Summary: This section of the little book of Jonah... assists us in calling NT believers, especially leaders, to renewed efforts in at home evangelism and foreign missions.
TITLE: Jonah: The Work of The Lord
TEXT: Jonah 1:1-3
TOPIC: Evangelism and Missions
DATE: June 6, 2004 AM
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying,
2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."
3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
Something tragic happens when the Church turns in on itself; when its major objectives are good services with good music and good preaching, and numerical growth. Many so called "growing churches" are merely centers for reprocessing saints. The reality is this, the larger a church becomes the less evangelistically responsible it needs to be in order to grow and the more paid staff does the work that the membership should be doing. These issues threaten the future of every congregation in America. If all we’re doing is shifting saints around while doing the work they should be doing, then most congregations are only a generation or two away from extinction. At best, they will become weak, emaciated, anemic, well entertained facsimiles.
This section of the little book of Jonah beckons us to address these issues and assists us in calling NT believers, especially leaders, to renewed efforts in at home evangelism and foreign missions. Verse two spotlights three important aspects of this issue. Please excuse me as I rearrange the order in which God presents them to Jonah.
1. First, we will consider The City.
2. Second, we will consider The Cause.
3. Third, we will consider The Command.
I. The City.
Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria and the cruel archenemy of Israel and Judah. God refers to it as "the great city." It was one of the largest, if not the largest city in the world of its day. It was great both in physical size and population.
- In verse three (3) of Chapter Three (3), Jonah indicates that it took three days to walk through the city.
- In verse eleven (11) of Chapter Four (4) we are told that the city contained 120,000 small children; infants and toddlers. This suggests a total population of somewhere between 450,000 to 600,000 souls.
Are you aware that over one-half of the world’s population lives in urban centers?
- In California, 91% of the population lives in cities.
- By the year 2010, three (3) out of every four (4) people on earth will live in cities.
We must have a new vision of Christian missions and evangelism and it must place tremendous emphasis on the cities of our world. We must put aside our fears and self-interest, and invade these enemy strongholds with the presence of God and the proclamation of the Gospel.
I don’t want to bore you with statistics, but are you aware that 39.7% of the world’s 6.3 billion people--a figure that translates into more than 2.5 billion people--have never had an adequate Christian witness? Simply put, more than one-third of the world’s population has never heard the Gospel for the first time. That, ladies and gentlemen, is sobering. Amercican churches are fighting over governmental control of the congregation while 1/3 of the world has never heard the God’s love. Something is drastically wrong with that picture.
Modern, educated, economically prosperous European countries such as France contain millions of unreached natives and immigrants, and most of them are located in the urban centers of Europe.
Many of the inhabitants of the inner cities of America are without a gospel voice. It is for this reason that the School of Urban Missions in New Orleans is training an invasion force for inner city evangelism. Pastors are being trained to plant and pastor inner city churches in places like New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, New York, Boston, and Los Angeles. This summer, young people from our church will participate in a week long outreach to the inner city of New Orleans. They will pay $300 each for the privilege of being an inner city missionary.
We don’t have to go to Nineveh or Africa or South America or New Orleans to reach the lost.
- They live next door to us.
- They work with us.
- They were born in Iraq or India, but now attend ULM or LATech.
- They wait on us in restaurants.
- They give us technical support on the telephone.
- They go to school with us and
- some attend church with us.
TRANS: Like our world, Nineveh was a great city with a great problem and no word from God. It is here that we are given The Cause for Jonah’s prophetic mission.