Jonah and the Great City: Wake Up and Jump

Jonah Sermon Series

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Text: Jonah 1:4-16

Has there ever been a time you ran from God? Maybe not from one city to another, but maybe run from His will? If we’re honest, it probably happened sometime this week (if not today).

As we look at Jonah in the boat from Jonah 1:4-16 we will see what happened to Jonah when he ran from God and how he responded to God. We will also look at the sailors reaction. But most of all, we will learn about God’s sovereignty and His providential mercy.

1. The Powerful Sovereignty of the One True God

When Jonah disobeyed God’s call, God sent a violent wind. In this action, we see the terrifying sovereignty of God. We must realize that God is holy and righteous and just. He created all things and we cannot question His will.

In fact, it is a good thing that God is righteous and angry towards unrighteousness. We wouldn’t want a police officer to see a murder happen in front of his eyes and then say to his partner, “Did you see that? I don’t feel like doing anything about it. Let’s go.” No, we want justice against evil.

God displays His wrath, but the amazing thing about God’s revelation in Scripture, is that we also see His merciful love. Throughout Scripture, there are even stories, such as this one, where God’s justice and His mercy collide and we see that ALWAYS His will is good.

If you are going through a storm in life I don’t know if it is God’s punishment or His faithful love. We don’t know the whole story, but Jonah’s story reveals that God is just and that God is merciful and that often those two things come together (most notably on the cross).

2. The Depressing Futility of Many Gods

Before we get to Jonah, we meet a group of sailors who are terrified of the storm God sends. Since they don’t believe in Yahweh, the One true God, they are left to fend for themselves. They try several approaches:

a. Everybody pray to your own god!

They don’t seem to have much confidence in that approach so they immediately turn to a pragmatic solution:

b. Everybody throw stuff overboard!

The Captain remembers there might be another god they missed – the god of the man sleeping in the boat:

c. Did we pray to all the gods?

But the sailors on deck aren’t going to wait around for Jonah to pray, because, when have their gods ever done anything for them? So they go for a completely superstitious solution:

d. Let’s cast lots!

Imagine this boat is representative of the 7 billion people on this planet. People turn to their gods in times of trouble, but ultimately they will find there is nothing there. So, they turn to pragmatic, self-help solutions. That still doesn’t work so people try other religions or superstitions to make sense of life. All of it is absolute futility.

It’s foolish to continue on a course that gets you nowhere.

3. The Hopeless Resignation of a Failed Prophet

Nowhere do we see in this text that Jonah actually prayed to his God. We also don’t see him ask God to forgive him. He basically resigns himself to death.

Even when he tells the sailors who he is, it doesn’t seem as though he really believes it. His words ring hollow.

Though Jonah is a Hebrew and fears the one true God, maker of heaven and earth, he never submits himself to God. Rather than ask forgiveness, he commits suicide. Even the sailors can’t believe this is the solution, yet ultimately they too agree with Jonah and throw him overboard, committing murder (though asking Yahweh not to hold it against them)

This is the culmination of the thinking of the world and a failed morality.

Suicide is never the answer. Divorce won’t solve anything. Drugs and alcohol won’t remove your problems. Abortion won’t make your life better.

If you live a godless life and turn to godless solutions for yourself despair and depression and

Whether you are contemplating terminating a baby’s life in the womb, terminating a marriage, or terminating your own life, there is an answer! There is hope!

Jonah attempted suicide to avoid his problems. But Yahweh swallowed him up with mercy.

Contrast Jonah’s attempted suicide to the example of Paul (Acts 27:20-22, 31-32). Paul was in a similar situation as Jonah but in Paul’s case he trusted God and even convinced the terrified sailors not to jump which spared their lives. Our confidence in God inspires confidence even in the godless to believe.

Jonah attempted suicide to avoid his problems. But Yahweh swallowed him up with mercy #JonahandtheCity Click To Tweet

4. The Providential Mercy of a Glorious Savior

Of course, Jonah could not have anticipated that Yahweh would send a giant fish to swallow him. But before that, we see God’s mercy in calming the storm and saving the sailors (who, by the way, seem to at least acknowledge the greatness of Yahweh, though we do not know if they truly became believers).

Yahweh was also merciful in sending the fish. Again, His sovereign will shall be done regardless of our disobedience. Jonah’s attempted suicide didn’t take God by surprise, but He was unwilling to let Jonah perish in His disobedience so in His mercy He sent a whale.

Finally, we see God’s providential mercy ultimately in Jesus. The God-Man who also found Himself asleep in a boat on a raging sea. The same God-Man who was able to speak with the same sovereign authority to the wind and the waves and calm the storm. The God-Man who came to us in our futility and submitted Himself to the point of death on a cross.

