Summary: This message is based on Jonah’s prayer in Jonah 2 and reminds us of our need to return to God when we’ve run from Him.


INTRO - A little girl was observed by her pastor standing outside the preschool Sunday School classroom between Sunday School and worship, waiting for her parents to come and pick her up for "big church." The pastor noticed that she clutched a big storybook under her arms with the obvious title, "Jonah and the Whale."

Feeling a little parsnickerous, he knelt down beside the little girl and began a conversation. "What’s that you have in your hand?", he asked. "This is my storybook about Jonah and the Whale," she answered.

"Tell me something, little girl," he continued, "do you believe that story about Jonah and that whale to be the truth?" The little girl implored, "Why of course I believe this story to be the truth!" He inquired further, "you really believe that a man can be swallowed up by a big whale, stay inside him all that time, and come out of there still alive and OK? You really believe all that can be true?" She declared, "Absolutely, this story is in the Bible and we studied about it in Sunday School today!"

Then the pastor asked, "Well, little girl, can you prove to me that this story is the truth?" She thought for a moment and then said, "Well, when I get to Heaven, I’ll ask Jonah." The pastor then asked, "Well, what if Jonah’s not in Heaven?" She then put her hands on her little hips and sternly declared, "Then YOU can ask him!" (

Today, we are going to look at Jonah. First of all, I want to say that I believe with all my heart that Jonah was real person who was swallowed by a real fish. He stayed inside that fish for 3 days before the fish spit him out on the beach. Why do I believe this? B/c the Bible says it this way. Some folks want to say that the story of Jonah was a parable written by an unknown author. They don’t believe that Jonah was an historical prophet who actually lived and ministered in the name of God sometime in the 8th century B.C. Kind of like the fellow in this story:

One Sunday, the Minister was giving a sermon on baptism and in the course of his sermon he was illustrating the fact that baptism should take place by sprinkling and not by immersion. He pointed out some instances in the Bible.

He said that when John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the River Jordan, it didn’t mean in - it meant close to, round about, or nearby. And again when it says in the Bible that Philip baptized the eunuch in the river, it didn’t mean in - it meant close to, round about, or nearby.

After the service, a man came up to the minister and told him it was a great sermon, one of the best he had ever heard, and that it had cleared up a great many mysteries he had encountered in the Bible.

"For instance," he said, "the story about Jonah getting swallowed by the whale has always bothered me. Now I know that Jonah wasn’t really in the whale, but close to, round about, or nearby, swimming in the water. Then there is the story about the three young Hebrew boys who were thrown into the furious furnace, but were not burned. Now I see that they were not really in the fire, just close to, round about, or nearby, just keeping warm.

But the hardest of all the stories for me to believe has always been the story of Daniel getting thrown into the lions" den. But now I see that he wasn’t really in the lions’ den, but close to, round about, or nearby, like at the zoo.

The revealing of these mysteries has been a real comfort me because I am a wicked man. Now I am gratified to know that I won’t be in Hell, but close to, round about, or nearby. And next Sunday, I won’t have to be in church, just close to, round about, or nearby. Thanks. You have really put my mind at ease.” (

The Scripture says, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai.” (1:1). There was a real person named Amittai who had a real son named Jonah who heard a real word from a very real Lord God – the same Lord God who is present with us today and has a real word for us, too!

If you could use one word to sum up the activity of Jonah’s life, it would be the word “running.” I like to run sometimes. Can’t run extremely long distances, but still like to run to try and keep myself in decent physical condition. Others can run much farther distances. Ford Wall has run marathons. Pres. Bush is one of the most physically fit presidents we’ve ever had. He’s a serious runner. I subscribe to Runner’s World magazine. It is filled with people who live to run. They run marathons in unbelievable times. But I have yet to find a single person who runs who doesn’t finally have to stop running. Even Forest Gump finally had to stop running! You simply cannot continue to run and run and run and never have to stop.

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