I Corinthians 13 states that without love, the gift of prophecy is of no value. Let’s learn how to handle God’s prophetic revelation with love, by studying the efforts of Jonah.
In I Corinthians 13:1-2 God, through the apostle Paul, brings us squarely in line with our Christian foundation. Let’s open up our Bibles on this Sabbath day and come to understand what God would have us to learn. In I Corinthians 13:1 the apostle Paul states:
I Corinthians 13:1 - "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I become sounding brass or a clanging symbol.
Verse 2 - "And though I have the gift of a prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but I do not have love, I am nothing." When we come to verse 1, and we notice the phrase there, or, excuse me, verse 2 and notice the phrase about the gift of prophecy that’s a word anglicized that comes from the Greek. The Greek is - propheteia. The word there literally means - the speaking forth of the mind and the counsel of God. The speaking forth, the mind and the counsel of God. The apostle here says that if you do that, and you do not have love, then it is for nothing. The apostle Paul and the book of Corinthians creates a startling contrast between inspired teaching and Godly love. And it is that contrast that I would speak to on this Sabbath day.
Let me ask you a few questions to bring all of us, whether we’re here or on the cybercast, a few questions to bring us into the message. Can an individual have one and not the other? Yes. Is one better than the other? Yes. Do people that have only the gift of inspired teaching think they’re not loving? No. They think that they’re doing God a service and themselves, too. The last question I’d like to offer to you as an audience is simply this: Can a Christian in the twenty-first century be privy to inspired teaching; even the knowledge of prophetic events, offer a stirring message related to the future and have Godly love? Absolutely, but our hearts must be prepared and in Godly shape.
Do you realize that God gives a warning element in the gospel? Join me, if you would over in the book of Colossians. In the book of Colossians, again, one of Paul’s writings of interest, Colossians 1:27 Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
American King James Version×, and let’s read it fully.
Colossians 1:27 Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
American King James Version×- Paul writes on behalf of God: "To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Verse 28 - "Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Verse 29 - "To this end I labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily." Now it’s very interesting to go a step deeper, pull off a layer, and again to go to the original Greek language of which this was written in to recognize that the word - warn - there comes from the Greek word - nou - which literally means to put in before the mind, to place something there, in other words to, in a sense almost grab somebody, and in a sense just literally place something, put something in front of a person, or in them, to have them come to grips with what is occurring. And/or in a sense also to admonish them. But in doing that, notice verse 29, Paul speaking:
Verse 29 - "To this end I also labor, striving according to His working. . ." The way God would do it; the way Christ would do it. ". . .to His working which works in me mightily." And the winner is - in other words Paul’s saying again, "I could have all of this knowledge; I could have all of this presentation, but if I don’t do it the way God would do it, I’m going to be used in spite of myself." And he understands the caution that must be taken. So I would submit to you, the audience here, that what is just as important as a mindset toward prophecy is having the right heartset toward prophecy - God’s heart in the matter.
And that’s why I want to present this information to you today on the Sabbath before we have the World News and Prophecy seminar to address how we approach the subject of prophetic information and understanding. Is it an end in itself? No, it is not. It points to a greater end, to a greater purpose that we want to talk about today. So today, let’s learn how to handle God’s prophetic revelation, and also as we do, to understand how to handle our hearts by studying the efforts of one man. The man’s name that we’re going to be talking about in this message, his name literally could be translated - dove. So that if you met him he would say (you’d say what is your name), and he’d say, "Hi, I’m Mr. Dove." Of course you don’t know him as Mr. Dove; I’ll share who his name is in a moment. The difficulty beyond that is you wouldn’t know Mr. Dove because probably in reading the story, you would probably want to call him, "Mr. Chicken."
Or if you read by the third and the fourth chapter, you might want to call him Mr. Vulture. So, we don’t normally recognize him as a dove. Here is a man who’s given a commission by God to preach a message of repentance that everybody understood except one individual; the man who gave the message. In fact, it’s very interesting, the book we’re about to turn to, which has four whole chapters in it about a prophet, only one verse in four chapters, one verse, ready? You can put your finger on it, one verse in all those four chapters, is the prophecy. The rest is about the man, because he wasn’t doing what is mentioned in the book of Colossians, doing God’s work the way God would do it. That’s what we want to talk about today.
