Summary: Sermon 1 of 4 in a series on Jonah and God
1. I will admit that I’ve been looking forward to preaching this series of messages from the book of Jonah since I first came up with the idea in my sermon thinking last year.
2. Jonah is one of those books in the Bible that never fails to fascinate people. Perhaps it’s the idea of a rogue prophet who is called by God, but refuses to do what He says that we can relate to so well.
3. For many it’s the amazing story of the Jonah ending up in the belly of the fish where he will be for part of 3 days and 3 nights.
4. In reality, the story of Jonah is much more than the story of Jonah, it’s the story of God’s work in an ungodly prophet. But it doesn’t stop there, it’s also the story of God’s work in an ungodly nation. Make no mistake about it, God is the central character in this story.
5. Some people are not comfortable with the story of Jonah, because they don’t believe a man could stay alive in a fish for three days and three nights. They point out that that would require a miracle. Those of us who believe the book acknowledge that the events of the story require a miracle, but believe that God is up to doing any miracle.
6. 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!"
Fascinating Facts About Jonah...
Some later rabbinic tradition suggested Jonah was the widow’s son brought back to life by Elijah in 1 Kings 17:17-24.
Jonah is listed fifth among the twelve minor prophets. Yet the book contains only 1 brief sentence that could be considered prophecy, "Forty more days & Ninevah will be destroyed."
Nineveh was founded by Nimrod, the great grandson of Noah shortly after the flood.
7. That’s enough talking about the book. Let’s begin our study of this great book. There are some excellent lessons that we can learn together. Let’s read the passage together.
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying,
2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."
3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
4 The LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.
5 Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep.
6 So the captain approached him and said, "How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish."
7 Each man said to his mate, "Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us." So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
8 Then they said to him, "Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?"