Jonah and Revival

SCRIPTURE TEXT: Jonah 3:1-10

1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time:
2 “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.” 3 Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command.

Now Nineveh was an extremely great city, a three-day walk. 4 Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be demolished! ” 5 Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth ​— ​from the greatest of them to the least.

6 When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he issued a decree in Nineveh:

By order of the king and his nobles: No person or animal, herd or flock, is to taste anything at all. They must not eat or drink water. 8 Furthermore, both people and animals must be covered with sackcloth, and everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from his wrongdoing. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent; he may turn from his burning anger so that we will not perish.

10 God saw their actions ​— ​that they had turned from their evil ways ​— ​so God relented from the disaster he had threatened them with. And he did not do it. –– Jonah 3:1-10 (CSB)

INTRODUCTION

Theologically, there is a lot to cover in Chapter 3 and it cannot be done is one message: Today I want us to focus on ONE thing which is REVIVAL. Jonah, who is reluctant but goes at the LORD’s command, preaches a very short message on judgment {In Forty days Nineveh will be destroyed} and REVIVAL breaks out and spreads throughout the city. Revival is a divine phenomen that no one can explain.

We know that better Preachers have preached better messages to better people and no revival broke out. Not even Jesus Himself experienced a revival like that which is recorded here in Jonah. UNBELIEVABLE!

God is a CREATOR not a duplicator and He rarely does the same thing twice: One garden of Eden, one flood, one Red Sea, One Cross, One Pentecost. We humans are bad to try to replicate what God does and it cannot be done.

So this is not a formula for REVIVAL, there is no such thing but it is a reminder that REVIVAL is possible. As we study this Revival, what do we see?

I. WE SEE A SOVERIEGN GOD INITIATING

When I say initiating, this is what I mean, everything in and about this Revival begins with God.

  • God sent Jonah
  • God gave Jonah the message
  • God created a climate of faith
  • God spread the fire
  • God answered their prayers

In other words, if you remove God’s activity from this event, you have nothing.

What we see in Jonah 3 is that suddenly the people believe God’s word and have a passion to pray. To my knowledge, there has never been a revival without:

  1. The WORD being preached
  2. A simontanious out break of PRAYER MEETINGS
  3. Plus confession and REPENTANCE

I can plan a revival meeting, I can get a good preacher, I can print flyers, I can even schedule prayer meeting in advance but I cannot make revival happen. I’ve even tried to fake a revival: get everyone to show up and pretend we having REVIVAL but guess what, everyone doesn’t show up.

True Revival is initiated by God: that’s why we pray, if He doesn’t do it, it does not happen.

II. WE SEE A FLAWED AND RELUCTANT PROPHET PREACHING THE MESSAGE

I’ve said so much about Jonah’s flaws that I don’t need to say anything else. The emphasis in Jonah is not on the preacher but on God who commanded the preacher. Suffice it to say that in history, THE PREACHING OF THE WORD has always accompanied revival. In the Revival of Nehemiah chapter 8, the people were so hungry for the word of God that they stood on their feet for six hours. Ezra tells about one occassion were they stood for hours in the rain.

Do you see or sense, in your life or others a hungry for the word?

III. WE SEE A SINFUL PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE AND REPENT

There will be no revival without faith and repentance. These two go together. Jesus first sermon was…“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Speaking to the Jewish Religious establishment, Jesus said…For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.

The Apostle Paul said to the Ephesian Elders…You know that I did not avoid proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or from teaching you publicly and from house to house. 21 I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. — Acts 20:20-21 (CSB)

The writer of Hebrews said…Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.

Do we believe God’s word? Do you believe that heavenly treasures are greater than earthly treasures? Why do we live like it?

IV. WE SEE A FIRE THAT SPREADS

Note verse 6When word reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, took off his royal robe, put on sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 Then he issued a decree in Nineveh… the true mark of revival is that it will spread, it cannot be contained.

Nineveh was a big city. We know there were at least 120,000 and Dr. Wiersbe think more like 300,000 counting women and children. It took three days just to walk through the city. Not eveyone heard Jonah’s sermon but word spead.

When I was in college a church in the panhandle of Florida experienced a great revival and so they extended the meeting and it went on for some years but it never spread. In all the GREAT AWAKENING in this country, revival swept through the country like a wild fire.

I pray for the fires of revival to break out again.

CONCLUSION

Well, bro. Jack, you have just confessed that there is nothing we can do except pray. For a GREAT AWAKENING, yes but there are some things you can do today to experience personal revival. You can believe God and repent. I’ve experience several personal revivals and all began with confession of sin, repentance and faith.

  1. Do you need personal revival?

  2. Are you willing to confess your sins?

  3. Are you willing to trust Christ with your life?

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“Who Knows?”

Scripture: Jonah 3:1-10, NIV

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 
2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.
4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 
5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 
6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 
7This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 
8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 
9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 
10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

INTRODUCTION

The book of Jonah is about God’s redemptive purpose in this world and that is for all men to come to know Christ. We know because of Jesus teaching, that all will not repent but it is God’s will that all have the opportunity to repent. God wants the gospel shared with the world.

In Matthew 24:14, Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

God said to Israel through Isaiah the prophet…“I, the LORD, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be light to guide the nations.”

PROBLEM! The Jews misinterpreted their call: they did not want to share the gospel. They believed that God’s grace was for them alone. When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah refused, he did not go because he didn’t want to.

Why do we not witness, why do we not share the gospel? [We don’t want to, we don’t have a desire to]

Jonah ran from God which you can do: You can run but you cannot hide–God sought him out and brought him to repentance via the fish. He gives Jonah a second chance.

QUESTION: Why didn’t God get someone else?