This afternoon I want to, as a congregation, come together and be able to better find the great message of I Corinthians 13:1-2 by understanding the five great themes of the book of Jonah. Come with me to the book of Jonah, and let’s learn about the man named - Dove.
In the book of Jonah we’re going to go through four chapters, not word by word, we don’t have the time for that, but we are going to understand five great themes, and as we go right into the first verse, allow me to share the first theme with you.
#1: God prepares. Great opportunity that becomes great refusal. God prepares great opportunity that becomes a great refusal.
Verse 2 - " ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it, for their wickedness is come up before Me.’ " Powerful words just even in the first chapter as we begin to browse through it together noticing: ". . .the word of the Lord came. . ." We’re never, we should be, but we’re never always quite ready for the word of the Lord to come. We’ve can’t look at our watch, set our watch, 3:22, Monday afternoon and say, "I will then be ready for the word of the Lord to come." We’ve got to be ready because God is propelling His purpose forward, and we’ve got to be ready for when the word of the Lord came. It has got to be as convenient for us as it is for God. And He said:
Verse 2 - " ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me." So here was a man of Israel that’s given a commission to go up against Nineveh, one of the great cities of the Assyrian empire which was the dominant empire within Mesopotamia right now, actually for some of us that may not be aware of it, modern day Iraq is where this was. Now at that time, Israel was in the midst of what is called the - fertile crescent - and/or historically - the way of the sea, and it was right in the intersection between two great super powers: Egypt to the south and Assyria to its east. And in a sense when we capture the flavor of what God is asking this Israelite to do, it’s a little bit like the cat chasing the mouse, and then God tells the mouse, "Turn around and tell the cat to change its ways." And what does Jonah do?
Verse 3 - "But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (And) He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord." As we explore this set of verses we recognize a few things. We come to understand a key about Jonah’s problem that I don’t want to be your problem or my problem. He did not understand what the presence of the Lord meant.
God said, "Jonah, go east."
Jonah was thousands of years ahead of Horace Greeley, and he said, "No, I’ll go west.
"You go across the dessert, oh man."
Jonah says, "No, I’ll take a Mediterranean cruise, and what I’ll do is I’ll go to Spain," which was Tarshish. Why did he go to Spain?
Because at that time within the Greek world and within the world of the middle east, Tarshish was considered to be the ends of the earth, along with Ethiopia to the south. And so in a sense, Jonah was thinking that somehow he could leave God behind in Israel, that God somehow wouldn’t be over in Tarshish, and what we come to understand is that Jonah had a problem with perspective. That’s an important word for you students of the Bible, if you’d like to jot it down in your notes right now, or if you don’t have notepad, write it on your hand because that’s what we’re going to be talking about today - perspective.
What Jonah would come to find is that he, time and time again, put God in a box, which means that his god then deals in boxes, and therefore Jonah boxed up people like those that he was going to ultimately be sent to and doesn’t let them out, and now that same God that deals in boxes, because Jonah puts his god in boxes, is also seemingly boxing Jonah in, and he wants out. And so he vamooses and tries to run away from the presence of the Lord. And what we come to understand about Jonah, as we come to understand the subject of prophecy, is simply this: How we view God is our lens to the world. How we view - as much as these glasses that I have on that are bifocals, our image of God, how we think of His nature, how we think of His attributes, are you with me? Is then the lens that we put everything else into our lives. If our God is small; we’re going to be small. If our God is great; we’re going to want to do great things for a great God, as Mr. Tomes brought out about pride versus doing God’s work inside of us. This was Jonah’s problem. God is limitless in nature. He is limitless in his attributes. Isaiah 57:15 Isaiah 57:15For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
American King James Version×, let’s just look at one verse to kind of cement that thought into our minds for just a moment; come with me if you would, Isaiah 57:15 Isaiah 57:15For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
American King James Version×:
Isaiah 57:15 Isaiah 57:15For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
American King James Version×- "For thus says the High and the Lofty One Who inhabits eternity," Inhabits eternity. ". . .whose name is holy." He’s everywhere. You know, one of definition, everyone has a different definition of eternity; one person once said that eternity is just thinking of a line of string in front of you, that it’s kind of, you know, like this, and one end is going that way, and one end is going that way, and they just start going out that way, never stopping. That God’s already been beyond both sides because He inhabits eternity. Now you might have another definition and you know what usually happen, I don’t know if you’re like me - when I start thinking about eternity, you know, my brain just begins to cross. I cannot comprehend that. But God asks us to grow in that comprehension recognizing that His presence is everywhere.
