Sermons

Summary: The call by God for Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach is a call which confronts Jonah with a disturbing dynamic of God’s unanticipated mercy. Jonah finds this call too disturbing so he goes in the opposite direction to run away from the call of God.

You cal listen to the full message here:-

https://nec.org.au/jonah-gods-unanticipated-mercy/

Message

Jonah 1:1-3

A Disturbing Call From A Merciful God

I don’t have definitive proof but it would be my educated opinion that the story of Jonah … specifically the part where Jonah is swallowed by a large fish or whale … is one of the most well-known stories in the Bible.

Ask anybody who Jonah was … do you reckon 7 out of 10 people would know?? “It is about a man who was swallowed by a whale.”

The book of Pinocchio must have been inspired by the Jonah event.

Even as late as 2012 Bruce Springsteen wrote a song called, “Swallowed Up (In The Belly Of The Whale)”.

The “being swallowed” part is well known … but that is not the main focus. The main focus of the book is on God’s Unanticipated Mercy.

It is a message which comes through again and again … God’s Unanticipated Mercy.

We see this message taking place straight right from the beginning … let’s read Jonah 1:1-3

What has just happened? Well Jonah is responding to A Disturbing Call From A Merciful God

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai” (Jonah 1:1)

Outside of this book the only other time that Jonah is mentioned in Scripture is in 2 Kings 14:23-25.

In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit. He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.

Just prior to the rule of Jeroboam Israel was a small territory giving heavy tribute to the surrounding nations. But then, from about 780-740BC, even though he was evil, Jeroboam was able to achieve prosperity, influence and expansion and restore the boundaries of the land back to what they were in the days of King David.

It all happened in accordance with a prophetic word from God through Jonah. Jonah … the prophet who had the reputation of being faithful, and faithfully bringing God’s Word.

This Jonah is sitting quietly one day at his home in Gath Hepher; and God speaks to him.

**(readers refer to the map at the end to get an understanding of where locations are).**

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2)

Nineveh is an import city in Assyria.

Going back to Genesis 10:10-12 which is describing the nations that set up after the flood we read that

The first centers of Nimrod’s (the grandson of Ham) kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the capital city.

Nineveh was a founding city of Assyria. It eventually became the capital city in 700BC, a bit after the time of Jonah.

It is a city with a long history.

It is also a city with a reputation. Nimrod was a mighty hunter and warrior. The city of Nineveh reflected his character. Speaking about Nineveh Nahum 3:1-3 says:-

Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!

The crack of whips, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots!

Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears!

Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses.

The city of Nineveh loved to hunt … people. A powerful and cruel army where their weapon. In the days of Jonah their power was on the increase.

One day Jonah is quietly sitting in his home town in Gath Hepher and God comes to him and says, “Go to Nineveh and preach against it. I have seen their evil and they need to know about their evil.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish (Jonah 1:3).

There is not scholarly agreement as the where Tarshish is. But if we read 2 Chronicles 9:21 … and I am using the ESV … we get a good idea. The time is the reign of king Solomon.

The king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Hiram. Once every three years the ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

It takes three years for a merchant ship to do a round trip to Tarshish. So the suggestion that Tarshish is here, in modern Spain, is probably most accurate. Now we have all the towns marked on the map.

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