COMMITTED to train men and women
to have minds for the Lord Jesus,
hearts for the truth, and
hands that are skilled to the task.

Sermons on Jonah

TWEET AND WATCH

Founder, Jack Dorsey, explains,
“We came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’. And that’s exactly what the product was.”

Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard says,
“The qualities that make Twitter seem insane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful.”

But just because a message is short, does not mean it is insignificant.
Horatio Spafford saw his life collapse when he heard his four daughters had drowned in a shipwreck. This news came from his wife’s poignant telegram: “Saved Alone.”

What made Gordon Wilson a standout was that he as a Christian forgave those who planted and activated the bomb that killed his daughter. Many other Christians could not understand what Gordon Wilson was doing.
Mary McAleese writes:
“It was as if Gordon and spoken those words of forgiveness for the first time in human history, as if Christ had never uttered the words, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” One outspoken critic, who was Christian, said to me about Gordon Wilson. “Surely, the poor man must have been in shock,” as if offering love and forgiveness is a sign of mental weakness instead of spiritual strength.”

FROM THE THRONE TO ASHES

“Those who cherish worthless idols abandon their faithful love, but as for me, I will sacrifice to you with a voice of thanksgiving. I will fulfill what I have vowed. Salvation belongs to the Lord.”
Jonah learned this sentence of good theology in a strange college.
Most of the grand truths of God have to be learned by trouble. They must be burned into us with the hot iron of affliction; otherwise we will not truly receive them.
No man is competent to judge in matters of the kingdom of God until he first has been tried – since there are many things to be learned in the depths that we can never know in the heights. We discover many secrets in the caverns of the ocean, which though we had soared to heaven, we could never have known.” Charles Spurgeon

Jonah’s sermon was 5 Hebrew words;
• Jonah gives a time (40 days)
• Nineveh will be overthrown
• He never says how Nineveh will be overthrown
• nor does he mention WHY Nineveh will be overthrown.
• He does not say HOW THEY COULD AVOID THIS DISASTER
• Jonah is there to represent Yahweh yet never mentions Yahweh

THE GOD OF ANOTHER CHANCE

John H Walton in his book “The Lost World of Genesis” writes:
“As complicated as translating a foreign language can be, translating a foreign culture is infinitely more difficult. The problem lies in the act of translating. Translation involves lifting the ideas from their native context and relocating them in our own context.
When we move to the level of culture, the same type of problem occurs. The “very act of trying to translate the culture requires taking it out of its context and fitting it into ours.
(However), the minute anyone attempts to translate the culture, we run the risk of making the text communicate something it never intended.“

Eventually John Walton arrives at the conclusion that:
“We can begin to understand the culture BY BECOMING FAMILIAR WITH ITS LITERATURE.”

In other words, regarding Jonah, we read the story in English and outside it’s cultural context and that’s the reason we read and hear so many different approaches to what God is communicating with this story. Remember, the Bible was never written TO us; the Bible was written to the people that lived during those days when it was written, primarily to ISRAEL.
But the Bible was written FOR us. Jonah was written FOR US, and we can learn the incredible lessons about God and God’s people.

Circumstances are not reliable indicators of WHO GOD IS AND IF HE LOVES US OR NOT. THE ONLY RELIALBE INDICATOR OF WHO GOD IS AND HOW HE LOVE US is to look to Jesus, His life, His death, and His resurrection. That’s exactly what Jesus meant when he answered the religious people of his days WHAT SIGN HE WOULD GIVE THEM. Matthew 12:39-41

THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA

Jonah has free will and can run away from the presence of the Lord, just like you and I can if we chose to do so, BUT GOD WILL BRING A STORM INTO THE LIFE OF JONAH THAT WILL AFFECT NOT JUST JONAH, BUT EVERYONE WHO IS IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH JONAH.

Tony Evans in his book “DESTINY” writes:
“The Bible is not an anthology of random stories. The thread that ties the entire Bible together is the theme of the kingdom. God’s goal is to see His rule and authority cover the earth through the expansion of His kingdom. That is God’s purpose in history.
Scripture was penned in order to facilitate that one agenda. The unifying central theme of the Bible is the glory of God through the advancement of His kingdom. Every event, story, and personality from Genesis to Revelation is there to stitch that theme together.
Without that theme, the Bible becomes a collection of disconnected stories that seem to be unrelated to one another.”

