Summary: This is the third in a series on the Book of Jonah. In this sermon we discuss how Jonah was very much like the Pharisee's in Jesus' day, and how that mind-set and spirit caused him to miss the will of God.
Jonah the Pharisee Prophet
Text: Jonah chapters 3 and 4
Well; we’re closing up our short series on Jonah today. I hope you’ve been blessed by hearing this as much as I was in preparing it. If you’ll take your Bibles and open them up to the Book of Jonah we’re going to read through chapter three and four today (READ TEXT).
So last week we saw that when you run from God, there’s always a price to pay, but we also saw that our God is a God of second chances. God didn’t owe a 2nd chance to Jonah, but He is merciful and gracious, and we are thankful!
And we ended our lesson last week with Jonah on the beach. He had prayed and the fish spit him out. And if you remember; we saw that regardless of our circumstances or situations, God’s plan doesn’t change. He told Jonah the exact same thing He told him before. “Go to Nineveh!”
Now before we get too far into the text; I want to give you a little background on Nineveh. Nineveh was a city state located in what is today, modern day Iraq. They were known throughout the ancient world as a wicked and violent people. They engaged in child sacrifices, immoral lifestyles, and just wickedness all around. And they were enemies of the Israelites. And it was a large city. It took 3 days to go through it, and had a population of 120,000. In comparison that’s about the size of Norman… according to the Census Bureau, Norman has a population of 110,000, Lawton has a population of 96,000 and Broken Arrow is about 90,000, so Nineveh wasn’t a small place. And so Jonah goes a day’s journey into the heart of the city and he starts crying out. “You’ve got 40 days before you’re all dead meat!” Now not only was Nineveh a fairly large city, it is also a city state, which means the king of the Ninevite people was there. And so this would be equivalent of you or I going to the halls of congress or to the gate outside the White House and saying, “You have 40 days to repent or your will be destroyed”
Anybody feel like God’s calling you to do that? The way things are going, it wouldn’t surprise me if God didn’t soon call someone to do that. But all I can say is you had better be sure it’s the Lord calling you to do it and not the pizza you ate for supper last night.
So Jonah goes and he preaches repentance and look what happens; verses 5 – 9 (READ).
Isn’t God amazing!
Now I want to touch on something here really quickly. If you remember, Jonah has been reluctant this whole time. He tried to run from God and got on a boat, and God used that situation to bring pagan sailors to repentance and faith. Now Jonah’s in the city of Nineveh, and he has no love in his heart for these people. He’s just doing this because he knows what will happen to him if he doesn’t. And the entire city repents and is calling out to God and making offerings to God. If this tells us anything it’s that God can use anybody, anywhere, at any time. What God is looking for is someone who will do what He has commanded. Moses couldn’t speak well… most scholars think he probably stuttered, it didn’t matter to God, what mattered was that Moses obeyed and went. And so we shouldn’t ever get it in our head that we can’t share the Gospel, or that we can’t do things for the Lord. One of the many Biblical truths we learn from Jonah is that it’s God’s power working in us in order to fulfill God’s purpose through us.
And so the people of Nineveh repent. These pagan; godless people actually turn from their sin, and God relents. He spares them immediate judgment. And there’s another principle right there.
Did you know it’s actually harder to do evangelism in the Bible Belt than it is outside of it? The Bible Belt is full of evangelized sinners. Let me explain to you what I mean by that.
Here in our neck of the woods we have people who have heard about Jesus, they’ve heard about God, they’ve heard John 3:16.
They’ve heard it all their lives and their ears have grown dull of hearing. They’ve heard it and they know it, but they haven’t darkened the door of a church in 5 years. They’ve heard it and they know it but they can’t name a single person they’ve ever led to Christ. They’ve heard it and they know it and they can count on one hand the number of spiritual conversations they’ve engaged in the past 10 years. In-fact; I’ve been doing a little study over the last month or so, talking to different people, and did you know that the majority of church growth taking place in Woodward County and in our association is actually just people moving from one church to another? And part of that is because the people who aren’t going to church are evangelized sinners. The people who are moving from church to church are going to go, they are just going to go to the one where they feel that they are being ministered to. Ed Stetzer from Lifeway, Acts 29 Network, and the SBC itself have all done studies that coincide with that. The bottom line is this. A church that replenishes its members exists, a church that doesn’t – doesn’t. The problem is that if all your church is doing is replenishing its members with members from another church then it’s a band aid, not a cure.