  • Jonah had the courage to do the job
  • God wanted to use the prophets experience as a part of his message
  • God loved Jonah

Warren Wiersbe, who is very good at researching the history of these events suggest… 

  1. The ‘FISH STORY’ could have very well preceded Jonah…the story got to them before Jonah did. In other words, there was an eye witness who saw the fish spit Jonah on the beach. They saw Jonah unwrapping the sea weed from his body.
  2. Jonah had lost his complexion. After being in the belly of the fish, submerged in gastric juices for three days has bleached Jonah to an albino white. He looked like a ghost.

TRANSITION: Tonight, my first point is…

I. THE MESSENGER [V. 1-3]

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 
2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 
3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it.
  1. Jonah is a Jewish prophet Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}, the prophet from Gath-hepher. [2 Kings 14:25]
  2. Jonah means “Dove.” The Jews believed the dove was a peaceful but feeble bird. Jonah was indeed a feeble bird and it is possible that he did not like confrontation. But God knew him and he knew Jonah had what most of us lack: raw courage.
  3. Jonah was not a perfect instrument: he was imperfect, flawed, even bigoted.
  4. Jonah was not the news, he was the news boy. He was not the message, he simply delivered the message.
  5. The Ninevites never discussed Jonah, they did talk about the message.

II. THE MESSAGE [V.4]

4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 

  1. “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” Eight words in English, five in Hebrew. Can you believe it, a five word sermon. [the kind my family would love]
  2. The sign…Jesus said Jonah was a sign, a sign of what. A sign is an uncommon phenomenon. The star was a sign to the wise men but the heavens are filled with stars. The star they saw was uncommon. Jonah was not common. Can you imagine how stunned the Ninevites were when they seen an albino Jew walking down main street.
  3. Message was from God. It was not Jonah’s message.
  4. Paul said, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power [dü’-nä-mēs] of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

III. THE MESSAGE BELIEVED [v.5]

[v.5] The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 

  1. Note: the Ninevites did not believe in Jonah, they believed in God.
  2. The Ninevites believed across the board from the greatest to the least.
  3. Jonah could not reach the entire city but his message was shared, it swept through this huge city like wild fire. [huge city, three days just to walk through it]
  4. Their faith lead to repentance, put on sackcloth. Repentance is a change of mind–they changed their minds about God, about sin, about life.

IV. THE MESSAGE OBEYED [v.6-8]

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 
This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 
8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 
  1. The King stepped down from his throne and sat in ashes and dust.
  2. He issued a proclamation: fast and pray.
  3. Let everyone give us their evil way and their violence. No testimony greater than a changed life.

CONCLUSION

Look at verse 9, “Who knows.” Will God send a great REVIVAL in three weeks…WHO KNOWS?  I do know that God is sovereign and He can move upon people by the power of His Spirit. I pray for the Ruach to sweep across this land, convicting us of sin, stirring us to pray and to repent like the Ninevites.

2 Chronicles 7:14…Recipe

If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

My pastor use to refer to this verse as the Recipe for Revival but technically, there is no such thing. We cannot work a revival up and we cannot pray one down. God and only God, can send REVIVAL….

BUT

When God’s Spirit moves, He will move us to pray. Before every revival in history, people got a burden to pray. You see this here in Jonah. Every revival in history has also been accompanied by the preaching of the word…which you have here.

WHAT IS GOD DOING IN AMERICA TODAY?

He is at work. I’m not saying “I personally know what He is doing,” but He is at work. Did you hear the President’s speech last Friday. Be honest, did you ever think that we would hear that kind of speech from the president?

I’m with the King of Nineveh, “Who Knows” what God will do?

Just remember this: He is a CREATOR, not a DUPLICATOR…Our awesome God seldom does the same thing twice.

  • Only one Garden of Eden
  • Only one Flood
  • Only one Red Sea
  • Only one Calvary
  • Only one Pentecost
  • Only one Revival like Nineveh

So, I am not praying for another Pentecost: I am asking God to do something fresh. I’m just longing for Him to move among us and stir us, to give us a burden to pray and to give us the spirit of repentance because I don’t see either.

Do you have a burden to pray? [I will gladly meet with you]

Do you have a spirit of Repentance?

Distress And Revival

SCRIPTURE: Jonah 2:1-10, NLT

1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. 
He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble [tsarah], and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, You heard me! 
3 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. 
4 Then I said, ‘O LORD, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ 
5 “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! 
7 As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD . And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. 
8 Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies [checed]. 
9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.” 
10 Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.

INTRODUCTION

Four Act Play

If the book of Jonah was a play, it would have four acts:

  • On board the ship [in the storm]
  • In the belly of the fish [in deep distress]
  • In the city of Nineveh [shouting judgment]
  • Outside the city [waiting to see God destroy Nineveh]

 

This morning– we are in act 2, inside the fish.

I realize that the last thing any of us wants today is ‘stress’

...that is the emotional strain or tension that results from adverse or very demanding circumstances…

…and we certainly do not want any ‘distress’ which is extreme stress or extreme anxiety, sorrow, pain which can lead to anguish, suffering, agony, torment and heartbreak.  

Jonah is disobedient to his call…

God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and warn them of judgment but Jonah had other ideas. He was not in agreement with God. He wanted the Nivevites judged but he did not want them to get a warning. So Jonah did not obey. He went in the opposite direction. Thus, God send a storm which lead to the conversion of the entire ship’s crew but had little effect on Jonah. It may have caused him some stress but certainly no distress.

Jonah knows Yahweh sent the storm and why: he calmly tells the crew to throw him overboard. I don’t think Jonah had any hopes of swimming to shore; I think he thought at that moment, that he would rather die than repent or even pray and he certainly had not changed his mind about going to Nineveh. Sometimes, we think we want to die and then when the opportunity presents itself, we change our mind.

