Summary: Jonah, called by God to preach for Him, chooses to runaway. His journey begins alright, but his ending is far different than his start
JONAH 1:1, 2
PROMISED PERSONAL PARISH
Jonah is one of those Bible characters that seems to have gained international fame. He is referred to often by both spiritual and secular commentators. The story of him being swallowed by a large fish has caught the attention of so many people from different walks of life. His story has been debated for centuries and either believed or disregarded by those who have taken the time to study the book which bears his name. He is one of those Bible characters that simply cannot be ignored or overlooked. Atheists, good intended people, skeptics and a host of other people have railed at this story, the entire book and the character himself for centuries, yet he and the book which bears his name-lives still today.
While he has been degraded, disbelieved, denied and despised, others have accepted him, the book of Jonah and his plight as gospel truth. The sum and substance of this man, and all to that to which he alludes cannot simply be ignored. He demands a response with out asking for one. My sermon on this interesting character has turned out to be a series of sermons as I look closely at him: his times, his travels and his testimonies. Along the way, I have found some very interesting thoughts about him as spoken by others who have picked up his trail and have attempted to shed some light upon this most unusual person. Although dead, he still speaks to us from beyond and what he has to say is worth noting.
As I begin my first sermon in this series, I cannot but help to reflect on the title I have chosen: A PARTICULAR PROPHET PROMISED PERSONAL PARISH. Jonah was chosen by God, out of all of Israel to go to a particular city (his new parish) and to preach to a group of Gentiles. These were not the best people in the world to whom one was to preach, yet God chose Jonah for this mission, “Why?” The answers are complicated but as we move through this sermon, maybe we can get a glimpse of why God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and as a result, we can catch a better glimpse into the heart of our God.
As I look at this sermon I note three things about Jonah in the first two verses of this chapter. I note the PANORAMA of this prophet’s life and calling. I also note some things about this man’s life which are POSITIVES and which helped shape him even more in his maturing years. Finally, I note some PERSONAL aspects of this rebellious prophet which God tried to get Jonah to see a bigger and broader picture of Himself, His love and His care for everyone.
I. PANORAMA: In studying Jonah’s setting and his surroundings, one cannot but help to note certain facts about him, his past and surrounding influences which affected him in a most direct manner.
Everyone is a product of one’s past. Where one is born, the time frame of one’s early life, the parentage of one and a host of other variables, help shape a person throughout one’s life. No one can escape his earlier years and no one can disregard them as being of no consequence: the years, events and people of our formative days help to make us who we are today. Such was the case with our man of the hour: Jonah
The first thing I note about Jonah has to do with his Parent, Amittai. Little is known of this man; he is referred to twice in the Bible. The first reference to him is found in II Kings 14:25 and then here.
The first mention of his name according to the Bible says that he lived in Gath-Hepher. This was a town on the border of Zebulon and Naphtali, in the tribe of Zebulon. There is a grave located near this village which is now called Khirbet ez-Zurra. Archeological finds have confirmed that this was a vibrant town which was active in the time of Jonah.
Little else is known about Amittai, and it is dangerous to try and build much more out of this man’s existence. However, the listing of this man as being a father to Jonah is important because it shows that Jonah was a real person, who had a father, a family and who was alive during the time frame of the episode of him going to Nineveh. This prophet of God was a real person who was as much alive as we are today and was steeped in the culture of Israel as being a special nation unto God. These facts play a definite role in the life of the prophet as the book of Jonah unfolds.