This sermon is part of a sermon series on Jonah for Lent 2019. It is based on Jonah 3.
Let us Pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.
Last week we left off with Jonah being in the worst place imaginable. Deep in the belly of the beast. Jonah has finally hit rock bottom and from that place of total despair, he forgets his silence and finally speaks. As Jonah lays on his back, deep in the pit of misery and despair, an odd miracle happens: Jonah chooses to gives thanks. Jonah realizes the great truth of the gospel, the only message that really matters, the only thing we can cling to when we are in a pit of despair: Deliverance Belongs to the Lord.
We pick up our story there. At the very end of chapter 2.
Read Jonah 2:10 – 3:1-2.
Okay. So… perhaps this is obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be stated: has Jonah’s call changed? (No). Jonah ran from the Lord. He refused to even have a conversation with God about this. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with this call. Nope. No way. Other direction.
Then, Jonah ends up in the pit of Sheol, God sends a giant fish, metaphorically or literally, who knows, but sends some monster into his life which causes Jonah to realize that deliverance comes from God alone.
And then, God calls to Jonah, asking him to do the same thing.
The plans of God cannot be thwarted.
God is bigger. God is bigger than our plans. God is bigger than the stuff that gets in our way. Sometimes that stuff is storms or monsters. It’s the injustice of the world. It’s the natural disasters. It’s evil. It’s disease or broken systems.
Sometimes that stuff that gets in the way is us. Our worry. Our anger. Our fear. We get in the way of us becoming who we are meant to be.
And yet, the plans of God cannot be thwarted.
God is bigger than even the very worst things that can happen in this life.
So the call of God comes to Jonah once again. Read 3:2-4.
I’m going to pause here again to state the obvious. Really, Jonah, “40 days more and the city shall be overthrown.”
Jonah, you had a whole lot of time to figure out your sermon. I mean really, you had time on a ship, time in a whale, time to walk to Ninevah. Time just sight seeing around the city. And that’s the best you got?
“40 days more and Ninevah shall be overthrown.”
This is truly terrible evangelism.
He doesn’t help the people know who God is. He doesn’t bring up specific issues.
When Paul, arguably the greatest missionary who ever lived went into Athens, he looked around. He saw a statue that said it was “to an unknown god” and he was able to talk about God by starting with a message they could relate to. Now that’s a good message.
When the woman at the well encountered Jesus she went back to the village and told her own story to them about how Jesus had connected with her and known her story. Now that’s a good message.
Does Jonah do that? Does he connect with the people of Ninevah? No. Does he tell his own miraculous journey? No.
He’s truly the worst preacher ever. I know I’ve given some bad sermons in my life, but really. Jonah. This is just not good work, by any standard.
Jonah still doesn’t want to be doing what he is called to do. We are going to see more about that next week so spoiler alert, but it’s important to recognize that this is not good preaching. Jonah is putting a half-hearted effort into this.
And yet, picking up at verse 5 (Read 3:5-9).
So we are in the season of Lent. It’s the season of sack cloth and ashes. Here at Kerr…ashes…if you didn’t get them, you still can.
There is no magic in ashes, but this is what it is all about.
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. God is in control.
Repentance. Fasting. Calling to God.
What do we need to repent of today?
I can’t answer that for you.