Intro: I want to remind you that this whale of a tale called the book of Jonah is not about a great big fish, a great big city or a grumpy old prophet. This book is about a Great big God that is willing to graciously deal with a disobedient, disgruntled, disgusted prophet.
In this story of a gracious and great God we discover that Jonah’s little book answers the second life question that people across this third rock from the sun ask. What is my purpose? What am I here for? Our purpose is to properly respond in obedience to the creator, savior, sender God.
We see our purpose clearly revealed in the names of Jonah and His father. Jonah’s name means dove or better peace and compassion. Jonah’s father’s name is Amittai which means truth.
God wants you to be in the truth and under its authority so you can live in peace and love compassionately!
This God who graciously deals with grumbling people also speaks personally to those same people. We are all under the “and” call of God. “and the word of the Lord came to Jonah.” If you will listen God will speak. Why does god speak personally and send specifically?
Because there is a world full of places that need someone to bring the peace and compassion of God to. (Homes, business, family, government, school, etc.)
II. God calls people to real places
Where was God sending Jonah?
A) A great city (1:2)
This city was located on the east side of the Tigris River near todays Mosul.
The historian Gwendolyn Leick notes, "Nineveh, with its [diverse] population of people from throughout the Assyrian Empire, was one of the most beautiful cities in the Near East, with its gardens, temples, and splendid palaces" (132) and further cites Nineveh as having a carefully planned and executed series of canals and aqueducts to ensure a steady supply of water not only for human consumption but also to keep the public parks and gardens irrigated; an aspect of urban life not every city attended to with as much care and planning. Recent scholarship claims that the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon were actually located at Nineveh and were constructed under Sennacherib's reign. It was a beautiful and cultured city!
Jonah 4:11 “Should I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than 120,000 people” God cares about the great cities because they are filled with people!
B) A wicked city (1:2)
Their wickedness has come before my face. Do any of you like it for people to get right up in your face?
Imagine the worst possible things that people could do and you would find all of them in Nineveh. They were a vile and violent people. One of the major targets of the terrible horrific behavior was the people of Israel.
Understand this truth. The people of Nineveh and no on in history deserve God’s compassion. None of us can earn God’s grace and compassion. He just gives it to us!
III. God calls real people to deal with real problems
Jonah 1:2 Sin and rebellion of Nineveh, Jonah’s own disobedience and lack of trust.
In Jonah’s mind the survival of Nineveh meant the destruction of Israel.
Sea got “rougher and rougher” literally the sea walked and raged.
There is no rest for the wicked and the righteous don’t need it!
One of the most important questions you can ever ask of your life is this;
What is God’s kingdom agenda for my life? If rebellion is saying no to God, then obedience is saying what, where and when Lord?
If Jonah had continued to fight the storm, it would have killed him and all aboard. But when he submitted to the storm, and said, “throw me into is,” it led to his salvation. If you fight it, it will destroy you; if you submit to it, it will save you!
A) To experience the love of God in His call
We all like Jonah try to run from God’s call to forgiveness through His mercy.
Isaiah 53:6 “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. God must seek us because we don’t seek Him.
1) God’s solution isn’t to do away with stuff (Jonah 1:5)
Jonah 1:5 “The sailors were afraid, and each cried out to his god. They threw the ship’s cargo into the sea to lighten the load.”
It doesn’t matter how much stuff you throw out of your life if you don’t deal with your sin it doesn’t matter what you get rid of! The temptation for us when temptation comes is to make desperate efforts to save ourselves!
This is why some of you struggle with gossip, lying, and other sins of the tongue.
Jonah 1:13 They rowed harder and harder – No matter how hard you try. You will never make it to good enough to escape the storm of God’s judgment.
The efforts we make to escape the storm of judgment will always fail.
When did peace enter the sailor’s life?
1:14 When they called out to God and 1:15 they responded to God’s call.
2) God’s solution is to deal with sin
a) Start with God’s standards
Jonah 1:5 Because of His sin Jonah and those around Him are in a storm!
Just because you don’t feel guilty doesn’t mean you aren’t
As long as we lean on our own understanding and standards storms of sorrow and grief are the result.
What was the solution for the sailors? For someone to sacrifice themselves for them!
b) Wake up to God’s reality
Jonah 1:6 What! Why are you asleep, are you crazy!?
• Isn’t that something the sinner telling the saint to pray!
• Hey this might be from God!
1) Reject a worldly solution
Jonah’s solution 1:11 – Die -- He got so far out of God’s will he is willing to commit suicide.
2) Receive God’s solution
Jonah 1:17 Deal with the sin in your life.
God offered Jonah an opportunity to deal with His disobedience by sending a storm! By sending a fish, and taking him to the place of departure and disobedience.
Jonah 1:1, 3:1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time!
B) To extend the love of God in His service
Chuck Swindoll “You cannot continue life as usual or stay where you are, and go with God at the same time.
God has called us all to minister grace to those different than us!!
Jonah had come to the conclusion that God had gone too far with grace! Is there a particular sin that you think God goes too far with His grace?
Most of you are religious doing God’s will in most things: Are you willing to obey God if it costs you everything?
Jonah’s running was a protest against the call to be a witness to his enemies. Have you ever heard the call to extend the grace and mercy of God?
You may not be called to be a paid pastor, missionary, youth, etc. We are all called to extend God’s love to others. How can you do this?
The true test of a believer is not that we hear the call of God. The true test is that we hear it, receive it and obey it no matter how difficult it may appear!
So many Christians are like bring the blessing Jesus! But don’t call me to carry any burdens. Take care of me Jesus but don’t call me to take care of anyone!
(VBS follow up, Nursery, neighbors, nations)
Conclusion: Have you ever heard God’s call?