Summary: What business does a foreigner have telling any nation to repent? Jonah was such a foreigner, but he ran away because he despised Assyria. Are we running away from God? Are we bigoted against other nations?
What business does a foreigner have telling any nation to repent? If his name is Jonah, it’s God’s business. But, Jonah ran away because he despised Assyria. Are we running away from God? Are we bigoted against other nations? Purpose: Let’s learn that God cares even for our enemies. Plan: Let’s look at Jonah 1 and see what we can learn from a bad attitude prophet.
Jonah 1:1-2 “The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.’” Nineveh (now Mosul, Iraq) was the capital of Assyria, a nation of warriors that terrorized Israel. Israel was to bless the whole world, but they had degenerated into hating foreigners. Jonah’s bigotry was no exception.
Jonah 1:3 “But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Tarshish was far west across the Mediterranean. Nineveh was northeast. Joppa is the seaport Jaffa. Jonah rebelled against God.
A Great Storm
Jonah 1:4 “The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.” Mediterranean tropical storms can become Category 1 hurricanes. But, this was a specially prepared sudden storm “hurled” by God. The ship was near to breaking up. Such are the storms we invite into our lives when we rebel against God.
Jonah 1:5 “Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep.” This is a story of opposites. A bad prophet and good sailors. Jonah is asleep in depression due to disobedience.
Why Are You Sleeping
Jonah 1:6 “So the captain approached him and said, ‘How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.’” Are we asleep, or doing God’s work? Do we pray for people of other faiths? Is God concerned for them? Is our nation beginning to break apart? Is God concerned for our nation?
Who Caused This
Jonah 1:7 “Each man said to his mate, ‘Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.” God can use heathen superstitions to reveal Himself and His will. The false idea that calamity is always God’s punishment is common. It can be, but time and chance also happen (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
Jonah 1:8 “Then they said to him, ‘Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?’” A lot of natural questions were asked about why, his occupation, origin, country, and people. They wanted to know why God was punishing Jonah. And yes, there was a man responsible, Jonah.
The God of Heaven
Jonah 1:9 “He said to them, ‘I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.’” Jonah’s confession may be familiar to those who have ever been asked a reason for the hope that is within them. Like Jonah, we are also imperfect, but when the chips are down, we tell where our true faith lies, in God alone.
Many people have served their nation and a grateful nation thanks them for it. Now God has called us to serve in a greater way than ever before, to pray for our nation that we be like Nineveh and repent, that we be a blessing to other nations, not a curse, and to speak when asked about the hope that lies within us. Let’s not sleep during the storm. It is time to wake up, call upon our God and proclaim God’s message of repentance to all.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation