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Jonah the Sprinter
A. This morning we begin the study of the book of Jonah!
1. This little book is only 4 chapters long, but filled with spiritual truths!
2. There has also been more controversy over this little book more than any other in the Bible.
a) The bottom line is that critics have a hard time with the miracles of the Lord.
(1) Therefore, any book that contains miracles, they try to explain away.
(2) They just can't get their "brain" around Jonah being swallowed by a great fish and burped up on the shore of Nineveh.
(a) But the reality is that the "core" of the book of Jonah isn't about a fish at all.
(b) It is about (1) the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(c) It is about (2) salvation by faith not works.
(d) It is about (3) God's unstoppable grace.
(e) It is about (4) the Lord's faithfulness - even when we are unfaithful.
(f) It is about (5) the fact that the Lord is good all of the time!
(g) And it is about (6) Jehovah being the Lord of the Gentiles as well as the Jews!
(i) Is it any wonder that critics have tried to discredit it and explain the miracles away??
(a) To accept it a divinely inspired would mean that they would have to accept the spiritual truths contained within also!
b) Lest you think that there is no historical evidence for the book of Jonah or even the man Jonah, let me give you some scriptures to back it up:
(1) 2Ki_14:23-25 (NASB) In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel became king in Samaria, [and reigned] forty-one years.
24 And he did evil in the sight of the Lord; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin.
25 He restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher.
(a) History proves that Jeroboam was a real king and he ruled over the real nation of Israel for 41 years. Hamath and Arabah were real places and we see from this record - Jonah was also very real!
3. Jonah was a prophet, yet the book of Jonah does not contain prophecy in the traditional sense.
a) This book is a narrative. Jonah tells us of an event that took place in his life and how he responded to that event.
II. Jon_1:1-2 (NASB) THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO JONAH THE SON OF AMITTAI SAYING,
2 "ARISE, GO TO NINEVEH THE GREAT CITY, AND CRY AGAINST IT, FOR THEIR WICKEDNESS HAS COME UP BEFORE ME."
A. This is the same Jonah mentioned in 2 Kings Chapter 14 - Jonah the son of Amittai!
1. He makes it very that it was the Lord's voice that he heard and the message was equally as clear, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city."
2. Indeed it was a great city and at the time Jonah is called to go there - it is in its prime!
a) Nineveh (located on the Tigris River) was built by Nimrod and was the capital city of the great Assyrian nation.
b) You may remember that the walls around the city were almost the size of a 10-story building - some 100 feet high.
c) The width, at the top of these walls was close to 40 feet - that would be the equivalent of a 2-lane highway.
(1) It has been said that you could run to fully equipped chariots side-by-side with room to spare - on the top on these walls.
(a) Nineveh was indeed a great city!
(i) But as with many "great cities" - sin seems to grow with the wealth and opulence, and that is the real reason the Lord wants Jonah to go to Nineveh.
(ii) The Lord wanted Jonah to cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."
B. This would seem a simple task for a man dedicated to the Lord and called as His prophet - wouldn't you think?
1. Oh, how naןve we can be concerning the things of the Lord and even serving the Lord!
a) Why is it that we assume that everything the Lord asks us to do is going to be "easy?"
b) Let's be honest, isn't there "something" that lies within each child-of-God that believes if we are in the will of the Lord and doing what He requires of us that there will be no pain involved - only blessing?
(1) So, surely this prophet of the Lord knows that and will be quick to do the Lord's will. Right?
III. Jon_1:3 (NASB) 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. When Jonah hears what Lord wants him to do, he packs up and leaves his hometown in the Northern Kingdom of Israel and heads south to Joppa and buys a one-way ticket to Tarshish - which is on the southern coast of Spain! It was the jumping-point to the West!
1. The only problem with that is that Nineveh was east! So, Jonah was heading as far in the other direction as he could possibly get - away from Nineveh and away from the will of God!
2. Verse 3 tell us that he was trying to flee "from the presence of the Lord."
a) Not very smart for a "man of God".
b) Not very spiritual for a man dedicated to serving the Lord!
c) All in all, not a very mature thing to do for one wanting to do the Lord's will.
(1) As we will discover in our studies of the book of Jonah:
(a) We may be able to run from "the will of God",
(b) But we can never run from the presence of the Lord!
B. Why would Jonah run? What was it about this request from the Lord that made it so difficult for Jonah to obey? Why was he willing to forfeit his relationship with the Lord rather than go to Nineveh?
1. He hated the Ninevites! When it came right down to it - he didn't care if they were saved or not! I would even go so far as to say that it is most likely that he DID NOT WANT THEM SAVED!
a) Have you ever "hated" anyone so much that you didn't want anything good to happen in his or her lives?
b) Jonah had good reason to hate the Ninevites. The Assyrians were a barbarous nation!
(1) One of the many things they were noted for was taking a prisoner and burying him in the desert sand up to his neck. They would them place a leather band through his tongue and stretch it out so the man could not swallow and leave him there in the desert sun to die.
(a) It is said that most would go mad before they died.
(2) The Assyrian armies traveled with their families and were described as a "plague of locusts" as they descended upon a city.