Jonah’s confinement inside the fish causes his distress…

Jonah hit the water like a rock and began to sink into the depths of the sea but before he could drown, God sent a fish and the fish swallowed Jonah whole. It had to be a large fish. God sent a great storm so He had no problem sending a great fish. Personally, I think it was a whale but that is not important. The important thing is that Jonah is incarcerated inside the stomach of the fish. This is the cause of his distress. The Hebrew word translated trouble in the NLT is translated ‘distress’ in the NASB, NIV, ESV and NRSV is ‘tsarah’ and the t is silent. The word pronounced almost sounds like ‘sorrow’. It means to be in a strait or a tight place. As the old adage, “between a rock and a hard place.” It means to be confined, restricted, caught in a bind.

Jonah cannot save himself. The US Navy with their most sophisticated equipment could not have rescued Jonah. He was hidden from the view of mankind, only God could see him. It is in the helpless position that Jonah feels the distress.

Today, I want to show you from scripture how God used DISTRESS to nudge Jonah in the right direction…I want you to see how God used DISTRESS to turn Jonah’s life around.

I. FIRST OF ALL: THE DISTRESS LEAD JONAH TO PRAY

1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish. 

He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble [tsarah], and He answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, You heard me! 


Jonah is in deep trouble and he knows it. Only one person can save him now and that is the LORD to whom he prays.

Remember, the Ship’s Captain could not get Jonah to pray. The crew could not get him to pray. He was not speaking to the LORD. His decision to be thrown overboard was a decision not to pray. They all wanted him to pray and repent but he refused. So notice the first word of the text…“Then”….after all that is happened in chapter one, Jonah prays.


How many of you think the distress helped him to pray? When are we most fervent in prayer? When we are sailing under blue skies or when we are in deep, deep trouble?


We all know that Jonah’s relationship with God is not going to be fixed until he prays and prays earnestly. The distress moved him to pray.

Are there some things in your life that can only be fixed by you talking to the LORD.

II. THE DISTRESS REMINDED HIM OF WHO WAS IN CONTROL

You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. 

Note what Jonah said,YOU [Lord] threw me into the ocean depths.” I thought the sailor threw him into the ocean. They did but they did so as God’s instruments. Jonah knew that God was behind the storm and that he was exactly where his own sin had put him and where God providentially had placed him. Jonah knew, that from His heaven, God was pushing all the buttons to make these things happen. The storm was no accident nor was the fish: God sent them both.

God in control not us…

It was inside the fish that Jonah realized that God was in complete control and that he was at God’s mercy.

Some of you tonight may think you are calling the shots but I can assure you: “You are not.” God is at the control center and the sooner we realize this the better our lives will be. Jonah created this storm by his own pig-headed rebellion. He took great pride in how he handled the storm but when God sent the fish to swallow him alive, it opened his eyes and he realized, I am not in control: The LORD is in control and I am at His mercy. We are all at His mercy tonight.

III. THE DISTRESS GIVES HIM TIME TO THINK ABOUT THE DIRECTION OF HIS LIFE

4 Then I said, ‘O LORD, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ 
5 “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever.

Jonah probably acknowledged that he was a sinner but inside that fish he realized he was a death and hell deserving sinner. He felt the distance he had put between himself and the LORD and he knew he was sinking lower and lower. 


I was in my late 20’s when the LORD began revealing my depravity. That when the process began, it continues to the present. There was a time I thought highly of myself and then God began revealing me to me.


I visited an old friend a few weeks ago and I knew that I needed to witness to him because he seldom attends church. I chickened out but as I was leaving his office he followed me to my truck and he said, “Jack, I know you are concerned about me and I appreciate it. I want you to know that I was saved when I was 14 and I remember being baptized.” I was both shocked and ashamed. I thanked him for his testimony but cautioned him about relying on any righteousness other than that of Jesus. As I shared with him a part of my depravity, he took issue. He said, “Jack, you are a good man. I have watched you for years. You are devoted to helping others.” I said, “That’s what you see but it is not what God sees.”

Without giving you details that would prove my depravity, how about you take my word word, I am depraved. There is nothing good in me.

 

Trust me, I have been searching for the good for years and it isn’t there but I’m OK with that because I am going to heaven on Jesus righteousness not mine.


Do you know what opened my eyes to my depravity: a horrific storm. It was out of my distress that I cried out to the LORD.

IV. DISTRESS CAN BRING US TO REPENTANCE

But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! 
7 As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. 
8 Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies [checed]. 
9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.” 

It was inside the fish that Jonah repented. He turned to the LORD and away from his selfish pride. To prove his sincerity, Jonah vowed to sacrifice, to sing and to keep his commitment as a man of God. Inside the belly of the fish is where Jonah changed his mind and decided to go to Nineveh. 


Right out of Seminary, in my first pastorate, I encountered a man who claimed to be an atheist. I knew after meeting him only once, that all he wanted to do was argue and I did not want to argue with him. He was not open to the truth and I did not want to cast pearls to swine. He began having some physical problems, went to the doctor and they diagnosed him with cancer. His brother in law asks me to go see him but his attitude had not changed. He was going to lick the __________ stuff. They sent him straight to Birmingham and again, his brother in law insisted that I go. I did not want to go. We visited him right after the Birmingham doctors had told him he had 6 months to live. For the first time, he listened but he was not ready to make any changes. We stayed in his room until almost midnight. To be honest with you, I thought he was hopeless. We went down to the lobby to spend the rest of the night and about 3-4 am his wife came and got us. She said Kenneth has something to tell you. We walked in and you could sense the change, Kenneth had repented of his evil ways and had given his heart to Jesus. He took chemo and that extended his life a few months but Kenneth never stopped praising Jesus and witnessing to others.

CONCLUSION

The book of Jonah is about repentance. Both the prophet, the one who announced judgment, the pagan sailors aboard the ship and the wicked folks of Nineveh needed to repent. Jonah was not cruel like the Assyrians but he was full of pride and indifference and he needed to repent.