Jonah was suffering from a thing that all of us do as human beings sometimes; when we feel that things are down; the grass always looks greener on the other side; you know, if I just go over here; if I just do this; if I just stop doing this, you know; God won’t miss me; God won’t care, and the grass is always greener on the other side, so we hop that old fence; we go over where the grass is greener on the other side, and then what happens once we’re on the other side, the grass turns brown. There’s a desert, but it was green before we got there. But what is the problem? The problem is, it’s the desert within. It changes. The desert is within, because we hop a fence, things don’t change. We change the things then that are around us, and this was what was happening to Jonah. But God begins to go to work on this prophet. Notice Jonah 1:4 Jonah 1:4But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
American King James Version×.
Jonah 1:4 Jonah 1:4But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
American King James Version×- "But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so the ship was about to be broken up." This is fascinating. Jonah thinks he’s on a Mediterranean cruise. Jonah thinks everything is going to be calm; Jonah thinks everything is quiet, and yet God is working loudly. And it’s very interesting the word that might appear in your Bibles - sent - is actually in other translations - prepared. And it comes from the Hebrew word - manah. God was preparing, molding and shaping an environment all around Jonah so that his heart could be prepared to bring forth a prophecy.
And we know the story about Jonah. God sends out the mighty wind; the mariners are afraid; where’s Jonah? I’m not going to go into every verse - where’s Jonah? Jonah is down in the belly of the ship; he’s in the dark; he’s asleep. In fact the captain comes down and calls him, "Oh, sleeper." Basically, "oh, no good." He’s hiding. As he leaves Israel, he leaves God behind, or if he goes down below, he leaves God behind; he’s escaping; he’s sleeping. So often people that are in depression, and depression is just anger turned inward, will often use sleep as a mechanism of escape. But once God begins to work with you, He’s going to be persistent and forbearing, and so He’s going to continue to work with him.
Verse 6 - The captain says, "O sleeper," here in verse 6, and then they come down to the point in verse 8: Where they ask in the very bottom of Verse 8:
Verse 8 - "Of what people are you?" Who are you anyway? What’s this storm about? Notice what he says in verse 9:
Verse 9 - So he said to them, Jonah speaking: " ‘I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.’ " Well, you know, when you read Jonah saying that, how shallow, not the ocean, but his thinking. If he feared God, and all of a sudden now, God is everywhere, then what is he doing? He is not a very good witness; he was not practicing what he preached.
Verse 10 - "And then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, ‘Why have you done this?’ "
Then notice verse 12:
Verse 12 - "And he said to them, ‘Pick me up, and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.’ " The story goes on. The heathen were not willing to throw this man of Israel into the sea; they worked all the harder. But ultimately it even got worse, so in verse 15 they finally picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea. The most important point that we pick up from chapter 1 so far is simply this - this man that was called to go and tell a nation to repent, in all of this scenario as God had prepared, or manahed this wind to work with him, the man never comes to repentance. The man on the boat in front of the heathen sailors never admits that he is wrong, never says, "I’m sorry." He worships a god of lightning, thunderbolts, brimstone and fire that wants him boxed in and killed. His god is a god that is out after him. This is the story of Jonah one, which now moves us then into the second great theme of the book of Jonah. God prepares a great fish.
#2 - God prepares a great fish.
