Open your Bible to this GEM. It is between Obadiah and Micah. You can miss it easily because it only has 48 verses. But it is packed with rich lessons for these last days.
Jonah lived almost 2800 years ago near the sea of Galilee. When God called him, even though his name means Dove, he acted more like a scared dog with its tail tucked between its legs, running off to hide. But you can't hide from God.
When God calls us He always has a specific purpose. When God called Isaiah he said Here am I send me! When God called Jonah he said Here am I send somebody else! People have not changed much since Jonahs time. Too many of us are in a similar boat today. We are sailing for Tarshish when all the time God wants us to go to NINEVEH.
I will never forget the time God called me into the ministry. I had been a business major at Andrews University. But even though this was going well, it seemed that God wanted more of me. But who was I. There was no way I could be a minister. I was voted as the shiest person in my Academy Senior class. I was ill equipped for the ministry. But since that time I have learned that God doesn't call the equipped, God equips the called! It happened in my dorm room. I had been in prayer for what seemed to be a fair part of the night. Finally it was just as if the sun had come out in its full strength. I knew I was to be a minister for Jesus. And I have never once doubted that divine call.
God knows you. He knows your name, your address, and your capabilities. And it is a wonderful day in your life when you come to realize just what God has in mind for you personally. And it is an even better day when you decide to accept His will for your life.
NAHUM 3:1-4 describes the depth to which they had fallen into sin. CITY OF BLOOD. PILES OF CORPSES. BODIES WITHOUT NUMBER. PEOPLE STUMBLING OVER THE CORPSES. HARLOTS, SORCERIES, PROSTITUTION, PLUNDER, FIERCE, CRUEL. You name it. In NINEVEH they burned their children alive. They tortured adults by skinning them alive and leaving them to die in the burning sun. The more Jonah thought about it, NINEVEH was a good place to stay away from. Yet God was calling Jonah to NINEVEH! But, Nineveh was not on Jonah's preaching schedule!
Jonah couldn't believe God wanted to save those wicked sinners. The ancient JEWS just knew that God loved them and them alone. To be called to go to Nineveh was a shock.
Go to NINEVEH and preach against it. He was not to go the city of his choice. Not to preach philosophy or pious platitudes. Not to set up a Van ministry or colporter work. Jonah was to go to the very seat of sin and preach for all he was worth against their wicked ways and to uphold the true God. But he did not want to go.
God is still calling His people but unfortunately the modern vacation cruise line called the "Princess Tarshish" is doing big business in the church today. Because it is hard to go and cry out against the sins of our times. You know why? You have a hard time speaking out against pornography if you yourself subscribe to lustful magazines. You can't bad mouth the wicked theaters or the X-rated movies if you regularly feed on the afternoon soap operas. You can't uphold the standard against Alcoholism if you drink a little wine. So does it surprise you that so many Christians are enroute to Tarshish today?
Jonah stuffed his bag with some clothes and took all the money he had and hurried 60 miles Down to Joppa where there was a seaport. Way down there no one knew him and no one could stop him. At the dock Jonah got out his Rand McNally Atlas. The map showed Ninevah 700 miles to the East. He looks the opposite direction and the most distant city in the known world is 2200 miles to the West clear on the edge of SPAIN. When people leave Jesus, they go as far away as they can. The Prodigal son went to a "Far Country".
Jeremiah 10:9 says Tarshish was a smelting town. Silver, Iron, Tin, Lead were refined. Maybe the people there were also refined. That is a perfect place! I will get lost in all that smoke. Tarshish was his will. Nineveh was God's will. Now you have the freedom to go to Tarshish when God has called you to go to NINEVEH. But you go without God's blessing!
Verse 3-- HE "FOUND" A SHIP BOUND FOR TARSHISH. What a coincidence! This is a good sign! Luck is with me! Do you ever justify your choices by the way things seem to fall into place. Friend, you also may find a ship ready and waiting. It's a marvel that the Devil always has a ship waiting That it is so easy to disobey. But if you are enroute to Tarshish when God has called you to NINEVEH, you can be sure a great storm is brewing and that sooner or later you will go overboard. Your life is in Jeopardy.
Satan always sees that transportation is provided for those who are running away from God's will. And the devil will make sure that ship sails right on time.
When you choose to leave the sure path of God's will you begin a long downward trail that leads to disaster. DAVID started on that trail when he watched Bathsheba bathing. He went farther down when he called for her. He went deeper yet when he went into adultery. He went farther down when he had her husband Uriah killed. Down, Down, Down into sin. If we could just learn this simple lesson: No one ever goes UP when they leave God's will and go their own way.
You can see how expensive it is almost every day. Ask the prostitute at the corner who is 20 years old and looks 40. Ask the prodigal son standing there in the hog mud handing out the husks about the cost of leaving God. You get some idea of how expensive it is when you see the haggard face of men on the street who are paying the fare. Many are hooked on the bottle. Others are hooked on crime. The way of the transgressor is tough. Each one is some mother's son. Some are someone's daddy. They are shadows of the men they might have been. Yet there they stand on the street
Ask the man who marries a woman who does not believe like he does. You sense the expense of sin when you see the guilt-ridden face of a young single person who thinks that everybody else is doing it. The most expensive thing a person can ever do is run away from God. They lose their family, their job, their reputation, their happiness and peace.
How different Jonah's life could have been. How many troubles he could have avoided by surrendering to God. How hard it was for him to pay the price for leaving God.
How wonderful it is for us today to know that our wonderful Saviour Jesus Christ pays it all. Salvation is completely free of cost to those who accept Jesus as their Saviour. If you have been running away from God, I appeal to you right now to return to Him today. Give your heart to Jesus. Accept His gift of Eternal life. He will take your life of sin and give you His pure robe of righteousness. He died our death that we might have His life. Don't be a Jonah and pay for your sin. Sin will cost you eternal life. Let Jesus pay the full cost.
Is God calling you today? When He calls, answer Here am I Send me. Jonah answered: Here am I send someone else! Let God's will be your will. Our destiny is determined by choice and not chance.
God had a problem with Jonah and so have I. My plan was to preach a series of two sermons on Jonah. But even though Jonah only has 48 verses, it is a whale of a book. Now we are into a series of at least 4 sermons on Jonah. Next Week we will try to get into the "Whale". In the mean time, be sure to get on the path of God's will and stay there.
Return to McDonald Road Sermons Index
Return to McDonald Road SDA Church Home Page
McDonald Road Sermons converted to HTML and
last updated 2/3/98 by Bob Beckett.