Summary: There is a real God Who has revealed Himself to men and is active in the affairs of men and nations, and Jesus really is His Son.
Jonah, Prophet of God Jonah 1:1, 2
INTRO.: Today’s message begins a series on the book of the prophet Jonah. There is something in the Bible for everyone from the preschooler to the PhD. I think the Book of Jonah was a story written for children. No doubt many a Jewish child heard this as his first "Bible story." Although the vocabulary is adult, the story is so simple and the lessons so clear it would lend itself to telling as a bedtime story.
Yet, there are some profound lessons and some crucial issues we really need to address. There is so much of Jesus Christ in this little book.
Tell the story briefly.
With this book, perhaps more than any other, we need to discuss whether the events described are real or fictional. Along this line, let us ask three questions:
I. Is there a real God who has really spoken to His creatures?
A. If there is such a God we must accept the proposition that nothing is impossible for Him
1. ILLUS.: A computer can be made to respond to voice commands. But no one has ever spoken a computer into existence.
2. He spoke the worlds into existence.
3. He created food for millions in the wilderness, parted the sea and the Jordan River, sustained His people through oppression, warfare, persecution, and every evil men can devise.
B. Why do we have trouble believing the story of Jonah?
1. Is it because there was never a Ninevah, a Jonah, a storm at sea, a repentant city? We see all these things as possible.
2. Yet, men cannot believe a fish could swallow a man and keep him alive for three days underwater. When some claim a whale could not swallow a man because of the size of its throat, we quibble and say "The Bible calls it a great fish," as if a big fish would be more likely to swallow a man whole and keep him in its stomach for three days.
3. Yet, could not God create a special fish with whatever capabilities He required? (See 1:17.) He could have installed air conditioning and electric lighting if He had wished.
C. The entire Bible must stand or fall together:
1. The key is in the first four words: Gen. 1:1
2. The God who spoke the universe into existence can do anything.
3. That’s why we serve Him. We know He can meet our needs. He can turn our mountains into mole hills, heal our diseases, bring peace to our storm tossed spirits, and in the end, give victory over the last enemy, death.
II. Is our God really active in the affairs of men and nations?
A. Prophecy is one of the greatest proofs of the inspiration of the Bible:
1. There are prophetic utterances like Isa. 7:14
2. There are prophetic events like Moses and the serpent. Num. 21:1-9 John 3:14
3. Prophecy is fulfilled because God is at work in the affairs of men. Literally thousands of Bible prophecies have been fulfilled.
B. The book of Jonah is not just a story. It is prophecy:
1. What happened to Jonah was ordained by God to serve as a prophecy:
2. Two crucial concepts are set forth: 1. God intends all men to come to repentance and eternal life, and 2. The resurrection of Jesus will make this possible.
3. If events recorded in Jonah are fable, then can the events prophesied be any truer?
C. Would Almighty God use a myth to foreshadow the most important truths He has to teach men?
1. They are: His love for all men and His provision of salvation through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
2. John 3:16 expresses the same truth. Could one be true and not the other?
3. Be assured we do serve a God who is active in the affairs of men. Prophecy proves this. Since this is so, we can be sure His promise of ultimate victory for the righteous will be fulfilled.
III. Is Jesus really the Son of God?
A. At one time, the Pharisees and Scribes asked Him to prove it: Matt. 12:39-41
1. He staked His claim upon the "sign of Jonah." i.e.; the fact Jonah was three days confined and virtually dead yet arose from the dead.
2. Emphasize "As . . .so."
3. Would He base His claim of deity upon a myth?
4. It is recorded He referred to Jonah and Ninevah three times in the Gospels. In every case He treated the story as actual history.
B. Jesus proved Himself to be God’s Son by His resurrection:
1. Rom. 1:1-4: The fulfillment of all God’s promises.
2. All the prophets, including Jonah, predicted this.
3. If Jesus, God in the flesh, accepted Jonah’s story as actual history, who are we to doubt?