Summary: This message deals with us as believers running away from God instead of yielding to His will.
“Yielding to God’s Will”
This morning, I am going to start a series of messages from the book of Jonah.
When you think about the book of Jonah, the first thing that usually enters your mind is the great fish or whale swallowing Jonah.
But there is more to Jonah that just the fish story. There are some great spiritual truths that we can benefit from.
Did you know that some scholars believe that the book of Jonah is nothing more than an allegory or a parable?
They believe that the book contains some spiritual lessons, however, they do not believe that the story actually existed.
In other words, they feel that it is not a true story.
I personally believe that everything written in the Jonah is a true historical fact.
I believe this because our Lord referred to the story of Jonah as something that actually took place.
Jesus said in (Mt. 12:39-40), ‘‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
If Jesus believed Jonah was a true event, then so do I!
We can trust that everything written in Jonah is a true and accurate story.
Before we move into the book of Jonah, I would like to give you some background information that can help us to better understand the story.
Who was Jonah and what is the book about?
a. Jonah was a prophet of God who ministered to the nation of Israel and other nations around the 8th century BC.
b. The book of Jonah can be summed up like this:
One day, God told the prophet Jonah to go and preach against the great city of Nineveh who at that time was the most important city in Assyria in the rising world power of Jonah’s day. Within 50 years, Nineveh would become the capital of the vast Assyrian empire. Within a few years, the Assyrians would eventually conquer the Northern Kingdom of God known as Israel.
c. But several years before Assyria wiped out Israel, God sent Jonah to Nineveh, the great city of Assyria, to preach against its wickedness. This is the basis of the story.
FROM THE BOOK OF JONAH, WE WILL LEARN SEVERAL IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES THAT CAN HELP US IN OUR SPIRITUAL WALK WITH GOD.
Turn to Jonah Chapter 1 as we read vs 1 – 17 (pray)
TRANS: FIRST, IN OUR SPIRITUAL WALK WITH GOD, WE MUST ALWAYS HAVE…
1. A YIELDING ATTITUDE TOWARDS GOD’S WILL.
As I told you earlier, God told Jonah to go and preach against the city of Nineveh.
Well let’s see how Jonah responded to God’s instructions.
“The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 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 had a specific duty for Jonah to fulfill; however, he did not want to do it, so he tried to run away from the Lord.
The reason why Jonah refused to go to Nineveh and minister to the Assyrians was because he hated them with a passion. Here is probably why:
- Assyrians were a cruel, brutal and wicked people. They were ten times more wicked than the Nazi’s of the last century.
- For example, after they defeated a city, they would burn the whole city and carry away the women and children to be there slaves.
- They would torture their prisoners by cutting off their hands and feet and would also burn them at the stake.
- One way the Assyrian kings boasted about their military might was to decorate their palace with the heads of their victims.
Now you can see why Jonah disliked these people.
He despised them so much that he tried to run away from the Lord because he did not want the Assyrians to repent and get right with God.
In fact, although God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh, he instead headed for Tarshish, which was in the opposite direction.
Verses 3-17 tell us what happened to Jonah while running from God.
Since Jonah disobeyed the will of God, his life began to fall apart.
Brethren, if we purposely disobey the will of God, then we will experience turbulent and difficult times. For example: