“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” (5) The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.
He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
God tells prophet Jonah to go and preach against Nineveh. Preach against. Condemn. Tell them that they are wrong. Tell them that because of their sins I will destroy them. Don’t preach to impress or amaze, just tell them the bitter truth. Preach, against them!
Preach against them. Target them. Your preaching should not just be general remarks that targets everyone. This sermon should purely be about them specifically and nobody else. If anyone complains that you were preaching about me, tell them it is true, for it is true. Preach about them and against them. Preach, against them!
Sermons should be for everyone and if anyone is touched, let it be the private business of the Holy Spirit. To write sermons with any one person in mind is wrong and unprofessional. Yet God says to Jonah, target them in your sermon. Do not praise them or make them feel good, just tell them the bitter truth. Preach, against them!
The language, tone and content of such a sermon would never be attractive. Yet this is the sermon that God wants preached. Jonah goes ahead and preaches against them. Jonah’s sermon is simple, in forty days you will all be punished for your sins. In forty days the city will be overthrown by God. That is all Jonah preached. No hope. No call to repentance. He just preached against them!
Every sermon should end with hope of salvation. Every sermon should invite people to change their lives. Every sermon must end in hope and not condemnation. Jonah hated Nineveh so he gave no hope. He just preached against them!
The sermon of condemnation ended well. In spite of the poor sermon. In spite of the ill-motive of the preacher. The sermon preached against them, became a sermon that triggered confessions and repentance. God took over the preaching moments and convicted their hearts. The whole city returned to God. What began negatively ended positively to the glory of God.
God forgives Nineveh and doesn’t destroy them. Jonah gets angry and tells God that I knew that even though you wanted me to preach against them You never intended to destroy them. Jonah knew something that we need to know. Preaching against seems negative but the intention is positive, the intention is salvation. Jonah knew from the beginning that even if the sermon is negative and full of accusations, God’s aim is to save those being condemned.
What is your reaction when the preacher is speaking against you? If you have God’s Spirit guiding you what follows is repentance. Without God’s Spirit, you rise up against the preacher. Has a sermon been preached against you? What is your reaction? What do you think God intended? To embarrass you or save you?
Next time the sermon is against you, turn to God and not against the preacher. Next time the sermon is against you do not summon the preacher, summon your senses to repentance. Next time the sermon is against you, do not speak negatively about the preacher and assasinate their character, but convince your fellow sinners to repent. Next time the sermon is against you, leave the preacher alone and repent!
Praise God if the sermon is against you, it means that God has loved you enough to target you. May more sermons be against me, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
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