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Jonah Goes to Nineveh

Jonah Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Jonah Preaches in Nineveh and The People Are Saved

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We’re now five weeks into our series on the book of Jonah, and we’re now at a crucial stage in this account. Jonah is now in Nineveh.
Roger Simms, hitchhiking his way home, would never forget the date—May 7. His heavy suitcase made Roger tired. He was anxious to take off his army uniform once and for all. Flashing the hitchhiking sigh to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek, new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door opened. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back, and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?” “Sure am,” Roger responded. “Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.” “Not quite that far. Do you live in Chicago?” “I have a business there. My name is Hanover.” After talking about many things, Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to witness to this fiftyish, apparently successful businessman about Christ. But he kept putting it off, till he realized he was just thirty minutes from his home. It was now or never. So, Roger cleared his throat, “Mr. Hanover, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” He then proceeded to explain the way of salvation, ultimately asking Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Savior. To Roger’s astonishment the Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger thought he was going to be ejected from the car. But the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger. “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.” Five years went by, Roger married, had a two-year-old boy, and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a business trip to Chicago, he found the small, white business card Hanover had given him five years before. In Chicago he looked up Hanover Enterprises. A receptionist told him it was impossible to see Mr. Hanover, but he could see Mrs. Hanover. A little confused as to what was going on, he was ushered into a lovely office and found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand. “You knew my husband?” Roger told how her husband had given him a ride when hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me when that was?” “It was May 7, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.” “Anything special about that day?” Roger hesitated. Should he mention giving his witness? Since he had come so far, he might as well take the plunge. “Mrs. Hanover, I explained the gospel. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.” Explosive sobs shook her body. Getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.” “And,” said Roger, “Where is your husband, Mrs. Hanover?” “He’s dead,” she wept, struggling with words. “He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see—I thought God had not kept His promise.” Sobbing uncontrollably, she added, “I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought He had not kept His word!”
Roger Simms, hitchhiking his way home, would never forget the date—May 7. His heavy suitcase made Roger tired. He was anxious to take off his army uniform once and for all. Flashing the hitchhiking sigh to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek, new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door opened. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back, and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?” “Sure am,” Roger responded. “Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.” “Not quite that far. Do you live in Chicago?” “I have a business there. My name is Hanover.” After talking about many things, Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to witness to this fiftyish, apparently successful businessman about Christ. But he kept putting it off, till he realized he was just thirty minutes from his home. It was now or never. So, Roger cleared his throat, “Mr. Hanover, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” He then proceeded to explain the way of salvation, ultimately asking Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Savior. To Roger’s astonishment the Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger thought he was going to be ejected from the car. But the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger. “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.” Five years went by, Roger married, had a two-year-old boy, and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a business trip to Chicago, he found the small, white business card Hanover had given him five years before. In Chicago he looked up Hanover Enterprises. A receptionist told him it was impossible to see Mr. Hanover, but he could see Mrs. Hanover. A little confused as to what was going on, he was ushered into a lovely office and found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand. “You knew my husband?” Roger told how her husband had given him a ride when hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me when that was?” “It was May 7, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.” “Anything special about that day?” Roger hesitated. Should he mention giving his witness? Since he had come so far, he might as well take the plunge. “Mrs. Hanover, I explained the gospel. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.” Explosive sobs shook her body. Getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.” “And,” said Roger, “Where is your husband, Mrs. Hanover?” “He’s dead,” she wept, struggling with words. “He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see—I thought God had not kept His promise.” Sobbing uncontrollably, she added, “I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought He had not kept His word!”
We’re now five weeks into our series on the book of Jonah, and we’re now at a crucial stage in this account. Jonah is now in Nineveh.
We started off in where we saw Jonah flee from the calling of God, even going so far as to getting on a boat to head on over to Tarshish (the complete opposite direction to Nineveh). God then sends a great storm to ensure that Jonah headed to Nineveh, one way or the other. Jonah is eventually thrown off of the boat and is then swallowed by a great fish. In which he remained in the belly of for three days and three nights.
We then moved on to , where Jonah is in the belly of the fish. During his stay inside the fish, Jonah repents and turns to God. God (seemingly forgiving Jonah) then calls for the fish to spit Jonah up, and Jonah lands upon dry land ().
Then we arrived at chapter 3. Last week Mike focused on , where God once again calls Jonah to “arise, and go to Nineveh”.
This leads us to our passage this week, where we will be focusing on . Next week Dave Burke will be speaking to us on chapter 4.
So as we prepare to listen to God’s word, let’s read all of . Then we’ll pray.
Pray here.
