Summary: God Still Speaks Inviting Us to Join Him in His Work. God Still Speaks To Us But Sometimes We Don’t Like What Tells Us To Do! Going Away From God Is Always Going In The Wrong Direction When We Are Running From God, Satan Is Away Happy To Provi
A Study of Book of Jonah
Sermon # 1
“Attempting To Run From God.”
Have you ever just wanted to run away? We all probably have that feeling once in a while. We just want to get away. Sometimes it is even that way in the ministry. It is so hard trying to please so many people and such a strain feeling responsible for so many lives. Sometimes even the preacher can think that it might be better for everyone to let someone else try for a while. To just quit and as I have been told so many times “get an honest job.” Do you know what preacher’s day dream about? They dream of having a job that is 9 to 5, five days a week. The point is that we all have fantasies of escaping at times.
The man we are going to be studying about tonight and for the next few Sunday evenings had just such a desire to run away, his name was Jonah. Tonight we are going to tag along and watch Jonah “Attempting to Run Away From God.”
Of all the supernatural occurrences recorded in the Bible perhaps none has received as much ridicule and scorn as the story of Jonah. To liberal scholars and skeptics, the account of “Jonah and the whale” is fit only for children and not for serious thinkers.
In fact this reminds me of a story I heard about the little girl in elementary school who was in class one day studying about the ocean when the teacher told the class, “I don’t want any of you to ever be afraid of going into the sea because there is no sea creatures that can swallow you whole”. So this little girl raised her hand and said, “I learned in church that a great fish swallowed Jonah whole”. And the teacher scoffed at that and said, “that’s impossible that could never happen”. And the little girl said, “When I get to heaven I’ll ask Jonah myself and find out if it was true”. To which the teacher replied, “what if Jonah didn’t go to heaven?” The little girl said, “then you can ask him”.
But the facts are that only three verses deal with the fish and the other forty five verses tell the real story of Jonah. It is story of someone very much like our selves. It is the story of struggles, calling, disobedience, problems and prayer. Most of all is a story about second chances.
There are three basic ways of inter-preting the book of Jonah. First, we can view it as an allegory. An allegory is a long story with a hidden meaning, every character or event standing for some other character or event.
The second method of interpreting the book of Jonah is to see it as a parable. A story which has one main point, Jonah as a parable would be the deliverance of Israel.
The third method of interpreting the book of Jonah is to view it as a historically accurate portrayal of real events. The main reason to believe that the story of Jonah is historically accurate is that Jesus accepted it as such. When unbelieving scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign to prove that what he said was true, Jesus replied in Matt 12:39-40, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (40) "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Jesus used the story of Jonah as a historical illustration of his own literal resurrection. If therefore, we are going to reject the historical accurately of Jonah we have to question the integrity of Jesus.
Before going on with the story of Jonah I just want to make the point that the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament Bible never calls the animal that swallowed Jonah a “whale” is simply called a “great fish”
First, God Still Speaks Inviting Us to Join Him in His Work. (v. 1a)
“Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai (a-mi’t-tai),”
I don’t know how the Lord chose to speak to Jonah. He may have spoken to him audibly as he did to Adam and Abraham. He could have spoken to him in a vision has he did to Ezekiel. He could have spoken to him in a dream as he did Joseph. He may have simply left an impression on his heart as he often does with us today. We don’t know HOW God chose to speak to Jonah but we DO know He Did! The point that I want us to see is that God still speaks to us today and his call is just as personal.