Summary: Exposition of Jonah 3
Tonight I want to talk to you about the importance of making right turns.
In 1938, a pilot by the name of Douglas Corrigan left Floyd Bennet Field in New York City to fly to Los Angeles, CA. A dense fog had settled in at the runway, but he decided to take off anyway. As he lifted off, he ended up taking a left turn instead of a right, veering east instead of west. He flew for 28 hours before he landed not in California, but in Dublin, Ireland. Forever afterward he was known in aeronautical history as Wrong Way Corrigan.
I can sympathize with Mr. Corrigan, can’t you? I’ve made a few wrong turns in my time. I made one just the other day, missing the turn-off to my own home. One of these days when the price comes down, I’ll probably get me one of those GPS devices to keep on the right road.
But sometimes a wrong turn can be a little more serious, especially if it’s not on a highway, but at a crossroads in your life. Many a person comes to a fork of decision, and makes a wrong turn instead of a right turn. They take the wrong road out of ignorance, or they turn the wrong way deliberately. But either way, one thing is for certain: the consequences of one wrong turn can change your life forever.
The Bible is God’s roadmap for how to make right turns. In His Word, God gives us directions so we can travel the straight and narrow road leading to life, instead of the broad way leading to death. He promises us not only a map, but a Guide.
Is 30:21 Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.
Jn 16:13 …when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…
At all of life’s intersections, we have God’s Word and God’s spirit to help us make the right turns. I want us to travel down to an intersection tonight found in Jonah 3, where the Bible explains 3 right turns you and I can’t afford to miss. Let’s begin with the first turn in vs. 1-4.
Let’s call this the right turn of obedience (v. 1-3a)
In the first 2 chapters of this book, Jonah takes some wrong turns and ends up in some serious trouble. When God calls him to preach revival in Nineveh, he runs in the opposite direction. When God sends a storm to chase him, he makes another wrong turn of stubbornness. Finally, in the belly of the great fish, Jonah has a change of heart and decides to go God’s way. But a change of heart is no good unless there is a change of behavior that goes with it.
As Jonah picks himself up off the sandy shore he reaches another fork in the road. …the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city and preach to it the message that I tell you…
God gives Jonah a 2nd chance to make a right turn. Can Jonah say no to God again? I’ve known people—you probably have to-- who promise God all kinds of things when they’re in a pinch, but when the storm passes, they go their own merry way.
God brings Jonah right back to the crossroad where he made his first wrong turn. Now Jonah must decide to either obey or disobey. Going to Nineveh isn’t going to be any easier this time than it was the first time. Jonah still feels the same fear, worries over the same danger. He still doesn’t want to go, but in spite of all his misgivings, he makes the right turn and obeys.
What about us?
No matter how long you’ve walked with the Lord, you still come to the same crossroad Jonah faced: obey or disobey. Sometimes it’s not easy to make the right turn. Like Jonah, obedience will cost us, maybe put us in some hard, dangerous spots. God doesn’t always ask us to do what is easy, or pleasant, or even safe. What He does call us to do is to make a right turn and choose the path of obedience. In the end, that’s the only really safe choice.
Ron Hutchcraft writes about a parenting technique he calls the squeeze.
It’s also known as the “lousy choice” approach. See, you give your child two choices, but one is so bad…he or she will choose the other one. In our family it might have sounded something like this: “OK, look, you can do the yard work with my help before noon or [else you do it all] by yourself sometime before Friday.”…Or, “Either you set your own study hours, or I’ll set them. You choose.” It’s amazing how the “squeeze” [can lead] a child to…where he really ought to be.