Summary: God calls specific people to specific places for specific purposes. When God called Jonah, his response was quite different that that of the prophet Isaiah. Whereas Isaiah said, "Here am I. Send me!" Jonah said, "Here am I...send someone else."
Series: Jonah and the City
Here am I... Send Someone Else, Pt. One
This morning I want to begin a study of the life of Jonah. This first message I’ve actually broken in two, so this week I’ll preach part one and next week I’ll preach part two.
God calls specific people to specific places for specific purposes. I believe that each of you have been placed here at Evergreen to fulfill a specific purpose. The question is, are you fulfilling that purpose? In Jonah’s case, we will see that God’s purpose for him was to go to Nineveh to preach against the sin of it’s people.
Jonah’s response was quite the opposite from that of the prophet Isaiah. When God asked, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah’s response was, “Here am I. Send me!” But when God called Jonah, Jonah said, “Here am I… send someone else. I’m on my way to Tarshish!”
Today, there are many believers that are a lot like Jonah. For some of us, our Nineveh might be reconciliation. For others, it may be repentance. Then there are those whose Nineveh might be restitution.
But the fact remains that a lot of us are on boats that are sailing for Tarshish while God is saying, “Go to Nineveh.” This morning I’m asking each of you which direction are you headed in? Because there’s really only two roads in the life of the believer. One leads to Nineveh; the other leads to Tarshish. One road is the will of God; the other is disobedience to His will.
Again, God calls specific people to specific places for specific purposes. Are you fulfilling that purpose? Because there are people in your circle of influence that I’ll never be able to reach, and there are people in my circle of influence that you’ll never be able to reach. Therefore, everyone of us are indescribably valuable to God. We all play a special role in the body of Christ; no one is unimportant.
Let’s get started this morning by looking at…
Jonah’s Call (Jonah 1:1-2)
The first thing I notice is that Jonah’s call was…
What was true of Jonah back then is still true for you and I today: God’s call is personal. Jonah was a real person who lived in a real city and God called him to perform a real task. The Bible says, “the word of the Lord came to Jonah”; it was a personal call.
If we were to break this verse into two parts we we would see two very important things. First of all, this wasn’t the word of man…it was the “word of the Lord.” You see, men don’t call us…God does! Jonah had a God who spoke to him. Secondly, God didn’t call Habakkuk, Amos, Obadiah or any of the other prophets to go to Nineveh. He called Jonah.
I don’t know how God spoke to Jonah. Obviously, he didn’t have the written word of God like we do today. God could’ve spoke to him audibly, like He did with Abraham. God could’ve spoke to him in a vision, like He did with Peter or Ezekiel. Or maybe God spoke to him in a dream, like He did with Joseph. It could've simply been an impression on his heart, but how He spoke to him is not important. What’s important here is that a human being communicated with God almighty!
Even more amazing is the fact that God still communicates with us today, and it’s just as personal! It’s strange to me how it never occurs to some believers that the same God who spoke to the prophets in the OT still speaks to us today. They don’t have a problem believing that God spoke to Jonah, but to think that God would speak to them is extremely difficult.
Have you heard from the Lord this week? If not, maybe it’s because you haven’t spent time with Him. We serve a God who still speaks to us personally through the Holy Spirit and through His Word. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds (Heb. 1:1-2).
What are we doing about the fact that God speaks to us personally? Maybe it would be better for me to tell you what we shouldn’t do. Later in Hebrews we read:
“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 3:7-8).
I’ll never forget the day that God spoke to me. I can’t really describe it, but I know He did. It couldn’t have been any more real if He were sitting right beside me physically in my truck that day. God spoke to me and called me into the ministry and I knew at that moment that I wouldn't find true happiness regardless of what I did or how much money I made apart from surrendering to His call.