Join the Conversation

Are you in a storm right now? Have you bought into the lie that drugs, sex, a relationship, even death might be better than what you are facing? If you are considering drastic action to avoid a problem or a person, please get help right where you are! Our church is here to pray for you. What are you going through?

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Jonah and the Great City: Get Up and Go

Jonah Sermon Series

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We know Jonah was swallowed by a whale, but what else can we learn from one of the shortest of short stories found in the Old Testament?

1. Jonah is a Minor Prophet

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: (Jonah 1:1)

There are twelve minor prophets in the Old Testament canon. Really the only thing that makes them “minor” is that they are shorter than the “major” prophets. Jonah is only 48 verses, but when we study Jonah we actually discover that he was the most minor of prophets in every sense of that word.

Why was Jonah such a minor and insignificant prophet?

  • Jonah was only mentioned one other time (2 Kings 14:25)
  • His only other mention reveals that he is the son of an unknown man from an unimportant village in an insignificant region (Galilee btw).
  • The message of Jonah fell on deaf ears. Not the message he spoke to the Ninevites but the lesson the people of Israel were supposed to learn when they read about him.

To that last point, Jonah never quite learns the lesson either, and as a result, he represents Israel in their cold-hearted attitude towards the nations.

By the time of Jesus, the religious leaders seem to have largely ignored the lesson of Jonah. In fact, in John 7:52 they say “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you?” they replied. “Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Well, no important prophet comes from Galilee, because Jonah was from Galilee, but again, he was the most minor of all the prophets. So who cares what he has to say?

2. Yahweh is a Missionary God

The word of the Lord: “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted Me.” (Jonah 1:1a, 2)

On the other hand, the lesson we learn as we read the story of Jonah is that God is a compassionate God who has a heart for the nations.

a. The word of the Lord came…

The fact that God speaks is evidence of His love and mercy. He reveals His character and His will when He speaks. We have His word and are able to conform to His image.

b. Get up! Go…

God’s command to get up and go tells us of His desire for us to take His message to others.

c. …to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted me.

Jonah wasn’t told if he would be safe and comfortable in Nineveh. God’s call on our lives won’t always be comfortable and safe either, but it is always right. Even if we are rejected, we are to take the gospel across the street or across cultures for His glory. We will face hostility, but we are to preach against sin.

When God calls us to preach against sin, He reveals His goodness in at least 3 ways:

  1. God is on the side of righteousness and not unrighteousness. Most people agree that evil is bad and needs to stop. That’s why we lock murderers away in prison. God is on the side of justice.
  2. God is on the side of His people. We know the rest of the story, but Jonah doesn’t. Jonah believes that God will either destroy Nineveh (Israel’s very own ISIS), or, they will repent and stop terrorizing their enemies. Either option would be good for God’s people (though Jonah is afraid that it might not go well for him).
  3. God is on the side of the nations. Again, Jonah doesn’t fully realize what will happen but in Jonah 4:11, God says, “Should I not care about the great city of Nineveh?” In other words, God knew that the people of Nineveh would repent BUT ONLY WHEN THEY WERE CONFRONTED BY THE TRUTH! This is the major lesson that Jonah and the nation of Israel missed: Salvation is for all peoples!
This is the major lesson that Jonah and the nation of Israel missed: Salvation is for all peoples! #JonahandtheCity Click To Tweet

3. Jonah Has A Major Problem

However, Jonah got up to flee to Tarshish from the LORD’s presence. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. He paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish, from the LORD’s presence. (Jonah 1:3)

Jonah runs from the word of the Lord. Not the smartest move, yet we are guilty of keeping the gospel to ourselves ALL THE TIME! Before we criticize, we need to remember that Jonah was afraid to preach judgment to terrorists but we refuse to preach mercy even to the people we love.

Jonah was afraid to preach judgment to terrorists but we fail to preach grace to people we love. #JonahandtheCity Click To Tweet

Jonah very deliberately ran “from the Lord’s presence” (as if that were possible):

  • Went to Joppa – Joppa is not Nineveh, in case you were wondering.
  • Found a ship – Jonah is actively looking for other options.
  • Going to Tarshish – Coincidence? Jonah may have thought it was providential?
  • Paid the fare – If you are going to run from God, you will have to pay out of pocket.
  • Went down into [the ship] – He keeps going deeper and deeper into his sin.
  • To go with them to Tarshish – If you’re not with God on your way to Nineveh, you’ll end up with the godless on your way to Tarshish.

What was Jonah’s problem? His heart was filled with fear and hatred toward the people of Nineveh. His heart did not reflect the heart of God.

4. Jesus is the Greater Prophet

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

At the appropriate time, Yahweh, the missionary God, commanded His Son to “Get up and go!” Not to a great city, but to a world in need.

