Summary: Serving and ministering those whom we love is easy. What if you were called by God to minister to a nation of murderers, whose part and parcel was to kill wantonly and have no fear of God at all?
The Reluctant, Rebellious Prophet: Jonah, Chapter 1
Today we will begin the first of a four part series on the book of Jonah. I hope to be in the church building in three Sundays from today, and we will finish this series the Sunday after that.
I've decided to take a break from the Achieve New Balance series, as my study time is abit on the lean side with working on the church, and I know that most of you didn't hear this in Bible study last year when I was at Pursley.
Turn in your Bibles to the book of Jonah, on page 1323 in your pew Bible. For those of you that are using your own Bible, Jonah is between Obadiah and Micah, only a few books back from Matthew which is the first book in the New Testament.
What do you think of when you hear of Jonah? Most people would say "a whale", but it's more than just a big fish story. Once we get through this study, which I may also do in Sunday School to get us finished in the next few weeks, you may just have a new appreciation for God.
Here's a few things that we will learn:
1) God is not a respecter of persons.
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
11 For there is no respect of persons with God. (KJV)
God does not play favorites. God does not just choose to work with the rich, the athletic, the beautiful, the intellegent. If that were the case, I'd be in big, big trouble! God loves you regardless of who you are, were you came from or what you have done in your life.
2) Even those in the service of God can sometimes be wrong, and can sometimes be more than just wrong but against God in their actions. We see this in some churches that are warm and comfy on Sunday mornings while the folks down the street are freezing and starving.
3) When God tells you to go, you'd better listen up. God doesn't trifle with us, if he urges you on to something you'd better do it!
4) The book of Jonah is authentic. Let me touch on this briefly. Jesus proved this point in His quote from Matthew:
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You."
39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
41 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me."
Did the prophet Jonah really exist? We do have biblical proof:
II Ki 14:25
25 He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher. (NKJ)
Jonah was a prophet in the service of Jeroboam, the king at that time, which was about 800 years BC.
Gath Hepher,--800 miles or so from Nineveh
Point #1) God told Jonah to GO.
When God tells you to go, what do you do? What would you do if God told you to go to an enemy and tell them the Good News of Jesus Christ?
"go to Nineveh, that great city," Nineveh was a town named after either Nimrod, an evil king or may have been named after a fish god, more than likely Dagon, who was half man half fish. The city was quite large in size--the city as a whole would have been about 60 miles in diameter which would have put the population between 600,000 to 1,000,000.
"cry out against it;" God wants Jonah to go on a missionary trip. This is the first evangelistic calling to go to Gentiles! Jonah was to go to the over 600,000 in Nineveh and preach to them.
"wickedness" : Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, and the Assyrians were known for their cruelty.