(a) History has it that entire cities would commit mass suicide rather than fall into their sadistic hands.
(3) Assyria had made several attacks upon Israel and it is very possible that Jonah had experienced their brutality first-hand!
(a) It was "standard operating procedure" for the Assyrians to kill all the men and children and rape and take captive all the women of a city.
(i) IF, and I say IF, Jonah had lost someone he loved - the Lord's request would be easily and understandably difficult for Jonah to obey.
2. Jonah was willing to let his hatred of the Ninevites get in the way of his relationship with the Lord!
a) He deliberately chose to be the "prodigal" rather than the "prophet"!
b) In other words, when his will ran opposite of the Lord's will - he ran in the opposite direction of the Lord.
(1) Obedience seems so "godly" when it's easy and so "unreasonable" when it is not!
A. I would imagine that Jonah found a surplus of tickets for the ship bound to Tarshish!
1. He probably found them "discounted" when he got there.
2. Now he is aboard ship and headed for his Mediterranean cruise - everything is "smooth-sailing."
a) Only one problem - he is out of the will of God!
(1) We must be careful as children of the Lord to interpret "smooth-sailing" and "discount prices" as God's will.
(a) That kind of thinking could put us on a ship to nowhere.
(2) Likewise, we must be careful not to interpret difficulty or hardship as being out of the will of the Lord!
(a) I would like to remind you of those dear saints that have gone before us: Heb_11:36-38 (NASB) and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated
38 ([men] of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
(b) I know this is a very difficult statement to actually live - but it is better to suffer in the Lord's will than to book a Mediterranean cruise out of His will!
Jonah the Sleeper
A. Last week we began our study of the book of Jonah.
1. As usual, we did a brief background study and you might remember that I shared with you that this little book has been very controversial.
2. You may also remember that I shared with you the historical evidence of Jonah and his ministry and that there is no reason NOT to believe that everything in this book is accurate.
a) But of course, if you do not believe in a miraculous God, then Jonah's story would be a bit hard to believe.
b) And that is where the "critics" choke. They do not believe in the Lord - therefore they cannot believe in the miracles of the Lord - therefore they cannot believe that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and "submarined" to Nineveh.
(1) But least there be any doubt - the Lord used Jonah as a example in Mat_12:39-41 as the only sign to His generation regarding His death and resurrection.
3. There is much to be learned in the book of Jonah about how the Lord trains a disciple.
a) We don't like to the word "discipline" much but it is impossible to be a disciple without discipline!
(1) Alan Redpath says in his study of this book, "We are only really free when we are not free, to be free of God."
(2) You see as a disciple of the Lord, we are really slaves!
(a) We use to be slaves to sin and the flesh, but we chose a different Master and willfully accepted to be servants of the Lord.
(i) And we really experience our greatest freedom when we realize that doing His will is freedom!
(a) But this takes "discipline", and we are going to find that Jonah was a bit undisciplined.
(b) And being undisciplined prevented him from doing the will of the Lord, so the Lord is going to "re-train" him. He will make him a true disciple!
(i) As we watch the Lord make a disciple out of Jonah, we can see how He will make disciples out of us!
4. One last thing before we begin our study, please keep in mind that this book is autobiographical.
a) Meaning Jonah wrote this about himself! Could you or I be this brutally honest about our hatred, prejudice, doubt and general shortcomings in the Lord?
II. Jon_1:1-17 (NASB) THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO JONAH THE SON OF AMITTAI SAYING,
2 "ARISE, GO TO NINEVEH THE GREAT CITY, AND CRY AGAINST IT, FOR THEIR WICKEDNESS HAS COME UP BEFORE ME."
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.
4 AND THE LORD HURLED A GREAT WIND ON THE SEA AND THERE WAS A GREAT STORM ON THE SEA SO THAT THE SHIP WAS ABOUT TO BREAK UP.
5 THEN THE SAILORS BECAME AFRAID, AND EVERY MAN CRIED TO HIS GOD, AND THEY THREW THE CARGO WHICH WAS IN THE SHIP INTO THE SEA TO LIGHTEN [IT] FOR THEM. BUT JONAH HAD GONE BELOW INTO THE HOLD OF THE SHIP, LAIN DOWN, AND FALLEN SOUND ASLEEP.
6 SO THE CAPTAIN APPROACHED HIM AND SAID, "HOW IS IT THAT YOU ARE SLEEPING? GET UP, CALL ON YOUR GOD. PERHAPS [YOUR] GOD WILL BE CONCERNED ABOUT US SO THAT WE WILL NOT PERISH."
7 AND EACH MAN SAID TO HIS MATE, "COME, LET US CAST LOTS SO WE MAY LEARN ON WHOSE ACCOUNT THIS CALAMITY [HAS STRUCK] US." SO THEY CAST LOTS AND THE LOT FELL ON JONAH.
8 THEN THEY SAID TO HIM, "TELL US, NOW! ON WHOSE ACCOUNT [HAS] THIS CALAMITY [STRUCK] US? WHAT IS YOUR OCCUPATION? AND WHERE DO YOU COME FROM? WHAT IS YOUR COUNTRY? FROM WHAT PEOPLE ARE YOU?"
