Finding Ourselves in the Mirror of Jonah
by Dr. Edgar Pierce
1- The Reluctant Missionary Jonah 1:1-3
2- Hiding In the Ship Jonah 1:3
3- Sleeping In the Storm Jonah 1:4-6
4- Eternal Purposes of Chastisement Jonah 1:7-16
5- Can We Swallow the Fish Story? Jonah 1:17
6- Prayer From the Bottom of Life Jonah 2:1-9
7- Jonahís Second Chance Jonah 2:10-3:3
8- Ninevahís Repentance and Revival Jonah 3:4-10
9- Running Against God Jonah 4:1-4
10- God Doesnít Crucify His Wounded Jonah 4:5-11
The Reluctant Missionary Jonah 1:1-3
Welcome to the study of the book of Jonah. I have entitled our study "Finding Ourselves in the Mirror of Jonah." Of all the book in the Bible Jonah brings us face to face with our attitudes and ourselves. Jonah is only four chapters that consist of only forty-eight verses. However, it shows us spiritual insight like no other book in scripture. It brings us face to face with our prejudices and our lukewarm service for God. The book of Jonah dispels all thought that the God of the Old Testament was a God of only the Jews because the city of Ninevah was a Gentile city.
There are two natural divisions to the book of Jonah. First is the commissioning of Jonah in chapters one and two. The second is the second commissioning found in chapters three and four. We might call this BF and AF or Before Fish and After Fish.
I- Views on the Book of Jonah:
There are three main views on the interpretations of Jonah. These are allegorical, parabolic and history. In the allegorical view everything is given another meaning from the surface meaning. Jonah is Israel, the fish is Babylon and Ninevah is the Gentile world. In the parabolic view the teaching is that Jonah is only a parable to help or make Israel realize their world mission.
The third view is that Jonah was a real prophet and the events recorded in the book are historic events. This view is the only one that is beyond a doubt correct. Why, you might ask. Allow me to offer the following as proof argument for Jonah being a historic document.
First, Jonah is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:23-25 "In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash king of Judah Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel began to reign in Samaria, and reigned forty and one years. 24 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. 25 He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher." (my underline for emphasis. In the story King Jeroboam is a historic character and the city of Hamanth is a real city and Israel a real nation. It would really be straining at a knat and swallowing a camel to assert that Jonah was not real.
Second, Jesus told us that Jonah was a historic character. Matthew 12:40-41 "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas [Jonah]; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." He refers to Jonah as relating to Himself symbolically when He was in the belly of the fish for three days as He would be three days and nights in the tomb.
Next we simply need to ask the question could God and would God do the things written in Jonah. These two questions are very easy to answer yes too. But if we believe that God did this we must believe in the supernatural and a God of miracles. Beloved we do not have to be able to explain everything to know it is so. The supernatural is no reason to reject a belief in scripture. God is sovereign and is a supernatural omnipotent God. I remind us Isaiah 55:8 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD."
II- Who Was Jonah?
As we have seen thus far Jonah was a historic and not some fictional character. But who was he?
The family of Jonah is found in Jonah 1:1 "Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of AmittaiÖ" This corresponds with 2 Kings 14:25 we looked at previously when it says, "ÖJonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher." This clearly ties these two together and excludes the possibility of there being two prophets named Jonah. Gathhepher was a town about 3 miles or so from Nazareth. It was in the division of land given to Zebulun when Joshua divided the Promised Land. (see Joshua 18:13)
The fact that Jonah was a prophet needs a few more comments. In the verses 2 Kings 14:23-25 we see that Jonah prophesied about the years of prosperity that Israel was having. Jonah was a prophet as we see in the scriptures outside of Jonah. Why do I say it is outside scriptures that show us this? This is simply because the book of Jonah does not contain any prophecy within it. The book of Jonah shows us that Jonah was a preacher but does not give us any prophetic words from his lips. In 2 Kings 14:23-25 Jeroboam II is the king and the borders of Israel were expanded out to the size they were under Solomon. Thirty years after Jonah, Israel will be destroyed and taken into captivity by Assyria in 722 B.C.
Not only does the second Kings account show us he was a prophet but from the lips of our Lord Jesus we know he was. In the verse that precedes the one we previously quoted concerning Jesus identifying the three days and night in the tomb with the historic events of Jonah we find theses words in Matthew 12:39 "But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas." (my underline for emphasis)
So we can state unhindered that Jonah was a prophet. We will discover that he was a reluctant missionary in a moment but he was a prophet of the Highest God.
III- Who was Ninevah?
Jonah is commission by God to go to Ninevah. Jon 1:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me."
Ninevah was the city that was the capital of the nation of Assyria. Ninevah is first mentioned in Genesis 10:11-12 "Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, 12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city." Ninevah was one of the cities that was built by Nimrod. Ninevah itself is commonly used for a complex of cities such as modern Los Angeles or New York is comprised of many cities located next to each other. In one sense we could call it the greater Nivevah area.
The city of Ninevah was certainly a great city in its defenses. The city had a wall 100' high. The wall was wide enough for chariots to run around the top of the wall. The walls were 60 miles around with 1200 towers. A well defended city. The patron god of Ninevah was Ashur, which was said to be cruel and warlike, and they had become like the god they worshipped. The population of Ninevah was about 1 million people. Jonah 4:11 "And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?" This tells us there were about 120,000 babies and children there.
The Assyrians were an extremely cruel people. They killed, skinned alive and pulled the tongues of their victims. They impaled others alive.
IV-The Reluctant Missionary:
Jonah understood the next mission that the God of the universe had for him. He was to go to Ninevah and preach. Notice what Jonah did instead of being obedient. Jonah 1: 3 "But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." Tarshish was a city the opposite direction from Ninevah. He went to the coast caught a ship and set sail running from God.
First we need to realize he ran with God. We know that Jonah certainly as a prophet had walked with God and done His will. He was Godís preacher and prophet. What caused him to run? Allow me to offer a couple of suggestions. As we look at these hold the mirror up and look into our souls.
First there was his prejudices against the hated nation of Assyria. To send Jonah to Ninevah was like sending a Jew to Germany to witness after World War II. You will recall the man named Jim Elliott who was killed in Ecuador and his wife Elizabeth returned to win her husbandís killers to the Lord. By the way one of the men who kill Jim baptized Jimís son. The man who killed his daddy was now preaching the gospel. Prejudice can be overcome but only with an act of divine grace being allowed to work in hearts.
Jonah knew that God was a long suffering God and that he would show mercy if they would repent. Notice Jonah 4:2 "Ö I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." He did not want Ninevah spared after all they would in just a few years destroy his nation.
This brings us face to face with our own prejudices. Is there a certain skin color or nationality that we would not go to witness to if God called us to do so. As we look into the mirror of the soul what is the Holy Spirit saying to us. Acts 10:34 says, "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons."
Another reason that Jonah ran could have been patriotism for Israel. This was a time of national pride. The nation was at its peak of power like the days of Solomon as we have stated. As a good citizen of Israel Jonah certainly didnít want to be guilty of fraternizing with the enemy.
Since the events of September 11th 2001 patriotism is on the rise in the USA. I am reminding again that God is not just a national god but beloved is the God of the universe and certainly the whole planet of earth. Patriotism is fine and good but beloved we need to not let it stand in the way of service to our true citizenship, which is in heaven. National pride does not supercede honoring God.
V- Running Into God:
Someone said there are only two cities on the map of God when it comes to His will, Ninevah and Tarshish. Ninevah the location of the will of God and Tarshish the city out of the will of God.
Jonah ran going the opposite direction but still ran into God. Psalms 139:7-10 teaches us the futility of attempting to flee from God. Notice "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."
We also see in Acts 9 that Paul ran into God as he was working against Him. Then in Luke 15 we have the story of the Prodigal Son who ran into God in a hog lot not to mention Onesimus who ran into God after he fled as a run away slave into the city.