  1. We all need to repent.

  2. We need to repent to the LORD. {False gods are incapable of showing mercy, saving us}

  3. It is not too late to repent.

  4. You can repent anywhere. Don’t have to be in a church at an altar. Jonah was in the belly of a fish.

 

The Perfect Storm

Scripture: Jonah 1:1-16

1 The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}: 
2 Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” 
3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD . He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish. 
4 But the LORD hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 
5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 
6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.”
7 Then the crew cast lots to see which of them had offended the gods and caused the terrible storm. When they did this, the lots identified Jonah as the culprit. 
8 “Why has this awful storm come down on us?” they demanded. “Who are you? What is your line of work? What country are you from? What is your nationality?” 
9Jonah answered, “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” 
10 The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the LORD . “Oh, why did you do it?” they groaned.
11 And since the storm was getting worse all the time, they asked him, “What should we do to you to stop this storm?” 
12 “Throw me into the sea,” Jonah said, “and it will become calm again. I know that this terrible storm is all my fault.” 
13 Instead, the sailors rowed even harder to get the ship to the land. But the stormy sea was too violent for them, and they couldn’t make it. 
14 Then they cried out to the LORD, Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” 
15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once! 
16 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD ’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him. 

INTRODUCTION

Jonah was a character to say the least: He was certainly different.
  • Jonah is one of the most popular books in the bible. Practically everyone loves the book of Jonah and there is a reason: Jonah had a bad attitude. He is a unique creature who did not fear God or love people. It is easy for us to feel superior to Jonah.
  • Jonah was such a rear end that we don’t mind comparing ourselves to him. I know my attitude is not right but at least, I’m not as big of a jerk as Jonah.
  • Jonah is the only prophet not quoted in the N.T. Jesus spoke of him but did not quote him.
  • How many verses have you memorized from Jonah?
  • How many people do you know with the name Jonah?
  • Jonah is popular but for the wrong reasons. He is more of a villain than a hero. No one worships Jonah. No one idolizes this prejudiced prophet.
  • Yet God, Yahweh, used this misfit to ignite the greatest revival in human history. Unparalleled even in modern times. Jesus Himself did not see such a massive response. Billy Graham has never had a revival like Nineveh. There is only one way to explain the REVIVAL at Nineveh–God!
  • The Revival is a fact but the glory does not go to Jonah or his five word sermon that is 8 in English: “Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed.”
  • I’m not professing to be better than Jonah. I am timid compared to Jonah, I don’t have his boldness or audascity.  Jonah was a ball of courage: he feared nothing. True: he hated Gentiles, especially Assyrians but he was not afraid: [1] to rebel against God [2] storm [3] Sea [4] To go to Nineveh which would be like me going to Iran and telling them that God was about to destroy them.

Today, we are going to talk about a PERFECT STORM, a storm that God hurled in Jonah’s direction. What makes this a perfect STORM? I am glad you ask..

I. IT ILLUSTRATES THE LORD’S MESSAGE

The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai {my truth}: 
2 Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” 

Jonah’s commission was to take God’s message of judgment to Nineveh. The text of his simple sermon is…”In forty days, Nineveh will be destroyed.” There are conequences to sin…The wages of sin is death, physical and spiritual. People need to be warned concerning these consequences which ultimately is spiritual death and hell.

I was saved at age 9 and my primary motive was to escape hell. I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and attended a bible preaching church so I had heard about hell all my life and I knew for certain that I did not want to go there. As we will see in this chapter, fear is the basic instinct that drives us to God. God used a violent storm: not only to get Jonah’s attention but to bring the pagan sailors under conviction.


The sailor aboard this vessel that Jonah was on were heatherns. They believed in multiple gods. Many sailors in this part of the world believed in dagon, the Philistine fish god. When this violent storm hit, these sailors feared for their lives. They all began crying out to their gods but the storm was getting worse. Their prayers were ineffective. Had there been no storm, there would have been no fear; had there been no fear, they would not have awakened Jonah who told them about the real God. It was their fear of perishing in the storm that drove them to Jonah who told them about the One True God who hears and answers prayer.


Verse 14… Then they cried out to the LORD [YHWH], Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” They are no longer praying to a idol, they are praying to the one true God.


THE FIRST TENENT OF THE GOSPEL IS JUDGMENT…ACCOUNTABILITY FOR OUR SINS

I know what you are thinking: Bro. Jack, shouldn’t we first announce that God loves them? I know where you are coming from but God told Jonah to announce JUDGMENT. It is true that God loved the wicked Ninevites and they were indeed a wicked and cruel lot. They were inhuman, savages who were not content to steal and kill, they enjoyed torturing people before finally executing them. They were the scum of the earth. You would be hard pressed to find a worse sort which is one reason Jonah despised them. Yes, God loved them and that is why he sent Jonah but there are consquences to sin and that is the A part of the gospel.

II. THE STORM REVEALS OUR HUMAN CONDTITION

The SAILORS represent the lost world…they are fearful, pagan, ignorant, and in desperate need of salvation. The words of Philip Bliss come to mind… The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin, The Light of the world is Jesus! We are living in a world that does not know Jesus. Jesus has commissioned us to get the gospel to them.


JONAH, unfortunately represents the CHURCH. Where is Jonah? He is below deck fast asleep. He is sleeping through the storm. As Matthew Henry said, “The devil has rocked him to sleep in carnal security.” Jonah is indifferent to the needs of the sailors. He knows the TRUTH but he is sleeping on it. These men are going to drown in a lost condition if Jonah doesn’t tell them the truth. The truth, apart from correct theology which Jonah has, is that Jonah doesn’t care. While the heatherns are on deck praying, Jonah is below sleeping.

The greatest problem with the gospel these days is not the message. The gospel still has power: the problem in not the content or the message, the problem is that we do not want to share it with those who need it most.  When it comes to sharing the gospel, we have cold feet and cold hearts.