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The Hitchhiker from J. Kirk Johnston
Roger Simms, hitchhiking his way home, would never forget the date—May 7. His heavy suitcase made Roger tired. He was anxious to take off his army uniform once and for all. Flashing the hitchhiking sigh to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek, new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped. The passenger door opened. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back, and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?” “Sure am,” Roger responded. “Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.” “Not quite that far. Do you live in Chicago?” “I have a business there. My name is Hanover.” After talking about many things, Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to witness to this fiftyish, apparently successful businessman about Christ. But he kept putting it off, till he realized he was just thirty minutes from his home. It was now or never. So, Roger cleared his throat, “Mr. Hanover, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” He then proceeded to explain the way of salvation, ultimately asking Mr. Hanover if he would like to receive Christ as his Savior. To Roger’s astonishment the Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger thought he was going to be ejected from the car. But the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger. “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.” Five years went by, Roger married, had a two-year-old boy, and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a business trip to Chicago, he found the small, white business card Hanover had given him five years before. In Chicago he looked up Hanover Enterprises. A receptionist told him it was impossible to see Mr. Hanover, but he could see Mrs. Hanover. A little confused as to what was going on, he was ushered into a lovely office and found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties. She extended her hand. “You knew my husband?” Roger told how her husband had given him a ride when hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me when that was?” “It was May 7, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.” “Anything special about that day?” Roger hesitated. Should he mention giving his witness? Since he had come so far, he might as well take the plunge. “Mrs. Hanover, I explained the gospel. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.” Explosive sobs shook her body. Getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.” “And,” said Roger, “Where is your husband, Mrs. Hanover?” “He’s dead,” she wept, struggling with words. “He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see—I thought God had not kept His promise.” Sobbing uncontrollably, she added, “I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought He had not kept His word!”
Jonah gets up and goes and preaches to the people of Nineveh .... the result? Salvation, the Ninevites are saved, they call for a fast and start to turn their lives around. The news eventually reaches the King of Nineveh and he turn comes to faith in God, and even decrees that the Ninevites are to worship God.
Here we see that Jonah has FINALLY done what God has asked him to do.
He has preached to the people of Nineveh, and they have believed in God.
This shows the importance of not only preaching the word of God, but honouring his call to us.
In Jonah’s case, God called Jonah to go and preach, and when he finally did that, we see the results. People were saved, and turned from their evil ways.
Today we live in a society which is becoming more increasingly like this kind of society. A society that is far from God, more concerned about their own fads and feelings, than about whether something is right or wrong, or even good.
As people who know scripture this is not something new to us, as Jesus, during his ministry, prophesied this. Let’s take a quick look at .
Jesus made no bones about this, the days were coming that there would be a need to preach like in the days of Noah, and even the days of Jonah. A call to repent and believe before God intervenes and it is therefore too late.
Let’s face it, it’s hard not to look at the news, or to read online about the way things are in the world today. And it all points to one thing. We all need God to step into our lives, and lead us to a place where we can live and love like Him.
This means getting uncomfortable, this means stepping up, this means going into all of the world and preaching the gospel ().
The people around us, the people in this estate need to hear about the love and grace that Jesus is standing by, ready to give to us.
The same was true in Jonah’s day. Going out and preaching with passion, that the people would be destroyed in 40 days () if they did not repent. This message to the people of Nineveh ultimately led to their salvation (), could we see the same in our day, right here in Shiney Row, and in the connecting towns, and villages. Could we see the North East, the whole of England, the UK, and even the whole world come to faith like this.
The answer to this is yes, but we need to be bold and go and tell people about the amazing grace we have access to through the blood of Jesus Christ, coming to fruition through His death and resurrection.
“Let everyone turn away from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
Notice in verses 8 and 9 of Jonah chapter 3, that people did not know how God would react. They did not know whether or not their repentance was too little too late. However, they still knew (and were willing to) that they had to repent and change their ways. They had to start living in a way that honours God.
Imagine that!
Choosing to live in a way that honours God, expecting nothing in return. Too often we expect God to operate like a divine genie, or a heavenly slot machine. Looking to do something for Him, on the condition that we get something in return. In reality, this is not the way to honour God, as it is more about us getting our way than it is about giving God the glory. And our chief aim should be to give God the glory, in all that we do ().
If God is calling us to speak and minister to those who don’t yet know the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to also show people that God is not in the business of granting wishes in return for favours. God does not need our service, He chooses to allow us to serve Him, it is our privilege, it is God’s blessing to us.
We need to encourage those around us to turn from their evil ways, to turn to God and to give their lives to Him. This is God’s chosen means of salvation.
As we bring in the plane to land let’s summarise this portion of Jonah, , before we move on next week to .
Jonah is called to go to preach to the people of Nineveh ().
Jonah finally goes to Nineveh as God asked him to do ().
Jonah preaches the message that in 40 days Nineveh will be no more ().
The people of Nineveh and repent and turn to God ().
This reaches the King of Nineveh and he repents ().
The king issues a decree to the people to turn from their ways ().
God sees this, and relents from the disaster that is due to occur ().
We see right at the end of this chapter, that God puts a stop to his plan to destroy Nineveh as they have repented and turned to Him.
At this point in the account of Jonah, it looks like a happy ending. The people of Nineveh are forgiven, their city is not going to be destroyed. Jonah is no longer in the belly of the whale and is following and honouring God, but as we’ll see next week, this doesn’t last too long, but that’s given away spoilers, so we won’t go further into than that.
But as we finish lets ask ourselves this:
Let’s answer this question in the context of what God is asking us to do as a Christian community here at St. John’s, as Christian’s (as a whole), and individually. Let’s stop and ponder on these questions now.
Imagine ...
For Jonah it was the salvation for the people of Nineveh.
God is in the business of bringing people to Him, but He chooses to use us as the means to achieving this through the preaching of His word.
Let’s remember this, as we close the service and go out into our community to show them a bit of the love that Jesus Christ brings.
Pray to close.
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