Summary: We can learn some great life lessons from Jonah, this is the first of 4 messages I first preached in 1999. I do not remember who my sources for help were so I cannot give proper credit.
Over the next four weeks I would like us to take some time to look at the Old Testament book of Jonah.
The Book of Jonah is one of the most ridiculed book by the liberal ‘scholars”.
The story of a fish swallowing a man sounds like a whopper of a fish story.
The basic issue with the critics is the fact that they do not believe in the supernatural. Within this short book there are four miracles recorded, the storm, the calming of the storm, the fish, and the growth of the plant.
There are many different views about the book. Is it a history, an allegory, a parable, or fiction? Was Jonah a real person? Did he really spend three days in a whale’s stomach? Did he preach in Nineveh, and was God’s judgment really averted?
For me, the issue is simple. Not only is it recorded in the Old Testament, but Jesus Himself validates the account in Matthew 12:39-41.
I believe that the book of Jonah is reliable history.
The Jonah is different from the other Old Testament prophets because it is not full of prophecies by the prophet; it is instead about the life of the prophet.
Jonah’s message was a simple one; “In forty-days Ninevah will be destroyed.”
Most of the other O.T. prophets prophesied to Israel and Judah, Jonah’s task was to go to Ninevah and prophesy to them.
Jonah preached in the Northern Kingdom during the reign of Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25). . He prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam, who was King of Israel from approximately 793 to 753 BC (II Kings 14:23-27). This was the century during which Assyria (The people Jonah was supposed to warn in Ninevah.) took Israel into captivity. Jonah might have been one of the leaders among the “schools of the prophets” when Elisha was nearing the end of his ministry.
When I read the book of Jonah, I had to ask why God gave us a book that is about the life of a prophet instead of his work.
My conclusion is that God has some lessons for us to learn from the life of Jonah.
It is easy to get caught up in the miracles in the book of Jonah and miss the lesson that God has in store for us.
Today we will look at the first chapter of Jonah and learn the lesson, “You Can Run, but You Cannot Hide.” A lesson about running from God.
1:1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, 1:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me." 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
A. There are many things about Jonah that are not typical to the other Old Testament prophets, but one thing that is the same is found in verse one. The Word of the Lord came to Jonah.
B. God instructed Jonah to go to Ninevah and to warn them of their impending doom.
C. This seems like a simple request, why would Jonah run from God?
D. God just asked Jonah to go and tell them what He was going to do to them.
E. A lesson that we can see right of is that God does not ignore the sins of a nation. The Assyrians were terrible people, they were cruel oppressors.
F. What was it about Nineveh that so angered and disgusted God? Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrians, Israel’s’ archenemy. They were a brutal people with a horrible mania for a brand of brutality which made the surrounding people shudder with the horror of falling prey to them. We might say the Assyrians were the Nazis of those days. Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse said, “...calling Jonah to go to the Ninevites was like asking a Jew in 1942 to go from New York to Hitler, and tell him that God loved him, and that everything he did would be forgiven if he would but repent. So the Jew got on a train, all right, and went to San Francisco; then got on a ship to Japan! He wanted nothing to do with it.” Ron R. Ritchie, Discovery Papers, Jan. 29, 1978.
G. Jonah was given a job by God to do that was not too appealing to him. There were many reasons for his fear, but God told him to go, and he did not.