Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time … Jonah 3:1
Thomas Manton writes: “Forgiveness invites us to return to God, obliges us to return to God … inclines us to return to God, and encourages us to live in a state of amity and holy friendship with God, pleasing Him, and serving Him in righteousness all our days.”
Jonah had looked death in the face and lived. A more vivid picture of God’s mercy and forgiveness could not have been given to him, than when this life-saving fish vomited him up onto dry land, and God again called Jonah to go to Nineveh. In a world of characterized by unforgiveness, many careers, friendships, and even marriages have been terminated over a single error. Even when someone is given a ‘second chance,’ it is usually probationary and given with many stipulations. But God, who has been called, “the God of the second chance,” is all that and more! Jonah did have to go back to square one, but he did with the assurance, that God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable.
Scripture is replete with affirmations of God’s unchangeableness. Balaam told Balak, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num 23:19). Peter made the a similar affirmation: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s promises are certain; they will be fulfilled exactly as He determines and declares. Man cannot thwart any of God’s plan, and He Himself will not break them.
In Romans chapter 11, speaking of the nation of Israel, Paul affirms that “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom 11:29). Though from the standpoint of the gospel, Israel are presently enemies of God, when the Lord elected the nation of Israel to be His own people, He bound Himself by His own promise to be their God and have them be His people forever. Though presently His enemies, God’s eternal election guarantees that their enmity is not permanent, for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Just as God’s sovereign grace and election cannot be earned, neither can they be rejected or thwarted. They are irrevocable and unalterable. Nothing, therefore, can prevent Israel’s being saved and restored – not even her own rebellion and unbelief, because, as Paul has just declared, her ungodliness will be sovereignly removed and her sins graciously taken away (vv. 26-27). What is true of elected believers is true of elected Israel: “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thes 5:24). Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Cor 9:15) and that His mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:23).
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