Verse 17 - "Now the Lord had prepared (Manah) a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." Now a lot of us will oftentimes talk about Jonah and the whale, but it’s not really what it says. The word in the Greek is - ketos - big fish. Now whether this was an actual fish that there’s already a species of, or a individually designed one of a kind, one of a time, one an event fish, the commentaries speak all over the place. There is reference to, interestingly, a fish that is known as - lamea canis kaharias - which is a lot of Greek for - sea dog. It’s a shark-like kind of fish, gigantic fish that is in the Mediterranean, and it has been found to actually have the whole remains of individuals in it. Now whether it’s that, or whether it’s miraculous fish, that one of a kind, prepared, super prepared fish, the bottom line is what God did, which was more important, and that is that Jonah was limited, buried, and put into this fish for three days and three nights.
Remember how Jonah had felt that God was putting the squeeze on him, and so he ran away? You know, sometimes how we think about God, He just lets us feel for a little bit? He felt that somehow, well actually, he thought that God was a God of limitations. So, God said, "Fine. You think I’m limited? I’ll limit you. And I’ll put you in a fish for three days and three nights."
Can you imagine what that was like? You know, we’re not talking about Motel 6. You know, the lights are not left on. He’s in the gut of the fish, and imagine whatever that fish was, swallowed a whole bunch of squid, you know, can you imagine the squid kind of going through the intestine with you? I mean, it was not a good experience. I don’t think any of us would say, "You know, it would be kind of neat to do that during the Feast of Tabernacles to get a feel." No, we’re not going to go there, are we. But there’s such a much greater story here. There’s such a much greater story here, because here we’re going to come to understand for maybe the first time that Jonah is going to be used in spite of himself, in spite of himself.
While Jonah in chapter 2 is praying his heart out, and you know, boy, you can fervent in prayer when you’re in trouble. You know, the most effective prayer on earth is when you are sixty feet down, upside down, hanging from a rope, six inches from water. And you can smell it. And you know, you can just go, "God, help!" Very effective. But what God wants to hear is more than when we’re sixty feet down, upside down, hanging from a rope, six inches from water. He would rather have heard that from the top of the well.
So Jonah gives a tremendous prayer. But the point I want to bring to you is that God is working outside Jonah’s bad attitude, and lack of attitude. God is going to use Jonah in spite of himself because this is the God that you and I worship, brethren. I think it’s very important that I draw your attention to Isaiah 46. Come with me, please. Isaiah 46. I hope this is the God that you worship, for this is how God reveals Himself in the Bible.
Isaiah 46:9 Isaiah 46:9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
American King James Version×- "Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is none like Me,
Verse 10 - "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will (yes, I will) do all My pleasure." And what God was doing while Jonah was a-stewing in the whale, God was looking beyond the carnal prayer of Jonah, looking into the future. God was going to incorporate; hear me please. God was going to incorporate the lacks of this lesser Jesus, for there are so many types of Christ in the ministry of Jonah that I’ll talk about in a moment. He was going to use the lacks of this lesser Jesus into the pluses of the greater Jesus that would come from Bethlehem. Of course, you’re very familiar with the aspect of three days and three nights. The hint and the reality of what the Messiah Himself would be was buried in the ocean under the deep, and buried in the Old Testament as a hint of what was going to come.
Let’s think of some of the commonalties of Jonah and Christ, for a moment.
#1 - For those that are taking notes, a messenger sent by God.
#2 - Both would be buried three days, three nights.
#3 - Both would be brought back to the land of the living.
#4 - The great message that is planted in the Old Testament that even Jonah’s ancestors didn’t fully understand is that the message of God was going to all humanity, be it Israel or be it the Gentiles.
Now what is the lesson of the big fish? What can we gain from this today. All of us, my friends, have big fish. We’ve all heard of fish stories, right? How big was your fish? Mine was THAT BIG! How big was your fish? My fish was THAT BIG! I don’t know how big your fish is that you’re going through right now, or stuck in, and you don’t know necessarily how big my school of fish are at this moment in my life with our God, with my God, and with your God. It’s not how you go in; it’s how you come out that is important, because all of us at one time or another are going to go in, so just get ready. If you haven’t been in yet, I think you’d better pray to get in the fish so that you understand Keith’s sermonette a little bit more. Because that’s what’s going on right here in the book of Jonah. We notice then what happens with this man as he comes out of the fish.
