Summary: this two part series looks at Jonahs life and relates how we can begin to live as God intended thru the transforming power of the Holy Spirit
Life Lessons From The Life of Jonah… most of us know the story of Jonah and the whale… however most don’t realize that Jonah was a prophet of God who is mentioned well before the book of Jonah….
One day Jonah was in his prayer closet when he became greatly disturbed at the new assignment God had given him.
Jonah knew what it was like to hear and obey God’s voice; after all, he had proven himself by that prophecy concerning Israel’s borders during the reign of Jeroboam II…
But this particular request was just out of question. He was not going to preach the good news to Nineveh. He might preach to the Egyptians, maybe to the Ethiopians, but never to the Assyrians. They were the enemy and that was that…
The first lesson we learn from Jonah’s life (maybe not his actions but his life) is that
1. GOD DOES LOVE THE WORLD
The word of the Lord cam to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” Jonah 1:1-2
Who could understand the love of God? He had already shown His grace to many in Jonahs generation who just seemed unworthy… surly the Lord of all the earth knew what these people were like how barbaric they were. “That person will never be saved, that would have to be an act of God”
Because Galilee was on the trade route called the Via Mares (the way of the sea), many stories had circulated concerning the wicked people of Nineveh. Stories of how they would carry their captives across the desert, with meat hooks in their jaws, and the brutal torture performed at their gentile hands.
Some merchants even went so far as to call them monsters. No they were not going to hear preaching from this Hebrew prophet, so Jonah would tell himself.
Jonah gives God the ultimate “I told you so” – I knew it was a mistake to show love to these people…
Jonah was not the only or the last person to struggle with loving his enemies… we struggle with this today, we struggle with loving those of a different denomination, a different nationality, a different economic status, a different last name; Which is why Jesus addressed this issue in His sermon on the mount
Matthew 5:43-48 = counter cultural…
He called his followers to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecute them.
Godly love overcomes hatred and jealousy, and grace always subdues disunity and contention. (where there is disunity in your life… allow the grace of God to penetrate your heart and you will come to love even those who have harmed you)
Jonah was put out by God’s commission to preach to his enemies, but he eventually learned a valuable lesson – God loves the world!!!
If we love God, we are called to love the sinner and hate the sin… pray for those that you are struggling to love… Pray for someone that you are struggling to love and ask God to love them through you.
2. OBEYING GOD’S VOICE MAY BE DIFFICULT
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. Jonah 1:3
The trip from Gath-Hepher to the port city of Joppa had never seemed so long to Jonah. As he traveled he did his best to avoid any contact with people who knew that he was a prophet.
How would he answer them if they asked “What has God been saying to you, Jonah?” traveling every back road be knew, he wrestled with the will of God every step of the way, until finally he made his decision; he was going to board a ship destined for the opposite direction of Nineveh… the opposite direction of God’s will…
How many people here tonight have done this very thing… we go out of our way to stay out of God’s will and yet are as we do we are wrestling with the will of God until finally we decide to go in the total opposite direction…
paying to the fare for the ship bound for Tarshish was difficult at first, but the more he thought about how beautiful Spain was that time of year, the easier it became.
waves of conviction poured over his soul but the prophet forced himself to think of other things. As many have had to do, who try to force themselves to stay way from God’s calling… force our thoughts on anything other than Kingdom principles for our lives… and we usually focus our thoughts on the pleasures of the flesh rather than pleasing the Spirit…