In which city do you dwell, Ninevah or Tarshish? Perhaps like Jonah you are fleeing from what you know God has called you to do or like Lot of old you have pitched your tent toward Sodom.
It is worthy of special note that of all the things in the book of Jonah only the prophet failed to obey God. The storm obeyed, the lots cast, the sailors, fish, Ninevites, plan, worm and the east wind obeyed. Only Jonah did not.
It has been said that a faithful God wonít let us down and a loving God wonít let us go.
If you are headed the wrong way concerning God and His will today is an opportunity to make it right.
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Hiding In the Ship Jonah 1:3
It has been said, "if the sleeping people will wake up, the sinful people will confess up, the stingy people will pay up, and the complaining people will shut up, then we will have revival.
We might ask the question to the Church in America, "Are we sleeping." Romans 13:11-13 makes a piercing statement, "And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying."
1 Corinthians 15:34 also shouts to our soul, "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame."
So are we really awake and functioning as we should or are we simply sleep walking, so to speak, spiritually. Are we guilty of trying to ignore things and hoping they will go away?
I- Jonahís Ship:
Jonah fled from the will of God and determined that he would go the way he wanted instead of the way God wanted. He went "Ö to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." Jonah 1:3 Jonah had found his ship. However God had a storm waiting with his fellow sailors.
Jonah paid the fare and went into the ship and set sail for Tarshish. However the ship would never realize Tarshish with Jonah on board. The ship arrived but Jonah did not.
II- Our Ships:
Jonah had his ship in which he was trying to hide from God. I remind us that Elijah the prophet had a cave that he hides in. (See 1 Kings 19)
An ostrich has a reputation of burying its head in the sand when it is threatened or danger approaches. I understand this not true. Beloved may I say Christians today have their ship they hide in just like Jonah had. Letís discuss some of the ships we hide in.
A- Ship of Beliefs:
First it the ship of what we believe. Some believe that it is the preacherís job to visit the sick and do the witnessing for them. I recall a story that was relayed to me years ago when I was singing with a quartet told by a Pastor. He told of calling on some to ask the blessing for a meal at the church and the man replied, "Preacher, thatís why we have you." Still many people believe because they pay the preacher that he takes care of their personal responsibility to work for the kingdom.
Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us why God gave pastors to the church. "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Pastors are to equip the saints from the work of God to do the work.
Another belief we have that we hid behind is the thought if people are interested they will come to church. At my first pastorate years ago I attempted to set up a Bible study in a local community of mobile homes. I had a lady willing to let me come up on the hill to her house and invite her neighbors in to have a four-week Bible study. When I approached the church concerning this I had a deacon of all men to say to me, "Preacher we are not going up on that hill and start a church. If they want to come to church they can come down here and do so." How sad that any Christian and especially a deacon would feel this way.
Notice Luke 14:23 that blows this boat out of the water. "And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." Surveys of the unchurched tell us that most people are open to an invitation to church.
An increasingly common ship in which many hide is the idea that all religions are as good as another is. We say this by our non-verbal spreading of the gospel and our lack of concern. By our acceptance of other religions into our churches by association. I find it absolutely outrageous that someone would allow a Muslim or a Jehovah Witness or a Mormon to ever speak from a Christian pulpit. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." He went on to tell him in 2 Timothy 4:3 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears."
Beloved I remind us that not all roads lead to heaven. Jesus told us the road to heaven is narrow but the road to hell is wide. Jesus also said He and He alone is "the way."
B- Ship of What We Donít Believe:
If it is true and it is that we hide behind what we believe then it is equally true that we hide behind what we do not believe. Did you notice that Jonah was the only one who was asleep while the storm raged? Jonah must have been convinced that he was all right. He didnít believe the storm was because of him. He hid behind his unbelief.
Let me ask a few of those soul mirror questions. Do we really believe there is a place called hell? Notice the repeated emphasis of eternal hell in Mark 9:43-48 "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched."
Do we really believe that God will reject sinners who reject Christ? Do we believe that Jesus is the only way to God? Beloved we act sometimes as if we do not believe any of this. Not with our words but with our deeds we say we do not believe.
Do we really believe that human nature can be changed? I remind us that Israel was lead out of Egypt by a murderer and a Christian hater and murderer wrote that most of the New Testament. Men can change by the power of God. Notice Mark 5:1-5 "And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4 Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones." This beloved was a mad man, an outcast of society. Certainly no one a self-respecting righteous Christian would have anything to do with. Verses 6-13 tells us that he was crazy and demon possessed. Jesus casts out the demon into the swine and not notice the reaction of the crowd in Mark 5:14-15 "And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. 15 And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid." They ask Jesus to leave. Let us not be found guilty of limiting the grace of God to any man no matter how heinous the crimes.
C- Ship of Social Concerns:
Another one of our ships is the ship of social concerns. Beloved the gospel is a social gospel but it ceases to be the Gospel if all we have is a social gospel. By social gospel I mean we only attend to the physical needs and never mention the spiritual. Jesus took care of the physical so he could minister to the spiritual. Many times we are content with only ministering to the outer man and not the inner man.
John chapter six records Jesus feeding the five thousand. They followed him the next day and Jesus said to them "ÖVerily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." John 6:26 He told them after meeting there physical need that they had a spiritual hunger and that He was the bread of life.
So does the Bible teach us that we are to have a concern for those who are hungry or who are sick and needy. Certainly it does. Notice James 2:15-17 "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
So that we do not ere on this please notice what Peter and John said to the said to and did for the cripple man. They gave him Jesus. Acts 3:2-7 "And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately."
We cannot divorce the social needs of those around us from the spiritual needs. If we only meet the social needs we fail short of the purpose of the gospel. If we only want to preach to them without ever meeting their needs they will not hear. By the way it is easier to meet the social needs than the spiritual needs.
D- Ship of Closed Fellowship:
We also have a ship called closed fellowship. We only want those like us in the ship with us. May I remind us that rivers that donít flow are called swamps? Our fellowship becomes a swamp if we fail to allow others in. I remind us that the Dead Sea is completely devoid of life. Nothing lives in. Why? It is because it only takes in and never gives out.
John 7:38 says, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
Many of our churches remind me of a setting of a country community and the country store. When a stranger pulls up at the gas pumps all the good old boys setting around the pot bellied stove look out window to see whom it is. They are just a stranger passing through but would not be welcome in the community because after all he was not born and reared here. The old folks would have called the "fereigners" in times past.
Stories are told about Sunday School classes that have locks on their doors and lazy boy recliners inside. If you show up without your recliner you are not welcome. Many times we hide in our ship of donít rock the boat everything is good with our fellowship and we donít need anyone else.
E- Ship of Procrastination:
Most of us intend to do more for God, someday anyway. When I am less busy, when the kids are grown, when the grandchildren go off to school. When I retire. After I get my traveling done. The word of God gives us an illustration of an ant. Notice Proverbs 6:6-11 "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man."
Please notice John 9:4 "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."
I had a friend who told me he was a Christian when he was in the army but he told God if he would let him live to get out then he would serve him. To Rayís credit he was serving him but think of all the years of being blessed by serving God he lost.
Remember Jonah went, "Ö to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD." Jonah 1:3 The question is simply are you hiding in a ship that is sailing the opposite way God intends you to be going? God allows men to jump ship beloved if you are.
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Sleeping In the Storm Jonah 1:4-6
When we left Jonah the last study he had fled into a ship on the way to Tarshish. We looked at the different ships we as Christians hide in. We now turn our attention to the other two components of the story, the storm and the sailors.
There is little doubt that a storm is constantly raging for the souls of men and while it rages many of us are fast asleep in the comfort of our lives. Lets first look at the storm God prepared for His wayward prophet.
