Summary: We are either fishers of men or fishbait. God has called us for a purpose. We either fulfill that purpose his way or he will have his way with us. God can be convincing whether we like it or not.

Fishers of Men or Fish Bait

Jonah 1, Matthew 12:39-41, Hebrews 11:36-38

Basically there are two things that Jesus wants us to do once we have accepted him as our Christ—once we have been born of the Spirit:

First, Love one another as he has loved us… and

Second, as we go about in this world we are to share the good news about Jesus, teach those who respond, and make disciples out of those who are willing.

Before we start, let me ask:

Would you expect to find God in Hell?

We’ll find out in a few minutes.

Turn with me to the Book of Jonah… Chapter 1.

We are back 800 and 750B.C.

Jonah lived just after Elisha.

Three prophets were ministering during this time:

Jonah, Amos, and Hosea.

Isaiah followed them.

Jonah is one of the most maligned and ridiculed books in the Bible all because of the fish.

Yet, it is a book that teaches us much about

• The nature of God…

• His love of all mankind…

• His grace…

• Our salvation by faith…not works.

Our faith—or lack of it—not the fish is the problem.

A fish swallowing a man, and the man living sounds impossible.

To us, maybe, but not to God.

And those who deny the supernatural—a God greater than man—they reject the book of Jonah as nothing more than a fairy tale.

However, if you share this view… you might want to rethink your position… because Jesus quoted from Jonah when correcting the Jewish leadership in his day:

Matthew 12:39… But He answered and said to them, "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.

41 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.

To this, Jesus added in Luke 11:30: "For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.

The point is…IF we throw out Jonah and the fish… we have to throw out Jesus too.

And that’s not a call I want to make.

The problem in the Book of Jonah, however, is not the fish—It’s Jonah... the reluctant prophet who did not prophesy… but shared his experience.

Little attention is given to what he actually said.

But much is said of Jonah’s failure—his reluctance to do the will of God.

It starts off the same way the other prophetic books do, because we see the phrase:

1“And the word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of

Amit-ta`-i, saying.”

2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

God spoke to Jonah in His own unique and powerful way.

He told Jonah to do two things:

• Go to Nineveh, and

• Cry out against it…

That is, rebuke them for their sin and call them to repentance… to eternal salvation by grace—simply believing God… his Word… his promise…his grace.

Ancient historians say that Nineveh was the largest city in the world at that time… and the capital of Assyria—the world power in that day.

God was calling Jonah to go to a pagan, Gentile city and call them to repentance—proof that God was interested in all people… not just Israel… not willing that any should perish… but all should come to a saving knowledge of the Messiah—the promised savior.

Why Nineveh? Because, God had seen their wickedness.

None of our wickedness is hidden from God.

He sees it all, and there will come a time when he is fed up with it all.

God chose Israel to be his ministers… not because he loved them any more than anyone else.

“God so loved the world… that he gave his only begotten Son…”

That’s a fact Israel had trouble believing—still do!

So how does Jonah react to God’s command?

1. First of all, Jonah hated the Ninevites.

Assyria was one of the most brutal nations of the ancient world.

They probably had raided his hometown in the past.

This too, is the first and only time that God sent a Hebrew prophet to a foreign land.

Jonah was the first “foreign” missionary.

The Promised Land was the crossroads of 3 continents—Europe, Asia, and Africa.

God put Israel there as a witness to the true and living God.

The Queen of Sheba came from the ends of the earth—probably Yemen—to Israel in the days of Solomon. Why?

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