Summary: Message 2 in our Jonah series focusing on God's discipline of Jonah's refusal to obey the call.
Chico Alliance Church
Pastor David Welch
Jonah Series #2 “God disciplined Jonah”
Jonah teaches us both about God and ourselves. We learn about the love of God, the sovereignty of God, the forgiveness of God, the persistence of God. God’s name appears 32 times in 4 short chapters. We learn about people; their disobedience, their repentance, their fears and prejudices, their self-centeredness and yet God’s willingness to utilize them in His eternal purposes. Jonah lived sometime during the period of the divided kingdom of Israel. The only other reference to Jonah finds him prophesying God’s undeserved favor to Israel’s disobedient King Jeroboam II. Jesus referred to Jonah as a prophet recorded in both Matthew 24 and Luke 17 including a reference to his stint in the “fish house” divinely validating the historical nature of the events described in Jonah. Jonah was neither a missionary or an evangelist. He had no interest in winning people to God. Jonah held no desire to see mercy granted to the wicked Assyrians.
Jonah balances the dual revelation of sovereign but merciful God. It reveals both His sin triggered wrath and His compassion for sinful people. As mentioned last week, there are many ways to organize the information in the book. I have chosen to organize the content of the book around the actions of God recorded there. I will explore the information recorded and seek to discern any timeless principles regarding people and God suggested there.
I. God called Jonah
A. God called Jonah
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." Jonah 1:1-2
God speaks directly throughout the book of Jonah. The phrase “the word of the LORD” appears seven times in this short book. He called Jonah to “arise and go.” The command inspires action and direction. Move from a stationary state to an active state. Go to a particular place and carry out a specific task. God’s assignment was not evangelistic. He didn’t send Jonah as a missionary but to announce Judgment. God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and “cry against the city.” The city was Nineveh one of the chief governing locations of the Assyrian Empire. God included the reason for such judgment in His call.
“their wickedness has come up before Me.”
Historical documents revealing the depth of their wickedness have been discovered. The prophet Nahum later details some of the sins of Nineveh cataloged by God. Nahum announce God judgment on those sins later in history. God will implement final national and individual judgment one day.
B. Jonah refused God’s call
You would have thought that Jonah would have been happy to announce judgment to the evil Assyrians but instead of heading to Nineveh, Jonah headed in the opposite direction.
But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. Jonah 1:3
Jonah chose to travel 2200 miles west in the opposite direction to Tarshish. He tried to escape the responsibility of following God’s directive. I believe he knew he could not actually escape God’s omnipresence but hoped to run as far from the area of God’s work as possible. Nineveh was on God’s agenda. Jonah fled to Tarshish. Jonah obeyed the first part of the command “arise” but rose quickly to flee. Jonah himself tells us later why he ran.
Jonah prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Jonah 4:1-2
Jonah ran the opposite direction because of his hatred for the Assyrians. He wanted no part in any mercy plan. He would have been delighted to see destruction come upon them all.
Possible pertinent principles to ponder
• Our Omniscient God is fully aware of the wickedness of people and nations.
Don’t assume God doesn’t see.
• God must and will deal with sin both individually and nationally.
Keep short accounts.
• God utilizes individuals to communicate His message.
What has He asked you to share?
• Sometimes God calls us to cry out against sin.
Just be sure it is Him asking you to
• God calls us into action from inaction.
Is there something God is calling you to “Arise” and do?
• Seek to be sensitive to the “word of the Lord”.
Our responsibility is to hear and obey the word of the LORD.