Summary: First of five messages on Jonah. God’s directive was clear and Jonah’s defiance was careless resulting in calamity.
There was a trial in Chicago years ago. The famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, was making his closing arguments and said of one man’s damaging testimony, “Why, a person could as easily believe this man’s testimony as he could believe that the whale swallowed Jonah.” Well, there were some people on the jury who believed that the whale had indeed swallowed Jonah. They also believed that his client was guilty and convicted him.
I am beginning a short series of messages on the Old Testament book of Jonah. It contains valuable information on personal revival. Many of us need to be revived today.
We don’t have a problem believing that a great fish swallowed Jonah. We believe in the resurrection of Jesus and Jonah, by comparison, is not so difficult to swallow. Jesus believed the story about Jonah. He said:
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. NKJV
I want to begin the series by talking about “The Risk of Running from God.”
I. GOD’S DIRECTIVE (1-2)
God has a plan for each one of us. Are you doing what God wants you to do? Jonah was a prophet and God sent him on a special mission. “Arise, go to Ninevah and cry out against it.”
God’s assignments are not always popular; they are not always lucrative; they are not always anticipated, BUT they are always right. This assignment to Jonah did not seem right to him.
II. JONAH’S DEFIANCE (3) “But Jonah”
Why would Jonah not want to go to Ninevah? Three possible reasons:
A. Difficulty – What could one man do in such a huge city? The Ninevites knew nothing about God; they cared nothing about God. He would be ridiculed, laughed at, made fun of.
B. Danger – The City was wicked. Look a couple of books over to Nahum 3:1-4.
C. Disgust – This was the real reason for Jonah’s defiance. Look at 4:2. Jonah didn’t want God’s mercy for Ninevah; he wanted God to destroy them. This would be like God telling a Jew from New York to go to Berlin right after WWII and share the love of God with Germans. The Assyrians were enemies of Israel. They were pagans. Jonah wanted them destroyed not delivered.
Are you prejudiced? Is there something in the Christian life you turn your nose up at? Watch out, God may direct you to get involved where you would rather not. (Corrie Ten Boom)
III. JONAH’S DOWNFALL
A. He Went the Wrong Direction
1. He Went West, not East
Explain where Ninevah was and where Tarshish was.
Illus.- In 1929 Georgia Tech played UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In that game a young man named Roy Riegals recovered a fumble for UCLA. He picked up the ball and began running 65 yards toward the goal line. The problem was Riegals was confused. He was headed for the wrong goal. He was about to score a touchdown for Georgia Tech. Luckily, a speedy teammate saw what was happening and ran and tackled him before he got into the end zone.
Which way are you headed in life? Are you going where God says or going in the opposite direction?
2. He Went Down, Not Up
Note the downward direction of Jonah (Vs.3,5,2:6)
Jonah wanted to ignore God. Instead of going to Ninevah, he went on a cruise. The cruise started out well, the water was smooth, and the trip was relaxing. He should have known better. Jonah was a prophet later in the Old Testament. He should have known the Psalms. He should have been able to quote:
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
B. He Arrived at the Wrong Destination
1. He Paid the Fare but He Didn’t Get There
a. To Tarshish (v.3)
b. Away from God (v.3)
Illus.- I want to compare this story with another one. Jochebed was the mother of Moses. She faced the awful decision of the Pharaoh’s edict that all male children born must be killed. She prayed and acted in faith and hid Moses in a little boat on The Nile River. God intervened. Pharaoh’s daughter bathed in the Nile and saw the baby. Her heart was touched and she took baby Moses as her own and hired Jochebed to nurse the baby (see Ex.2:7-9). When you run from God you pay your own way but never gain what you want. When you run with God you not only get everything you want and need but God pays the fare.