Summary: This is an exposition on the fourth chapter of Jonah, which teaches us patience, grace, and the value of not getting too angry with the small things in life or we may be overwhelmed when big trials come our way
Jonah and A Vine, a Worm, and a Scorching East Wind
Introduction: Let me begin by telling you a story about a little girl that pretty well sums what I’m talking about here. A little girl was reading on an airplane when the man beside her noticed her storybook, entitled, "Jonah and the Whale." The man asked if the little girl believed the story. So, after saying hello, he asked her to tell him about her book. She said the book was about Jonah, and how he was swallowed by a whale. The man said, "You don’t really believe that do you?" The little girl replied, "Yes, I believe the story of Jonah is true." "You mean you really believe that a man can be swallowed by a whale, stay inside him for three days, & then come out of there alive?" The child said, "This story is in the Bible & we studied it in Sunday School today!" Then the man asked, "How can you prove that the story about Jonah is true?" She thought for a moment, and then said, "When I get to Heaven I’ll ask Jonah." The man smiled, proud of his superiority & asked, "What will you do if Jonah’s not in heaven?" The girl thought for a moment then replied, "Well, if he’s not in heaven, you ask him!"
(Tim Richards- sermoncentral)
This morning we turn to the book of Jonah. Its amazing how many lessons can be pulled from such small books of the Bible. We will have to come back to some of the others at a later time. But one thing we all know about Jonah, if you have any type of Bible knowledge at all, or perhaps even if you don't, is that when we hear the name of Jonah we straightaway think of what? . . .
A whale. It is almost a synonym for his name, even though his name means “a dove,” you would think it means whale for as much as we associate the two. As Thomas Carlyle said “The problem is we spend our time wondering what's going on inside of the whale, rather than wondering what is going on inside of Jonah.”
Background: Jonah had many faults but He was a true prophet of God. He was called to rebuke and warn Ninevah (Israel's cruelest enemy at the time) that destruction was coming, but instead of obeying the LORD, Jonah ran to Joppa got on a boat headed to Tarshish, because He didn't want those 'idolaters' to be saved. His attitude was - “let them be destroyed, and let their sins carry them to hell they deserve it!” Jonah had the same spirit of the Pharisees and the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son; who grumbled when his younger brother received grace and the Pharisees grumbled when Jesus ate with the publicans and sinners. Jonah grumbled that the heathen would receive God's mercy and be forgiven. Jonah was a hard man. A man with a hide of a rhinoceros and a backbone of steel but what he had in integrity he lacked in compassion. The LORD sent a great storm where the sailors knew Jonah was running from God (1:10) and Jonah knowing his fault told them to throw him overboard, which they did then God sent a great fish (not a whale) to swallow him and Jonah was in the fish 3 days and 3 nights (Jesus refers to this Matthew 12:40) Jonah changes his attitude. It seems spending 72 hours in the slimy heat of a fish's belly apparently will do that. Jonah then repents and the great fish spat him out on dry land and the LORD tells Jonah who is now eager to obey the Lord to warn Ninevah and he warns the city: “Forty more days and Ninevah will be overturned.” They believe and repent and God saw that they repented and Jonah 3:10 says “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”