I- The Mighty Tempest:
Jon 1:4 tells us, "But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken." The New American Standard says, "And the LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the seaÖ" NAS So it is clearly evident here that the God who controls the seas and the storms was the cause and effect behind the storm. This leads us to a few conclusions that we can see.
First the story was a storm that was timely. Some have called this as delayed storm but beloved it was not delayed it was on time. It could have come the day before or the day after. How many times has God sent a storm into our lives at a very precise time?
Another thing about the storm was that it was a divine or supernatural storm. The miracle here is not simply that there was a storm only but the precious location of the storm and who it affected. The storms of life that we face serve many purposes. They strengthen our faith and turn our attention from looking within for our strength to looking to and trusting God for our help.
Paul faced a storm in his life. We know it as his thorn in the flesh. Notice what God told him about this storm. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." God uses our weakness when they make us lean on Him.
The storm was also a storm of chastisement. God was punishing Jonah who was out of His will. Notice what the Bible teaches us about Godís chastisements. Hebrews 12:6-11 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Pay particular attention to verses 10 and 11 where we notice the purpose of chastisement is for us to grow.
However with this been said I need to throw a red flag of CAUTION up and say that not all trouble is the result of Godís chastening and punishing. The common Old Testament thought was it you were having troubles it was because of sin in your life. Letís take a quick look at Job which dispells this myth.
Job 4:7-8 "Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? 8 Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same." Jobs friends made this mistake of saying Job had sin in his life. When it was all said and done we notice what God told the friends of Job. Job 42:7-8 "My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. 8 Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job."
It is plain that Job was not suffering because of sin. Also we find in Johnís gospel that Jesus taught us that all trouble and disease is not because of someoneís sin. Jesus was ask who had sinned the man who had been born blind or perhaps it was his parents. Jesus reply is found in John 9:3 "Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." Beloved some trouble is just the natural course of life and God sends some for our chastisement and correction. Regardless of which we face we know that Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Another thing we see from this tempest God hurled at Jonah is that we must walk with God to see Godís purpose. We need to ask what are you trying to show me God when we are in trouble and realizing that Godís grace is sufficient to help us. Beloved we do not need to waste suffering and have to have more trouble to learn what we should have the first time. When we walk with God and attempt to discern the purpose of the trouble so we can learn the lesson I submit we save ourselves addition heartache.
Another lesson from this storm is that the storm was damaging to those around Jonah who was innocent. How man times has someone said what I do is my business and it affects no one. May I say the world suffers around us when we are out of the will of God. Our sin affects others. It affects our family and our church. It affects our friends and business acquaintances. Letís explore some scripture and see this is true.
2 Samuel 12:7; 9-10 "And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of SaulÖ9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife." Because of the sin of David it was going to affect others around him. 2 Samuel 13 records the rape of Davidís daughter Dinah by her half brother Amnon. 2 Samuel 13:14 "Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her."
Samuel also records for us the cause and effect of Davidís sin when Absalom, Dinahís brother, killed Amnon. We also see that Absalom steals the hearts of the people and rebels against David. The sword did not depart from Davidís house.
Before you and I say well he was king and this does not apply to the average Joe. Notice Joshua 6:17-19 "And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD." At the fall of Jericho the Israelites were told to not take any of the spoils of war. Joshua records for us in chapter seven that a man named Achan did not do as instructed but took of the accursed things.
In Joshua 7:1 we have the sin, "But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel."
In Joshua 7:20 we have the confession. "And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done." The results of this sin cost Israel a military loss at a town called Ai. It also cost men their lives. Beloved we can never say our sin does not affect other because it certainly does.
III- The Mariners:
Before we depart from the ship so to speak let us take a look at the mariners that were on board the ship with Jonah. Jonah 1:5-6 "Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. 6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not."
The mariners here picture for us human religions. We see first humanism. The tired to do everything the could to face the storm God was hurling at the boat. Proverbs 12:15 says, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise."
We also notice they turned to their religions. Mankind used to build idols with their hands now we have gotten to sophisticated for this and just build them in our minds. These mariners had an emergency religion and their gods were only the gods of stone or the imagination of men. Religion is only an emergency measure and not a way of life. Salvation is a way of life. Christ is not just a spare tire on the devils highway but a personal relationship to be nurtured and developed day by day.
Let us also learn that during times of trouble or need in the lives of others is a great time to minister. We often view the world as arrogant and Christ hating but what a difference it would make if we saw them as God does as hurting and lost needing a Savior. We must see them, as they are blind to the gospel, dead in their sins. We need to see God not as a policeman in the Garden of Eden but as a broken hearted father. We need to wake up and pay attention as the storms rage around us for menís souls and not be rocked to sleep in the hull of a ship by Satan.
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Eternal Purposes of Chastisement Jonah 1:7-16
God places many laws into being with the creation of the universe. We cannot argue with such laws as gravity because they are so obvious in the fact that we are held down on this earth by it. There are some spiritual laws that God has in place as well. We have already discussed that at times the storms of life are an act of love from God. They are meant to drive us to Him for shelter.
I wish us to see in this study that Jonah is representative of the saved of God and the sailors as representative of the lost. The storms of life serve different purposes for these two groups. They serve to drive the righteous or the saved to repentance. Their purpose is to show the lost their need of conversion.
In the story of Jonah we have a living illustration of these two purposes of that God uses to affect the eternal situation of men.
I- Eternal Purpose of Chastisement Related to the Saved:
We first will look at the prophet Jonah, which gives us a picture of the purpose related to the saved. We will see the exposure of the sin of Jonah and the consequences.
A- Chastised By Exposure of Sin:
The first thing we need to notice here is that the sin of Jonah found him out. Jon 1:7 "And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah."
They cast lots and the lot fell upon Jonah. You might say this was just by chance but I submit it was God pointing His finger at the guilty party. Unconfessed sin is sin that is not hid from God. It is sin that we have not admitted to ourselves. There is no such thing as hidden sin from God.
Notice what Luke 12:2-5 says, "For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. 4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him."
Remember the story of David and Bathsheba we looked at last time when Nathan pointed out the sin of David. The lot fell on Jonah and God pointed out the sin of His prophet. Jonah was exposed as sleeping, sinful and secretive. Is this not a picture of Christian today? Does this not hold a mirror up in front of our soul for us to gaze upon our failures? We sometimes act as if we belong to CA, Christian Anonymous.
B- The Examination of Jonahís Sin:
If being caught was not bad enough the details of Jonahís sin came out. These men wanted to know exactly what kind of a man had put their lives and ship in danger. Notice the inquiry of the mariners in Jonah 1:8-10 "Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? 9 And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. 10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them."
They wanted to know his profession. This points out that our secular professions should glorify God also.
They wanted to know who his people were. He told them he was a Hebrew who worshipped Jehovah. He was not ashamed of it. Today in our world we have a lot of look alike Christians. We look "alike" the world. How can we raise the world up to the standards of God if we are on their level? We shouldnít lover our standards to the worlds but raise the worlds to Godís. The question has been asked many times by many people, "Would there be enough evidence to convict us of being a Christian if we were put on trial?" We sometimes fail to realize that God has indeed called us to me a separated people. Separated to the things of God and not to the world. Notice 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
C- Jonah Explains:
As we have said Jonah was not ashamed of being a Hebrew and of the God he served. God had found him, not that he was ever hidden. Remember Ps 139:7-10 "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."
To give Jonah credit where it is deserved he stood up and confessed his God and his sin. Romans 9:33says, "As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." May I say until we are willing to stand up for the God we serve we will be of little benefit as a witness or soul winner?
D- Man Overboard:
Jonah bowed humbly beneath the hand of God. Godís rod of judgment was upon him and he knew it. You can see in the next few verses he was in one sense his own judge, jury and executioner. Jonah 1:11-12 "Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. 12 And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you."
