Summary: A re-telling of the entire story of Jonah, but with a twist.
This sermon was given without notes, so the text may
differ somewhat from the actual preached word. I asked the people to help me as I read the story of Jonah from the Bible, to raise their hands whenever they heard something that differed from the story as told in the Bible. This sermon works best if you have a really good poker face (I don’t).
Jonah 1:1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Ammittai, saying,
[Incorrect] 1:2 “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and tell them how much I love them and everything that they have done.”
[Correct] 1:2 “Go at once to Nineveh, that great city,
and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.”
Comment: Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, the
political rivals of Israel. They worshipped false gods, and seen as threatening to the national security of Israel. If there is anywhere that Jonah didn’t want to go, it would be Nineveh. But God sends him with a message he didn’t want to speak to a people he didn’t want to see in a land he never wanted to visit.
[Incorrect] 1:3 So Jonah set out to go to Nineveh, even
though he didn’t want to.
[Correct 1:3] But Jonah set out 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 his fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.”
Comment: The book of Jonah has some great lessons about
ethno-centrism and Israel’s relation to foreigners. Jonah seriously believes that if he just takes a fast enough ship heading far enough away, he will actually outrun “the presence of the Lord”. But as you’ll see through the unfolding of the story, there is no where that Jonah can hide from the creator of the universe.
1:4-5 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and
such a mighty storm came upon the sea that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it for them.
[Incorrect] 1:5b Jonah, meanwhile, had gone to the bow of the boat and was devoutly praying to his God.
[Correct] 1:5b Jonah, meanwhile, had gone down into the
hold of the ship and had lain down, and was fast asleep.
1:6-7 The captain came and said to him, “What are you doing sound asleep? Get up, call on your god! Perhaps the god will spare us a thought so that we do not perish.” The sailors said to one another, “Come let us cast lots, so that we may know on whose account this calamity has come upon us.”
[Incorrect] 1:7c So they cast lots, and divided Jonah’s
clothes among them.
Comment: Okay, so that was Jesus, just seeing if you’re
[Correct] 1:7c So they cast lots, and the lot fell on
1:8-11 Then they said to him, Tell us why this calamity
has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” “I am a Hebrew,” he replied. “I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were even more afraid, and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them so. Then they said to him, “What shall
we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea was growing more and more tempestuous.
[Incorrect] 1:12 He said to them, “Let me hide under the seat cushions and maybe God won’t find me.”
[Correct 1:12] He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me
into the sae; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great storm has come upon you.”
1:13-16 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring the ship back to land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, O Lord, we pray, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life. Do not make us guilty of innocent blood; for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked Jonah up and threw
him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the mean feared the Lord even more, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.