Summary: Jonah actually teaches us many characteristics of being a Christian without actually following them himself. This sermon concentrates on these characteristics.
Captain Tim Gardner
Text: Jonah 3 & 4
Melodrama: Joe and the Wannafights by “Spontaneous Melodramas” book
There are so many things we can learn from the bad attitude of Jonah, but this morning we will just concentrate of three. His willingness to be unwilling. His fearless fear of God. And his undying spiritual death.
I. Jonah’s willingness to be unwilling
Here we have Jonah. Poor old faithful Jonah. He was such a great prophet and upright man of God. As a matter of fact many theologians believed Jonah was one of the most astounding prophets in his time. One commentary writer states: “Jonah was “mirabilis homo”, or an “amazing man”. He was the strangest, oddest, and most out of the way man, for a good man and a prophet, as one shall ever hear or read of (John Gill. Gill’s Exposition of the Bible; Jonah 4:1). So what happened? Why is Jonah all of a sudden willing to be unwilling to God’s plan on his life? Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been willing to be unwilling to God’s plan in your life? So here we are. Jonah, this well known prophet from God has just been asked to go and preach a message from God to the Ninevites. Instead of practicing his normal habit of following orders, he bails. He argues with God a little, then like a wanted man he is quickly running away without notice the opposite direction, and the furthest place he could go in that direction. This is so true in our own lives. We walk around showing how incredibly Christian we are by the way we talk, and quote, and wear our smile and our “holy” outfit or jewelry, but in an instant we are gone when God asks us to do something we are not comfortable with at all. Do you agree with this statement? By a show of hands how many have bailed when God said go? Or when God started making you feel uncomfortable? Jonah was uncomfortable. He bailed when God said go. You know the events to follow. A storm brews. His shipmates are scared. He admits his fault. He is thrown from the boat. He sinks. Something big swallows him. He repents. He prays hard. He is called again. He does what God asks him to do. Why wouldn’t he? Would you still say no after all of that? Now we find ourselves looking at the reaction of the Ninevites. Chapter three says that they fasted, covered themselves with sackcloth and prayed. This was custom back then to show your honor and respect to God in order to be brought back into His favor. This was something they knew how to do, and may have practiced before in there past, but since they have fallen away so much from God, they stopped custom completely and relied on there own ability and intelligence. Have you ever fallen away from God so much that you literally stopped your Bible reading and praying and praising and only depended on yourself to get you through the day? How silly! The Ninevites repented, and God had mercy!
Which brings us to
II. Jonah’s fearless fear of God
Chapter 4 verse 1 says, “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.” As I was studying this verse I asked myself “What does the word angry mean in this particular verse?” Well the Hebrew word here for angry is khaw-raw’, which is a verb that means: “furious, burn, competing, distressed, fret, kindled, rage, zealously (Vines).”
So my next question was, “Why was Jonah angry?”
Usually when we win the hearts of so many people or even just one person to the message of Christ we rejoice and praise God in our happiness. Jonah was a part of the greatest conversion known to man at that time. So why was he so angry?
The late John Gill, an amazing Bible scholar who attended and preached many times at Spurgeon’s church wrote:
But Jonah is displeased at the repentance of the Ninevites through his preaching, and at the mercy of God showed unto them:… reasons of this strange conduct, if they may be called reasons, are supposed to be these: one reason was, his own honour, which he thought lay at stake, and that he should be reckoned a false prophet if Nineveh was not destroyed at the time he had fixed;… another reason was his prejudice to the Gentiles,… A third reason supposed is the honour of his own countrymen, which he thought would be reflected on, and might issue in their ruin, they not returning from their evil ways, when the Heathens did: a poor weak reason this!...
Now look how Jonah reacted in his anger. Verse 2, “He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Looking deeply at this verse I wondered exactly how Jonah was praying. If you look at his attitude up to this point, it is hard to imagine that Jonah would be praying.