Jonah submitted to Godís will. He showed strength and faith in face of what he knew to be death. He did not want to take these unbelievers down with him because of his sin.
Not diminishing the fact it was Jonahís fault they were in this predicament we see that he showed an example of human love. You will notice beloved there is little prejudice in the ICU waiting rooms or the hospital waiting rooms. There is a common bond across culture, races and social classes in troubled times.
Jonah only reflected the love that God has for humanity. John 15:13 "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Over 800 years later, from the time of Jonah, Christ would suffer and lead us through the storms at Calvary. Jonah is also the only one of the prophets that Jesus said personally that was of type of Him.
II- Eternal Purpose of Chastisement Related to the UnSaved:
While we see that the purpose of chastisement of the saved is repentance and restoration it is a different purpose for the lost which is conversion. The mariners give us a picture of lost mankind.
A- Prior to Conversion:
In verse nine of chapter one we see they are confronted by God in the person of Jonah. Jonah told them, " I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land." When confronted with this, "Then were the men exceedingly afraid." The mere presence of the Prophet, even in his rebellion, was a conviction to these men. We need only make the gospel available beloved, God by the power of the Holy Spirit will make it acceptable. Jonah was not a perfect example yet God still used him. Someone said, "God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick."
B- Fruits of Conversion:
The only evidence we have in someoneís life that they are saved is their fruit. It has been stated, "What you are doing is shouting so loud I canít hear what you are saying." One subtle yet profound observation out of Jonah is found in verses 1:5 and 1:14. First notice 1:5 "Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his godÖ" now notice 1:14 "Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee." They can to understand they needed to call upon Jehovah not their pagan gods. We see the first evidence of their conversion was prayer. They begged God for mercy. You will remember the first thing after Paulís conversion was he prayed and ask God what He would have him to do.
We also see these men became sympathetic. "Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us?" Jonah tells them that they should cast him overboard. These men, even though they knew he was the cause of the trouble, were not will to do it. Notice "Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them." They expended their energy and put their life in danger to save the man responsible.
This displays a love that must have been born of the Spirit. Love is a fruit of the Spirit and a sign of salvation.
1 John 4:20 "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"
Also notice 1 John 3:14 "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death."
We next see these men submissive to the will of God as an evidence of conversion. "15So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging."
This may I say is a picture of casting out the things in life that are contrary to Godís will. Listen to Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
The final evidence we find is their expectation of the future service. Notice 1:16 "Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows." They made vows of what they would do in their new found walk of life.
So we see that Godís chastisement upon the saved is to bring us to repentance and restore the joy of our salvation while to the lost it is to bring repentance and salvation. Chastisement does indeed have eternal implications and purposes.
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Can We Swallow the Fish Story? Jonah 1:17
Jonah 1:17 simply states, "Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." With these words a firestorm of criticism has been launched again the trustworthiness of the Bible. The liberal thought is that there is no way such an event could have taken place therefore it must all be symbolic or allegoric.
They say there is no room for the supernatural in the rational thinking of an intelligent man. There is no ground to believe it and it must be a fable or a fictitious story to teach us something. Sorry dear ones but this is not fable nor fiction but fact.
The problem many have is they get so wrapped up in the fish story that they forget the God behind it. We do not need to do so. Nor doe we need to only focus on the events inside the fish and forget the things going on inside Jonah.
I Ė The Miracle, Could God and Would God?
Belief in the supernatural is only natural for those who believe in the God of creation. Note the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 19:26 " But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." But is it possible for a fish or a whale to swallow a man and him remain alive. Could God do this?
Some will say that a whaleís throat is to small for a man to go down it. First let me point out that no where in the Old Testament nor the New Testament is the word "whale" used in the original languages.
The word in the Hebrew is the word "dag" and refers to fish or sea monsters. 19 times in the Old Testament it is rendered "fish." And example is Neh 13:16 "There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem."
In Matthew 12:40 which reads, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." This word here translated whale is the Greek word, ketos, which again refers to a sea monster. The New King James Version renders it "Ö the belly of the great fishÖ"
However with that said, God could have used a whale if He had wanted to do so and very well could have done so. However whales are rare in the Mediterranean Sea. So the question is could a whale swallow a man.
The years 1758 and 1771 are reported by The Princeton Theological Review (Oct 1927) as being the dates of two such incidents. J. Sidlow Baxter gives many recorded instances in his writing Explore the Book.
Francis Fox tells that in February 1891 the whaling ship "Star of the East" while off the Falkland Islands had a man named James Bartley who was in a small harpooning boat and was swept into the ocean by the tail of a harpooned sperm whale. He was missing and presumed dead. They found the sailor inside the whale unconscious and pale. However in three weeks he was back at work.
Did you notice what it else it says about this special fish that swallowed Jonah? It says, "the LORD had prepared a great fish." God had prepared the fish to swallow Jonah. The Hebrew word means to "appoint or assign." God did not create a special animal for this but He prepared one in existence. WA Criswell said, "God could have put an air conditioner, TV and carpet in." We donít believe in miracles dear friends, we believe in a supernatural God who does miraculous things. So we again ask the question, "Could God do this?" Sure He could.
II- Would God Do This?
We know God could but would God do such a thing? You will find that God used miracles down through the course of history to verify that men He sent were indeed sent by Him. Moses preformed miracles associated with the Exodus. This was a time of great miracles.
Elijah, you will recall, was the one who prayed for God to send down the fire from heaven. Christ also preformed many supernatural miracles. The apostles in the New Testament recorded the miracles that took place in the early church. Today miracles are everywhere. The birth of a child, the coming alive of the plants in spring, the healing of someone from a terminal disease are modern day miracle. So we can say it is likely that God showed His approval on Jonahís mission by this miracle.
III- The Messages From This Event:
The question that begs to be asked now is what is the message out of this event. There are many and I suggest only a few of the most obvious ones.
First is that God has the power to preserve. Psalms 91:5-9 says, "Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation."
May I say that until God is finished with His saints there is nothing that can befall them that are in His will that God cannot protect them from. Our death is not in the hands of fate, some physician or medicine to cure, but in the hands of God.
Second is that God sometimes delays. Jonah 2:5-7 states, "The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. 7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple."
God delivered Peter from prison on the eve of his death. He delivered Isaac from the hand of Abraham only seconds before death. All hope is not lost until God decides it is. We pray harder and work harder it seems when God delays. (see chapter 6)
Thirdly we see the power of God to purge. God knows how to touch our hearts and how to bring His children back to Him or to bring our loved ones home. It took a donkey talking for Balaam, but only a look for Peter while it took a parable from Nathan for David to come to his senses.
God had a world at His disposal to bring His saints in line and our children to Him. After all He is sovereign over nature. What will it take for God to reach you?
IV- Typology of Jonah:
While we know Jonah is a historic account of an historic event it is within keeping with the integrity of the Scriptures to see the types or typology of Jonah. After all Christ said Jonah was a type of Him.
Could God have spared Jonah another way? He probably could but I submit that He had other things in mind in conjunction with this story. Lets looks at Jonah as a type of Christ, Israel and us.
Jonah is clearly taught in Scripture as being a type of Christ. Matthew 12:40 "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Matthew 16:4 "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed."
This teaches us the events of Jonah correspond to the three days and night of Jesus burial. He is the only prophet, as we have previously stated, that is identified as a type of Christ.
However we must point out that Jesus is greater than Jonah. He is a greater person in that He is the Son of God while Jonah was a man. Jesus has greater character because Jonah was a sinner and He was sinless. His message was greater because it is a message of love and forgiveness while Jonahís was a message of judgment. Christís sacrifice was greater because He gave his life.
We also see Jonah as a type of Israel. How you ask? Good question. Israel rejected their commission to share God with the Gentiles. They were swallowed up by the Babylonians and purged of their sin of idolatry.
