Summary: You have probably heard the expression that you never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression. Well, Jonah did! When I was a kid, we called them a “do-over.” You may have been playing a game like basketball, you missed the shot & you would simply s
Running from God
You have probably heard the expression that you never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression. Well, Jonah did! When I was a kid, we called them a “do-over.” You may have been playing a game like basketball, you missed the shot & you would simply shout: “Do over!” And if you had a good friend, you got to shoot again. In golf, they are called “taking a mulligan.” I took one recently. Here’s why. It simply means that you’ve allowed another chance and the first attempt doesn’t count. At all!
One of the first lessons Jonah learned is that the God we serve is the God of a 2nd chance. When we sin – when we disobey God, if we ask, He will forgive and He not only forgives, He also forgets. He says, “I will not remember your sins anymore.”
Jonah was in need of a “do-over”…a “mulligan” …….whatever we choose to call it – Jonah needed a 2nd chance! At the beginning of the story, you will recall that God spoke to Jonah and He said, “Jonah, I want you to go to Ninevah,” which was to the East; “Jonah, I want you to go and preach the gospel to the people there.” I told you that the people in Ninevah were all full of evil….they were dangerous, and Jonah saw God’s orders basically as a death sentence. So, when God said, “Go East!” Jonah said, “Nope! I’m heading West!” And so he did.
He boarded a boat with a group of sailors and after they got out a way, God sent a storm, a frightening storm, and the sailors were afraid now. They asked Jonah if he knew why this storm was taking place and he said, “Yep! It’s because of me!” They said, “Well, what’s the solution?” And Jonah said, “You’re gonna' have to toss me overboard if you’re gonna’ solve the problem!” And so they did.
God then sends a great fish which swallows Jonah. Jonah spends 3 days and nights in the belly of the fish. He, at some point, begins to pray – most of his words come directly from the Old Testament book of Psalms. At the conclusion of the prayer, we then read that God spoke to the fish and the fish spat him out onto dry land.
One thing is for sure….God now had Jonah’s full attention! Jonah was more focused than ever before. This was his “do-over.” This was his “2nd chance.” Toby Keith has a song, if you listen to country music you’ve heard it, where he says, “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then. I wish I could start this thing over again!” I don’t know if Jonah knew that song, but he describes what Jonah was searching for!
Get this…Jonah has discovered that our God is a God of a 2nd chance. There is no doubt, Jonah could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he had just obeyed God the 1st time. But here’s what we do….we usually have to make several mistakes before we get it, before we realize that what we’re doing isn’t working. Einstein said that “the definition of insecurity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” But that’s what we do and then, at some point, God gets our attention and we realize that we’re headed down a very dangerous path….and the only thing we can do is turn around. We’re headed in one direction and it’s not working, so what do we do? We just keep going in that same direction – doing the same thing until we suddenly realize that we have spiritually gotten really far away from the Lord.
In the New Testament, Paul used a word to describe what the solution is for that problem. It was the word, “Metanoia.” It meant to change the mind. You’re thinking one way and now you begin to think another way. It was used with soldiers to tell them to do an “about face.” They were marching in one direction and the leader would shout this word, and they would turn around. Now our English translation for this word is simple. It is the word “repent.” It is used many times in the New Testament to tell us that we must turn from our sinful ways, from the way we are headed and turn around and get back to God.
Jonah’s message that he took to the Ninevites was one of repentance. He preached what is likely the shortest sermon in the Bible. Here it is….”Yet 40 days and Ninevah shall be overthrown.” That’s 8 words! Each week, I type a manuscript of what God gives to me…and my computer tells me automatically how many words there are…..usually about 1500. Jonah only preached 8 words and look at the results…..He finishes it and says (5) “…so the people of Ninevah believed God.” WOW!! My goal now is to preach an 8 word sermon next week. (No applause, please!)