It was more than just a storm caused by natural causes. What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?
Jonah is thinking, Why did I get on a boat? Jonah said, Throw me off the boat! Jonah at this point is willing to commit suicide. Jonah is a weird sort of guy. The Book of Jonah is only four chapters and every other chapter he is wanting to commit suicide. God the perfect Father…who is waiting for you to come home.
The father disciplines those who he loves. Expect bad weather. God loves you too much not to come after you. Circumstances become shaky. God chased Jonah down, not to pay him back, but to win him back, to bring him back. God does not discipline to pay back, but to win back. Andy Stanley tells the story of his son. They, obviously, were worried. The neighbors told the son, Andrew, your daddy is looking for you. Remember, God comes looking for you not to pay you back, but to bring you back home. If you are running from God, your daddy is looking for you. He will not cease.
John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace , discovered grace and forgiveness through humility, honesty and confession. Soon the ship was caught in a horrible storm and was taking on water. The crew had to pump 24 hours a day to stay afloat. But the constant wind rocked the boat so dangerously that the sailors had to tie themselves to the deck to keep from being swept overboard. At one point, several of the crew tried to throw Newton overboard. They figured that God was punishing him like Jonah of the Old Testament.
Cleanse my vile heart. After four weeks of storms and constant brushes with death, the ship limped into an Irish port. Of course we all know the words to the great hymn , Amazing Grace:. Once I was a rebel, but now I am a servant of the living God. It bears the weaknesses and strengths of oral delivery.
Jonah 1, Running from God – Southside Church of Christ in Fort Myers
Its purpose is to assist people in their personal bible study and provide preaching and Sunday School resources for people involved in church ministry. Here is the deal, I wonder if secretly, Jonah was afraid God might save them. Ninveah was one of the greatest cities of its day. The Jewish nation despised the city of Ninveah. Give Jonah a break! This is part of our story, too. We run from God in the strangest kind of way. We run from God by harboring secret sins.
We run from God by denying our calling as Christians Holy priesthood, I Peter But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. In many ways the repentance of the Ninevites is as much a miracle as Jonah being swallowed by a fish.
Whoever made up this story is having fun at the expense of the prophets of Israel, parodying their preaching techniques and their assumptions. Jonah starts off as a prophet too scared to preach.
New Heights Church
When he does preach, it is a message of destruction. But when the Ninevites repent, God stays his hand. And so the final part of the story finds Jonah in decidedly grumpy mood. Jonah had gone to all that trouble of prophesying that Nineveh would be destroyed. Because they have repented, God will not punish them. After forty days, Nineveh is still there, and Jonah is annoyed and angry, even suicidal- for he seems, in many ways, like a failed prophet.
They think that they are to preach judgement, when in fact they are to call people to repentance. They believe that God is the God only of their nation, when in fact God cares for the entire world. After all, it has more than , innocent children in it, as well as many animals! The God of Israel cares for the entire world; all people are in his care.
What he desires is not the destruction of sinners, but for people to turn to him. Jesus certainly spoke of repentance, as we heard in our Gospel reading today. But unlike Jonah he saw that repentance was just the beginning of a process. Just as he invited his first fishermen disciples, so he invites us to follow him on a journey of discovery. For Jesus does not simply preach punishment and destruction. There are time, I think, when the Church gets a bit like Jonah. Instead, he attracted followers because he offered them hope.
Audacity is not a virtue we might think to apply to Jonah. But eventually reluctantly, he went off and preached anyway. Yet what he predicted did not come true, because of unforeseen circumstances. For those of us who read Jonah, this is a message of hope. If we are called to turn to God, that is not something we should do out of fear.
Instead, God is offering his love and grace to all people, everywhere. In a divided world, here is a message which transcends all human boundaries. That God should care for the children and animals of Nineveh was a revolutionary idea in its time. Yet there are still people today who would rather God brought fire and brimstone down on people who are not like them. One of the most worrying trends of our time is that we are increasingly seeing ideas like racism becoming increasingly acceptable.
In America, Donald Trump is happy to be supported by white supremacists. Here in Europe, a far-right party has just entered into a coalition government in Austria. In our own country, the media fuels a xenophobic approach to politics, in which we blame immigrants and foreigners for all our problems. All this depends on a belief that some people, some races, some nations are better than others. So when God showed compassion on Nineveh, that was hard for Jonah to take in. Jesus called his disciples to follow him, and work with him, fishing for people. His message was: turn from your sins and believe in the Gospel- for the Kingdom of God is near.
And the point about the Kingdom of God is that it is for all people- for people of all nations and races. In the Kingdom, there are no nations or cultures which are privileged. We do not get to say to God- bring down fire and fury on those people who are not like us. When I arrived at my church nine years ago, I began rotating back and forth between Old and New Testaments and genres. I quickly chose to preach Jonah. Maybe not.
Preparing him. Sending him.
For The Church
God never lost sight of his prophet, and God never lost sight of Nineveh. Jonah is a great book for young preachers looking to preach a minor prophet. Jesus himself seems to clearly affirm Jonah as a historical figure Matt 12 and Luke 11 , a rough contemporary of Amos and Hosea, who seems to represent a typical Jew. At first blush, this message sounds simple and sweet, yet bleak. But Jonah runs to Tarshish , the opposite direction from Nineveh. His disobedience was perhaps as theological as it was geographical.
I left not one hostage alive. I cut off the hands and feet of some.