Let’s start this off by looking back at the last verse of Chapter 2. (remember the original scriptures did not have chapter and verse).
Jonah 2:10 And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.
Jonah 3:1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying,
Jonah 3:2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.
Now this is how great of a Father we have and in truth here lies a bit of humor. The Assyrians (which Nineveh is the capital of) worshiped Dagon. Dagon was supposed to be their lord of lords and on the coast cities he was a fish. So lets picture this. Your on the coast and your god is a giant fish and here comes a giant fish that vomits out a man with a message from God.
Jonah 3:3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days’ journey.
Jonah 3:4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
40 in biblical numerics means probation. Just as Christ was in the desert 40 days and the children of Israel was in the desert 40 years. Basically what that is telling you is that Nineveh is on probation and if they get their hearts right they will be spared.
Jonah 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Now this is what is so amazing. These people didn’t question or whine. They believed and that my friends is faith. Lets compare that to Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness. They were given everything. Cloud by day, fire by night and food from heaven and still they murmured even after seeing the miracles performed in Egypt.
Jonah 3:6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
Here even the king put on sackcloth. This is used for morning. Do you see any pride?
Jonah 3:7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:
Jonah 3:8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands.
They are not messing around. Now did God ask this of them? No, but we will see in a moment that God respected them for it.
Jonah 3:9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?
They didn’t know if God would turn away his anger and still they pressed on. We know that if we follow the ways of God his anger will not be upon us. How much then is their repentance?
Jonah 3:10 And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
This isn’t new for God. I encourage you to read Jeremiah 35 and see how God will respect a person for holding to his beliefs.