Summary: The success of Jonah is hard to believe. Skeptical scholars just flatly deny it. The facts are amazing. Jonah was preaching a message he didn't want to, and so his heart really was not in it. He really hoped it would be a flop even though he obeyed the letter of God's command.

As we all know, the Bible is very brief on its account,

considering all the centuries that it covers. It was not

designed to tell us everything and to give an exhaustive and

detailed record of God's working. It was designed to give us

basic truths, principles, and examples of their operation and

application in specific lives. Even with 4 accounts of the life

of Christ, the vast majority of their content deals with the

last week of His life, and the record is blank for many of His

early years. The whole of creation is summed up in 2

chapters, and the most famous Psalm in the world, which is

the 23rd, is only 6 verses long. A great, profound, and

powerful message can be communicated in few words. In

contrast, some of the most minor and mundane messages

can run into endless wordiness.

A comparison was made of the number of words used in

the great biblical passages, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address,

and a typical government publication. It was discovered

that the number of words used to announce a change in the

price of cabbage seed far exceeded all of the words of

Lincoln and the Scripture put together. Man is not known

for his brevity of speech, and this is especially true of

preachers. One morning a pastor entered his pulpit with his

finger all bandaged. One in the congregation leaned over to

a neighbor and asked, "What happened?" The reply was

that he heard the pastor was shaving and had his mind on

his sermon, and he cut his finger. The inquirer said, "I hope

next Sunday he keeps his mind on his finger and cuts his


A man visiting a different church from his own was

surprised when the sermon was only 10 minutes long. The

pastor explained that his dog was very fond of paper and he

ate the remaining part of his message that he had written

out. The visitor met the pastor at the door and said, "I'd

appreciate it if you would let me know is your dog has pups.

I'd like to get one for my pastor."

Sometimes we think that length of a message makes it

more powerful, but this is not the case. When Franklin

Roosevelt was a young lawyer just getting started in New

York he was hired to handle a civil case. The opposing

lawyer was very superior as a speaker. He went on and on in

his oratory for several hours. Roosevelt noted that the jury

was not paying attention after awhile. He had a hunch that

he played out when it was his turn. He rose and said,

"Gentlemen you have heard the evidence. You have also

listened to my distinguished colleague, a brilliant orator. If

you believe him, and disbelieve the evidence you will have to

decide in his favor. That's all I have to say." The jury was

out for just 5 minutes, and brought in a verdict in favor of

Roosevelt's client. Brevity had won the day.

The great Spurgeon once went into a church where he

was invited to speak to check out the acoustics. He decided

to quote a Scripture from the platform and said in a loud

voice, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of

the world." Unknown to him a workman in the church

heard this as the voice of God to him. He responded by

looking to Jesus and trusting him as his savior. Many years

later the man was able to share with Spurgeon that it was

his brief word that day that led him to trust in Jesus. God

has proven many times that he can make a big difference

with a small message.

The old Puritans used to preach sermons that lasted

three hours. Today most sermons are under an hour long,

and the majority probably a half an hour or less. We are

going to look now at what is probably the shortest sermon

ever preached in history. It was also one of the most

successful ever preached. No one could ever accuse Jonah of

being long winded or complicated on the basis of this

message. We want to examine this shortest sermon in terms

of its source, delivery, and effect. First-


The brevity of this sermon has its origin in God's will

and not Jonah's wisdom. We see in verse 1 that the word of

the Lord came to Jonah the second time. Here is a

marvelous example of God's grace and persistence. He is

going to get a message to Nineveh, and no amount of

disobedience is going to block that goal. Unfaithfulness can

hinder and postpone God's schedule, but it will not be

allowed to stop the fulfillment of His plan. So it is with the

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