Summary: 1st of 4 messages from the book of Jonah. This message focuses on God’s calling and the consequences of rejecting the call.
Four questions God asks Every Believer
Where Are You Going?
Where Do You Come From?
What Are You Doing?
What Do You Care About?
In the next few weeks we are going to look at the critical question of purpose, the important issue of priority, and the vital parts of everyday decisions.
In other words, we’re going to look at the important work of God in the world, the eradication of evil, the cessation of looting, violent crime against men, women and children, the establishment of peace and the end of war, wiping out poverty and hunger across every continent, the evangelism of nations, the revival of multitudes, and the redemption of humanity – from the perspective and activity of one person. That person is you.
You say, “Now, wait just one little minute… I don’t have the capacity, skill, influence, power, presence, patience, or perseverance to make the slightest difference in these world wide problems. What can I do that will make a plugged nickel’s bit of difference to this broken world.
In Teaching to Change Lives, Howard Hendricks tells about an 83-year old Michigan woman he met at a Sunday school convention in Chicago. "In a church with a Sunday school of only 65 people, she taught a class of 13 junior high boys. She had traveled by bus all the way to Chicago the night before the convention. Why? In her words, ’to learn something that would make me a better teacher.’ "I thought at the time, most people who had a class of 13 junior high boys in a Sunday school of only 65 would be breaking their arms to pat themselves on the back. Not this lady." Hendricks concludes, "84 boys who sat under her teaching are now in full-time ministry. 22 are graduates of the seminary where I teach."
Well let’s begin with a look at a man named Jonah. You’ve heard of him – the guy who was swallowed whole by a great fish and then was barfed up on shore to carry on the great task of preaching to the city of Nineveh.
His story is written in just four short chapters in the Old Testament. You’ll find it by opening your Bible right in the middle to the book of Psalms, turn right past Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obediah,… and then comes Jonah. Or you could go to the table of contents in the front and look up the page number – but that’s too easy!
The book starts out with these simple – and powerful – words.
Where Are You Going?
The Lord spoke his word to Jonah son of Amittai: “Get up, go to the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it, because I see the evil things they do.”
I’d like you to stop right here and consider the calling of God in your life. Now what do I mean by the calling of God?
Simply this – you are no accident. You were created by God. He imagined you way before your mom and dad ever met one another.
His purpose for you and for every other soul, each imagined and created by God, on this terrestrial globe is for far more than momentary fun through hedonistic pleasures.
More that this – God calls us to his purpose. That calling comes in as many different ways as there are colors, sizes, and shapes of people. In fact his calling is unique and special – different for every person – because it is God calling you to accomplish his purpose.
Where Are You Going?
The Calling of God is Personal
God called Jonah, son of Amittai. God could have put out a general appeal. God could have called all the men named Jonah in Israel. Everyone whose name starts with the letter J line up over here next to the bus marked Nineveh.
That’s not how it works. God chose Jonah, son of Amittai. This is particular person with unique characteristics and special abilities. God selected him – personally.
God is always personal – he has selected you for his purposes. He has named you and either has called you, or will call you to his purposes someday – soon.
The Calling of God is Specific
God told Jonah to, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because of the evil things they do.”
God called Jonah to a particular people and a specific city where there was great evil. God didn’t call him to a generic work with a fuzzy set of goals. He told him to preach against the evil of this great city.
The Calling of God is Challenging
Nineveh was known to be a passionate, violent city. The Nineveh-ites invented cruel tortures. The Assyrian king acknowledged that his people’s ways were ”evil“ and characterized by ”violence“ (Jonah 3:8). And they were ”carefree“ (Zeph. 2:15), thinking themselves invincible. The Prophet Nahum wrote about several of their crimes (Nahum 3:1, 4, 16). Nineveh was well known in the ancient Near East for the brutal atrocities it inflicted on its war captives.