Lessons from Jonah
I. The book of Jonah is unique among the prophets
A. The emphasis of the story is upon the messenger instead of the message.
B. We learn lessons from the actions of the prophet, instead of the message he delivered.
C. The tale of a man being swallowed and living three days in a great fish have caused some to doubt, but even Christ affirms the truth of this message - Matt 12:40-41
II. Jonah was a prophet during the reign of Jeroboam II in Israel - II Kings 14:25
A. He was told to deliver a message to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, a nation that was extorting large sums of protection money from Jonah’s country.
1. History records that the Assyrians were a brutal and wicked nation.
2. They savagely destroyed all who opposed them, not just the men, but the women and children as well.
B. While an evil nation may exist for a time, they are not assured of continuance - Prov 14:34
1. Isa 60:12 - A nation that will not serve God will be uprooted.
2. Jer 12:14-17 - God will uproot any nation that does not listen to Him
3. No nation is so great that God cannot and will not bring low.
III. Jonah did not want to bring God’s message to Nineveh - Jonah 1:1-3
A. At first, you may think that it is because Jonah is afraid to enter the territory of Israel’s enemies, but this is not so.
B. Jonah fell into the trap of self-righteousness
1. We stay on the straight and narrow. We know that what we do is pleasing to God.
2. When we see how the lost are ruining themselves, it is easy to fall in the snare of pride.
a. Our focus becomes what I want, what I need, instead of looking out for the needs of others - Phil 2:3-4
3. The disciples fell into this trap - Luke 9:51-54
4. This is the trap Jonah fell in. Jonah was not interested in their salvation, he wanted to see them destroyed.
C. Jonah tried to hide from God, but he learned that such is not possible - Ps 139:7-12
D. When Jonah was forced to go, he taught that they only had 40 days - Jonah 3:1-4
1. I’m sure Jonah did not mind that those who heard his message would soon be dead.
2. This isn’t just a small town in rural Nebraska. It is called the great city (Jonah 1:2)
a. It took three days just to walk across it! - Jonah 3:3
3. I’m sure the reaction was not what Jonah was expecting.
4. The people from the lowest to the greatest, turned! - Jonah 3:5-9
E. So God changed his mind - Jonah 3:10
1. Such is the nature of God - Jeremiah 18:8
2. God will have mercy on those who obey him.
F. Jonah was furious!
1. God would not have mercy on him! He made Jonah go and preach to his enemies - Jonah 4:1-3
a. How soon he forgot his rescue from the whale! Was that not mercy?
b. See how he applies mercy to himself, but not to his enemies?
G. God teaches Jonah a lesson - Jonah 4:4-11
1. Jonah cared more for the plant than a city full of people!
2. Jonah had done nothing for the plant, but he did teach a whole city.
a. Why? Because Jonah got something from the plant. He looked only to his own personal benefits.
b. Jonah did not have the mind of Christ - Phil 2:3-4
3. 120,000 people turned because of one man’s teaching! Should God not have pity on such people?
IV. We need to keep our focus.
A. There are precious souls to snatch away from the true enemy. Each one is a tremendous victory for our Savior.
B. II Tim 2:24-26 - See how the emphasis is on the lost, and not the saved.
C. Let us not get caught up in our own righteousness and fail to see the lost and dying world around us.
1. It is so easy to condemn
2. But is more needful to rescue.