Summary: This is the first sermon in a series on Jonah.
Sermon 1 of 4: Game Series
Twisted…or Playing Twister? (Running from God’s Word)
Written By: Captain Tim Gardner
(Ask for participants to come forward and play a small game of Twister. Ask them how they felt as they were twisting their bodies. Ask the crowd how they felt while watching them. Talk about their reactions.)
“Twister was the subject of a huge publicity campaign when it was introduced in 1966. After Johnny Carson and Eva Gabor hooked themselves together in front of millions of viewers on the "Tonight" show in May of that year, the rush was on to buy the game. Considering the simplicity of its design (the vinyl sheet was the greatest expense of the package), Twister has been a profit-making dream for Milton Bradley. In 1987, a record-breaking 4,160 contestants tied themselves up in knots playing a Twister marathon at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The goal of Twister was to outlast opponents by stretching and entwining your body like a human pretzel around a large vinyl sheet emblazoned with multicolored circles, without falling down. With more than two players, the vinyl sheet got so crowded that the results were often hilarious, and sometimes downright lewd.” (Asakawa, 1992)
It’s easy to see why. By a show of hands how many have ever played the game before? Twister is just downright fun to play and sometimes even more fun to watch. But imagine life being the same way. Imagine having to twist around in order to meet the rules of life. Isn’t this what we already do? The boss asks us to redo an assignment that we worked so hard on, left foot to the red dot. The teacher states that we need to stay after class in order to make-up for the bad test we took right arm to the green spot. The neighbor asks if you can baby-sit on your only night of relaxation, right foot, blue spot; the bill collector calls about the car payment, left hand, yellow spot; bad dentist appointment, right hand; speeding ticket, left foot; a death in the family, right foot, and so on. When it all comes to a small pause we find ourselves twisted in a sense sometimes wondering how to get back to the right shape. Jonah was dealing with life in a very similar way. As a matter a fact I believe Jonah played the very first game of Twister, or at least he got all twisted up in an attempt to get away from God’s command. Today we are going to discuss how Jonah Aborted God’s Word, Ignored God’s Word, and even tried to End God’s Word. Turn to Jonah chapter 1. Let’s pray.
I. Jonah Aborted God’s Word (v. 3)
“3 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.” (NIV)
A. Jonah hits the ticket booth
Here we have Jonah; poor old faithful Jonah, the first person to ever play the game Twister. He was such a great prophet and upright man of God. As a matter of fact many theologians believed Jonah was one of the most astounding prophets in his time. One commentary writer states: “Jonah was “mirabilis homo”, or an “amazing man”. He was the strangest, oddest, and most out of the way man, for a good man and a prophet, as one shall ever hear or read of.” (Gill) So what happened? Why is Jonah all of a sudden willing to be unwilling to God’s plan on his life? Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been willing to be unwilling to God’s plan in your life?
Jonah, this well known prophet from God has just been asked to go and preach a message from God to the Ninevites. Instead of practicing his normal habit of following orders, he twists. He argues with God a little, then like a wanted man he is quickly running away without notice the opposite direction, and the furthest place he could go in that direction. This is so true in our own lives. We walk around showing how incredibly Christian we are by the way we talk, and quote, and wear our smile and our “holy” outfit or jewelry, but in an instant we are gone when God asks us to do something we are not comfortable with at all. Do you agree with this statement? By a show of hands how many have bailed when God said go? Or when God started making you feel uncomfortable? Jonah was uncomfortable. He bailed when God said go.
What’s really interesting is that ships did not require payment until the end of the journey back in those times. This is interesting because Jonah paid for his ticket before he entered the ship. I guess he wanted to make a point that he was ready to get as far away as possible as fast as possible, no questions asked!