Part 1 Jonah
This is a new 4-part mini- series in which we will have a brief look at the ministry of four prophets. You could say the prophets of old in a sense were God’s trouble-shooters.
Today’s trouble-shooter is Jonah, and we are going to explore God’s view of the Ninevites and his lesson for Jonah.
What is a trouble-shooter? Someone sent into a tricky situation, who brings the answer to the problem, this often a ‘specialist’ e.g., in the twentieth century, Red Adair for oil well fires or Roy Leeming for dealing with rogue elephants.
We shall see there is a lot more to Jonah than in the popular view of him being a ‘jinx’ to the sailors i.e. bringing calamity to companions. So, let us look at the book of Jonah from the viewpoint of Jonah being God’s trouble-shooter and see what we can learn from it.
We will take brief look at whole story then begin to focus on certain verses
Chapter 1:1-3 Jonah is called by God to go and preach repentance to the Nineveh who as Assyrians were an enemy of Israel. Jonah opts out of God's instructions but heads in a different direction to Tarshish.
Verse 4; Jonah confesses to being the cause of the problems for the sailors and is thus thrown into the sea and was swallowed by great fish. If you feel like disobeying God, this is something to bear in mind.
Chapter 2; Jonah’s prayer
Chapter 3; Jonah goes to Nineveh this time. We could wonder what might have happened if he had not? Jonah preaches to the Ninevites about the coming wrath of God and the Ninevites turn in repentance from their wickedness to God.
Chapter 4; Is it a happy ending and if so for whom?
Verse 2; The key to understanding Jonah is to know his outlook was that of a typical home nation patriot! I know you would be gracious and forgiving to your nation’s enemies and let them off? What Jonah was really saying was that these people, the Ninevites were the sworn enemies of the Jews, they were a numerous and powerful people, and they were going to overrun the Jews.
Jonah thinks he is acting more righteously than God! This story at best tells of Jonah’s blind patriotism or at worst may reveal some form of racial prejudice or even hatred.
Verse 3; His prejudice was more important than his life. Do we have prejudices more than the life of God in us?
Verse 10; The plant was a ‘son of the night’, Jonah did not plant or labour for, nor nurture or cherish it.
Verse 11; God is telling Jonah how he feels about Nineveh, where there is a vast multitude of real human beings. 120,000 young children (or ignorant adults) and animals. God loves the innocent and always seeks to protect them. Here are some examples…
Sodom and Gomorrah could be saved for the sake of ten righteous/innocents.
Children’s angels behold the Father’s face.
Jesus warns us not to cause the little children to stumble.
God in Old Testament forgave the sins of Israel because of innocent blood (of the lamb/goat) at the Passover.
God in the New Testament forgave the sins of humanity because of innocent blood (Jesus’ blood).
God breathes his breath into each human person making them living souls. He formed the Ninevites in their mother’s wombs. He feeds, sustains us, and heals us. His love extends beyond race and colour.
God loves his enemies and allows no prejudice.
Rather we ought to pray for them that despitefully use us!
Jonah never considered the innocent people of Nineveh; he only saw one side of the story that is as a Jewish patriot.
God’s love is not limited by man’s characteristics, such as young and old, fat, and thin, clever, and not so, black, and white or even rich or poor.
Man’s love often can be subject to prejudice, for example, the disciples asked if they should call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans!
What if God called one of us to go preach repentance to another local fellowship and made it clear a major revival would come to that fellowship?
Man’s love is jealous. God’s love rejoices with all his body.
Trouble-shooter Jonah learned that God’s love was wider, deeper, and higher than he had appreciated. God taught Jonah about his divine nature whilst Jonah was on his mission.
Father we ask in Jesus' name that you show us how to love with your love.
We confess our prejudices before you now, show us them by your Spirit.
We repent and ask you Jesus to fill us afresh with your Holy Spirit and your love.