To quote Tony Evans one more time
“When you live out your destiny, you don’t measure what you have done according to what someone else has done. Nor is your destiny to be CONFUSED WITH A BUSY LIFE.
When your life is filled with purpose, you measure what you have done according to what you were created to do.”

THE GREAT CHALLENGE

Chuck Swindoll in his Study Bible says:
“Jonah’s prophetic ministry to the Assyrians is an example of God’s care for all the nations of the earth to turn from their sin and idol worship and to recognize Him as the one true God.”
The book of Jonah stands as an important link in the prophetic chain,
giving readers a picture of Christ’s death and resurrection hundreds of years before these events occurred.”

Nineveh is the capital city of the Assyrian Empire.
Ashur-Dan III (772-754) sat on the throne of Assyria.

In 1912, Lewis Spence published the book titled:
MYTH & LEGENDS OF BABYLONIA & ASSYRIA. According to Lewis Spence,
“The entire faith in and dependence on their beloved deity on the part of these early Assyrian rulers is touching. The monarchs of Assyria retained the right to call themselves ‘priests of the god Asshur’.

Archeologists found a tablet where the prayer to Asshur was engraved:
“A prayer TO ASSHUR, the king of the gods,
ruler over heaven and earth,
the father who has created the gods,
the supreme first-born of heaven and earth,
the supreme muttallu who inclines to counsel,
the giver of the scepter and the throne.
TO NIL-LIL, the wife of Asshur,
The begetter, the creatress of heaven and earth,
TO SIN, the lord of command, the uplifter of horns,
The spectacle of heaven,
TO THE SUN-GOD, the great judge of the gods,
Who causes the lightning to issue forth,
TO ANU, the lord and prince, possessing the life of Asshur,
The father of the great gods.
TO RAMMON, the minister of heaven and earth,
The lord of the wind and the lightning of heaven.
TO ISHTAR, the queen of heaven and the stars, whose seat is exalted.
TO MERODACH, the prince of the gods,
The interpreter of the spirits of heaven and earth.
TO ADAR, the son of MUL-LIL the giant, the first born.
TO NEBO, the messenger of Asshur,
TO NERGAL, the lord of might and strength
TO THE GOD who marches in front, the first born
TO THE SEVEN GODS, the warrior deities,
TO THE GREAT GODS, the lords of heaven and earth.