Jonah 2:10 Jonah 2:10And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah on the dry land.
American King James Version×- "So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land." That would be a great snapshot of the Bible, you know, on a beach, you know, not a beach blanket, beach vomit. There’s the man of God wrapped in what he needs to be wrapped in to do the job, on vomit. Big fish; big load of vomit; big attitude on the vomit, and there is Jonah, wrapped in humility, but notice so very importantly, Jonah 3:1 Jonah 3:1And the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
American King James Version×.
Jonah 3:1 Jonah 3:1And the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,
American King James Version×- "Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time…" Incredible mercy, incredible forbearance, incredible thoughtfulness to this man of Israel that had turned his back on his God, and God wants to clean him up, get him ready and say, "Okay, Jonah, you’ve got a job to do." God’s patience is on full display. Not only that, but "Jaws" is still probably off the coastline, on "bad prophet patrol."
So Jonah kind of looks back, looks down; he’s in vomit, knows which way Nineveh is, looks up, "Okay, God, I’ll take the next step." Which leads us then to point #3. The third great theme of the book of Jonah.
#3 - God prepares a great king. God prepares a great king. He gets up; Jonah is into the job now, Jonah 3.
Jonah 3:3 Jonah 3:3So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
American King James Version×- "So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord." Now Nineveh is just a gigantic city.
Verse 4 - This is it. What you’ve been waiting for - the one verse of prophecy in four chapters. This is it; this is the prophecy. "And Jonah began to enter into the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ "
That’s it. That’s prophecy. The rest is about Jonah. Isn’t that something? How often have I talked to you over these many, many years, brethren, that good attitudes usually come in how many verses? One. Yes, Lord. Bad attitudes take up the Bible, and yet God is so patient with all of us.
Verse 5 - "So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.
Verse 6 - "Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes.
Verse 7 - "And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, ‘Let neither man nor beast. . ." And he goes on speaking about the fast; the chickens even fast. I’ve got to be very honest with you, on the Day of Atonement, I’ve never even made my chickens fast, yet. I haven’t told them. But this Ninevite king was going to make sure that the whole land came into tune with the thought of repentance.
Verse 9 - "Who can tell if. . ." And this king was just becoming acquainted with God. . . ". . .if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?" This is a different kind of king, my friends. Several sermons ago, I quoted to you out of the book of Daniel 4:25 Daniel 4:25That they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will.
American King James Version×about how I firmly believe that God put world rulers and leaders and presidents and prime ministers in the positions that they hold. My thought has not changed over the last three weeks. For in Daniel 4:25 Daniel 4:25That they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will.
American King James Version×, it says:
Daniel 4:25 Daniel 4:25That they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make you to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet you with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will.
American King James Version×- " . . until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men. . ." which is the extension of what Keith was bringing us in the sermonette and ". . .gives to whomever He chooses." This man was a leader who knew how to lead, a man who was given an issue, confronted it, went through it, didn’t run away like Jonah did, and lead his people toward the decision.
You know, so often we think, friends, of the great message of Esther 4:13 Esther 4:13Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with yourself that you shall escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.
American King James Version×where in that moment of crisis the queen of Persia is confronted with, "What will I do? Which way will I turn? Am I in it for myself? Or will I do for my people?"
And then her cousin, Mordecai, came to her and said, "But who knows for such a time as now. This time, you, the kingdom has come to this point." This is not lost simply on a young Jewess, Jonah, a king of Nineveh. You and I, friends, let’s always remember that we are in training to rule as rulers and teachers, as a kingdom of priests under Jesus Christ and the wonderful world tomorrow. And we cannot teach what we have not been taught. We cannot be more than we are, and God is preparing wind; He is preparing fish; He is preparing kings; He’s using the entire environment around us, my friends, to bring us to the point where we can handle, handle the prophecy, handle the inspired teaching that He’s revealed to us because He’s lifted that veil so that we can understand. Notice verse 10:
Jonah 3:10 Jonah 3:10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do to them; and he did it not.
