The word of the Lord came to Jonah. Would you put your name in the place of Jonah for me please? We serve a talking Lord. God created Adam and Eve because he wanted to walk, talk, and communicate with his children. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (Jn 10:27). The Lord speaks through His voice, through His prophets, through His spirit, through circumstances, through people, through preachers like Jonah, and through his Word.
The Book of Jonah
By Pastor Delbert Young
The Word of the Lord Came to Jonah
The Word of the Lord Came to Jonah
Scriptures: Jonah 1:1-3, Matthew 28:19, Jonah 1:4, Jonah 1:8-9, Jonah 1:15-17
Welcome to our series on the Book of Jonah. How many remember the story of Jonah? Remember, he was the toy wooden boy who lied and every time he lied, his nose grew longer until one day a whale swallowed him. Oh, I’m talking about Pinocchio. I am sorry – wrong story.
At any rate, I am excited about teaching Jonah. It’s because I see him in me. In fact, I see Jonah in all of us. It’s going to be a great and challenging series. So, let’s get started.
Jonah 1:1-3 The WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO JONAHson of Amittai: “GO TO the great city of NINEVEHand preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But JONAH RAN AWAY FROM THE LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish TO FLEE FROM THE LORD.
It said the word of the Lord came to Jonah. Would you put your name in the place of “Jonah” for me please? We serve a talking Lord. God created Adam and Eve because he wanted to walk, talk and communicate with his children. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (Jn 10:27). The Lord speaks through his audible voice, through his prophets, through his spirit, through circumstances, through people, even through preachers like Jonah, and through his Word. The Bible says Jesus is the incarnate word of God (Joh 1:1,14). He will talk to you today through his word if you will let him. His word comes to each of us every day. You can obey his word and live blessed, or you can do what he did and not obey. It’s up to you.
The challenging part of God’s word coming to you is he will frequently tell us to do things we don’t want to do. The reason we don’t want to do what the Lord says is because we convince ourselves we can escape the consequences and do what we want to do. It’s what Adam and Eve did, Jonah did, and this is what you do. However, there is no escaping the consequences, for there is no escaping God. Ask Adam and Eve. Ask Jonah!
What I want us to see through our study is it’s not God merely dealing with you when you do not obey the word of the Lord. God has a much, much larger reason. It’s not only about you. It’s about God’s bigger picture. Let me ask you this. Why did the word of the Lord come to Jonah? The answer is NINEVEH.
God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against it, but he attempted to run away from the Lord. Jonah was not running from Nineveh. He was running from the the Lord. When we refuse to do the word of the Lord, it’s not simply refusing his word. We are running from the Lord. We are running from his presence. The Lord told Jonah to go east 500 miles. He went west 2,000 miles. “Nineveh is five hundred miles east of Israel. Tarshish is due west by two thousand miles.” He attempted to go 2,500 miles in the opposite direction. That’s a long way from God. HOW FAR AWAY ARE YOU FROM GOD? If you don’t feel the presence of the Lord it’s because you are running from the word of the Lord when it comes to you.
Nineveh was the most wicked place on the planet. The Lord said, “its wickedness has come up before me.” It’s reminiscent of what the Lord said of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:20). Nineveh was an evil wicked place and Jonah wanted no part of it. He figured those “wicked sinners” needed to go to hell anyway. He clearly heard the word of the Lord, but Jonah’s actions said, “I DON’T WANT TO DO IT. Let them go to hell.”
It’s easy to point fingers at Jonah and at others when they refuse to “go to Nineveh,” but what about you? Who is your Nineveh? Whom do you know, but refuse, to “go to”? Jesus, speaking to his disciples – you and me – said…
Matthew 28:19 THEREFORE GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
THE WORD OF THE LORD TELLS US TO “GO…” We say, “I DON’T WANT TO.” “They are wicked – homosexuals, lesbians, abusers, whatever and “need to go to hell.” To whom are you to go? It’s somebody. Who? Who is your NINEVEH?
Let’s condense it even more. How about the “word of the Lord” coming to you concerning forgiveness? Can the “word of the Lord” come to you any more clearly concerning forgiveness? The word of the Lord comes to you saying forgive as you have been forgiven, but you say, “I DON’T WANT TO.” “They hurt me and they are wicked.” You flee from the Lord’s presenceconcerning forgiveness. He said if you won’t forgive, I won’t forgive you (Mat 6:15) – consequences, right? You go in the opposite direction 2,500 miles.
How about the word of the Lord coming to you concerning tithing offering and alms? Can the word of the Lord come to you any more clearly than what he says about this? However, so many say, “I DON’T WANT TO.” You say, “I want “my things” more than I want the word of the Lord. I know what the Lord says, but ‘I DON’T WANT TO DO IT.'” So, you rob God and you are cursed with a curse (Mal 3:9) – consequences.
From what/whom do you flee concerning his word coming to you? Maybe it’s anger, or an addiction, or a secret sin, or dating a person you know is not good for you. About what do you say, “I DON’T CARE WHAT GOD SAYS. I WANT TO DO THIS” and then flee from the Lord? Jonah lives in all of us. So, you head for Tarshish and meet up with some serious circumstances.
