by Duane Maust
September 21, 2008
This is a wonderful little book about Jonah. I would like each of you to have your Bibles open to this story while I go through it this morning. It is 8 books back from Matthew. You can just look in the index and see what page it is in your Bible. Do I have you with me now?
God told Jonah he wanted him to go do something.
Read Vs 2
Look at what he did. He ran down to the port at Joppa and jumps a ship for Tarshish. That was running the wrong way. That was maybe 2,000 miles the other way. What was in Jonah’s mind?
The people in Nineveh were the wrong kind of people. Jonah was a Jew and Nineveh were Gentiles. They were bad. God was tired of them doing wrong and they needed to be turned around. The city of Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire and was a large and prominent city in its day. Historians say that Nineveh was the largest city in the world at that time. They were the powerhouse of the world. It was likely an intimidating place to go.
God asking Jonah to go to Nineveh would have been like God asking a Jew from New York City to go to Germany and have them repent during World War II. Hitler would have been saved also.
Do we always go do what we know God wants us to do? Can we think of other places to escape to?
Well, Jonah heads out the wrong way. The ride in that boat started out smooth, because it didn’t take any time for Jonah to be sleeping in the bottom of the boat.
A big storm hit them that day. It may have been like a hurricane. The wind was blowing water so hard that the sailors thought the boat was going to come apart. They started throwing cargo over into the water. They needed the boat to not set so low in the water.
Jonah is sleeping all this time. He was in a deep sleep. He was out of it.
Read chapter 1: 6-7
Then they wanted to know more about Jonah. What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?
Read verse 9
They knew Jonah was making the trouble for them. The storm was still getting rougher.
Jonah said- Read verse 12
They were afraid God might get them for throwing Jonah over. The sailors said, “Please don’t let us die for taking this man’s life.”
They ended up throwing him over and the sea went calm. I bet it was an eerie calm. Those sailors “feared” God that very moment.
That was when a big fish came by and swallowed Jonah. He was there for three days. (Jesus was in the grave for three days.)
That is when Jonah really learned to pray. Have you ever had a fish prayer? A prayer when you were in a tight spot and thought there was no way out? If Jonah had not prayed like this, do you think the fish would have digested him? That is too many questions.
God heard him and had the fish vomit Jonah out on dry land.
After being in that fish for three days, I hope he washed off good before he went into town. He went straight to Nineveh like God told him the first time.
He told Nineveh, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”
The people repented and were sorry for their wrong ways. The king repented also and wanted the whole area to repent. It was a big time revival.
Read chapter 3:10
Is this the end of the story? NO!
We have chapter 4.
Jonah started pouting.
He sat down east of town, overlooking Nineveh, wishing that it would have failed. The Lord gave him a vine to have shade from the sun. The second day God had a worm eat the vine so it withered. That made Jonah go off again.
Read 4: 9-11
Layman’s Bible Commentary says, “The book ends with an unanswered question. Obviously ‘yes’ is the expected answer. God was certainly justified in showing pity for such a great city. Jonah hated Nineveh. God loved Nineveh. Jonah wanted to see the city destroyed. God wanted to see the city saved. Jonah would have confined God’s love and salvation to Israel. God would extend his love and salvation to a pagan people. The rebuke of Jonah was a rebuke of Israel whom he represented. As God gave Jonah a second chance to fulfill his calling as a prophet, so the nation was offered a second chance to fulfill their missionary role to the nations.”
It may be easy for us to see the faults in Jonah. We can be like him some times.
Do we have attitudes that say they have it coming?
Do we have trouble listening to what God wants us to do?
Maybe we need to pray more like Jonah.