9 AND HE SAID TO THEM, "I AM A HEBREW, AND I FEAR THE LORD GOD OF HEAVEN WHO MADE THE SEA AND THE DRY LAND."
10 THEN THE MEN BECAME EXTREMELY FRIGHTENED AND THEY SAID TO HIM, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS?" FOR THE MEN KNEW THAT HE WAS FLEEING FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, BECAUSE HE HAD TOLD THEM.
11 SO THEY SAID TO HIM, "WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO YOU THAT THE SEA MAY BECOME CALM FOR US?"-- FOR THE SEA WAS BECOMING INCREASINGLY STORMY.
12 AND HE SAID TO THEM, "PICK ME UP AND THROW ME INTO THE SEA. THEN THE SEA WILL BECOME CALM FOR YOU, FOR I KNOW THAT ON ACCOUNT OF ME THIS GREAT STORM [HAS COME] UPON YOU."
13 HOWEVER, THE MEN ROWED [DESPERATELY] TO RETURN TO LAND BUT THEY COULD NOT, FOR THE SEA WAS BECOMING [EVEN] STORMIER AGAINST THEM.
14 THEN THEY CALLED ON THE LORD AND SAID, "WE EARNESTLY PRAY, O LORD, DO NOT LET US PERISH ON ACCOUNT OF THIS MAN'S LIFE AND DO NOT PUT INNOCENT BLOOD ON US; FOR THOU, O LORD, HAST DONE AS THOU HAST PLEASED."
15 SO THEY PICKED UP JONAH, THREW HIM INTO THE SEA, AND THE SEA STOPPED ITS RAGING.
16 THEN THE MEN FEARED THE LORD GREATLY, AND THEY OFFERED A SACRIFICE TO THE LORD AND MADE VOWS.
17 AND THE LORD APPOINTED A GREAT FISH TO SWALLOW JONAH, AND JONAH WAS IN THE STOMACH OF THE FISH THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS.
A. I would like to point out that one of the primary disciplines of a disciple is simply to obey!
1. Please notice that the Lord did not open His idea for debate or even ask Jonah what he thought about it. He simply said, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."
a) You see the Lord is going to judge Nineveh for its wickedness, and He want to send them a messenger with the hope they will repent.
(1) We see here in this Old Testament book "in miniature", what we see in Joh_3:16 (NASB) "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
(a) Well you could say this, "For God so loved Nineveh, that He gave Jonah, that whoever would repent should not perish, but have eternal life."
(b) Jesus was all over it, but Jonah wanted no part of it!
(i) So we will learn how the Lord teaches His disciples the discipline of obedience.
B. Another great discipline of a disciple is love!
1. Jonah hated the Ninevites, but hatred doesn't mix too well with being a disciple of the Lord. It prevents us from doing His will!
a) Luk_6:27-31 (NASB) "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
29 "Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.
30 "Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
31 "And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way.
b) Jonah is going to learn to love the unlovely with the Lord of the Lord.
(1) Not always easy to do, but necessary if we are to do the will of the Lord!
C. And yet a 3rd indispensable discipline of a disciple is to ALWAYS take the Lord's side - especially when it comes to sin!
1. You see we must be 100% committed against it- 90 or even 99% won't cut it!
a) Anything short of 100% will end in disaster.
(1) Jonah obviously didn't see Nineveh's sin the same what the Lord did.
(a) It didn't bother him the same way it did the Lord.
(i) Therefore his reactions were different also.
D. I am convinced that the Lord will call each and every one of His disciples to "Nineveh" at some point in their walks.
1. It may not be some far away land. It may even be some inward struggle, but I guarantee, whatever our personal "Nineveh" is - it will test our obedience, our love and even our opinion of sin!
a) It will be a place where we must die and Christ must live!
b) It will be place where He must reign and we must bow!
c) It will be a place where we learn that doing His will is the only place where we are really free!
(1) But it will also be a place of tremendous joy, and tremendous Holy Spirit anointing and power.
(a) Joh_12:24-26 (NASB) "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
25 "He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.
26 "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
(b) It is a place on anointing and power and fruitfulness because we have died and Christ reigns!
A. What "Nineveh" do we face this morning?
1. Perhaps it is some secret sin that has come up before the Lord and He is asking us to speak against it!
2. It could even be an attitude or a business practice, but it is that thing that perhaps we have tolerated with 90 or even 99% obedience, but the Lord is saying, 2 "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."
a) In other words - IT IS NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE. We must see it as the Lord does. There must be a death and it must be ours. We must bow and Christ must reign!
B. Or we can run - as Jonah did. But we must understand, if we run we will grow even more callused to that sin, and even to the people that are hurting around us - perhaps even because of us!
1. Jon_1:4-5 And the Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up.
5 Then the sailors became afraid, and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten [it] for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down, and fallen sound asleep.
a) The storm raged, but Jonah didn't care. He was asleep!
2. Jon_1:15-17 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.
16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
17 And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.
a) Obedience is always better than the alternatives!
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Brown, John. "Commentary on Jonah 1". Brown's Commentary on Selected Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26