On the evening of February 5th, Gospel Light was host to a missionary soon to be traveling to Iraq as a minister to the Muslim people. Imagine the courage in answering God’s call to this mission field! Discretion suggests we don’t mention names in this web blog. Nevertheless, the following sermon outline will give you some idea of the message this missionary blessed us with that evening.
Jonah 3:1-5 So the People of Nineveh Believed God
The story we have heard all our lives is not really the story of Jonah and the Whale, but rather of ‘God and Jonah’, as we shall see …
The people of Nineveh were very wicked people. The name of ‘Nineveh’ struck fear in the hearts of people. You didn’t mess with these people. In Jonah Chapter 1, God says that the wickedness of the great city of Ninevah has come before Him. However, God was willing to give them one more chance and sent Jonah. Jonah had other ideas, however, immediately flees the face of God. People do this every day! We don’t run from problems, we run from Jesus; we say NO to God.
God delights in mercy and longsuffering. He is the same God when He is just and a justifier. This gives hope to those who are lost. God had planned that Jonah be the vessel through which hope was given to the people of Nineveh. Thus it was that God dealt with his rebellious prophet by way of a hungry whale (Jonah 1:17).
After Jonah’s prayer of repentance in the belly of the whale, he was delivered “upon the dry land” (Jonah 2:10), offering Jonah a second chance. “And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord (Jonah 3:1-3).
God saw more than six-score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand” (Jonah 4:11). Who can not tell right from left? Young children! God saw the innocence of the children and did not want to destroy the city because of them!
The Hatred of the Prophet
Why did Jonah initially flee from God? He was mad at God, but more than that, he hated the people of Nineveh. He hated them so much he would rather die than see them saved.
Is that our heart toward people? Do we look at those we view as hopeless, maybe someone who is steeped in false religion, and say “I hate those people”? (Or perhaps we fear them too much?) And because of our own hate, we withhold the promise of the Saviour from them?
The Hearing of the People
The people didn’t hear because of Jonah’s great message; his message was pitiful. He gave them 8 words. “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). The people heard! But not because Jonah was willing to see them turn from sin.
Those we see as hopeless may be the very people who are nearest to a decision. We need God’s heart! God is not willing that any should perish, but we so often don’t feel the same way. We will avoid walking down the same aisle with someone who makes us feel uncomfortable. Shame on us when are hearts are hardened. God has dealt with us with patience and longsuffering, yet we often choose not to extend our faith through sharing the Word and charity to others?