Summary: Sermon series on the Book of Jonah. Some of my resources come from John Hamby’s sermons as well as Jerry Giffords
“Returning to God”
“A God of Second Chances”
The story is told of a Sunday School teacher who was proud of her lesson for the day. She thought that she had presented the material quite nicely. Summing up, she asked her class, "And what do we learn from the story of Jonah and the great fish?" An eight-year-old girl, named Suzy, thought for a moment and answered, "Always travel by air." Of course, air travel didn’t exist in Old Testament times; and, I hope that we learned something more from the story of Jonah than just always travel by air.
The writer and creator of "The Far Side," Gary Larson, in one of his cartoons depicts a bearded man standing at his front door. He is dripping wet and his clothes are in shreds. His wife opens the door. She looks at the messy, bearded man with disgust and says, "For crying out loud, Jonah! Three days late, covered with slime, smelling like a fish. What story have I got to swallow this time?" It is hard for some people to swallow the story of Jonah and the great fish!
For the last month we have been looking at the Book of Jonah and I believe that it would be safe to say that one of the things we’ve learned is that Jonah is a very stubborn man! As we’ve seen so far that God came to the Prophet Jonah and, told him to go to Nineveh and "cry against it!” However, Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh - it would not be wrong to say that Jonah hated the people of Nineveh!
So, what did Jonah do? He went in the opposite direction! He boarded a ship bound for Tarshish, which was about as far from Nineveh as an individual could go in the ancient Biblical world! His idea was to escape the "presence of the Lord." What a bright, novel idea - He would go somewhere - he thought - where God was not present! I guess he forgot, like many others who try to flee from the presence of God - that God is an "Omnipresent God" – He’s everywhere at once!
We think that our sins - our wrongdoings - our misdeeds are hidden - that we are safe - but, we couldn’t be more wrong! In Numbers 32:23 (NLT), Moses tells us: "But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the Lord, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out." Be sure our sins will find us out - we cannot hide from God; in fact, we cannot hide anything that we do from God!
We all have heard sermons from the Old Testament Book of Jonah on the uselessness of running from God; yet, we all have done it at some time in our lives; I included! We do not have to board a ship and head for a distant port - we simply do it with our minds and our hearts! We actually tune the "still small voice" of God out! We ignore His voice calling us to His service!
Now, the last time we left Jonah he had been swallowed by a great fish; in the belly of the fish Jonah begins to pray. In that prayer he finally got things right with God and the last thing that happened was that Jonah was vomited up on dry land. Now what is Jonah to do? That’s where our story picks up. Read Jonah 3:1-5.