Although he did not intend to, Jonah did bear witness to the sailors. He didn’t say that much but what he said was effective… “I am a Hebrew, and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” Jonah said, I worship Yahweh, the God who made made the sea and the land. But what he said was enough. Every man on the ship was saved.

That is not much of a witness: matter of fact it is pitiful but God used it. While I was in Seminary, I pastored a very small church in East New Orleans. I was doing a follow up visit on a profession of faith and I encountered an angry mom. When I told her that her daughter had been saved, she too offense. She informed me that her daughter had been raised right and did not need saving. I saw that she was upset and I began back peddaling trying to get off her front porch but I couldn’t leave without telling this woman the truth. I told her that every person was a sinner and that we all needed salvation in Christ. Trust me, it was not a slick presentation. My mouth go dry and I struggled to find the words. I felt so bad about my presentation that I pulled over to the side of the road and cried. The next Sunday, the mom was in church sitting by her 16 year old daughter. She didn’t look happy. You can imagine my surprize when she responded on the first verse of the invitation. God had been dealing with her and she wanted to be saved. This sweet lady has been my friend now for 46 years. She is 90 years old and still lives in New Orleans.

III. THE STORM INSPIRED A PRAYER MEETING

Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help…

The sailor were shouting to their gods but they were getting no results. The captain went below to wake up Jonah…“How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.” Is this amazing or what? A pagan sea captain is trying to wake up a preacher and get him to pray. “This is no time for a nap, get up and pray.”


I was listening to a sermon on YouTube and the preacher told of a church in Texas who was in earnest prayer about a honky-tonk that was going to open in close proxsimity to the church campus. They were praying specifically for God to intervene and stop the club from operating. Sure enough, a few days after the club opened it was struck by lightening and burned to the ground. The owner of the honky-tonk had heard about the church’s prayer meeting and he sued the church. When they got to court, the church denied having anything to do with the destruction of the honky-tonk. The judge looked at them in confusions and said, “I’m a bit puzzled…here before me is a church that says it does not believe in prayer and an owner of a honky-tonk who says he does.”

Not only do we need to believe that prayer works, we need to be praying instead of sleeping through the storm.

IV. THE STORM MANIFESTED GOD’S AWESOME POWER

You might say the theme of the book of Jonah is GOD’S AWESOME POWER…Jonah, the reluctant witness, gives a simple and very brief presentation and everyone on board is saved. How did this happen. Well, it began with prayer and that lead to confession and then Jonah shared the TRUTH and then God displayed His awesome power by calming the storm immediately. As soon as Jonah hit the water the wind died and it was calm. The sailor were speechless. They stood there in awe and amazement. They realized that Jonah was serving the only true God and they all professed faith in HIM right there on the spot.

I know you are probably thinking: this is jail house religion or boot camp religion or fox hole religion– I have no way of knowing how many of these sailors were sincere but they prayed to Yahweh the ONE true God. I have no idea what they sacrificed but had it not been acceptable, I think the scripture would tell us and they vowed to serve the LORD. I would have been thrilled just to get them praying instead of cursing.

GOD GETS ALL THE GLORY

Let me tell you what is wonderful about the book of Jonah: “God gets all the glory”. God called the prophet, God gave him the message, God sent the storm, God convicted the sailors, God transformed the sailors, God sent the fish, God showed mercy to the rebellious prophet, God got him to his location, God moved the Ninevites to repentance. God did it all. Greatest Revival in history and God did it through a rebellious, hard headed, back slidden preacher.

I am going to say something that you might find shocking: we are not going to work a revival up, I can’t preach one down nor conjure one up. None of our formula’s will work. I believe with all my heart that REVIVAL is a sovereign act of almighty God: He and He alone can ignite spiritual renewal or awakening. I do confess that history bears witness to the fact that REVIVAL is accompanied by prayer but this prayer is a part of the revival itself. The sailors prayed, the wicked Ninevites prayed but who moved them to pray? When God stirs us up to pray? Is God about to do something in our generation?  I don’t see that burden today. Prayer meeting are no longer popular.

When I see people burdened to pray, I know God is up to something.

The sobering question today is: How many of us really want REVIVAL? How many of us want to see the fire fall and burn up everything that is not like Jesus? How many of us want to see God do something that we can’t explain?

Perhaps a better question is: How many of us are willing to make a vow tonight, a vow to serve Yahweh. Tonight, I am going to challenge you to do just that: to make a public vow to serve the LORD. When I was growing up we called this a rededication, something we don’t do anymore and I think this is one reason we do not have REVIVAL

The Sailor’s prayed: the Ninevites prayed but both did more than pray. Both repented and made vows to serve the LORD. 

Jonah’s Anger [Chapter 4]

A Happy Story With A Sad Ending

Scripture Text: Jonah 4:1-11

1This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. {Exodus 34:6, Nehemiah 9:17,31, Joel 2:13, Psalm 86:16, 103:8, 111:4, 112:4, 116:5, 145:8} You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.” The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed. Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!” 10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”

To understand Jonah 4, you have to go back to the last verse in chapter 3–“When God saw that they had put a stop to their evil ways, He had mercy upon them and did not carry out the destruction He had threatened. Jonah is unhappy because God’s showed mercy on the Assyrians. This is very unusual: an Evangelist upset because there was 120,000 decisions. Here we have the greatest revival in human history and Jonah is pouting instead of praising. Most preachers would get snap shots of the repentant Ninevites and feature them in the new brochure. Some would have slide shows galore–they would be so excited with these numbers that you would not be able to shut them up. But not Jonah the A-hole. No, he is mad as an old wet hen; he is hotter than a blue blaze. He is so upset that he can eat nails or chew tacks. He is so mad that he can spit fire and save all his matches.

