Chapter 1: 1 - 3 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Chapter 1: 12 - 13 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
Chapter 2: 1 - 10 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Chapter 3: 1 - 5 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 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. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
Chapter 4: 9 - 11 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.” But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
Application Out of the Comfort Zone (Al Ghazal GC; Wilna’s word) Jonah’s response to being called from his comfort zone - no! Mike Hanchett’s visit - church and individual comfort zones being tested: encouraging words which require a response Passive Jonah - Active God: Jonah flees, God pursues; Jonah falls, God picks up. God expects action: to follow His example, and that of the sailors and the Ninevites. No comfy seats allowed!
Application We are here together for a reason, and it’s not the reason we may have come for See the bigger picture, through God’s eyes: He loved Ninevah...He loves Abu Dhabi and the people within it, “who cannot tell their right hand from their left hand.” Jonah worried about the plant... What do we worry about... God cares much more than that. Our mission: to bring the message that will bring them to their knees in repentance; to play a part in their transformation; to share God’s love No room for denial (a word you didn’t like) or passive observers (no word for me, or I wasn’t there): God will finish His work... Graciously, however, God will continue to teach us, even if we do occasionally slip into self-indulgence or turn the other way...
Application God is a gracious God, slow to anger and abiding in love: He quickly warms to the Ninevites, despite their evil and forgives them the moment they repent. He protects the sailors too. Jonah, too – God is still patient despite his self-absorbed, why me, woe is me attitude, so he teaches Jonah. He is willing to keep nurturing us, even when our weaknesses shine through. God is first and foremost a God of love and He will always draw us to himself and shepherd us back onto the right path.
But... remember The Book of Jonah shows us that God is sovereign and commands EVERYTHING - the natural order, weather patterns, giant fish, US. The sailors and the Ninevites were in awe of God - they feared Him and responded. Deuteronomy 10:12: And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but (reverently) to fear the Lord your God, (that is) to walk in obedience to Him (all His ways), to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul (your entire being). Ecclesiastes 12:13: “All has been heard; THE END OF THE MATTER is: FEAR GOD [revere, love and worship Him, knowing that He IS] and keep His commandments, for this is the WHOLE OF MAN [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God's providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.”
(Good)Fear of the Lord... Holy, reverend fear of God is good: a love response, a heart attitude which recognises God’s awesomeness and love: “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!” (Psalm 112: 1). It’s about loving God and desiring to obey His commands; Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12: 28 - 29) We should nurture healthy fear of the Lord - it encourages our obedience.
(Wrong) Fear of the Lord... Doing what is right only because we fear God’s reaction if we don’t is not good. Jonah fears God like this and so he goes to Ninevah. But, he hasn’t got his heart attitude right yet – so, following an act of obedience, it doesn’t take long for his true colours to shine through again when things don’t go as he expected.
(Wrong) Fear of the Lord... Or, we fear the unknown in terms of the spiritual realm, and so we hold onto our safety blanket, when God wants us to experience our full potential in the spiritual dimension – that is also unhealthy fear; Or, we fear He will take us away from our comforts and lifestyle; Or, we bow to our own sense of inadequacy, fearing how God will respond if we let Him down. This is also not His way... He loves us unconditionally. God desires us to reach our full potential in Him and He gives us all the tools.
The Bigger Picture - through God’s eyes Ninevah and Abu Dhabi: major, strategic Middle Eastern cities; economically powerful; sinful... The Ninevites responded to God’s message through Jonah... God’s message to Abu Dhabi, through ALL of us - we are all called for this moment, as one body with many parts. See God’s big picture for us all...
Mike’s Prophetic Word: an extract... God has called you here for such a time as this. Do not look at yourselves and say, "who are we. We are small and insignificant". Know, I have called you! I have empowered you! I am equipping you! This is my plan and not your plan so do not see yourself less than what I have made you to be. Favour, favour, favour, favour is on this house. God wants you to know it! He wants you to expect it! He wants you to live in it! He wants you to know that where you go, favour will go with you. Favour brings feast in the midst of famine. My favour is on this house. Do not fear. Do not be afraid. For it is I that has called you. Do not fear! For my Presence will lead and guide you. My presence will be tangible in this place. Raise your expectation level. Expect more revelation! Expect more salvations! Expect more manifestations of my Presence! Expect more healings! Expect more! Expect more! Expect more! Ps.5:12 My plans for this church have not changed. I have enlarged them and expanded your understanding to see that I have more. There is much that I have yet to reveal to you. I reveal my secrets by my Spirit. I am calling you to myself. I want you to spend more time with me and you will find more things will get done much faster. My timing is not your timing. I will give my plans to you in the secret place. I hear the word TRANSITION! Not transition out, but transition into all I have called you to. It's a New Day!
Response? Firstly... avoid Jonah’s errors... Spare a thought for the whale (and the sailors) - our disobedience affects others; Learn from past errors; Accept God’s timing & ways - He know better! Don’t underestimate your potential in God, despite your failings - 120,000 people makes Jonah one of the most effective prophets/evangelists
Response? Learn from Jonah’s errors... Don’t feel let down if you don’t see God’s manifestation right away; or it doesn’t seem like He is using you as much as others; or He doesn’t have a word; or he doesn’t heal...He knows best and He promises to use you. Don’t lose heart or lack confidence - God will do the work, all He needs is an obedient response.
Abrupt ending? What happens next...? It’s not a story about Jonah - it's about God and the mercy He has for us all. He forgave the Ninevites on the basis of their repentance; He tolerated Jonah and accepted a stubborn man who resisted God; He will do the same for you, me and Abu Dhabi. “It’s not about You!” But, what happens next IS UP TO YOU!
Jesus points the way... “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here.” (Matthew 12: 39 - 41) Jesus seeks disciples who are willing to step out from the crowd: “When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions.” (Matthew 1: 1 - Intro to Sermon on the Mount, from The Message Bible)
Consider Peter... 793 years after Jonah Peter, sent out early, even before being filled with the Holy Spirit, to perform signs and wonders with the other disciples... comes back amazed, yet still makes mistakes later: Peter, whom Jesus called the Rock: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Peter, who loses faith on the water and sinks Peter, who denies Jesus three times before the cock crows Peter, who was nowhere to be seen at Calvary
Now...jump forward just 50 days Peter, who stands up in front of a crowd, preaches one of the greatest sermons ever recorded and sees 3000 come to Jesus in that moment. (Acts 2) Peter, who a few days later fixes his eyes on a lame man and says: “...in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk...” (Acts 3) Peter, who goes on to build the church as Jesus ordained; Peter, who is so full of love for his Lord that, when martyred, asks to be hung upside down because his humility won’t allow him to be crucified in the same way as his Lord. If God is willing to use Peter, despite his many early failings, in mighty ways, He is also ready to use you and me. What made the difference?
Love, obedience and the Holy Spirit Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!...” (Acts 4: 8) “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14: 15 - 16) This will be a place of great faith, trust and confidence in God. The supernatural will be here and many will be healed. People will come to this house of healing. The priesthood of all believers will not only be taught here but practiced by all. Everyone will find their place and see their value.