American King James Version×- "Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it." He saw their works. Now that is so reminiscent of the words of John in the book of Revelation as he goes through the story of the different churches. "I know thy works." I know thy works. I know thy works; God is so great, He’s not only looking at my works; He’s not only looking at the works of Ephesus and Pergamos and Thyatira and Smyrna and Philadelphia and Laodicea and all the churches that were on that route and all those people that were then and the church of God, the body of Christ today, but He’s seen all of the works of all the people around the world.
But Jonah in his frame was saying, "No, you can’t look at their works, because I’m not ready to look at their works." Who made Jonah God? And what limb was Jonah using? A great king’s great response drew great disapproval from Jonah. We find that in Jonah 4:1 Jonah 4:1But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
American King James Version×.
Jonah 4:1 Jonah 4:1But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.
American King James Version×- "But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry." Basically Jonah’s response to a great king’s repentance was simply two words - nuke ‘em. This moves us to the fourth great reality that we are introduced in the book of Jonah. We are introduced to, none other then, a great God.
#4 - A great God. We find that in Jonah 4:2 Jonah 4:2And he prayed to the LORD, and said, I pray you, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before to Tarshish: for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repent you of the evil.
American King James Version×, which is amazing then what Jonah comes out with.
Jonah 4:2 Jonah 4:2And he prayed to the LORD, and said, I pray you, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before to Tarshish: for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repent you of the evil.
American King James Version×- "So he prayed to the Lord, and said, ‘Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that you are a gracious. . . God, slow to anger, abundant in loving kindness, One who relents from doing harm." I told you this, God. Jonah was able to say that, and have that discussion with God, because he could read the book, and he could recite the words, and he could know the details, but since I’m here with you, he did not at that point himself understand the heart of God. He had an intellectual awareness of times and places and dates, but he did not understand God. I’m sorry, he did not, at this point.
Though it’s often been asked, was Job ever converted? Yeah, Job was converted, but it took him forty-two chapters. And in Job 42:5 Job 42:5I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you.
American King James Version×, it says:
Job 42:5 Job 42:5I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you.
American King James Version×- "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye (heart) sees You." There was an incredible difference here, an incredible difference. How about us, as we are . . .as Keith brought out. . .we’re in this incredible, geo-political warm and squirreled around us, and knowing what we know, which will be discussed more next week, do we simply know it with the head? Or do we also understand it with our heart? And I’ll speak to that in just a moment or two.
Jonah was scared to death that he was going to go back. No, you know, this was an option that Jonah was not prepared for. "I’m going to have to go back to Jerusalem and tell them that the Ninevites are no longer our enemies. The Ninevites are not simply heathen, they actually fasted to and for our God. I won’t be much of a prophet back home. People will laugh me to scorn and they will not believe me. Now remember the play that’s in the scripture: there is the lesser Jesus and there is the greater Jesus. There is the lesser Jonah that we’re talking about here, and the greater Jonah to come. Let’s notice the example of that greater Jonah in Matthew 12:41 Matthew 12:41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
American King James Version×. Come with me please. Matthew 12:41 Matthew 12:41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
American King James Version×, because we find here the startling, and I think encouraging reality of the Christ, your Christ, God’s Christ, that champions us, no matter where we come from, no matter what we have done, because God isn’t interested in where you’re from; He more interested about where you’re going with Him. Notice Matthew 12:41 Matthew 12:41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
American King James Version×.
Matthew 12:41 Matthew 12:41The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
American King James Version×- "The men of Nineveh. . ." Christ speaking to Jonah’s descendants that are now surrounding Christ in this meeting, "The men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment with this generation, and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a great than Jonah is here.
Verse 42 - "The queen of the south will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here." Jonah was afraid to go home and give that report. Christ was at home in Judah, and he was not afraid to share that report no matter what the consequences were. That’s why Jonah remains simply a type, and why Christ is Christ.
