Summary: Christians are called to sail into the unknown, making disciples, like Jonah...but sometimes we try to go our own way and create all kinds of problems.
Can anybody finish this sentence… “In 1492, Columbus sailed the _______ “?
• That’s how I’ve always remembered the story of Columbus… now here’s a great adventurer! In a day when nobody believed that the Earth was round, Columbus had this crazy idea that to get to India he would sail off in the opposite direction!
• I don’t know very much about Columbus, but I’ve always been intrigued by the wonderful and adventurous life he must have lived… think about! He was called upon to sail off into the great unknown and its because of him that you and I sit here in America today, instead of Europe or Africa.
• Few people in the world have so changed the course of history and left such an impact… driven by that desire which has always motivated mankind… MONEY!
• Columbus wasn’t looking for the New World… the New World sort of found him! He was looking for a new trade route to India… if Spain could get there quicker and more efficient than her competitors, than they would have a leg up in the global economy.
• Nonetheless, what an adventure it must have been, nothing boring about it!
We’re concluding our series “the Great Adventure” this morning…
• We’ve been saying, if you’re bored in your Christian walk… its NOT God’s fault! I believe that he intends the Christian life to be fun, exciting… sometimes surprising and always challenging!
• He has always called his people to great adventures…
o Abraham, he told to “Saddle up your horses, you’ve got a trail to blaze!”
o Noah, was called to “Stand against the tide” of evil in his day by living a righteous life.
o Moses, was called to “Step up to the plate” & become a leader of his people.
o Joshua was called to “Sound the Battle Cry!” as God recruited him for the Lord’s army.
• Today I want to look at one of my favorite adventurers in the Bible: Jonah! (I’ll tell you in a minute why I like him so much!)
• Without wasting any time, the story kicks off with God giving Jonah his marching orders!
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." NIV
What do we know about Jonah? Not a lot . . .
• Jonah lived and prophesied during the 8th century BC around the same time as Amos & Hosea . . . during the reign of King Jeroboam II (king of the Northern Kingdom from 782-753 BC.)
• THIS book doesn’t tell us that; that comes from 2 Kgs. 14:25 and is a pretty good assumption that THAT Jonah son of Amittai is the same as our man here.
• THAT text also tells us that he is a prophet from Gath-Hepher– which we know was just west of the Sea of Galilee (@12 miles) and just north of what would become Nazareth (by @ 3 miles) firmly in the Northern Kingdom of Israel!
• His orders are straightforward enough: “Go to Nineveh!”, God says. Right into the heart of Assyria!
• Assyria was the great empire to the north and east of Israel… a powerful military and political threat to the whole region. Its modern day Turkey & Iraq.
• In fact Nineveh was situated on the Tigris River a little ways north of modern day Baghdad.
I love Jonah for a number of reasons, but one is that he was a prophet of God.
• The role of a prophet in ancient Israel was essentially to be a “spokesperson” for God. His job was to proclaim the word of God to the people… not his word, but God’s. We may not have ‘prophets’ in exactly the same sense today (folks who God spoke directly thru) but It is essentially the role of a preacher, and so I feel this professional kinship with Jonah. He and I are in the same business.
• What’s more, he’s not a very good preacher, which makes me feel even more closely connected with him.
• We’ll see, though, that despite all of his hang-ups and problems, he’s extremely successful and I love that! Despite everything about Jonah, God still uses him! (I’m getting ahead of myself.)
3 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. NIV
• I would like to think that if the LORD came to me in this way that I would be like Abraham and just go… no questions asked, that I would just obey and go!