And finally we see Jonah as a type of us. Romans 6:3-5 "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." We are called to walk in service after our death burial and resurrection. In our baptism we are identified with the death burial and resurrection of Christ and raised to walk anew.
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Prayer from the Bottom of Life Jonah 2:1-9
We now turn our attention to the situation Jonah found himself in after he was thrown overboard. He is now in the actual belly of the great fish that God had prepared. Jonah is now in a praying mood because of his predicament. There is nothing that will enhance a prayer life like a good dose of trouble. We should be slow to ask God to teach us to pray because that means almost certain trouble and trials.
Also who among us is not aware that there are times when we are so over burdened that we seemingly cannot pray. Notice the good news from Romans 8:26 for such times, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Our prayers are only real prayers when they come from the heart. Romans 8:27 tells us "And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." When we find our world crashing down we now we can come to the throne of God boldly as evidenced by Hebrews 4:16 "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
However, the fact remains that we usually do not pray as we should until disaster. Someone said, "Prayer rises out of trouble like heat out of a fire." Psalms 120:1 states it this way, "In my distress I cried unto the LORD,." The theme of the psalmist is the same as Jonah which is I called unto the Lord in my distress. Jonah 2:1 "Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly.
Please notice the last part of Ps 120:1 again, "and he heard me." Now look at Jonah 2:2 "Öand he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice." The most precious though is in the last part of these verses in the fact that the God of the universe heard the cry from the bottom of life.
As we hold the mirror of Jonah up to our soul as we look at this portion of scripture it can be divided into two natural divisions. Firs it prayer as he was sinking to the bottom (Jonah 2:1-7) and then prayer while sitting on the bottom (Jonah 2:8-9).
I- Praying While Sinking to the Bottom:
Jonah probably though he would wake up dead. I am sure he did not expect to ever see another sunrise or sunset but knew he was shortly going to meet his maker. Imagine what was going through his mind and soul as his life flashed before his eyes.
A- His Situation:
Look at the horrible situation that he found himself in. First he was swallowed up by the waves as he was engulfed by the ocean. Jonah 2:3 "For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me."
As he was sinking we notice he was praying according to Jonah 2:4 "Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple." This was not just some death bed confession that he hoped would be enough. It was the real thing. He turned his heart to God.
We see that he had a little time to think on this because he descended to the bottom. "5Ö the weeds were wrapped about my head. 6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me foreverÖ" Jonah 2:5-6 He went to the bottom where the seaweed wrapped around his head and he stood looking up at the mountains. By the way one do the great arguments for the Bible being the inspired Word of God is here in this verse. It was only recently that science discovered there are indeed great canyons and mountains in the ocean bottoms. Jonah knew it first had because God put him on the bottom of the world.
Jonah knew death awaited but I submit that on the descent to the bottom he experienced a worse fate. Look again at Jonah 2:4 "Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight." Jonah experienced the feeling of abandonment of God. Notice I said he had the felling of abandonment but not the actual experience of it.
Have you been to the point in life when you wondered if anyone, including yourself, cared? More times than we probably want to admit. We all have had those bottoms of life experiences. No we have never been to the bottom of the ocean and never spend three days inside a fish but the waves of life have compassed about us. It is the result of sin. Trouble and sweat of the face was promised to Adam because of sin. It is our human heritage.
Psalms 130:1-2 says, "Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. 2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications." We all have been here and if you are without Christ as your Savior you are there now.
B- His Hope:
We have a man who is sinking into the black depths not only of the sea but I submit to the black depth of the soul. How on earth can we even say his was a hopeful situation? It is simply because the trouble of Jonah drove him to the arms of God in prayer.
What caused Jonah to pray? I remind us that it was not the sailors who threw Jonah overboard but it was God. Jonah 2:3 "For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me." It was Godís ocean, Godís waves that were over him. It is interesting that Jonah never prayed when he was in the hurricane, nor when he was exposed as the reason for the storm. He did pray in the ocean however. Hosea 5:15 "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early."
Affliction turns the hearts toward God. Remember the fiery serpents turned the Israelites toward prayer recorded in Numbers 21:7 "Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people." It took the death of a child for Davidís heart to turn to God as evidenced by 2 Samuel 12:13" And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die." It took the ocean depth and fear for Jonah.
There is a lesson to be learned from this. Let us not wait for a horrible situation before we pray but pray when the first clouds of a storm come or better yet, "Pray without ceasing."
C- Character of Prayers:
There are many types of prayers. There is the emergency prayer that starts something like, "I know we havenít talked much lately but I needÖ" Pride keeps us from praying about things that we havenít prayed about before.
There is also the overcomers prayer. Circumstances are bad, such as Jonahís, there is no reason to hope, yet we hope. If Jonah had trusted in reason he would have drown but trusting in God he was saved and delivered. Remember the ravens fed Elijah, the lions made friends with Daniel, and the fire refused to burn the Hebrew children. Hope against hope is called faith. You have seen the sign that says "When you are at the end of your rope look up."
Then there is the scriptural prayer. Christ prayed on the cross seven times and five of those contained Old Testament scripture. Romans 10:17 says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." God is pleased and honored when we use scripture in prayer to him. However there needs to be a word of caution here. We do not need to have the attitude, "Iíll take Godís word and make God do what I want Him to do because He promised." Beloved we need to handle Godís word reverently, even in prayer. A friend of mine told the story of a dear departed saint who came to his church by the name of Sherrill Pierce. (no relation to myself except in Christ) Eric, the preacher friend, said Sherrill came to the altar and kneeled down with his Bible open and was using scripture and he never felt the power of God so strong in the church. Beloved God honors His word used in prayer.
Jonahís, and many of Godís peopleís as well, have experienced life changing prayers. Romans 5:4 gives the progression, "And patience, experience; and experience, hope." Out of the water would rise a new Jonah at the end of the three days. Jonah 2:9 "But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD." He was rededicated to the task at hand.
We also see answered prayers. God didnít say wait, or not know but he answered immediately. While it is not always so may times our prayers are answered event as they are prayed. Remember Daniel had this to happen in Dan 9:21 "Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched meÖ"
There is a story told of a lady who was on a ship and a storm arose. Everyone was called below deck. They looked and she was standing on the front of the ship. The Captain sent his men to tell here to come below. She replied, "I have a daughter in London and one in heaven and I ask God to let me see one of them tonight and it doesnít matter to me which way he answers."
II- Praying While Sitting on the Bottom:
Jonah, when he should have been dead, arrived at the bottom of the sea in the belly of the fish. Jonah was ready and willing now to go to Ninevah and serve God. But wait he had a problem. He is under the ocean in the belly of the fish. He could tell the story of the grace of God, of Godís forgiveness, His chastisement and mercy. Now he prays out of the belly of the fish. Jonah said, "Öout of the belly of hell cried IÖ" Jonah 2:2
His was a prayer of penitence. He makes a very telling statement in Jonah 2:8 "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy." The New King James says, "Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy."
The Bible plainly teaches we should not be involved in idol worship. What is an idol? Anything we put before God is an idol. Matthew 16:26 thunders, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Jonah had even gotten his own self out of the way. He vowed to do the will of God. Jonah 2:9 "But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed."
Jonah came to the point of total dependence upon and surrender unto God. He cried, "Salvation is of the LORD." Jonah 2:9
Is God going to have to put us on the bottom of life before we will call upon Him? As we call upon him are we patiently waiting for the deliverance? Isaiah 40:31 says, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
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Jonahís Second Chance Jonah 2:10-3:3
Many times in Christianity those who have never experienced a failure have a tendency to look down on those who have. The truth be known most of those who piously think they have never done anything wrong have been guilty at least in neglect of doing what is right. Many times we are unwilling to give anyone another chance. Fortunately God is not that way. God is in the ministry of reconciliation. He rebuilds lives and puts them back into service.
