Jonah Chapter 3:1-10. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .The doctrine of immutability is often misunderstood and occasionally rejected due to the language of specific passages like Jonah 3:10. The doctrine of immutability suggests that God has a perfect plan or will that was orchestrated before time and will never be altered or modified during time. Very simply, the doctrine of immutability suggests that God never changes His mind.
I. God’s Irresistible Word [Vs.1-3a]God’s Word is an irresistible Word. No man can resist the plan and will of God which has been ordained before the beginning of time. God’s Word is irresistible in the area of salvation and service.For Jonah, it was the area of service to which he discovered God’s immutability. When Jonah was first given the Word of the LORD, he rebelled and fled in a boat in order to disobey God. Jonah disliked the people of Nineveh, but God had already planned for Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the people. Therefore, when trouble arose on the sea, Jonah recognized that God had orchestrated the great wind and he admitted his sin to the others on board the ship. He instructed the men to throw him overboard and the sea would be calm again. They finally realized they would not be able to get the boat to dry land, so they did as Jonah asked and they threw him over the side of the ship into the sea. After Jonah entered the sea, the wind and waves became calm.The Bible goes on to say that “God had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah (Chapter 1:17).” Again, this points to the irresistible Word of God. God had a plan for Jonah, and he was not going to over power the will of God.Jonah spent the next three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish. During this time, Jonah came to his realizations and he repented of his sin. When Jonah repented and God was pleased, He instructed the fish to vomit Jonah onto dry land.Chapter three begins with the words, “And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time saying, Arise go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.” By now, the plan of God had become very clear to Jonah – he was going to Nineveh to preach the message of God unto them. God’s Word is irresistible.
II. God’s Immeasurable Mercy [Vs. 3b-10]In verses three to ten, we see the mercy of God revealed. God sent Jonah with a message to proclaim, and Jonah proclaimed the message to the people. The message was not a very encouraging message. God did not see fit to send Jonah with a “Joel Osteen” sermon to encourage the people. Rather, God sent Jonah with an old fashioned hell fire message to proclaim to the people. Jonah proclaimed, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Jonah told the people that God was going to destroy the city in only 40 days.I would imagine that the real estate market was not booming during the days following Jonah’s sermon. I can picture the scene of panic and fear upon the hearts of the people. The Bible provides us with a wonderful description of what was taking place following the sermon of Jonah. The Bible records the following actions of the people.1. They Believed God (5).2. They Proclaimed a Fast (5).3. They repented – through sackcloth and ashes. This was an outward sign of inward sorrow(5).4. The King ordered a fast from human to beast (6-9).5. God spared Nineveh by giving them mercy rather than judgment (10).God’s mercy was not deserved. If there was ever a people who deserved the judgment of God, it was the people of Nineveh. These people were immoral and savages who disgraced God. However, it pleased God to provide mercy to these people. God’s mercy is immeasurable.
III. God’s Immutable Character [Vs. 10; The book of Jonah]The entire book of Jonah from first until last is laced with the immutable character of God. It is obvious that God never intended to destroy the city. When the prophet disobeyed, He made sure that Jonah arrived in Nineveh to preach the message of judgment to their ears.God is a never changing God. Some people go to verse ten of chapter three to claim that God changes and alters His plan according to the actions of man. That does seem like the right answer since it says, “God repented” of the evil He would do unto Nineveh. However, upon a closer look, the overarching plan was for Jonah to arrive in Nineveh and preach to the people. The people would respond in a manner of repentance upon hearing the message of God. This would all transpire prior to God issuing mercy to the people of Nineveh. Is God sovereign? Yes, God is sovereign. Therefore, we must conclude that it had always been the plan of God to spare Nineveh! The language of “God repenting” or “changing” in passages such as Jonah 3:10 is what we call an anthropomorphism. Anytime we give nonhuman objects human characteristics to describe or characterize them it is what we call an anthropomorphism. Therefore, when biblical writers gave God human characteristics such as in Jonah 3:10 – it was for our human minds to grasp what God had done – but it does not mean God altered His perfect will.What was the difference between Nineveh and Sodom? Surely God could have spared Sodom just as He spared Nineveh! It was not in the plan of God to spare Sodom, but it was in God’s plan to spare Nineveh. Our God is a never changing God.If one aspect of God’s character could change, it would render Him less than God! God is Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Immutable. If God changed His mind, it would mean that God did not know all things, He did not have control over all things, and that He had to change based on the effect of human decisions. That is not the God of the Universe! God has a perfect plan and a perfect will that will come to pass and that will be carried out according to His divine desires. If God could change His mind, heaven would not be certain for Christians nor would hell be certain for reprobates. God is immutable – He never changes His mind.Conclusion:After reading the book of Jonah and understanding the doctrine of Immutability, it is amazing that God would choose to save anyone. When we consider the fact that God could have left us in our sins and could have justly condemned us through His wrath, it makes us cherish our salvation even more!Glory be to God for our salvation – He is a wonderful God!Rev. Josh Buice