sermons delivered September 9, 1995

by Pastor Don Gettys of McDonald Road SDA Church

Whale of a Tale

Deep in the Heartland of the pages of the Bible is one of the most interesting books you will ever read. It is the story of a preacher. Now what is the most wicked city in the world? NYC? Hong Kong? San Francisco? Miami? Let us suppose that God sent you to Miami. You are to warn them that in a little over a month their sinful city will slip into the ocean in a massive earthquake if they do not repent of their sinful lifestyle and accept Christ as their Saviour. Would you go?

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 1:1-2
  1. --THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO JONAH SON OF A-MIT-TAI:
  2. --GO TO THE GREAT CITY OF NINEVEH AND PREACH AGAINST IT, BECAUSE ITS WICKEDNESS HAS COME UP BEFORE ME.

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.

------GOD'S CALL WAS VERY PERSONAL

Jonah was a real person who lived in a real city just like us. He knew God and realized it was really God who was calling him to a wider ministry. Has it ever occurred to you that Jonah's God is still alive and still calls His people today? Has God attempted to direct your life recently?

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.

-----GOD'S CALL IS ALWAYS SPECIFIC!

Jonah was called to NINEVEH. According to Genesis 10:11 NINEVEH was founded by the notorious NIMROD. It was the wickedest city in the world, being located on the Tigris river in what is our modern day IRAQ.

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.

------GOD'S CALL HAS A GREAT PURPOSE!

Jonah 1:2 Go and Preach AGAINST it... God is never VAGUE. When you do God's will you know it. You have all seen the Wheel of Fortune. After the clear winner has emerged, she or he is taken over to a Bonus board and allowed to choose one of the FIVE options on a board. One could be a new car. Another could be a vacation to Europe. But, When God calls you, it is for one specific purpose. Jonah was not given any options.

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 RAN FROM GOD

Jonah 1:3-----"BUT JONAH headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa where he found a ship bound for that port. The first two words of this verse are the saddest words in the whole book. Jonah did just the opposite of what God wanted.

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.