THE SAME GOD STILL REIGNS

Jonah was sent back by the Lord to fulfill his ministry to the arch enemy of Israel. Remember, Jonah was a patriot. He was a prophet to Israel. He knew that their God is in the business of restoring Israel no matter how bad they treated God and how often they followed idols. But that same mercy and forgiveness did not belong to those who invaded Israel and where bend on destroying them for good. But a prophet of God has no business to formulate his own message. If we like the message or not does not matter.
Remember, the Apostle Paul was once a persecutor of God’s people, the follower of Christ, just as the Assyrians who lived in Nineveh where enemies of Israel. Never forget, God is in the Restoration business. 40 days and it’s all over was the message. You deserve judgment for your wicked deeds. And Jonah liked the message. He understood the meaning of the number 40.
Jonah is watching all this unfold before his very eyes. He cannot believe what he sees and hears. Must be a foxhole conversion. I know these people. They are evil to the core. Their ancestors are evil and their founding father is no other than Nimrod. Impossible!
God looked at the heart of the people in Nineveh. They genuinely repented and sought the Lord for mercy. Jonah could not believe such a thing. Salvation in done in the heart of people. Jonah was not long ago resurrected from the dead by God’s power, he was in Sheol and yet he did not see what God was doing in the heart of men. That’s God’s business. God decides where he is reigning. The people of Nineveh repented and because of that their hearts were right with God. As a matter of fact, God gave this city another 100 years before they finally were defeated in the famous battle of Carchemish, 605 B.C.
Jonah knew how merciful God is because he himself experienced that mercy on many occasions. But extending that mercy and compassion on his enemies was more than he could handle. Jonah had his own plan how God should reign in the lives of those inhabitants of Nineveh. Now Jonah changes his prayer. He asked God to let him die. This time for good. He has done his job. He made it to Nineveh and he preached God’s message. I am done, he said to God. Jonah rather would die than see the enemy of Israel experience God’s compassion. In other words, Jonah believed that moment that it would be better to die than physical life in a world dominated by the hated Assyrians.
I am glad God reigned in the life of Jonah and he still reigns in our life. Jonah once again experiences God’s mercy and compassion. The Lord was not finished yet with his prophet. God gently rebukes his prophet with a question: “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Then God teaches his prophet another lesson. Jonah knew how to prophesy and how to preach God’s messages. But he did not yet understand God’s love and God’s grace. So God uses a simple plant and a tiny worm to teach his prophet the next lesson. With great compassion, just as the Lord PREPARED a great fish, He also PREPARED a plant, He also PREPARED a worm, and He also prepared a strong east wind. Who do you think reigns supreme here? Jonah or God Almighty?
God prepared all these things just for Jonah. He calling and his ministry was never in question. What God was doing is showing Jonah how compassionate he is towards all people, towards Jonah as well as the people in Nineveh. He has a purpose for everyone.
Why did Jonah not get it? He was more interested in BEING RIGHT than being a tool in God’s hand.
The same God that called Jonah to go to Nineveh is the same God who calls us to be witnesses unto Him. He still reigns the same way He did during the time of Jonah. We have been set free, but we are not free to do what we want to do, but rather what HE has commanded us to do. Doing His will is experiencing absolute FREEDOM. HALLELUJAH!!!

GOD ORCHESTRATED THE ENTIRE DRAMA

When we look at our world today we think that God somehow lost control of everything that is going on. That God orchestrated the entire drama even during out lifetime becomes evident whenever we consult God’s book, the Bible, instead of consulting political or economic periodicals.
Jonah is the son of Amittai, a native of the tribal area assigned to Zebulon. This region was later a part of Galilee. Jonah was born a few miles away from the city of Nazareth, where our Lord Jesus Christ was brought up.
Why did Jonah decided NOT TO GO? The Assyrians where arch enemies of Israel. Why should Jonah get a better treatment than being killed by those enemies? A dangerous mission indeed. Well, once on the ship, Jonah proved however that he was not afraid to die.
No, Jonah hated the people in Nineveh so much that he was afraid that if they hear that God is about to destroy them, they would have a chance to repent and God would spare them.
There are a few things we need to highlight in these verses.
How did Jonah KNOW that the storm would cease once he was off the ship? Jonah told the sailors to send him to his death. He was willing to die so they could live. Did God tell Jonah to do this? I believe that it could have been so because Jonah heard God speak to him before. Remember, Jonah was now in the middle of the Mediterranean or Atlantic and how could he ever get back to Nineveh. God must have told him that He already had a great fish on standby to take him back to where he is supposed to be. Seems like Jonah was willing this time around to follow orders.
Jonah knew his God. He never starts anything and then leaves it half finished. He always finishes what He starts.
What Jonah did not know is HOW GOD IS GOING TO BRING HIM BACK WHERE HE BELONGS.
What can we learn from this?
First there is nowhere in this world God’s people can hide from God. We can run, we can disobey, we can go the opposite direction, but God will meet you and me somewhere on our journey. If necessary, a mighty storm in our life will bring us to our senses. The people who have helped us to disobey God without even knowing it will be a part of this storm. If we repent God will tell us what to do, saving those around us while at the same time bringing us back to where we belong.
God’s people are NOT CALLED to make our nation a better place or to help the world to live a better life.
God’s people are CALLED TO
GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THINGS THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU, AND LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF THE AGE. AMEN.
That is when we enjoy the freedom God has given us. That is when we are truly free. Not free to do our own thing as Jonah did, but free to serve Almighty God who orchestrates the entire drama. Hallelujah.