Summary: God has a purpose for the directions he gives us.
I am not going to wow you with deep theological statements or thoughts. I want to start with something that maybe everyone is familiar and can possible relate to this morning.
If you have your Bible, you can turn to the Book of Jonah:
Before I get into the book of Jonah, there are some things that I want to share with you.
1) Jonah is one of the most ridiculed books by liberal scholars.
2) No other book in the Bible has been attacked more than Jonah.
3) The story of a fish swallowing a man and the man living sounds impossible, and since most liberal scholars deny the possibility of the supernatural, they reject the book of Jonah as anything but a fairy tale. Probably everybody has heard explanations of this story. We have seen cartoons and pictures and movies about the possibilities. Some critics have came up with all kinds of arguments such as:
A. The story is a another depiction of Hercules and the Sea Monster, no similarity,
B. one states Jonah was thrown over and found refuge in a dead fish that was floating,
C. One says, “While he was asleep, he dreamed of this tale.
If that were true, then how did he end up in Nineveh? ” Despite what everyone says, Jonah is a real person, which can be validated and historically proven.
In 2 Kings 14:23-25. 23 In the fifteenth year of Amaziah son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel became king in Samaria, and he reigned forty-one years. 24 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn away from any of the sins of Jeroboam son of Ne-bat, which he had caused Israel to commit. 25 He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Ha-math to the Dead Sea,[e] in accordance with the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher. More evidence is found by the Lord Jesus himself in Luke 11:30 and Matthew 12:39.
Luke 11:30 For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.
Matthew 12:39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.
Jesus himself validates the authenticity of Jonah. This is historical, we can prove it, and the bottom line is “I believe God did it, it happened as God said it did and that’s that.”
It is difficult to pinpoint when the author of the book actually put the story on paper. It could have been written soon after the events or long after the events. Some date the writing of the book in the Persian period because of certain literary features, vocabulary, etc.What is clear is that the events of the book took place while Ninevah was capitol of Assyria.
Let’s get into the Word.
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
Now Jonah is called. He is commissioned to do something. He has instructions to go to Nineveh. Nineveh is described as a great city, huge city among the Tigris River. This huge city had become wicked in the sight of God. So God calls Jonah to, “Go to the great city.”
I’m going to stop right there for just a moment. The Word says Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. They are not removed. Everyone has a calling on their life. Some hear the voice of God and ignore. Others hear that quite voice in your heart but refuse to give in. Many of you already know that you are supposed to be doing something you are not.
Have you ever thought, why did God send Jonah? The scripture said they were wicked; but why did he care? God is love and love is God.
Now Jonah has been given instructions and he does something different than what he was told.
3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Jappa, 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.