Answering Godís Call
Jonah 1-4

When the name ďJonahĒ is mentioned, most people immediately think of a man being swallowed by a great fish. Yet this remarkable event is really only a minor part of a much more important story.

The book of Jonah is really the story of a missionaryóa reluctant missionary. It is the story of a man who tried to set himself up as the judge of who is worthy to receive Godís pardon. In response to Godís call Jonah began running:

I. Running From God (chapter one)
A. Jonahís disobedience was a sin of omission. It was willful refusal to answer Godís call. True obedience often involves more than what we avoid doing. It also involves our positive response to Godís call to service.

B. God held Jonah accountable for his refusal to answer His call.
1. Jonahís attempt to defy God was futile. Where does one run in an attempt to get away from God?
2. Godís judgment of Jonah was appropriate to his sin. The one fleeing is trapped. The means of his attempted escape (the sea) becomes the instrument of his punishment.

II. Running Toward God (chapter two)
A. Jonahís repentance was motivated by Godís judgment.
1. The consequences of his sin forced him to reconsider the error of his ways.
2. Sometimes we, like Jonah, must suffer the consequences of our sin before we are ready to repent.

B. Jonahís repentance was motivated by Godís mercy.
1. Notice that Jonahís prayer thanks God for a deliverance already begun. The creature which the Lord ďprovidedĒ had saved Jonah from drowning and anticipated a greater deliverance to come.
2. Likewise, God delivers us from the full consequences of our sin as an invitation to seek his even greater pardon.

III. Running With God (chapter three)

A. Jonah received a second chance to obey Godís calling.
1. God is a God of ďsecond chances.Ē He does not quickly give up on his children.
2. God is responsive to our repentance. When we seek his mercy, he does not begrudge it.

B. When Jonah obeyed Godís call and cooperated with His will, his ministry was blessed with power and success.
1. At the preaching of a Hebrew prophet a hostile, pagan nation was led to repentance.
2. The power of Godís word to change lives is often released through a life that has fully submitted to His will.

IV. Running Ahead of God (chapter four)
A. Jonah second-guesses God.
1. He resents Godís offer of grace to Israelís enemies. Jonah is an intolerant nationalist who wishes to see his nationís enemies destroyed, not saved.
2. The Ninevites have been brutally dominating Israel for decades. Jonah wants God to repay them, to give them what they deserve.

B. God censures Jonahís intolerance and prejudice.
1. Through the incident of the withered vine, God shows Jonah that He, not Jonah, decides who shall receive His grace.
2. Our responsibility is not to decide who is worthy to receive Godís pardon. Our responsibility is to proclaim Godís pardon.

The church today still