I- Kissing the Ground:
There are stories told of men and women who have been on ships and experienced seasickness that kissed the ground when they got on shore. Would you not say that if Jonah didnít he should have? Jonah 2:10 tells us "And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land."
The fish obeyed God instantly and put Jonah on the land. Jonah was shaken but not dead, stirred and ready to go to work. After a bath of course! Until this time however God had not spoken again to Jonah to go back to Ninevah. Many men who have experienced failure in ministry often wonder if God will ever use them again. Are they on a shelf for the rest of their life runs though their mind? Paul was aware of the need to constantly be on guard against becoming shelved. Notice 1 Corinthians 9:27 "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
II- The Merciful and Forgiving God:
However beloved we are going to see that God is a God that gives second chances. But before we get to that lets look at Godís character of being merciful and forgiving.
Jonah knew that God was a God who forgave sin. Jonah gave this as a reason he ran. (see page 5) Jonah 4:2 "ÖTherefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil."
The great news is not only does God forgive sin but He chooses to forget them as well. Hebrews 8:12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Then notice Ps 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." This moves my heart to worship as I read this and understand the nature of Godís forgiveness. God does this in such a way that it makes us not want to sin anymore.
There is a story told of some boys in Bible School who got into a fight. A wise teacher wrapped them in her arms and told them how much she loved them. The boys came away knowing, even though she never told them, that they were guilty and that she still loved them. They didnít want to fight anymore.
There are several types of forgiveness that God gives us. He gives us forgiveness of sin for salvation. This is known as justification in theology. We are declared to be righteous from sin by the blood of Christ. This is salvation by grace. Rom 3:24 "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
Titus 3:4-5 "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
Jonah had previously experienced this forgiveness and now he needs another king. This is describes as legal or judicial forgiveness. This forgiveness if for righteousness not salvation. Believerís sins are forgiven by the blood of Christ as well. Notice 1 John 1:7;9 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sinÖ9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The need of this type of forgiveness does not imply that someone has lost his or her salvation.
John 10:28 tells us, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
Hebrews 6:6 tells us that when believers sin they "Ö crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." As we continue to sin it causes shame to the cause of Christ. It has been said that Christian do more harm to the cause of Christ than the enemies of the gospel ever will. But praise God He offers forgiveness.
Sin had broken the fellowship Jonah had with God. It didnít break the relationship. Jonah had lost the joy of salvation. When we are in rebellion we loose this fellowship and are miserable people. David said in, Psalms 51:12 "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free sirit."
Sin had also broken the functionality of the prophet. Forgiveness in the fullest sense is when God trusts us again to use us again. Not only the enjoyment but the employment is restored. David said in the next verse of the Psalm, "Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee." Psalms 51:13 He would testify to the forgiveness of God. Remember Peter when he was forgiven of rejecting Christ three times was told by Christ to "feed my sheep." John 21:17
III- Jonahís Second Chance"
The next verse was probably great news to Jonah. God spoke and recommissioned him to go back to work. Jonah 3:1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, sayingÖ"
Notice his instructions. He was to, "Go." Jonah you canít do my will without leaving where you are. Godís word to the church today is still go. The great commission has not changed. Matthew 28:18-20 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
God didnítí tell us to wait till they come and hear but us to go and tell. There is no substitute for a personal visit or a personal word. Many times we try mass mailing and card and letter when a little shoe leather is what is needed.
Notice also God restored the mission back to Jonah. Jonah 3:2 "Arise, go unto NinevehÖ" Many times God does not do this but leads another way however the significance of this I that God wants us to return to Him at the point we left off. Confess specific sin and return to our specific task.
The need in Ninevah was still the same. He was to go to "Öthat great cityÖ" Ninevah may have seemed great in power and might. Great in wealth and architecture but itís greatest thing was its sin. 2 Corinthians 5:14 "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead." The love of God and the power of God are what keep thrusting us in the field of harvest.
The message for Ninevah had not changed only the prophet. He was to Ö"preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." 3:2 He was to cry against their sins. Remember the first commissioning charged Jonah to "Öcry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me." Jonah 1:2
Today preaching the punishment of God that is to come is not popular. But if we preach only the love of God without telling the truth of the wrath to come we are in fact not being honest with people. The need for mercy brings urgency into both the message and the reception of it. If God were only a loving God there would be no reason for man to repent and turn from his sins.
Jonah was to preach what God bid him to do. Beloved we need more biblical preaching and less feel good babbling from our pulpits today. God calls me to preach His word. Notice, Jeremiah 1:7 "But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak." Moses, Jeremiah, Paul all proclaimed thus saith the Lord. If all we have is illustration, good stories of men, academic learning and experience to talk about we do not have much. We need the Bible, the Living Word of God expounded into our hearts. This will heal our families, our communities and our nation.
IV- The Changed Prophet:
The prophet that went into the water was not the same when he walked on the dry ground. He had come face to face with death and God would never be the same. He certainly would have had stronger faith. He had seen God deliver him and this would have steeled him to walk into the lions den of Ninevah. Matthew 10:28 "Ö fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
He no longer ran from his calling. He didnít argue he responded. Jonah 3:3 "So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey."
We will see later that even though Jonah went he was still a sinful man. He was still a sinful man but God wanted to use him to preach. Him being forgiven for sin changed his preaching. His message was now born of real life. He now preached from the heart and from the depth of his soul.
There is a story told of a college president of a small college who had the opportunity to hear one of his graduates preach. When asked what he thought he replied, "he hasnít suffered enough yet." He meant that the young preacher had not experienced enough heartache to minister to the broken hearted.
Beloved God has calls us to go tell the world about Jesus. He has given us the chance to serve Him. What an honor! Perhaps you need to feel the forgiveness of past failures and restoration to your soul. Perhaps you are sitting waiting to go back to work. It is time beloved to get up and get busy. Matthew 5:14-16 tells us "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
It is time to do as the song says, "wake the town and tell the people He is coming back someday." The best therapy for a broken life is ministering to others.
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Ninevahís Repentance and Revival Jonah 3:4-10
What was the greatest miracle that is recorded in Jonah? Was it the miracle of the storm, the fish that swallowed him, or the preservation of his life in the fish for thee days and night? Or perhaps it was that the fish delivered him onto dry land again. Or was it perhaps not any of these.
Jonah enters the city of Ninevah and God instigated the greatest miracle in the book of Jonah, the revival of the pagan nation. The repentance of the great number of people at the preaching of Godís Word was a miracle. I remind you that they were in such a wicked state that God was going to destroy them.
This repentance may not have been repentance for salvation but at the least it was repentance for national reform. This begs the question, has America forgot how to repent? We also know that the national repentance was not lasting because in 612 BC the city fell just as the prophet Nahum and Zephaniah predicted. Nahum 3:7 "And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?"
Zephaniah 2:13;15 "And he will stretch out his hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wildernessÖ 15 This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand."
However thought it was not a repentance that lasted forever this repentance none the less received the commendation of Jesus. Matthew 12:41 "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." So this begs the question does God require us to repent? Yes, yes, many times yes. Repent means to not only turn away from something but also to turn to God. It does not mean to turn from one false hope to another or one sin to another. We need to replace the wrong in our lives with the godly. An Old Testament example of the call for repentance is Ezekiel 14:6 "Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations."
Matthew 3:2 records that John the Baptist came on the scene preaching, "And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Then Matthew 4:17 records "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Luke 13:1-5 clearly contains the teaching of Jesus that even good men need to repent. "There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
So how are men taught they need to repent and how does God prepare the hearts of men to receive Him? Please note that revival is fanning the flame of a smolder ember while a new birth is a resurrection where the fire of life is lit in the soul. So how does this take place?
