God's Gracious Pursuit of a Rebellious Prophet (Jonah 1:1-17)Pastor Billy Newhouse, April 22, 2012
Part of the Oceans of Mercy series, preached at a Sunday Morning service
You're probably familiar with the story. Nineveh was wicked. Jonah was a prophet. God called Jonah to preach to the wicked people and Jonah fled. If we're honest, not only are we familiar with Jonah's story, but we're also familiar with our own accounts of similar reactions to God's calling. Jonah rebelled against God's clear word. Have you ever turned your back on God's command because of your own inclinations and desires? Jonah thought he could flee the presence of the Lord. Have you ever operated out of a similar line of thought-that God was unaware or unconcerned with your actions against Him? Jonah boasted of "fearing the Lord" while he was on a ship heading in exactly the opposite direction that God had called him to. Can you relate? I hope that you will join us on what is one of the most memorable and powerful stories in all of Scripture. The main point of this book is not a giant fish, or a big storm, or even Jonah's rebellion. The main point is a pursuing, forgiving, relentless, gracious and powerful God. We hope you'll walk away from this series freshly affected by the oceans of mercy that God has poured out for you.
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1Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. 3But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. 4But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. 5Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. 6So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. 7And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. 8Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? 9And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. 10Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. 11Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. 12And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. 13Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. 14Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. 15So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. 16Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. 17Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (KJV)