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.
Have you ever longed for an opportunity to undo some of the mistakes you have made in your life? We have all made mistakes in our finances, our careers, our parenting, our marriages, which lead us to wish we could have one more chance, an opportunity to begin again. Well Jonah’s experiences remind us that as a child of God we can begin again, we can have another chance. It also reminds us that we serve a God who will use those who repent and return to Him. This morning I want us to see Three Things Jonah found out about God…
I. Jonah Found out God Gives Second Chances (v. 1)
“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time….” The words “the second time” underscore God’s determination to get his message to the Ninevites and to use Jonah in the process. In other words, Jonah quickly found out that God gives second chances. “On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played University of California in the Rose Bowl. In that game a man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for California. Somehow, he became confused and started running 65 yards in the wrong direction. One of his teammates, Benny Lom, ran him down and tackled him just before he scored for the opposing team. When California attempted to punt, Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety which was the ultimate margin of victory.