I have divided Chapter four into three parts: the Pity, the Plant and the Problem

I. THE PITY

When people get angry like Jonah, they do foolish things. Jonah begins to complain: [1] First, he complains that God is merciful in nature. I think Jonah sees mercy as a weakness. “I knew it all along” Jonah said, “I knew you would show mercy”. The irony of Jonah’s life is that there is nothing that he needs more than mercy. Where would Jonah be without God’s mercy. He either be at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea or rotting in the stomach of a fish. When he was in deep, deep trouble, he had no problem with God being merciful and sparing his life but now that God has spared Nineveh, he is upset. Everyone needs mercy and Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” If we don’t show mercy, we will not receive mercy. Because we have all sinned, none of us can afford not to be merciful. [2] Jonah complains about life itself, he said, “Lord, I had rather be dead than alive because nothing I predicted is going to happen.” Jonah was upset that God had used him. Instead of rejoicing over what God has done, Jonah is resenting what God has done. In chapter 4 he prays twice for death, for the LORD to take his life. He didn’t really want to die. Why did he pray in the stomach of the fish if he wanted to die. The Assyrians are armed to the teeth: if he really wants to die, I am sure they would lend him a dagger or a sword. He doesn’t want to die, he is blowing smoke. He is having an old fashion pity-party. He is feeling sorry for himself because he did not get what he wanted. God’s will was done instead of his and he is upset.

So Jonah is complaining when he should be celebrating. He is resenting when he should have been rejoicing. He is pouting when he should have been praising. He is doing the very opposite of what he should be doing. Let me say three things about complaining…

[1] Complaining is primarily against the LORD. Perhaps you are thinking, “I complain but I do not complain against the LORD.” Are you sure? I think most complaining is against the LORD. I am reading a book on John of the Cross. One of John’s goals was to accept everything that happened to him as the will of God and to never complain. A couple of women in a Bible Study group came to me with a challenge. I think that I probably said something that ticked them off, maybe it was about gossip or minding your own business and they decided to retaliate. They said, “Starting tomorrow [Monday] we challenge you to listen to everything you say and note anything that is negative or in any way a complaint.” I thought, “Old girls, you are on and we are not going to win this challenge.” Before the week had gotten started good, I had caught myself complaining so many times that I had forgotten all about the two busy bodies. I could not believe how much I complained. In the recent drought, I was not good company. I tried so hard not to think of rain or complain about the lack thereof but I know that I fell off the wagon more than once. I don’t think complaining is a good thing and when you give it proper thought, it is generally against God.

[2] Complaining is always unpleasant to man. No one likes a complainer. I loath going out to eat with a complainer. Years ago my wife conspired with some friends and they hornsnoggled me into going out to eat with a “Noted” complainer. Sure as shooting, her steak was not right and she had the waitress take it back. When they brought it back, it still wasn’t right and so back to kitchen with the steak. Meanwhile, I have consumed my food which does not take me long and I am ready to go by the time she gets started. But it doesn’t end there: now I have to sit and listen to her complain as she basically dines alone. When we got home, I told my wife: if you ever do me that way again, I will be ugly. I do not want to go out with a complainer. Generally speaking, people don’t like complainers. Maybe you are like I am and you think…”I never complain”…try listening to yourself. You may be surprised.

[3] Complaining is a subtle form of diversion. We complain in order to avoid the real issues. Bob Pitman tells the story of a revival meeting that he was doing and all week the preacher complained about his Sunday School director. Everything was the SS Director’s fault. The attendance, offering, baptisms, mission giving, everything was the SS Director’s fault. Finally Bob got irritated and said, “If the man is that sorry, why in the world don’t you fire him and get someone else.” The preacher looked at him with some sorrow in his face and said, “As sorry as he is, he is the best I’ve got.” When someone is complaining about their preacher or their Sunday School teacher, it is a given that they are covering their own sin. People complain to divert the attention away from them and on to someone else. A mule that is kicking aint pulling. Complainers are not contributors. I know you have heard the story about the man who got upset when he opened a closet door at church and seen an entire box of brooms. There must have been two dozen. He had a fit and before it was over, he had complained to every staff member, every deacon and anyone else who would listen. “What in the world are we doing, buying so many brooms. Don’t these people know that money doesn’t grow on trees”…He unloaded on everyone. A month or two later, the pastor is having lunch with the church treasurer and he tells him about the man’s rage over a closet full of brooms that cost less than a $100. The treasurer just grinned and said, “How would you like if every thing you have given to the church in the last five years was tied up in a closet full of brooms?” Complainers do not contribute. They don’t have time, they are too busy complaining. Jonah is complaining that God is not right but really Jonah is the one who is not right, amen!

II. THE PLANT

The plant illustrates God’s goodness and Grace which overshadows our stupidity and ignorance. Jonah is just not right in the head. If I go to Saudi Arabia and preach a meeting, just as soon as the meeting is over, I am catching the first flight to the States. I am not hanging around, hanging out, or even hanging in–I am headed home. But Jonah decides to hang around on the wrong side of town. For Pete’s sake Jonah, at least go back to the West side so you will be closer to home. Hey folks, Jonah was one strange dude.

Again God has mercy on this ignorant sap and allows a vine to grow over the little shelter that Jonah erected. The vine give Jonah wonderful shade from the scorching sun. Jonah rejoices in the vine. He is tickled pink about the vine. I bet he wrote a song or poem about the vine but then the LORD sent a worm who destroyed the plant and Jonah lost his shade. So Jonah goes into another rage about the worm killing his plant. The sun and the wind began to do their work and before it is over Jonah is begging for death and this time he may be sincere.