Sometimes people say, “I don’t want to do it now. I will do it later.” Is delayed obedience really obedience? It’s like the parenting technique of “counting.” You tell your child 15 times not to do something then say something like, “I’m giving you to 3 – 1, 2, 2 ½, 2 ¾, 2 7/8…” Is your child really obeying? They will experience serious consequences while you count. Delayed obedience is disobedience and it always brings consequences. Church people are notorious for delayed disobedience and yet wonder why they are always in storms.
Jonah 1:4 Then the LORD SENT A GREAT WIND on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.
The Lord let Jonah run for a while, but not forever. The Lord will let you run for a while, but you can’t run forever.
How many have experienced some violent storms in life? I venture to guess it was because you were running from the word of the Lord. I’m not going to sugar coat this. I am persuaded many of the storms of life come because we run from the Lord when his word comes to us, or because we are in the boat with a Jonah.
Who would ever associate a violent storm with Jonah’s disobedience? I mean, what possible connection does a violent storm have with us? Yet, we know they were directly connected. Who would associate the storm in your life with your disobedience? Could they be directly connected? Do you ever connect the dots? Whenever things get a little stormy in our lives, the first thing Judy asks me is, “Are we giving our tithes correctly?” We begin connecting the dots. Sometimes, we need to realize the Lord is attempting to get our attention.
Verses 5-8 tell us those far from God in the ship with Jonah figured out the storm was attached to Jonah. Sometimes people far from God more readily understand why Christians experience storms than Christians! They asked Jonah…
Jonah 1:8-9 “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE to bring this awful storm down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?” And Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I WORSHIP THE LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.”
Do you really, Jonah? Do you really worship the Lord, or do you only say you worship the Lord? If the Lord says, “Go east” and you go west, is this worshipping the Lord? How about you? Do you worship the Lord, or do you only say you worship the Lord? We say, “I am a Christian, and I worship the Lord.” Do we really?
There seems so little if any difference today between those who say they worship the Lord and those who do not believe at all. Today’s “Christianity” seems such a social religion. We go to church if the weather is good. However, the weather does not stop us from going to work. We tip God a little money if we have a little left over and call it an offering (it’s a sick lamb), but find a way to purchase what we want. We seldom witness. It seems we look for things to get upset about. Worshiping God is a lifestyle. Do you really worship the Lord, or just say you do? Do you use profanity at work or home or when you are angry? Do you go into a rage and cuss your children and spouse? Let me ask you a question. WHATDIFFERENCE IS THERE BETWEEN YOU AND A LOST PERSON OTHER THAN YOU SAY, “I WORSHIP THE LORD”?
Most Christians say, “I know what God says, but I DON’T WANT TO DO IT” and giggle when they say it. Well Jonah, the giggling is about to stop.
Jonah 1:11-12 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I KNOW THAT IT IS MY FAULT THAT THIS GREAT STORM HAS COME UPON YOU.”
Finally Jonah realizes what innocent people are experiencing because of him. One of the saddest things about running from the word of the Lord is what we bring upon people in the boat with us. What is your family going through because of your disobedience to the word of the Lord coming to you? When will you realize and admit the storms you are putting yourself and those in your boat through are because you are running from the word of the Lord?
It’s amazing what those in the boat with Jonah tried to do to save him. They actually threw their livelihood and possessions away for Jonah. I pray those in your boat don’t do to you what those in the boat finally did with Jonah. They threw Jonah out of the boat.
Jonah 1:15-17 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm… But THE LORD PROVIDED A GREAT FISH TO SWALLOW JONAH, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.
Let me get this right. The Lord sent a great wind causing a violent storm. Now, the Lord PROVIDED a great fish to SWALLOW JONAH? Does the Lord really do this? Naaaaaaaaaaa, right?
What happened to Jonah is unbelievably horrible in our human minds, but it didn’t need to go that far. You have been through some horrible things, but it didn’t have to go that far. The Lord sent a great wind trying to get Jonah’s attention, but Jonah would not. The wind turned into a violent story, yet Jonah would not give the Lord his attention. The sailors came to the place of throwing Jonah out of the boat, but hardheaded Jonah would not give the Lord his attention. It was not until Jonah found himself swallowed by a great fish Jonah gave the Lord the attention God wanted. How far do/will you take it before you give the Lord your attention?
Interestingly, Jonah’s worst nightmare was exactly what Jonah needed. God PROVIDED what Jonah would perceive as the worst possible scenario. How many times have you faced what seemed to be your worst nightmare only to find it was the best thing that could ever have happened? Some of you are facing either a storm or a fish right now. It’s bad. What if I told you God sent it and provided it for you. God is getting your attention.
The word of the Lord will come to you. You can always find a ship heading in the wrong direction. It’s the “I DON’T WANT TO DO IT” ship. The Lord will let you run for a while then he will send a great wind. If the wind doesn’t get your attention, the wind will cause a violent storm. If the storm doesn’t get your attention, he will provide a great fish to swallow you – YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE. If this happens, understand it is all because he loves you and is saving you. Beyond that and this is what I really want us to see. It’s not to mess with you and show you he is God. It’s not to only discipline you for being a bad boy or bad girl. It’s not really only about your disobeying his word. It’s not to make an example out of you. IT’S ABOUT NINEVEH. Nineveh has lost people waiting for you. They will go to hell unless you show up in their lives. Your winds, your storms, and your fish are not all about you. It is all about you AND Nineveh. There are people for you to impact. Will you? It’s what the book of Jonah is all about because it’s what God is all about. Let’s pray.
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