The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah now had a second chance to follow the directions and he got up and went to Nineveh just as he had been told.
We are told that Nineveh was such a large city that it takes three days to walk across it. And Jonah went a day’s walk and called out, “In forty days Nineveh will be overthrown!” And the people believed God and called for a fast where they would stop eating and drinking and they put on ugly sackcloth for their clothing. They believed God’s word that He would destroy the city so they humbled themselves before Him. They didn’t get angry at God and say, “How dare you do such a thing?” They didn’t just continue on as if nothing would happen. They believed God and turned to Him. They saw that what they were doing was wrong and were upset with themselves for doing it. Everyone in Nineveh responded this way from the lowliest servant even up to the person that Jonah calls the King of Nineveh.
Why the king of Nineveh got up from his throne and took off his royal robe and covered himself with this ugly sackcloth for clothing and sat in ashes. He didn’t act as if he were somehow different. He too would be ashes if God destroyed the city. So he made a proclamation and had it printed and posted all through the city saying that everyone including their cattle and goats and the rest were to fast from food and water and to be covered with sackcloth and to call out strongly to God. The proclamation also told the people that everyone needed to turn from doing wrong including hurting others. It said, ‘Who knows? God may change his mind and be sorry and turn from his great anger so that we might not perish.’ They didn’t know if God would still destroy the city, but they threw themselves on His mercy.
When God saw what they did and how they turned from doing wrong, God turned back from his plan to destroy the city as He had said He would do and He didn’t do it.
So Jonah followed God’s directions and then the people of Nineveh followed God’s directions and God didn’t destroy everything as He was going to do because of all the bad things they had been doing before.
We deserve to be destroyed because we have not always followed God’s directions, but He sent Jesus Christ who did in our place and who died for our sins on the cross. So now all those who have faith in Jesus Christ and repentance unto life will not be destroyed – you will live and strive to do what God says.