Sermons

Summary: Message one in an exposition of the book of Jonah. This message introduces the book and ponders principles related to Jonah's refusal to accept God's call.

Chico Alliance Church

Pastor David Welch

Jonah Series #1 “Running from God”

Introduction / Overview

So much of what we know about God comes from observing His interactions with people recorded in the Bible.

God did not dictate a theology book but through stories of His relations with people. Jonah is such a story that can teach us both about God and ourselves. We learn about the love of God, the sovereignty of God, the forgiveness of God, the persistence of God. Jonah records 12 specific actions of God in four short chapters.

God spoke four times

God hurled a great wind

God determined the result of the “lot”

God appointed a great fish

God instructed the fish to spit out Jonah

God relented

God appointed a shade plant

God appointed a worm

God appointed a scorching wind

We learn about people; their disobedience, their repentance, their fears and prejudices, the self-centeredness. I hope to guide us through the historical account and look for clues about God’s relationship with mankind as well as man’s relationship with Him. Jonah lived sometime during the period of the divided kingdom of Israel.

He lived probably during the reign of Jeroboam II (792-752 BC). He is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25 as a prophet. He was contemporaries with Amos and Hosea.

God restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. 2 Kings 14:25

Jesus referred to him as a prophet in Matthew 24 and Luke 17 and so validates the historical nature of the events described in the writing. Many view the events of Jonah as a parable intended to teach some lesson. They embrace such a view because of the obvious miraculous events described. God used Jonah to speak His word to Israel. The book of Jonah records his eventual message to the Assyrians in Nineveh.

The book of Jonah is undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of biblical literature. The account of Jonah’s dramatic attempt to escape from God’s presence by boarding a ship bound for Tarshish, only to be thwarted by a raging storm and returned to land incarcerated within a great fish, is possibly one of the best-known stories in the Bible. With its unexpected twists and turns the plot successfully retains our attention throughout. Superfluous details are omitted, and the text abounds in wordplays and other compositional techniques. Everything indicates that it has been composed by an author who has used his literary skills to the full.

Tyndale Commentaries - Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries – Obadiah, Jonah and Micah.

This writing is categorized with a group of Scriptures called the “minor prophets.”

Some call Jonah a missionary. He was not really a missionary. He had no interest in winning people to God.

Neither was he an evangelist even though the book records the greatest revival in human history so far. Evangelism of the pagan Assyrians wasn’t Jonah’s intent. He didn’t call them to repent. He announced their pending doom. Jonah is more about the prophet than the prophecy in contrast to most of the prophetic writings who reveal little of themselves and more of their message. Jonah includes more about himself than the actual prophecy in contrast to most prophetic writings which include little of themselves and more of their message.

The book clearly demonstrates God as the Sovereign Creator in full control of people, animals, weather and plants. God appears all thought the book. (33 times) The name Yahweh appears 17 times. The name Elohim (12) and El (1) appears 13 times. A compound Yahweh/Elohim twice. He is the holy God who calls mankind to account. Yet He is the compassionate forgiving God who responds to humble repentance. In Jonah, we see the dual manifestation of God’s severity and mercy; the wrath and compassion of God. The book concludes with a thought provoking unanswered question regarding His decision to show mercy on the Ninevites, “Should I not be concerned?”

This open-endedness is unequalled in the Bible, as the Book uniquely ends, not with some doxology or carefully prepared summary, but rather with a question provoking its readers to carefully and prayerfully reach their own conclusions about the Book’s contents and message. (Complete Biblical Commentary)

Nineveh was a symbol of man’s sovereignty over a tiny slice of creation in contrast to God’s sovereignty over ALL creation. We observe a sharp contrast between the prophet Elijah and the prophet Jonah.

Elijah’s ministry starts with…

“And the word of the Lord came to Elijah, ‘Hide yourself by the book Cherith’…so he went and did according to the word of the Lord.”

Jonah starts with…

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