Pastor Jonathan Falwell
Memory Verse: Jonah 2:9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.
Today, we conclude our Summer series, A Flannelgraph Faith: Reframing the Familiar, with one of the most familiar stories in the Old Testament. The story of Jonah and the Whale (even though whale is not used in the Bible.) This is another of the great stories of God’s provision and protection. Although this one has a slightly different twist. Unlike Daniel and Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego who were protected for the faithfulness, Jonah was protected even through his lack of faithfulness.
What can we learn from this great story?
1. God’s Call Trumps Our Comfort
Jonah 4:2 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 and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
– Jonah fled from the call of God because it didn’t fit in his plan
– He questioned God’s call, but not God’s mercy
– Interesting that many of us today do the same thing
2. God’s Redemption Trumps Our Contempt
Jonah 4:7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. 8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 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!” 10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?
– He wanted to see the evil get what they deserved rather than receive what God can freely give
– Unfortunately, that still happens today
– This is another great revelation that God is not willing that any should perish and that He is willing to “go the extra mile” to bring salvation
3. God’s Salvation Trumps Everything
Jonah 2:2 And he said, “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, And He answered me. “Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. 3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ 5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. 6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God. 7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple. 8 “Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy. 9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”
10 So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
– This prayer is a statement from Jonah within the fish that captures all of our stories, we have all been to that place of utter darkness and desperation, the question is whether we have cried out to Him for salvation
– God sent that fish to protect Jonah when he really didn’t deserve any protection, yet God was willing to make provision for Jonah despite Jonah’s sin of disobedience
– The key to this story is God’s care for the people of Ninevah, God’s call on the life of Jonah, and God’s forgiveness of both