Jonah Unwilling Servant

June 21, 2015  Jonah       Unwilling Servant 

 

     Well good morning.   I am delighted to be with you today.   What a joy to share with you my experience.   My name is Jonah and I have been around for a long time.  I have had the joy of telling my story all over the world over the years.   It is kind of exciting to tell your story to others.   You may not think your story is as exciting as mine but all stories are good.   Your story can help others if you know God.    I have been around for over 2700 years and my story really begins way back in the OT.   Sometimes I call it the good ole days.   Yup I have learned and seen a lot of things in my day.  You can say I am old.  Yup I will say it again you can say I am old.   You can say I am older than the hills however some would say I am as old as dirt but I am not quite that old though I feel like that once in awhile. 

    I laugh at these young folks (whipper snappers I call them) who are looking for the day they can drive or are waiting until they can drink.   A year or 2 seems like a nothing to me.   It is about like me blinking my eyes.   Think about what a year or two means to God.   I want to assure you that I do not encourage drinking although I heard about that water that Jesus turned into wine.  I want to tell you my story today from many years ago when God called me to be a missionary.   I can tell you a lot of stories today but since I am here to relay my missionary experiences so let’s get to that story.   I am really amazed that they wrote a book about me and it is in the bible in the OT.   It is the truth about how good our God is and how terrible people can be.   Yes and I am in that story just like every Christian today is completing the book of Acts.  Your life is part of the wonderful story also.    

     I was going about my normal business one day many, many years ago when the Lord God burst into my life.     I read that Jesus told the disciples one day that they did not seek him but that Jesus sought them.   Well yup that is kind of how it happened with me also.     Boy what a shocker that was.   Almighty God came down said I got a job for you to do Jonah.   That can change your life.  I am so glad that God called me but I had some tough things to learn.    I learned a lot from that experience and will share some of that with you today.   I learned what a great God He is.   I also learned about my hard and rebellious heart.   I learned that God is really compassionate.   I learned that one, the hard way, but those lessons are real and they stay with you.      I am still grateful for my good and gracious God to call me to serve him.  

    God called me to go to Nineveh.  Up to that time there never was a time when so many people turned to God especially gentiles.  God on occasion ministered and blessed various gentiles in the OT but nothing like what He did through me.   He took me a Jew and sent me out as a missionary.   Well in those days no one ever heard such a thing.    It just totally shocked me right out of my sandals.    This is very unusual.   God called me, a Jew, to go to those nasty Ninevites and preach to them. I sure did not want to go no sir re Bob.  God said go East to Nineveh and I decided to go West.  . 

      I hated the Ninevites so much.   They were a mean bunch you know.   God said their wickedness was awful.   I felt like that ain’t the half of it.   They were a cruel people.  They invaded our land.   They killed my brethren the Jews and were a mean and brutal people.  Well I want to tell you folks if anyone deserved to be punished and sent to hell it was those guys I thought.   They made my skin crawl.  If there were ever a nation who was a pain it was those guys.   I have to confess to you today that my desire was to see them burn in hell.   I had a heart much like some of the later Jews who thought the gentiles were fuel for the fires of hell.    Well I am kind of getting ahead of myself a little here.   That can happen to you when you get to be an old guy like me.     

     Well I headed west to Tarshish.   God wanted me to go east and I went west.   I am not proud of everything I have done.   This is one of the more stupid things that I have done.    God was good to me though but I could not see it at the time.   As we were out on that great sea a storm came up.  I want to tell you today that it was no normal storm.  I went to sleep down in the ship when she hit that storm you know.   The sailors were up there throwing stuff over board trying to keep us afloat.   Then they got more desperate and they even cried out to their gods for help.   Of course you and I know that all those other gods don’t amount to a hill of beans.   That storm just got worse and worse.   So the captain came down and woke me up.   He wanted me to call upon my God thinking that maybe that would help them out a little bit.  They did not want to die that day in the sea.   That is when I started to learn that it is hard to run from God.   Have you ever tried to run from God?    God can be pretty firm sometimes I learned.   It was no problem for God to find me in a boat.   Yup he came right after me.  God’s rod of correction is not short at all I learned.   The Psalmist said thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  God’s rod is comforting yes.  Do you find his rod comforting?  Do not despise the correcting rod of God.   It comes for your good so invite it.   The sailors had this brilliant idea to draw lots which is about like drawing straws to see who the guilty person was and I of course I was picked.   I was the bad boy who put these innocent men’s lives in jeopardy.   Shame on me.  

     I knew if those sailor boys threw me into the sea that things would quiet right down and sure enough when they threw me into the sea it became calm.   Man that got those sailors attention.   I suppose it would get your attention also.  It was a miracle.   Well God did not let me enjoy the calm and quiet sea.  I was just going to splash around for awhile but God had other plans for me.   God had a big ole fish scoop me up.   He thought I was his dinner and I thought I was his dinner also.   But that was not to be.   Some today say it is impossible for someone to live in a fish for 3 days but I am living proof.  I testify that it happened.   There have been other documented stories of others living in a whale for a couple of days or more.   But I am getting ahead of myself again.  

