JONAH 1: 1-17
JANUARY 7, 2001
INTRODUCTION: “Above anything else,” Jackie Robinson said, “I hate to lose.” On April 15, 1947, Robinson made it to the “show.” He became the first black man to wear a Major League uniform, destroying the color barrier in professional sports.
In his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he hit .297, sent 12 over the fence, and led the league with 29 steals. He was also the National League Rookie of the year. Two years later they named him the National League’s Most-Valuable Player and he won the batting title with a .342 average. 1949 was hiss first of six appearances in the All-Star game. During his ten years with the Dodgers, he helped them reach the World Series six times. Robinson had a career batting average of .311 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility.
Did you also know that Jackie Robinson was court-martialed from the Army and that he dropped out of college? Failure doesn’t have to be fatal!!
TRANSITION THOUGHT: Our text for today shares an all to familiar story of Jonah and the “Whale.” Most scholars think it was a “Big Fish.” But what do we remember of the “Story.” Jonah, like Jackie Robinson, got off to a bad start. He, like Robinson, made some wrong choices. Just What did Jonah do wrong? And, are we in any way like him? And, what can we learn from Jonah that we might live lives pleasing to God?
THESIS SENTENCE: The choices we make in life can effect us and others eternally.
Jonah’s first bad choice was to “Run Away.”
I. RUNNING FROM GOD IS A BAD CHOICE: HEADING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION (VV. 1-3)
A. God called Jonah to go His way!
1. The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “God to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 2. God doesn’t jumble the message. The message was clear! Do you see any ambiguity in the text?
3. How often does God make it perfectly clear as to what we are to do as His children?
4. Verse 3 tells the sad truth of just who Jonah is and what he did.
5. “But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.”
B. “High tailing it out of Town, Getting the Hect out of Dodge.”
1. Have you ever just wanted to get away?
ILLUSTRATIONS: UNITED AIRLINES HAS SOME GREAT ONES ON THIS THEME: Yesterday while watching the games I saw one where a little girl was at her piano recital and her adoring mother and father look on with joy. The little girl starts to play and the dad proudly boast, “I taught her a new one this morning.” The new tune was that of the organ’s chant at a base ball game. Mom looks at dad with disgust and the announcer says, “Do you ever just want to get away?”
2. Psalm 55 has come to mean a lot to me of late. The stress of ministry makes me want to sell insurance or work in a normal job again. The Psalmist was stressed as well. Here what he says: Psalm 55
3. Psalm 139 teaches us that there is no where God isn’t and we can’t ever run from Him. HE KNOWS WHERE WE ARE!
3. But why did Jonah want to “Bail?”
II. PREJUDICE AND UNFORGIVENESS ARE BAD CHOICES / RUNNING OVER COMPASSION (VV. 1-17)
A. Our God is a God of Compassion
1. Most of us, as we read the Old Testament, see God and brooding and angry. We do not necessarily see Him as the God of Grace found in the New Testament. 2. Not only that, we don’t see the God of the Old Testament as a God “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (II Peter 3: 9).”
3. But, a closer reading of the OT teaches that Grace always abounds. From the Book of Genesis, where God tells Abraham that he will be the father of many nations and “through his offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed (Gen. 22:18),” we see the God of grace and compassion of the NT!
4. The very fact that God was willing to send Jonah to Nineveh and preach against it, proclaims that God cares for all peoples and not just the Israelites (verse 2). Our God reveals His compassion by sending His prophet.
B. Compassion does not come easy
1. The book of Nahum teaches that Nineveh was an extreme cruel and wicked city. It was the capital of Assyria. Assyrians left monuments to their cruelty – long, boastful inscriptions describing their torture and slaughter of people who opposed them.
2. Jonah was like the “REST OF THE WORLD.” Nineveh and all its inhabitants must be hated. They must never be forgiven for their past actions. Their sin was too great to ever be forgiven or Forgotten!
3. Does this sound like Carnality to you? Does this sound like a spirit filled response? How often are we just like Jonah? We say that God is gracious and forgiving, but we never show Grace or Forgiveness? Jonah said, “NO WAY, LET’M BURN.” I thank the LORD we would never be like that!??!
ILLUSTRATION: Tweety Bird Fans: Grandma always catches Sylvester just in time to keep him from Swallowing Tweety!
C. Compassion comes to those who fear
1. Did you notice the response of the Sailors in this text?
2. Jonah admits that it is his entire fault the ship is about to be destroyed in the “PERFECT STORM.” I wonder is Jonah looked like George Clooney? He even tells the sailors to throw him overboard, but they refuse (vv. 10 & 12).
3. Have you ever noticed how our sin can affect so many other lives?
4. The compassion of the sailors continues. They try to out row the storm. They have already lost their cargo, and now they try to get away from the storm to save this wayward prophet. YOU CAN’T OUTROW GOD!
5. The compassion continues. Now they chose to throw Jonah overboard, but they beg for God’s mercy first. God shows the compassion now by calming the sea for the sailors who seem now to be new converts.
GREAT WORD OF HOPE HERE: EVEN WHEN WE HAVE FAILED TO DO GOD’S BIDDING, GOD CAN USE US TO BRING ABOUT HIS GLORY AND OTHERS CAN GET SAVED IN SPITE OF US!
LESSONS LEARNED FROM JONAH CHAPTER 1:
You can be honest and sin. Jonah never lied about running from God.
Our God wants everyone to hear the Good News of His salvation, especially people like the Ninevites who sinned greatly.
God sends out people to share the good news, if they will go.
You can’t out row God. When we seek to run from God’s will for our lives, the storms will come and without God on our side the weather will never impove!
If you refuse to do something about the sin in your life, often others will do something about it for you. The sailor, as much as they didn’t want to, eventually threw Jonah off the boat.
Sin never goes unpunished! Jonah ended up in the middle of the sea without a life jacket.
In spite of all our sin, God can reveal Himself to a world outside His saving Grace. Jonah did witness for God in the midst of His rebellion, but only at the demand of the Captain of the ship, verses 6-16 tells the story. In the end the sailors find the “God of Heaven” to be worth banking on!
FINALLY, Even if others come to know God through our witness, our sin will not go unpunished. Jonah 1:17 makes that clear.
CONCLUSION: “CHOICES” by George Jones.
I’ve had choices since the day I was born. There were voices telling me right from wrong. If I would have listened, I wouldn’t be here today, living and dying with the choices I’ve made.
I was tempted by an early age. I found I liked drinking and I never turned it down. There were loved ones but I turned them all away. Now I’m living and dying with the choices I’ve made.
I guess I am paying for the things I have done. If I could go back, Lord knows I’d run. But I’m still losing this game of life, living and dying with the choices I’ve made.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? DO YOU FIND YOURSELF STRUGGLING AGAINST GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE? ARE OTHER PEOPLE SUFFERING BECAUSE OF YOUR SIN? ARE YOU READY TO TURN BACK TO GOD, OR WILL YOU WAIT FOR THE SAILORS TO COME AND THROW YOU OVERBOARD?