Opening Question: "What are some situations you've run away from?"
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:
2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."
Ninevah is the Capital of the Assyrian Empire. Explain how evil the Assyrians were.
Therefore, for God to ask Jonah to call these people to repent is a very challenging task.
1. Q: What are some of the challenging things God has asked us to do?
A : - Share our faith
- Go against the flow of society
- Seek first the Kingdom of God always, etc...
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.
Look at how Jonah deals with the challenge!!
2. Q: How can we run away from God today?
A: - Dilute the commands of God
- Ignore the Bible
- Delay making a decision
- Make a series of excuses, etc ...
3. Q: Why do we run away?
A: - Scared of changing
- Scared of friends
4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.
5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.
Look what God does when we run away - He sends storms!!
4. Q: What kind of storms does God send into our lives?
A: - People near to us dying
- Lack of fulfillment in life
- A break up of a relationship
5. Q: Why if God is a loving God, does He do this?
A: To get our attention so that we will get our lives right with him before we die.
6 The captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish."
7 Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
8 So they asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?"
9 He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land."
10 This terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)
11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?"
Read and explain how Jonah keeps running, but God keeps pursuing him with people in his life and the storm getting rougher and rougher.
"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."
Finally Jonah admits where he is at and takes the responsibility.
6. Q: What can we do to take responsibility for our relationship with God?
A: - Read Bible everyday
- Stop blaming others or making excuses, etc...
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.
14 Then they cried to the LORD, "O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased."
15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.
16 At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.
17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.
Explain how the sailors still fight a bit, but finally submit to God. Explain how Jonah after thinking about life in the belly of a fish decides to go to Nineveh and how the whole city listens to him. Make the point that God NEVER asks us to do something that we cannot do!!
Preach: In V16 the sailors made some vows to God. People here need to some vows about what you are going to change.