Summary: The marvel of God’s Word is the fact that it is always relevant to the needs of people, regardless of the time in which they live. Jonah is a book that is one of the most relevant books in the Bible for the present time. It speaks to us the twenty-fir
The Book of Jonah
The marvel of God’s Word is the fact that it is always relevant to the needs of people, regardless of the time in which they live.
I want us to turn our attention this afternoon to the book of Jonah.
A book that is one of the most relevant books in the Bible for the present time. It speaks to us the twenty-first-century church in general, and to individual Christians in particular, in plain and piercing terms.
Churches as a whole, as well as individual Christians, have rebelled against the will of the Lord in regard to its mission in the world.
Many Christians have discreetly turned aside from the issues in their society that were once addressed with fearless and positive confrontation by the church.
In this sense, the story of Jonah is clearly relevant to our generation.
If you want a title for this message from the book of Jonah I think "How God Deals with Rebellion" is appropriate and we are going to read selected verses as we go rather than read the whole book first!
We are going to consider five points as we work through the book of Jonah:
1. The Easy Road to Resistance
2. The High Cost of Disobedience
3. The Deep Agony of Chastisement
4. The Loving Patience of God
5. The Continuing Battle with Rebellion
So let’s start with "the easy road to resistance" by examining the directions God gave Jonah, the dilemma this assignment posed for the reluctant prophet, and the decision he made.
Our first reading is from: Jonah 1:1-3
"The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:
’Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.’" (Jonah 1:1-3 NIV).
The directions God gave to Jonah (1:1).
We are told in 2 Kings 14:25, that the of hometown of Jonah was Gath Hepher which was located about four miles north of Nazareth in Galilee.
We know nothing very little about Jonah’s life other than the reference in 2 Kings, where he was God’s messenger of mercy to Israel during the reign of King Jeroboam II, and his experience in Nineveh.
So here we see the sovereign will of God in choosing Jonah, an unknown, to do a job for him.
The word of the Lord came specifically to Jonah.
God knew exactly who he was looking for and where to find him.
It is both wonderful and frightening to know that God is equally aware of who and where we are!
Then "the word of the Lord" came to Jonah.
Whenever God speaks, he speaks with substance.
He does not waste His words; God’s Word is serious business,
and when we read or listen to its message, we are responsible before God for what we have heard.
These words were directed specifically to Jonah.
He could not take comfort in that they might be for someone else. Along with these words came the fact that God knew Jonah—both his strengths and his weaknesses. He knew Jonah’s potential.
And certainly this is true in God’s relationships with us.
We are prone to forget that God sees the end from the beginning. When we learn to cooperate with him, we will not fail.
The dilemma (1:2).
As I said earlier, God had already used Jonah in the past.
He had ministered, we know, during the reign of King Jeroboam II. We can assume that he had been God’s spokesman on other occasions in Israel. But up until now, he had lived and ministered among his own people, God’s chosen people.
Like any other Israelite, Jonah felt great security and pride in his identity with Israel. Jehovah was his God and the God of his people. So it was "business as usual" with Jonah.
Then all of a sudden God broke into Jonah’s secure and comfortable lifestyle.
Can’t you imagine that Jonah thought,
Why me, Lord?
Why not one of those prophets who live in the big cities who have been exposed to the ways and personalities of pagans?
I’m just a country preacher out here in Galilee.
This simple rural lifestyle is all I know.
Not me, Lord! Isaiah, Amos, Hosea—they could do it far better than I could, Lord!
Why Nineveh ?
Nineveh was a pagan city, whose people through the generations had been enemies and persecutors of God’s people.
Nineveh never would have been on Jonah’s itinerary, or even on his prayer list:
You know, God may ask you to do something that doesn’t seem to make sense. We do not always know why God picks certain places to do things. You do not know why you were born where you were, rather than in another country with different parents or on a different date in history. Likewise, God may be directing you in a certain way that you don’t understand.