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Lessons from the life and Book of Jonah
Lessons from the life of Jonah

Scripture reading: Jonah

Background info

-Jonah from the first half of the 8th century B.C
-Contemporary's include Amos and Hosea
-The city that God sent Jonah to was the capital of the Assryian empire -- an enemy state, who oppressed both Israel and Judah and who ultimately carried Israel into exile in 721 B.C
-Tarshish, where Jonah wanted to go to get away from God, was 3500 km away across the Mediterranean

LESSONS AND PRINCIPLES OF THE TEXT

1. Jesus viewed the events of Jonah as being literal, real, and historical.

Note the words of Christ in Matthew 12:38-41 "Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you." He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.

2. God wants and expects us to obey Him

In Jonah 1:1-2 it says "The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me"

In response to God's command, Jonah (because he hated the Ninevites -the enemies of Israel and Judah) immediately got on a boat and went the opposite way.

Such is not what God has in mind for us as it regards His commands

The Bible teaches us that obedience to God brings blessing while disobedience brings punishment and discipline.

God's desire: That our obedience be willing, quick, careful, complete, joyful, from the heart

Question:

Are you aware of any areas in your life where you are fighting against God and resisting His commands?

Reminder: I John 5:3 says; "This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome"

3. It's impossible to get away from God

In Psalm 139:7-12 David says of God "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."

Note that in Jonah 1:10-11 - after telling the pagan sailors that he worshipped the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land" that the sailors are terrified because they knew that Jonah was trying to run away from the LORD

While the sailors served regional deities who were just idols made by human hands- and hence not gods at all- Jonah served the LORD-- He who is all knowing, all present, all powerful

Question: Are you trying to run away from God? Is there something you don't want God to see you doing?

It's impossible to get away from God. It's impossible to do something that He can't see

On the positive side: What a comfort to know that God is wherever we go

4. God's awesome- praise the Lord!

In the Book of Jonah the Divine power of God is on display. He caused the storm to endanger the ship that Jonah was sailing on. He stopped the wind and the waves when Jonah was cast overboard. He provided a great fish to swallow Jonah (some think it might have been a Sperm whale, a great white shark, or a whale shark). He kept Jonah alive for 3 days in the fish. He had the fish vomit Jonah onto dry land. He made a vine grow up over Jonah to give him shade. He sent a worm to chew the roots of the vine. He sent a scorching east wind that wore Jonah right out. He turned the hearts of the pagan sailors to Himself. He spared the Ninevites

Point: This is God's world. He is sovereign over it. He's got the whole world in His hands. Nothing is impossible for Him.

5. How's your prayer life?

Prayer is to be a regular part of our lives. The Scriptures bid that we pray in all things and that we be a people of constant prayer

To pray as a Christian is to talk to God the Father by the agency of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Our prayer lives are to be balanced: Full of thanks, praise, reverence, adoration, confession, intercession, personal supplication.

There is a big connection between us praying and God acting

Something to note from the account of Jonah: He was angry with God, not wanting to do what God told him to do, and bound and determined to somehow get away from God. So what was one thing that Jonah stopped doing? He stopped praying.

Note the scene on the ship: The terrified sailors are each vainly crying out to their supposed and useless deities -- and nothing was happening. Meanwhile, Jonah is in the hold of the ship fast asleep. Here's the kicker: The pagan captain charges Jonah to call on his god--- and here's the thing, Jonah doesn't. Jonah 1:5-7

When did Jonah start to pray? It's not until he's swallowed by the fish that God provided that Jonah comes to his senses and starts to pray. 2:1ff

How's your prayer life? Is it regular? Is it balanced? Is there a confession and repentance portion to it? Are you interceding for others? Are your prayers directed to the Father in the name of the Son?

If you haven't been praying to God are you mad at God for something? Have you gotten lazy? Or are you trying to get away from God and His requirements?

6. We need to mind the examples that we set as the followers of Christ.

As Christians people are always watching us to see if we "walk the talk" or "do as we preach"

Jonah- who was a follower of God, did not set a great example

He was angry-- angry at the mercy and compassion of God and the thought that God might spare people who he nursed a grudge against. He was openly rebellious and disobedient to God. He sat out on a hill outside the city of Nineveh excited by the prospect that God might destroy them. He preferred death versus seeing the Ninevites saved.

The point: We need to watch the examples that we set, mindful of the positive charge that Paul gave to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12 "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity"

7. God delights in saving people

"I was quick to flee to Tarshish because I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity" Jonah 4:2

"Nineveh has more than a 120 thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" God to Jonah 4:11

The Gospel

The call of the Scriptures is that we be reconciled to God -

a. Every person is a sinner before God

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

All our righteousness (all the stuff a person might think warrants consideration for getting into heaven) is as filthy rags before God. Isaiah 64:6

b. Our sin warrants our being punished by God.

As Ephesians 2:1-3 teaches us -By nature we are objects of His wrath and deserving of judgment

c. Because of His great love for us, God made a way for us to be reconciled to Him

1 John 4:10 says; "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

Similarily, Romans 5:8 says; "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

d. Salvation is grasped and taken hold of by faith in Christ alone

In John 14:6 Jesus says of himself "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

In Acts 16:30-31 we see a person taking hold of Christ. The person in question is jailor who has just scene the mighty hand of God at work- breaking open the prison doors that he was responsible for. Listen to what he said "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied (being Paul and Silas), "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household."

God delights in saving sinners. Have you humbled yourself before the Lord? Have you acknowledged your sinfulness? Have you gone to Christ as Savior and Lord for the forgiveness of your sins?

If you haven't, what's holding you back?