The LORD said, “It is right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes” said Jonah, “I am so angry I could die.” The LORD said, “You keep this attitude up and I just may take you up on your last request”. Just kidding, the LORD didn’t say that, He could have said that but what He really said was, “So you are sorry about the plant dying but it didn’t bother you that 120,000 humans were going to die had they not repented.” [JEV] The plant was a picture of grace. Jonah didn’t do anything to deserve the plant nor its shelter. We don’t want to miss or ignore God’s grace. Jonah is so obsessed with the destruction of his enemy that he totally ignores God’s mercy and goodness to himself. If we could get some grasp of God’s goodness toward us, it should sweeten our attitude toward others. Personally, I don’t see how anyone can be happy without some grasp or understanding of God’s grace.

III. THE PROBLEM

The problem is simple and obvious: We are never to confuse the worth of a soul with things here on earth. I love plants. I love flowers and I love trees. Hey, I love to garden. I like to plant things and see things grow but there is no way that I can be more concerned about plants than people. You may think that this is an insignificant point but I am telling you that we often puts more stress on the value of things than we do people. It is OK to be a plant lover or animal lover but our priority is people.

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe says that we have things inverted. God wants us to use things and love people but we have a tendency to use people and love things. In truth: if you can put a price something than it is worth nothing. My truck cost $20,000 and is would probably resale for $15,000 but it is not worth anything. If I wreck the truck, I can get another truck. It is simply metal and plastic on rubber tires. It may have some temporal value but it has no eternal value. We all know people who love their vehicle more than they love their neighbor and that is not right.

God created everything but His delight is in man. God loves people; so much so that He has made us immortal. We are going to live beyond this life. We live in a mixed up and depraved world. Michael Vick gets sent to prison for killing dogs and Rich Pitino gets a hero’s welcome for paying for his girl friends abortion. Folks, there is something wrong with that picture and if you can’t see it, I can’t help you. I don’t like it when people treat people like dogs and dogs like people. I do understand getting attached to a pet and I see nothing wrong with having pets but we must never exalt the worth of a pet or plant over soul.

Conclusion

Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

Is there anything more valuable than your soul? Do you actually think that money is worth more than life?

Jonah Chapter 3–The Character of Yahweh

Scripture: Jonah 3:1-10

Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you.” 3 This time Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and went to Nineveh, a city so large that it took three days to see it all.[a] 4 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” 5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow. 6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. 7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city: “No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. 8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. 9 Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.” 10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.

INTRODUCTION

The book of Jonah is about Yahweh the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. The great I AM. As Moffatt translates, “The Eternal One”, creator of heaven and earth. The book does bear Jonah’s name but it is about the character of Yahweh.

TRANSITION

From this text, there are three simple facts about Yahweh, the Great I AM, that I want you to see…

1.  YAHWEH IS MERCIFUL

    • The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. [Ps. 103:8]2
    • The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. [Lamentations 3:22-23]
    • The LORD is full of mercy. [James 5:11]
    • David said, “His mercy is everlasting.” [Psalm 100]
    • Yahweh is immutable:“For am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.”
    • Note verse 1–“The LORD [Yahweh] spoke to Jonah a second time.” Considering Jonah’s attitude and his previous behavior, why would God give him a second chance? Why does He give us a second change and a third, and a fourth? Because He is a merciful God. David said, “Your mercy reaches into the heavens.” In other words, there is no end to His mercy. God is infinite is all His attributes.
    • I also see God’s mercy in His message–“Deliver the message I have given you.” God did not have to give Jonah a second chance, He could have used someone else and He did not have to warn the Ninevites of His impending judgment but again, Yahweh show mercy to both Jew and Gentile because He is merciful.
    • Look at verse 10“When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.” God had mercy on the entire city because they repented. Our God is a merciful God, amen! He is worthy of praise! Jonah needed mercy; Nineveh needed mercy and you and I need mercy. Thank You Jesus for Your mercy.

2.   YAHWEH IS SOVEREIGN 

    • Yahweh initiates the call [sets everything into motion]
    • Yahweh gives Jonah the message [not Jonah’s message] Jonah is simply to deliver the message.
    • The Ninevites believe the message. This is the miracle of preaching. Jonah, who is anything but perfect, delivers God’s message [that he doesn’t agree with] and the people respond in massive repentance.
    • People have always made too much of preachers. Preachers are “Delivery Boys.” God is the owner and editor of the paper…we just deliver His message. Like the Jews, we have a tendency to make icons out of servants. I am sure the book of Jonah  made the cannon for this very reason. Jonah preached the greatest revival in human history and yet no one ever praises Jonah. How do you put a man like Jonah on a pedestal for simply delivering God’s message? God gets all the glory in the book of Jonah. The book bears his name but it is about Yahweh, Jonah’s God.
    • When we are faithful to preach God’s word: people hear God speaking. It is a miracle. Every preacher I know is like Jonah: they lives are flawed and clouded with personal problems. In some cases they are in active rebellions and have bad attitudes, just like Jonah but when they preach God’s word, the people hear God. It is a miracle.
    • In the end, God’s message is preached and He gets credit for the results, getting all the glory just as He deserves. Nobody ever praise Jonah! No one should! Yahweh is to be praised.

3.  YAHWEH ANSWERS PRAYER

    • Jonah preached but the King of Nineveh and his citizens Prayed and Fasted.
    • Jonah has a prayer in his heart, he just did not articulate it. His prayer was that God would destroy the wicked Ninevites.
    • The King of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying and he “Stepped down from his throne.” If we are to experience REVIVAL, we are going to have to step down from the throne, stop trying to run everything and do everything our way. The King of Nineveh humbled himself. [1] He stepped down [2] he took off his royal robe [3] he put on a towsack [4] and sat in ashes. Ashes is wood reduced to nothing but dust. When we get to that point that we are reduced to nothing but dust, we are getting ready for God to move.
    • The King made a decree…[1]Everyone must pray earnestly [2] Everyone must turn from their evil ways [3] Everyone must stop their violence. “Who can tell” said the King, “Perhaps God will change His mind” and He did.
    • God changed His mind. I can hear the Reforms, “God cannot change his mind”….”It is impossible”…”It makes no sense.” Listen friend, Yahweh can do anything He pleases and He does not wait for you to understand what He does before He does it.  Nothing is impossible with Him and His sense doesn’t make sense to you because you don’t have enough sense for his sense to make sense.  
    • GOD ANSWERS PRAYER and in this case, the prayer of pagans. I believe that God will answer any prayer of repentance and faith. If I didn’t believe that, I would not have a gospel to share. If I can’t look a person in the eye and tell them with confidence that Jesus loves them, I don’t have any good news.