    I want to tell you that I went right down in the belly of that ole fish.   I thought God - that is not very nice.   If someone did that to you, you would not think that was very nice would you?   I was an unhappy camper to say the least.   I think that was about the most miserable thing that I ever experienced.   I mean I don’t really like the smell of fish.   They stink.  

And that fish had stuff in his belly that had been there for awhile.   You know what I am saying.   It is not a nice place.   He had some pretty strong stomach acid that just burned me.   Talk about the fires of hell.   All I can say is you just don’t want to go in the belly of a fish and I suppose hell also.  Nope you don’t want to go there either.     Well as you can imagine after a couple of days my heart began to soften up a little bit and my mind was changing.   I was getting a new attitude, in fact, I was thinking about obeying God.   Can you believe that?     I have heard that only women can change their mind but I had a change in my heart and my mind and my spirit- yup I repented.   I was pretty stubborn but a couple of days in that place can change anybody I suppose.   I begin to see things the way God wanted me to and I am so glad today that I did.   God was so good to me.  But I did not think so then.   I was so mad at God.  I was not a happy camper or should I say missionary.   I finally came to the conclusion that I would do what God had told me to do.  I recommend that you do what God wants you to do.  It always works better.   Life flows better when you do that.   I have prayed on an occasion that God would stay his hand on folks – not that they would get hurt necessarily but that God would do whatever he needs to do to get them in step with Him.   True repentance is a precious blessing from God I’d say.   It was for me anyway.    

    It did not take me too long to tire of being under water.   God did not make us fish you know.   Sea weed was wrapping itself around me and I got right with God.   I learned you can do that in the ocean.   I have often wondered how many people repented when they got to the bottom of the sea so to speak.   I know I repented and God heard me.  I had a little prayer meeting right in the belly of that fish in the depths of the ocean.   I suppose you could call it one of the strangest prayer meetin's ever.    It didn’t seem to bother God any.   I sort of think God is everywhere.  I think God can hear us no matter where we are.     Some folks would say I was so nasty that even that fish could not stomach me and I suppose they are right in a way.   I may have felt that way but I know that my God heard my prayer and made that fish barf me up.   Yup that fish spit me up close to shore.    Ain’t God good?    I am telling you - who would believe it.  But the greatest miracle is yet to come.  

    There I found myself on the beach.   Dog gone it, now I was further away from Nineveh then when I started.   You are never better off when you decide to not follow God.  Now I have further to travel.     My skin was burned from the fish’s stomach acid.  Can you imagine how much that salt water stung?    It was not a sun burn but I sure was glad to see the sun and fresh air what a delight.  I learned in a new way to appreciate that.    I tell you I was a sight for sore eyes.   I was so hungry I felt like I could eat that ole fish for dinner.   I was ready for some food and water - fresh water that is.    Yup I was craving for a drink of good ole cool water.   How precious the simple things of life.   But I was blessed indeed.  I felt high and dry and that is a good feeling.   Yes sir that was a good feeling especially when you have been down under.  It is better to be up than down.   I knew I was I was in a better place because of my God.  

    God spoke a second time and told me to go to Nineveh.   I decided that I would do it this time.   I really learned a lesson about running from God.   I did not want to go but God wanted me to do it.   God did not change his mind.   Yup the bible is true.    He is the same yesterday today and forever.   He had a job for me to do and He sure did not change his mind on that.    I did not look forward to that long trip but I headed out.  I think the cow boys used to say head em up and move em out and I moved out.   No more running away for me.   I was a different man.   God made a believer out of me.  

        As soon as I got to that city I started preaching up a storm.   I am not the greatest preacher around  but OOOHHH!!!! I loved that message.  Forty more days and Nineveh will be destroyed.  I may have been repentant about obeying God but I still loved the message.   Bring it on Lord.   That was the sermon.   It was short and sweet.   It was nicer than what some folks say today.   All I had to do was run around the city and tell them 40 more days and you guys are done for.   Well I can’t hardly believe it but word got to the king and he repented.   I have to tell you, in my mind these guys would never repent.   Could you believe that the king said that no person or animal could eat or drink?   Everybody give up their evil wickedness and call upon God that he may relent and have compassion on us.  I was devastated.   I am not proud of this but I did not want my preaching to have that kind of a response.     I thought and I hoped and I prayed that they would not repent and would continue in their sin.   I am just amazed at what happened.    Who would ever believe that they would change?   They were a cruel, mean people.   It seems to me that God will always accept people if they will come to him, seek him, confess sin and change how they live.  That is what I have seen over the centuries.  

      Well the old king repented along with the people and I hung around for a few days.   I was hoping for a God to pull another Sodom and Gomorrah on Nineveh but it did not happen.  You know fire and brimstone falling from heaven.   Yup that would have made my day back then but not anymore.   Back then I was pretty depressed about God’s mercy on them.  God and I had words.   I just wanted to die at one point but God is into life.   We need to learn to be compassionate like God I would say.   Jesus later said love your enemies.   God spared those folks no thanks to me.   God moved in their hearts to repent and God had mercy on them and on me.   I really feel pretty good about that now.   All people are precious.   We do not always see them that way but God does.   God worked through me and with me; a resistant, arrogant, self willed, selfish, stubborn man and I am thankful.   I suspect that God has worked with you also.  He is a loving, merciful, true God and for that we can be thankful and he is still saving souls. 

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