I- By Preaching:
The God of the universe has chosen to reveal Himself in many ways. Let us not a couple.
A- By Creationís Revelation:
The Ninevites had probably heard no preaching nor probably read the Bible. So why did they repent? You could say they had the revelation of creation. Romans 1:20 "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."
Dear ones, atheism must be learned. A small child whoís heart is tender and open naturally believes in God. There are no 6-year-old atheists. There is also not a culture among the so-called primitive people who do not have some type or form of deity that they worship. They know there is a God but who He is they do not know. A movie once portrayed a group of savages that saw a pop bottle fall from the sky, out of an airplane, and worshipped it until they decided that it was evil then they sent a man to throw it off the edge of the world. This was a comedy that portrays a truth that mankind has a natural capacity to worship a higher power.
We have a biblical example of this in Acts 17:23 "For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you." Paul made the so-called unknown God known to them.
B- Revelation in His Word:
Exodus 3 records the calling of Moses by God on the backside of the desert. "ÖGod called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." Exodus 3: 4-6
Through Moses God revealed who He was/is and what was required of mankind because of who He is. God revealed Himself in the history of His chosen people Israel. Now He wants to reveal himself through the testimony of the church. Matthew 28:18-20 " And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in His word.
Some has said that the a Christianís reason for being is "To know Him and to make Him known." We do this by the power of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Jonah 3:4 "And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Ninevah was Jonah and hear the testimony of a man who had been delivered from death. The world today needs to see us as men who have been delivered from sin and death.
II- Repentance if Preceded by Faith:
Jonah 3:5 "So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them." The people believed the word God sent them and this moved them to repent. The faith came prior to repentance. Hebrews 11:6 says, "Öhe that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
What we believe is really what we will practice. D.L. Moody said that the two deepest convictions of his heart were 1- he was a great sinner and 2- Jesus was a great Savior. What we believe is importance. We need to believe what God says. The Ninevites were moved by fear and repented when faced with judgment. Fear of judgment is one way God calls me to repentance. Notice another beloved as well, Romans 2:4 "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" God also calls men to repentance by His goodness. Here in Ninevah it took judgment preaching. Today some are afraid to mention hell in a sermon as a place that need to be shunned. Vance Havner said, "Iíd rather be scared into heaven than lulled into hell."
III- Repentance Produces Fruit:
So how do we know someone is sincere in their repentance? Many today are supposable saved, join the church and are baptized and then you never see them again. May I say it leave us to wonder if they truly were saved. Repentance comes in many forms and degrees.
There is surface repentance 2 Corinthians 7:10b says, "Öthe sorrow of the world worketh death." This surface repentance at times is nothing more a show for someone but not really from the heart. Then there is remorse and shame. Judas had this type of repentance. Listen to Matthew 27:3-5 "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself." Many times repentance is nothing more than sorrows over the consequences of sin such as disease or some other heart break. Sometimes it is sorrow over getting caught.
So how do we know if it was genuine repentance? May I say that we really cannot know for sure but fruits after repentance is an indication of true repentance? Lets look at some fruit of repentance.
Jonah 3:5-7 "So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. 6 For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water:"
The first part of the 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented ofÖ"
These in Ninevah from the king down to the peasants said in sackcloth and ashes. We might ask how do we show sorrow for our sin? May I say one way is to quit the sin?
Notice also that they called out to God in prayer. Jonah 3:8-9 "But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?"
Someone said that fears plus hope equals prayer and need plus hope equal prayer. They had fear and need and prayed because they had hope that God would spare the city. Prayer was their last resort but it is what God wants from us first. 1 Peter 5:7 instructs "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
C- Surrender: 3:8
Broken in repentance and surrendered to God they stood at His mercy. In order for us to turn from our sin we must come to this point. We alone are not able to give up any sin. With Godís help we can have victory over our sins. We must be willing to give our sins up to God so God can work on them. Revival is more than having a series of meetings. It is getting serious with God about our lives and our failures. It is coming full circle from depending on us to depending on Him. As we look into this mirror do we see our need?
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Running Against God Jonah 4:1-4
As we remember where our journey has taken us as we have passed through Jonah we recall that at first Jonah ran with God as a prophet of God. Next we saw that Jonah ran from God when he called him to go to Ninevah. We will see now that Jonah is going to run, "against God." When chapter three ends Jonah had finally arrived at the place God wanted him to be and his mission had been accomplished. The story could end here if it were a "and they all lived happily ever after" story. However the Word of God is to honest about life and the failures of even the best to end now. 1 Peter 4:18 tells us, "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" The saved are said to be scarcely saved. This points to the fact that even the best of Godís men and women have problems. The absence of problem means we are dead.
The problem is no longer the Ninenvites, the problem now is Jonah. Who can understand Jonah? He ran from God and ended up in the fish, next he went to preach as instructed and saw a great revival and then is angry with God because He accepted the repentance of Ninevah and spared them. It is impossible to understand Jonah unless we look at ourselves and see at times we run the way does not want us to go wanting our way instead of Godís way. Jonah again is holding the mirror up before us and the picture is not pretty.
Let us look at Jonah running against God in three area of study. The dejection, depravity and deliverance of the prophet.
I- The Dejection of the Prophet:
To set the content into which we are in we need to again realize that after God sent Jonah to preach and they repented that God did not destroy them Jonah 3:10 "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."
Now notice Jonahís angry response to this. Jonah 4:1 "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry." Jonahís anger was voiced to God in an angry prayer. Jonah 4:2 "And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." Jonah knew that God was a long-suffering God and reminded God of this. He was angry because God had spared the city. Before we are too had on Jonah let us remember the prejudice and national pride he had. Remember Assyria was a cruel nation and Ninevah was its capital. They were a thorn in the side of Israel causing them pain and suffering and would take Israel into captivity. How could God spare them? Well beloved God is God and we are men and our understandings are on totally different levels. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Jonah really is down hearted and depressed. He says in Jonah 4:3 "Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." Jonah prays to die. One philosopher said, "the contemplation of suicide has gotten many a person through a dark night." Jonah was not the first or only servant of God to have such thoughts and pray such prayers.
Look at Elijah the great prophet. 1 Kings 19:4 "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers."
Job in Job 3:21 " Which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures." In Job 3:3,11 Job also said, "Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceivedÖ.11 Why died I not from the womb? why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?" The psalmist cried out "Why art thou cast down, O may soul." Ps 42:5
So we must ask was Jonahís prayer sin? May I say yes and no. The attitude of despondency and anger was probably sin. The prayer was honest and after all God wants us to be honest with him. We need to see this not as a malice attack by an enemy against God but as a friend that is sick and sad. We need to be careful however as we justify ourselves under the guise of honesty that we do not say things we do not mean. After all God knows the heart better than we do. Job 2:9 records the advice of Jobís wife during his time of suffering. "Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die." This would have been rash and uncalled for.
Let us listen well to the advice of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5:2 "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few."
II- The Depravity of the Prophet:
Still we cannot sweep the sin of Jonah under the rug so to speak. We need to look at it and learn from it. What sin was he guilty of? Let us look a few.
A- The Sin of Pride:
Would you not agree that if someone thinks they know more than the God of the universe does then they are prideful? Jonah accused God of being wrong for sparing Ninevah. He wanted his will not Godís will to be done. Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." May we be guilty only of being humble before the God of the universe!
B- The Sin of Prejudice:
First we must remember we are all members of the human race. Sometimes we have more compassion on animals than we do other humans of different races, classes and nationalities. Christian love must encompass all. Notice Romans 10:12-13 "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." May we be guilty of loving our fellowman and having compassion on all.
C- The Sin of Anger:
Ephesians 4:26 speaks to us with sound advice, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath." It was the first sin after the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. The sin of anger was in the heart of Cain and directed toward Abel. Anger separates friends, tears down homes and churches. Proverbs 30:33 says, "Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife."