CONCLUSION

If you have never repented of your sins, you need to do it today. Last Thursday’s Our Daily Bread devotion was moving. The writer pricked his finger on a thorn and not only did it send blood oozing, it shot pain throughout his body. How can a little thorn cause so much pain. Can you image the pain in have a crown of thorns pressed down on your head. This is just a part of the physical suffering that Jesus endured because of our sins. He also suffered a broken heart and a forsaken Spirit. When I read the devotion, it provoked me to bow my head and repent of my part in Jesus death. Have you ever repented for your part in His death?

“Let Us Pray” [Jonah 2]

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said, “called out of my distress to the Lord, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. “For You had cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ “ Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, weeds were wrapped around my head. “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. “While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple. “Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord.” 10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

INTRODUCTION

Jonah is like a Four Act Play

  • Scene One…on the boat
  • Scene Two…In the fish
  • Scene Three…In the city
  • Scene Four…outside the city

All four scenes feature PRAYER.

Scene One–The sailors are praying

Scene Two–Jonah is praying

Scene Three–The Ninevites are praying

Scene Four–Jonah praying again.

I. I WANT YOU TO NOTE FIRST OF ALL–WHEN HE PRAYED.

Jonah 2:1, “Then Jonah prayed.” Dr. Jack Taylor was fond of saying, “We think we have to pray and then get on with the business but prayer is the business.” Jonah made the almost tragic mistake of getting on with the business before he prayed.

Note the then, it is in reference to everything that has happened previously. Jonah did not pray when God called him to Nineveh. He did not pray about the purchase of his cruise ticket nor the direction he was taking. He didn’t even pray when the Captain begged him to pray. Here is a backslidden preacher who does not even pray when someone has made a special request. Jonah finally prays but it is in Distress. There is an old adage–“There are no atheist in foxholes”. During the cowardly attack of the muslims on 9/11, I can almost guarantee you that people were praying in distress. Sometimes distress can not be avoided but in Jonah’s case, he created the distress. Had he been praying on a regular basis, had he been in fellowship with the LORD, he would not have been inside a fish and he would not have had to pray in distress. Everyone prays in distress. He not only prayed in distress, he prayed in Darkness. There is no light in the belly of a fish. No one takes a giant step into prayer. E. M. Bounds, George Mueller and David Brainard did just wake up one morning and discover that God had given them the gift of intercession. These men started small. They prayed daily for years and over time they became giants in prayer. We don’t wait until we understand the dynamics of prayer to pray, we begin in the darkness, we begin where we are. I am not sure that Jonah understood where he was but God heard his prayer. Thirdly, he prayed in Desperation. Verse 7 in the Good News Bible reads– “When I felt life slipping away, then O LORD, I prayed to You.” Jonah’s prayed when things got desperate. I hope that you and I don’t wait until things get desperate to pray. The only thing that saved Jonah was the mercy of God, otherwise God would have ignored his prayer.

II. NOTE NOT ONLY WHEN HE PRAYED BUT HOW HE PRAYED.

Jonah had his weaknesses but familiarity with the word of God was not one of them. Jonah prays Scripturally. In this short prayer, Jonah quotes eight O.T. scriptures. He begins with a direct quote from Psalm 121, “And I called out in my distress To the LORD and He answered me.” It is never a bad idea to pray scripture because you know that you are praying within the bounds of God’s will. I John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Jonah prayed Fervently. I am telling you folks, I know that my prayers lack passion. It is sad that we have to get into a desperate straight to pray with passion. Elijah was a human being just like you and I but he prayed with passion. He prayed Honestly. If you cannot be intimate with your Heavenly Father, who can you be intimate with? He knows everything there is to know about you so why try to pretend. In prayer you should be yourself. You may as well tell him how you feel because He already knows. If He already knows, why tell Him? Because you need to remind yourself that He knows and until you agree with Him in confession, you are not going to have intimate fellowship and until you have intimate fellowship, you are not going to have passion in your prayer life.

III. THE THIRD AND FINAL POINT IS THE OUTCOME: WHAT WAS THE RESULT OF JONAH’S PRAYER?

It is amazing: God heard and answered Jonah’s prayer. Jonah is the O.T. poster child for grace. There is no way that he deserved salvation. God would have been more than just to have allowed the bigoted rebel to sink to the bottom of the sea or be eaten by sharks. But God heard and God saved. Jonah made the fish sick at his stomach and the fish puked him up on or near the beach. So we have marvelous results here: Jonah gets his prayer ANSWERED. He gets RAISED UP from the pit, from the deep. Jonah was sinking low but God raised him up. Folks, we need to rejoice that Jesus is in the raising business. I may sink into the depths of physical death but I have nothing to fear because Jesus is going to raise me up hallelujah. God gave Jonah a SECOND CHANCE, a new beginning. No wonder Jonah exclaims– “Salvation is of Yahweh”…the Eternal One who has no beginning or no end. Our God is an awesome God and He does awesome things. He has no rivals. Jonah had contempt for pagans who worshiped idols, he knew that Yahweh was the creator of heaven and earth, that He is a living God and the God of the living. Buddha is not going to save anyone, Islam is not going to save anyone, no religion on earth will save anyone because Salvation is of the LORD and Jesus is LORD… “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Look to Jesus and live.