How many people over our lifetime, brethren, have we written off because they haven’t fit our bill of goods, because they haven’t measured up to the little box that we’ve tried to stuff them into? What a glorious and what a wonderful meeting one day; think about this for a moment, at that time and in that resurrection, over in a corner where three men are going to get acquainted for the first time: the king of Nineveh, but he’s not supposed to be there; he’s a heathen, the good Samaritan; he’s not supposed to be there; he’s a Samaritan, and the thief on the cross, and Christ claims all of them, because He operates in such a greater, magnanimous, loving, wonderful way that we can even begin to understand but are attempting to understand with God’s holy spirit in us.
Let’s conclude. Just imagine as we finish in the book of Jonah; let’s go to the end of the book of Jonah here in a couple thoughts. Jonah goes off on the sand dune; he cannot handle this that the king of Nineveh and the Ninevites have come through. So he goes off on a sand dune, and he’s counting: 40, 39, 38, 37, 36, you know, he should work for NASA. He’s doing a count down, even though he knows that the story is already over, and without going through the whole story, because I think you can go home and read that, we recognize that God prepared a great wind, and God prepared a great gourd to give him shade. Okay, you’re going to be in a bad attitude out there, at least, don’t want you to get sunburned.
And then God manahed; all of us manah in going on. Then God manahed, or prepared, kind of a sense of humor, the worm to get the gourd, and to, in a sense, try to mold Jonah’s heart, but notice what happens here.
Jonah 4:9 Jonah 4:9And God said to Jonah, Do you well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even to death.
American King James Version×- "Then God said to Jonah. . ." After the worm had chewed through; I’d like to meet that worm one day. I’d like to have that worm in my yard. "Then God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘It is right for me to be angry, even to death.’
Verse 10 - "But the Lord said, ‘You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored or made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night." You can get all undone over a plant?
Verse 11 - "And should I. . ." (God) ". . . not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left, and also much livestock." And that’s the end of the book of Jonah. And there is no "amen."
I’ve given this sermon over the years, different ways, different times, just like anytime you look in the book, I will share an interesting thought, then I want to conclude with the fifth point. By tradition, it does seem that Jonah did get his act together. In fact, he did, by tradition, come to terms with the Ninevites so much that they ultimately did develop a memorial for him. But that’s tradition and world history that got into the book of Josephus or some other source, I forget what it is, but we’re not dealing with tradition here today, brethren. We’re dealing with your life and the important lessons that you need to learn so that you do not fail the test of I Corinthians 13:1-2. Allow me to sum up what I have learned, personally as a Christian, from the book of Jonah.
Point number 5 - Great lessons that can be learned from an ungrateful prophet.
#1 - Simply put: We must endeavor to practice what we preach. We must practice what we preach. If we believe that we worship a great and a big God, then we must think big, and we must love big. We must be bigger than the box. Our good example will always speak volumes over our good arguments. Oh, I could get up and Isaiah 58:1 Isaiah 58:1Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
American King James Version×, and in the middle of a sermon say, "Yes, as it says in Isaiah 58:1 Isaiah 58:1Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
American King James Version×- "Cry aloud, spare not. . ." We’ve all heard that. But the crying has got to start here. The sparing not has got to start here. The lesson of faith and repentance has got to start here before I share it with somebody else, for I am just a pitiful person and a small person that in this moment of life is going to be used, in spite of myself, as Jonah was.
#2 - Jonah, who has extended mercy, remember how the word of the Lord came to him again, was extended mercy, could not extend it beyond himself. Simply put, he was selfish; he misunderstood; he did misunderstand the intent of prophecy, that prophecy is not about revenge. It is about salvation. The greater Jonah would come, and simply state that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes on Him shall not perish but shall live, and that the son of man came into the world not to condemn the world, but to save the world." All that is occurring in prophecy comes to that ultimate crescendo at the end of the book in the book of Revelation of as many, I believe the vast majority of humanity; once they come to understand it, God has manahed for them in much greater ways than He ever did for Jonah will come to understand the Christ, His Father, and imbibed with that tree of life, as is mentioned in Revelation 22. The difficulty here is simply this: that prophecy, and the prophecy that we’re going to hear next week, for most, it is not about dates; it is not about seals; it is not about plagues. Are there seals; are there dates and are there plagues? Yes, there are. But ultimately prophecy is about people, people, and God offering people hope.