Like Jonah, Jesus was born into an unimportant family from an insignificant place (Galilee btw! “Can anything good come from Nazareth”)

But unlike Jonah, Jesus didn’t run from His calling, but prayed “Not my will, but Yours, be done.”

And then, Jesus “paid the fare” and “went down into” the grave. He paid for our sins with His own blood and then rose again on the third day.

Jesus wasn’t reluctant or rebellious. Instead, He came willingly, was crucified by His own people and cried out “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”

Join the Conversation

Whether you are far from God (like Nineveh) or running from God (like Jonah) you need to surrender your will to His. Is there a person or a situation that you are avoiding because of fear or hatred? Is the Lord speaking to you about your attitude toward someone? What lessons are you learning from the story of Jonah? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook.

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  • This is the major lesson that Jonah and the nation of Israel missed: Salvation is for all peoples! #JonahandtheCity citylifechurchnyc.com/jonah-go/
  • Jonah was afraid to preach judgment to terrorists but we fail to preach grace to people we love. #JonahandtheCity citylifechurchnyc.com/jonah-go/
  • If you are going to run from God, you will have to pay out of pocket. #JonahandtheCity citylifechurchnyc.com/jonah-go/
  • If you aren’t going with God to Nineveh, you’ll end up going with the godless to Tarshish. #JonahandtheCity citylifechurchnyc.com/jonah-go/

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[New Sermon Series] Jonah and the Great City

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We know the story. God tells Jonah to go one way. Jonah goes the other way. God sends a storm. Jonah jumps out of the boat. God sends a fish to gobble him up. Jonah learns his lesson. The fish spits him out. Jonah finally does what God told him to do all along.

We should always do what God tells us to do to begin with. End of story, right?

Not exactly. When we dive deeper into Jonah we see a God of wrath and mercy who sends storms and threatens annihilation but whose wrath is appeased by repentance.

We see a heathen city that has done cruel things to the people of God and a reluctant prophet who seeks God’s justice but not God’s mercy.

We see the sovereignty of God and His forgiveness in light of true repentance.

Oh yeah, and there is a really big fish.

This series will challenge you to step into God’s call on your life. God’s call is never comfortable and it’s probably not safe, but it is always right.

Join us every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as we dive into a whale of a story!

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Kingdom First: Investing Kingdom Treasure

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1. Two Treasures to Pursue

There is earthly treasure and heavenly treasure. Your heart is where you are consistently making deposits.

If you are collecting treasures “for yourself” then you are hoarding earthly treasure. This is not a matter of saving for a rainy day or for retirement, this has to do with your attitude towards money. Do you feel entitled to your money? If you are greedy, that is a clear indication that you are collecting treasures on earth.

So how do we, instead, collect treasures in heaven?

In Matthew 19:21, Jesus gave one example of how you can collect treasures in heaven when he told the the rich young ruler, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” If greed is an indication that you are collecting earthly treasure, then generosity is an indication that you are collecting heavenly treasure.

This is the example of Jesus: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

Indeed, this is the entire message of the Bible summed up into a subject and a verb: God gave.

The message of the Bible can be summed up in a subject and a verb: God gave. #KingdomFirst Click To Tweet

2. Two Visions for Your Life

Jesus makes a distinction between a good eye and an evil eye in verses. The “good eye” has a double meaning. In order for the eye to be good it must be a “single eye”, or, have a single focus. It’s no good to lack focus on one thing so we must be focused on God’s kingdom and not on the things of the earth.

Secondly, the good eye has the connotation of generosity. To have good vision, then, is to focus on God’s kingdom rather than on earthly things and to be generous.

On the other hand, to have a bad eye is to be unfocused and greedy. The same phrase is used by Jesus in Matthew 20:15: “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my business? Are you jealous because I’m generous?”

The word jealous is literally translated “is your  eye evil”? This was an idiom for stinginess and jealousy.

Bottom line: If you have a vision for your life that hoards wealth for yourself rather than for God’s kingdom then your life will be filled with darkness…”and how deep is that darkness.”

3. Two Masters to Serve

With all that in mind, we come to the realization that we are serving a master. We are either serving a good master who will take care of our needs, or, we are serving a master that will leave us broken and ruined. If we serve God and seek His kingdom first then our life will be filled with light and joy and contentment. If we serve money and seek our kingdom first then our life will be filled with a deep darkness and discontentment.

The good news is, if we give up and let go and treat our possessions as a trust rather than an entitlement then God will provide all of our needs.

Join the Conversation

Are you the owner or the manager of your money? Are you fueled by greed or generosity? Do you have a single-minded focus on God’s kingdom or an out-of-focus on your own kingdom? Who do you serve?