Obedience To God & Love of Man
Do you remember the story of Jonah? What one thing can you tell me about it?
[storm, fish, preaching]
Let’s read a little about him to learn some great lessons we need to know.
Read Jonah 1:1-3
Jonah was told to go to the city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. It was east of Jerusalem in what is now Iraq. They were the enemies of the Jews.
Instead of going east, however, Jonah went west toward the Spanish city of Tarshish.
What was Jonah trying to do? He was trying to get away from God (1:3). Is this possible?
When Jonah and the others got out on the sea, a great storm started to toss the ship around. They wanted to know why this was happening and discovered it was Jonah’s fault.
Read Jonah 1:10-17
The men desperately wanted the storm to stop because they thought they would drown. Jonah told them the only way to calm the sea was to throw him overboard. At first the men did not want to do this, but as the storm grew worse, they finally threw him in the sea.
What happened to Jonah when he was thrown into the sea? A great fish swallowed him. Did Jonah die? No. He was alive in the belly of the fish.
While Jonah was in the fish, he prayed to God (Jonah 2:1-9). Basically, Jonah was sorry for trying to run away from God and what God wanted him to do. God had the fish spit Jonah out onto dry land.
Sometimes things have to get really bad before people change. Would it have been easier and for Jonah to just do what God told him to do? Yes. If Jonah went to Joppa but did not get on the ship; turned around and went to Nineveh, would it have been better for him? Yes.
If we are doing something wrong, we need to stop as soon as we know it. We should not be like Jonah and let things get really bad before we change. It is much harder and unnecessary.
Read Jonah 3:1-4
God talked to Jonah again. Did He tell him to do something different? No. God still wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach to the people. Did Jonah listen to God this time? Yes.
The people of the city listened to Jonah as he preached a message from God. They repented (Jonah 3:5-9). They decided to stop doing the things that made God angry. Because they quit sinning, God decided not to destroy the city (Jonah 3:10).
Do you remember how Jonah reacted to this? He was angry.
Read Jonah 4:1-4
Jonah was a Jew. Nineveh was full of Assyrians, the enemies of the Jews. So, Jonah wanted the city destroyed. That is why he did not want to preach to them and tried to run away. Jonah knew that the Word of God had the power to change people, and if the Assyrians listened, God would spare them instead of destroying them.
God tried to teach Jonah a lesson from this. He caused a plant to grow and give Jonah shade. Then God took the plant away. Jonah was angry about the plant being destroyed. God’s lesson was that Jonah did not care about the people and their souls, but did care about the plant that gave him shade.
We need to be concerned about people and their souls even if they are our enemies. Their salvation should be more important to us that the everyday comforts of life, like shade.
What do we learn from Jonah?
1. When God tells us to do something, we cannot run from it, we must do it.
2. We cannot go anywhere that God does not see us.
3. If we do something wrong and repent of it, God will forgive us and bless us.
4. We need to care about others and their souls.