You know it is amazing how you put a glass of water in front of somebody, and two people look at that glass of water, you know, look at it differently. It’s called again, what? Perspective. Two numbers were set in front of Jonah in the book of Jonah. What are those two numbers? Can somebody help me? We dealt with two numbers today? Let’s see if you’re awake or just nodding in agreement. What? Pardon? Two numbers. What are the two numbers that are mentioned? One hundred twenty thousand was one number that was mentioned. What’s another number? Forty days. Thank you very much.
What we had here in this prophet’s mind, and he did think he was doing God a favor, that he got stuck on forty. He looked at forty as being an end in itself, other than the hundred and twenty thousand. Now, you could say, that was Jonah. Let me ask you a question - wonder if - let’s bring it home to where we are today, since Keith brought it up; thank you, Keith. Wonder if Suddam Hussein, in that same territory of the world tomorrow part all one hundred and twenty missiles, not just the two that he might be maybe sort of destroy, and brought all the nerve gas that he says he doesn’t have but might use if he’s attacked - try to figure that one out, and brought everything that we’ve talked about and wonder if he really came along with his entire administration, and he put everything in that parking lot, brought the bulldozer, bulldozers are going back and forth over those missiles, and you know, those nerve gasses being undone, somehow, we don’t want to be around, but anyway, and he really does what is asked of him. And it’s verified. Do the aircraft carriers leave? Do we stop paying Turkey twenty-six billion dollars to be our friends? Think that one through. Do we, and do we say - "You know what? I think the guy - still don’t like his faith; kind of gives me nightmares, but I think he’s changing."
See, it makes a whole lot more sense when you bring it up to date, doesn’t it? As to what our hearts - it’s so easy to get down on Jonah, because after all, that’s so long ago, but God’s not interested about long ago now; He’s interested that we learn the lesson of long and bring it up to date that we not only have a passion for prophetic events, but we have a compassion for the people that it is being spoken about.
Point #3 - God’s word comes when we least expect it, so we need to expect that. Let me say it again. God’s word comes when we least expect it, so expect it. It will ask us, as it asked Jonah to do new things that we never thought of, that we never thought were possible. And they’re not always spelled - Nineveh. They can be spelled - wife. They can be spelled - teen. They can be spelled - thoughts, that I don’t like. They can be spelled - coworker, that I can’t stand somehow being left in the same cubicle at work and God says, "Remember you are a Christian, and there is your Assyrian. Now, what are you going to do about it?"
Point #4 - In conclusion. God is going to continue working with you and me as He did with Jonah until we get it. And if we do not get it, He will raise up somebody to "get it." Seven hundred years after Jonah, the word of the Lord came to another man in the same place, Joppa. A guy who, and the message came to a guy that was, had been most of his life a scaredy cat, was always running. And God said, "I want you to go to the Gentiles for Me, and that man was Peter, the Jonah that did it right. He needed a little nudging, but he got it done for God, and then he had the courage to go back to the apostles and tell the greatest news of what had yet occurred in the church that God’s spirit had literally come down on the Gentiles. See, sometimes when God puts us in this position, remember, God will make the way possible. Peter didn’t go first and baptize them. God’s spirit literally poured down on them because then this modern-day Jonah, called Peter, could say, "What could I do? Could any man forbid water? God’s already brought His spirit down on these people? What was I to do?"
And I think that, yes, as is the baptismal creed, they were then baptized. Peter was able to go home and say, "I’ve got great news for you. The Gentiles - God is bringing to repentance." And Jonah could have done that. He didn’t. You can do that. Will you? These are the great lessons of the book of Jonah. Come with me; let’s conclude: I Corinthians 13. God is preparing a people mightily, in ways that we don’t always even notice. He’s working through us, with us, around us, preparing. As we come up to the World News and Prophecy seminar next week, allow me to read one more time the message of Paul.
I Corinthians 13:1 - "Though I speak with the tongues of men and with angels, but have not love I have become sounding brass or a clanging symbol.
Verse 2 - "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." Something to consider about; something to prepare for as we prepare our hearts for next week’s discussion of prophecy.