Summary: Valuable lessons to learn about God and ourselves as we look into Jonah’s story.
What we need to learn from Jonah
by Andrew Chan PBC, Vancouver, BC
Text: Jonah 1
An angler at the fishermen’s club was describing his toughest catch. “After 3 hours I landed this terrific monster of the sea” he said. “I saw the pictures and he was only 6 inches long,” said one member. “Sure” admitted the angler “but in 3 hours of fighting a fish can lose a lot of weight.”
Today begin series in Jonah, perhaps best know among the Minor Prophets. But can we believe in stories like these, especially when there is a description of a big fish. Maybe it was just 6 inches long too. Even when I was kid, fascinated by story, even fairy tales are inspired and no doubt tales such as Pinnochio borrowed from this story of a big fish swallowing up Geppetto and the wooden puppet. Modern scholars today doubt whether this is true account or just some parable-like story? Reason:
a) Impossible for whale to swallow a man. (throat of whale is too small)
b) Impossible for a plant to grow the height of a man in one day.
c) No evidence Nineveh repented.
Today we can learn from Jonah…
A. Confidence in God
Reasons to accept book as historical.
a) It was never doubted before 1800’s.
1. Difficulty with miracles is main problem.
THINK…If God is God… is anything too hard for God?
b) Jesus Christ accepted it as historical. Matthew 12:39-41
1. Repentance of Nineveh was accepted as historical by Jesus Himself.
c) Some whales or big fish can swallow people.
British seaman named James Bartley, age 21. Thrown into sea while hunting a sperm whale near Falkland Islands in 1891. He disappeared. Just before nightfall the dying whale came up. Its blubber was cut off, stomach removed. Men noticed the stomach was moving. They cut into stomach to find unconscious Bartley.
In a comma for two weeks. After a month he was able to tell of being thrown in
the air, seeing great mouth open up and swallowing. He had been inside the stomach for 15 hours. His hair fell out and his skin was bleached white. He lived 18 more years.
This is certainly not proof that the same happened to Jonah, but it is certainly saying that it is not impossible.
Jonah is a dramatic story that goes far beyond swallowing by fish. The drama reveals …
B. Character of God.
It tells of …
1. God’s heart
It’s wickedness has come up before me.
These fellas are about to run out of time.
It’s in my face.
Why is it in His face?
Nahum- tells of great sins –
3:1 “Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims.” Practice all sorts of wickedness, witchcraft, describe many dead, people stumbling over dead bodies. “Bodies without number.” Practice genocide. Even Rambo would be ashamed. Merchants there who are opportunists who stripped the land like locusts, they are the worst nightmare of protesters at the Summit of the Americas. 1) Brutal, militaristic nation.
2) Would later annihilate Jonah’s northern kingdom.
Final line in Nahum “… for who has not felt your endless cruelty.”
It is in your face kind of sin! Ooi!
He could have said: By the way Jonah, since you’re nice guy I just want to let u know that as of right now, by my great power, they are toast. Zap! Hail fire and brimstone, done deal!
Instead, he goes and calls Jonah to preach against the wickedness. You might not find the Good News there but wait a minute. If He didn’t care, why bother Jonah, right?
Do you see what God is up to? Do you see he wants to give every chance for these pagans to come around and repent? God sees Nineveh – “great city”. Sees (4:11) It has 120,000 people, many cattle? He cares for these folks! Also, for their food supply.
People matter to God. God loves people! Lost ungodly, nasty, people who cause all sorts of trouble, bring grieve, to His heart… yet He loves them enough to give them a chance at repentance.
Do you hear God’s heart here? Do you sense His willingness to forgive, what lengths he would go to?
Could it be true that the Father welcomes home the prodigal son, who lived a wild life, that the angels in heaven throws a party over every sinner that repents, that the thief on cross who said remember me, this day you’ll be with me, …
I think Jonah believe that this is true and I believe that is why he refused to go to Nineveh.
It’s like me when I saw the anarchist violence in Quebec City this past few days, deserve being bonked on the head, suffer the tear gas. No one has sympathy for bullies, gangsters?