Summary: This is a biographical message baed on the life of Jonah

When a Prophet Goes Prodigal


Essential 100 Series

May 11, 2008

Morning Service


Merlin Carothers, author of the book Prison to Praise, had firsthand experience of what it is like to be declared righteous. During World War II, he joined the army. Anxious to get into some action, Carothers went AWOL but was caught and sentenced to five years in prison. Instead of sentencing him to prison, the judge told him he could serve his term by staying in the army for five years. The judge told him if he left the army before the five years ended, he would have to spend the rest of his term in prison. Carothers was released from the army before the five-year term had passed, so he returned to the prosecutor’s office to find out where he would be spending the remainder of his sentence. To his surprise and delight, Carothers was told that he had received a full pardon from President Truman. The prosecutor explained: “That means your record is completely clear. Just as if you had never gotten involved with the law.”

People who were reluctant to do what God wanted them to do.

Moses: Tried to get God to have someone else go to the pharaoh

Jeremiah: tried to tell God he was too young

Jonah: ran from the commands of God

Jonah falls within the books of the Minor Prophets. These books form the final section of the Old Testament. These minor prophets are not minor in their message or ministry but in the bulk of their writing. All of these books are fairly short and take little space in the massive writings of the prophetic books.

I. God commands Jonah to go to Ninevah

1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." 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. Jonah 1:1-3

God issues a command to Jonah

God tells Jonah to travel from Israel to Ninevah and preach a message against the city. The command is clear cut and straight forward. God wanted His message proclaimed to the people of Ninevah. The best person to do the task was Jonah.

Jonah runs away from God

When Jonah goes to Joppa, he boards a ship bound for Tarshish. Many scholars believe that Tarshish was in the southern part of modern day Spain. It is not by chance that Tarshish is in the exact opposite direction of Ninevah.

Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth? Jeremiah 23:24

There is no way to escape the presence of God

This should be a comforting fact, but for those who are in direct disobedience with God, it is not. The fact is that there is nowhere that God is not present. When a person is convicted by the Holy Spirit, there is no way to escape the presence of God.

There is no way to hide from God

God knows where you are at all times, after all He is God. He knows where you are physically and spiritually. There is no way that you can hide yourself from Him.

Why did Jonah do this?

Ninevah was founded by Nimrod, the Great Grandson of Noah, following the flood. Ninevah became the capital city of the Assyrian Empire. Ninevah was more than just a solitary city, it included a network of close villages much like modern day suburbs. The city was massive just over 3 miles long and 1 ½ miles wide. The city was protected by a massive fortress and 50 foot high walls that were so thick, 4 chariots could race one another on the top.

Ninevah sat near the Tigris River and the Khoser River flowed through Ninevah. This allowed the city to have a series of canals, moats for additional defense and an intricate irrigation system. Ninevah was destroyed in August 612 BC after a two month siege by the alliance of the Medes, Babylonians and Scythians. The city was destroyed by the full release of the Khoser River into the main part of the city.

The contrast between Jonah and the sailors

Jonah Sailors

Hebrew gentile

Knew Yahweh No knowledge of Yahweh

Monotheistic polytheistic

Spiritually insensitive spiritually sensitive

Going away from God going toward God

Uncompassionate compassionate

Rebellious Worshipful

Chart comes from Nelson’s Book of Bible Maps and Charts

II. Jonah cries out to God in desperation

Jonah decided to run from God and thus delayed the work of God

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