4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Jonah 3:4, NIV
ESV - 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!
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I would say that Jonah's message to Nineveh was not untrue, but conditional (although that condition was not explicitly stated by God or Jonah). There would have been no purpose in God sending Jonah to Nineveh to preach if God had been determined to destroy Nineveh, no matter how the Ninevites might have responded to that preaching. It was for the purpose of having the Ninevites repent that Jonah was told to go to Nineveh and preach to them. Because the Ninevites repented, God chose to have mercy on the city, rather than destroying it, which was entirely His prerogative (just as He could/would have destroyed the city in accordance with Jonah's preaching if the Ninevites had not repented). However, God did not reveal to Jonah the conditional aspect of His intentions toward Nineveh because he wanted to impress the urgency of the situation upon the Ninevites through Jonah's preaching.
Matthew 16:4, "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall be no sign given unto it, but the sign of the Prophet Jonah." These words were spoken by Jesus. Jonah 1:2, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me." A Prophet of God - to be sent to Gentiles! Especially not sent to those cruel Ninevites! Jonah 3:2, "Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city and preach unto it the preaching that I bid you." KJV Notice in chapter one, the Word says "cry." In chapter 3, the Word says preach unto it. To cry to the people and warn of judgement, could be met with hostility and death! Jonah was nervous, wouldn't you be? Jonah preached (a very short and effective message) given by the Lord and it was received. Jonah 3:4, "Jonah...He cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." They must have thought about Noah! In Matthew 16:1-4, and Luke 11:30, it is declared that Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites. He was a personal picture of God's grace and wrath. I believe that they knew Jonah was the real thing! They recognized truth when they heard it! May more people heed God's words today. AMEN.
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