D- Sin of Rebellion:
He turned against God and did not submit to Godís will. Jonah rebelled against God. The only thing rebellion against God gets us is trouble. A story is told of a man who suddenly left a discussion group quite disgusted, slamming the door after him. One person trying to relieve the tension, remarked, "Well, he's gone." To this the hostess replied, "No, he isn't. That's a closet!" We run from God in rebellion and cannot see our way clearly.
III- The Deliverance of the Prophet:
Jonah was downcast and in emotional trouble because of the events that had transpired. Jonah, like Moses and Elijah, is delivered from his despondency. Like Peter, David and John Mark he was forgiven of his sin. How do we know? He wrote the book of Jonah. Jonah bared as someone said the four corners of his soul. He exposed the sin in his life and held the mirror up for us to see ourselves. The Bible says, in James 5:16 "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healedÖ" Sometimes the deliverance cost us pain.
Let me end this with a lengthy story told by the Governor of Arkansas during his days as pastor.
When [our son] John Mark was 4 years old, he was out playing in the back yard and got a splinter in his foot. He came in and held up his foot. He was crying, and he said, "I got a splinter in my foot!" I said "Sit on the couch. Let's look at it." So I looked at it.
Then, as he held up his foot and I reached over to pull the splinter out (because I knew it would feel better), he said what every kid says (which I still, to this day, don't understand): "Don't touch it!" I said, "What do you want me to do? Take a picture of it and mount it on the wall? I've got to touch it, Son. I don't levitate splinters out of your foot. There is no choice." "It will hurt," he moaned. I said, "It might, but it won't hurt as long. It will sure feel a lot better when I get the splinter out."
But somehow that wasn't adequate. So Janet held down the top of him while I tried to hold down the bottom of him and pull that splinter out. He was kicking and screaming and jerking in all different directions, and here I was with the tweezers, trying to pull out the splinter. I was afraid that I would jab those tweezers way up into his foot.
I wanted to say to him, "Son, don't you trust me? What do you think I'm going to do, cut your foot off? I'm not here to hurt you. I'm here to help you, and if you don't let me help you, it's going to get worse not better. Trust me; I'm your father. I love you. I care about you. I do this only to help you. Be still. Relax."
I think sometimes God in heaven must look down upon us, and we must be like a little child who says, "God, I'm hurt. God help me." God reaches in to help us, and the first thing we do is say, "God, don't touch me! Don't do that God!" God is saying, "But I've got to reach in there and deal with the hurt. It may hurt a little, but I've got to do it." We say, "No, God. Please, nothing like that!"
So here we are fighting with God. It is the equivalent of being in surgery when the surgeon has both of his arms up to his elbows in your abdomen, and suddenly you decide that you don't want to be operated on and try to get off the table. How many times in our lives do we find ourselves on the surgery table of the Almighty, where God is trying to work in our lives that miracle of making us like Christ, and when we realize what God's doing, we wake up and say, "God, I don't want you to do this. Let me out of here!"? -- Mike Huckabee, "Practice of Patience," Preaching Today, Tape No. 78.
Dear Lord help us to not be guilty of pride and arrogance and help us to look into the mirror and if we are running against you to repent. Give us wisdom to know your will and then wisdom to do it.
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God Doesnít Crucify His Wounded Jonah 4:5-11
Pride, prejudice and other sins wound Jonah as we have seen. How does God treat those who from our human perspective has lost favor or has sinned? May I say that God does not crucify His wounded and neither should we. Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Good words but had to practice. Someone said, we see when Jonah reaches the depth of rebellion, God reaches the heights of compassion.
I- Jonah Watches Over the City:
Jonah 4:5 "So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city."
Jonah goes out to the hillside and sits and watches over the city to see its fate. While sitting here we see the true humanity of Jonah. We see his savagery. He wanted God to destroy them. Before we are critical of Jonah think on this statement, "beneath the best of us lives the beast of us."
David was a great king and it was said of him that he was a man after Godís own heart. Still David had a human side. 1 Samuel 25:22 "So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall." We also see the disciple exhibit this same behavior in Luke 9:54 "And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?" they would have killed over and insult. Even the most saintly men and women have a base human nature that sometimes is manifest when they loose their mental facilities. Sin lies at our door friends and it is only by the grace of God that we do not commit some act of revenge. Paul saw this sin lying at the door in Romans 7:14-20 "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me."
Not only savagery but also selfishness is manifest in Jonah as he sat there. Jonah 4:6 "And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd."
Jonah was interested in only HIS shelter. He was preoccupied with personal comfort. My what an indictment of our life style and us when we are to busy for God or to be visited by God or to busy to call a prospect for our class or to train to win someone to the Lord. We are more concerned with our comfort as Jonah was. Notice an example of this out of scripture. 2 Timothy 4:10 "For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia."
Preoccupation with this world has kept many from accepting Jesus as their Savior. Notice the story in Luke 14:16-24 that speaks to this. Jesus is speaking. "Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."
Are we to busy for God? If we are to busy for God we are to busy. Also do we sorry more about the fender on our car that got a scratch or the neighborís daughter on drugs?
Jonah also sat in solitude. Jonah felt that God had forsaken him. Psalms 22:1 "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?" This puts him and us in some might high company because David felt the same way. Corrie Ten Boom survived the Nazi horrors of World War two by saying, "The devil can never dig a hoe so deep that God cannot find you." We are never as alone as when we think that God has left us. May I say beloved this aloneness is only in our mind because God does not leave His children? He corrects them, admonishes them but as Jesus said, Matt 28:20 "ÖI am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
II- God Watches Over Jonah:
Remember Jonah 4:6 "And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief." This shows us the watch care of God for His rebellious servant in that providentially He grew the plant as a shelter for Jonah from the sun. Jonah was happy for a time in this provision. He was that God had done something personally for him. Have you ever noticed when we need it most God somehow makes His presence know. A poet wrote:
Weíve dreamed many dreams that never came true,
Weíve seen them vanish at dawn
But enough of our dreams have finally come true,
That makes us want to dream on.
The plant was not the only thing that God prepared for the betterment of Jonah. He prepared the fish and the storm as well. Letís notice two additional things He prepared.
III- Lessons of the Wind and the Worm:
God had the plant grow and then, as the saying goes, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Jonah 4:7-8 "But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. 8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live."
God allowed the worm to kill the plant. This showed Jonah the cost of being a servant. Jonah had already been shown that there is a painful price for sin and now he is shown that there is a purposeful price for service. Luke 14:27-30 says, "And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? 29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, 30 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish." Service for God carries a price but rebellion carries a larger price.
We also see our need for a right attitude for pleasure and comfort. All the comfort we have can go overnight. Earthly pleasure is but for a season. Moses recognized this according to Hebrews 11:24-25 "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season."
A simple germ can ruin an athletic or a career ending injury. Slander can ruin a reputation that can never be recovered.
Please see also that we need to have the right attitude toward pain. Jonah prayed to die, God wouldnít allow it. They hymn writer said, "Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free. No, thereís a cross for everyone and thereís a cross for me."
IV- Staring At God:
The last verses of Jonah bring Jonah face to face with God. Lets look into this mirror. Jonah 4:9-11 "And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. 10 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?"
Notice the arrogance of Jonah here. He was more concerned with everything else instead of the people that should have been his concern. Do we see ourselves here? Godís Word to Jonah was sharp and pointed. Godís Word is that way with us. Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
When God looks at our heart what does He see. Is it a hear that wants to serve Him or one wanting to go our own way.
Jonah ends, yet he lives with each of us. He holds the mirror up so we can see ourselves. A mirror to our soul and a confrontation and indictment to our attitudes, prejudices, sin and rebellion. But thanks be to God that He restores and reuses those who will repent and turn again to Him.
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