “Let neither man nor animal, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water;

nor animal. Even the animals will be fasting.

nor drink water. This is a dry fast.

A dry fast is an absolute, true fast in which you abstain from both food and water. At least some of our biblical heroes had practiced this type of fast. Continue reading


VERSE 8. but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and animal, and let them cry mightily to God. Yes, let them turn everyone from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.

let them be covered with sackcloth. Even the animals will be marked with the outward sign of repentance.


VERSE 9. Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we might not perish?”


VERSE 10. God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster which he said he would do to them, and he didn’t do it.

relented. The Hebrew word is וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם (“way·yin·nā·ḥem”). It means to be sorry, console oneself.


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RESOURCES: Summary, Outline

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.