Summary: What’s the BIG IDEA of the book? God is a God of extravagant grace, especially to the ones who seem less deserving of His grace.
I am Jonah
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
Chenoa Baptist Church
You Think you Know Jonah?
If you have grown up in church at all, you know the story of Jonah. It’s probably the best know prophetic book of the Old Testament. Or you think you do. Even if you didn’t grow up in church, you still know something about Jonah.
Jonah and…the whale.
But over the next few weeks, we are going to dive deep (pun intended) into the book of Jonah and you will see that there is a lot that your Sunday school teacher left off the flannel board.
Let me pause here and let you know how I approach what I am preaching. I want to give you a balanced diet of the Word. The are four categories in my preaching plans - Old Testament, New Testament, Topical, and Theology.
We walked through, verse by verse, Revelation 1-3 and studying what Jesus had to say to the seven churches. Now, we begin a study of the Old Testament book of Jonah. Next, we will be studying the five Solas of the Reformation:
Our authority is Scripture alone and through it we learn that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
Then we will focus in on our Christmas series.
Turn with me to the book of Jonah. It’s nestled in-between Obadiah and Micah. If you need to look in the table of contents, do not be embarrassed.
Let’s Set the Stage
Jonah was a real person. This book is not an allegory or a myth. It doesn’t begin with “Once upon a time.” It reads as history because it is.
Jonah, whose name means “dove,” was a prophet in the Northern Kingdom during the reign of Jeroboam II in the middle of the 8th century B.C. (see 2 Kings 14). He was from a little town called Gath Hepher, four miles from Nazareth.
He counseled the king against Syrian threat and prophesied his expansion of Israel to its former borders.
He ministered in a time of great economic prosperity. But it also a time of incredible moral poverty - idolatry, greed, ritual religion.
If you want to read want God thought of their spiritual state at this time take a few minutes this week and read the book of Amos.
Jonah was a real person and this is a real historical account probably written by the prophet himself.
It’s interesting that although this is a prophetic book, it contains no prophecies and Jonah is never actually called a “prophet.”
It’s a small book. It only contains 48 verses (1,300 words) and can be read in less than 15 minutes.
It might be small but it contains the biggest revival in human history!
It’s a strange book. We will see freak storms, big fish, cows in sackcloth, and a worm.
It’s a structured book. Chapters 1 and 3 and 2 and 4 are parallels.
What’s the BIG IDEA of the book?
God is a God of extravagant grace, especially to the ones who seem less deserving of His grace.
So we see that Jonah is a real person and this book is a real historical account.
Let’s dive in.
“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get a text message or an email from God with His instructions? Maybe. It all depends on what He wants us to do!
It was not uncommon for a prophet to receive a “word from the Lord.” But this call was completely different from any other mission that any other prophet had been called to attempt.
Most prophets were called to prophesy to the southern or northern kingdoms or to other nations while staying in Israel.
But Jonah was called to leave Israel and travel 550 miles NE to the great city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire. Its ruins are near modern day Mosul, Iraq.
What made Nineveh “great?”
Its size. It was a huge metropolitan city located on the banks of the Tigris River, near modern day Baghdad, Iraq.
The walls were so thick that it was said that you could hold chariot races on top of them with three chariots across.
Its strength. Assyria was the world power of the day. They ruled the known world for over 1,700 years.
Its sin. We learned about the Assyrians brutality when we studied Habakkuk together but let me remind you.
These people made ISIS look like Mr. Rogers. They skinned people alive and then would hang the skins on the wall. They buried people alive up to their necks and then drove a stake through their tongue. They cut off both legs and one arm so they could shake their hand as they died.