INTRO: What child who has attended Bible classes for any length of time does not know about Jonah and His being swallowed by the big fish? Id hazard to say that this is one of the best known of all Bible narratives. But its a bit sad that the whole story of Jonah is not known as well as this one very unusual incident. Too, its so important that as we look at this incident that we see all that we should see in it rather than just the curiosity of the event. So for a few minutes tonight lets think about Jonah ... swallowed by a fish. We see this:
I. AS AN OCCASION OF STUMBLING FOR SOME
A. There are some saying this book proves Bible unreliable
1. they cant explain it in naturalistic terms - no fish could swallow a man or a man couldnt live that long in a fish, etc.
2. so, they decide it never happened
3. then, they judge the Bible to be totally unreliable
B. There are some who say this is just Jewish legend
1. want to be religious; to have belief in God
2. but they are so enamored with intellectual, scientific or liberal community that they must hedge on Jonah
3. do the same thing with theistic evolution
II. AS AN ACT OF GOD
A. The account says that the Lord had prepared
1. book of Jonah filled with immediate hand of God
2. certainly we cannot explain with human knowledge and experience the facts of this verse
3. but the words Lord had prepared is all we really need
B. Where our problems arise?
1. by looking for such a fish ... by speculating in view of the little we know from accumulated knowledge
2. this is an act of God transcending our knowledge, experience
3. one writer simply pointed to Eph 3:20!
III. AS AN ACT OF JUDGMENT
A. This verse says that Jonah would not have his own way
1. God is going to deal with Jonahs rebellion
2. His judgment is impartial Jonahs favored status as a prophet bought him no favors where sin was concerned
3. fortunately, this was not final judgment!
B. But Jonah 1:17 does remind us of that judgment
1. justness of God from the beginning demanded that day
2. Acts 17:30,31a changes in our lives must be made now if we are to escape gods awful wrath then
3. 2 Thes 1:7-10
IV. AS AN ACT OF INSTRUCTION
A. God had a message for Jonah!
1. the point for his is that: he could not flee responsibility; he could not escape his sin; he could still choose to obey
2. we have to realize all that Jonah must have thought when he saw he wasnt going to drown!
3. maybe, just maybe, Ive still got a chance to correct
B. Greatest instruction, though, speaks across centuries
1.some have wondered why book of Jonah is included
2. certainly it isnt prophecy/preaching as Isaiah, etc.
3. but it is profound instruction for us - Rom 15:4
V. AS AN ACT OF GOODNESS
A. Jonah is spared the fate of drowning
1. certainly he is being exposed to severity of God
2. but Gods chastisement (which Id think this is) is also a means of goodness, of deliverance
3. Zech 9:17 For how great is His goodness
B. The essential goodness of God shines throughout this book
1. His sending preacher to Nineveh; His sparing sailors; His changing His mind about destroying Nineveh; His unwillingness to let evil, sin prevail
2. if we choose sin, certainly God must finally punish
3. but look how much goodness He has demonstrated in an effort to turn us from sin (Rom 5:8)
VI. AS A PROPHETIC SIGN
A. We must note Mt 12:38-40
1. now, the book of Jonah does not so identify it
2. but Jesus does
B. By this identification we see book of Jonah is prophecy
1. Jesus places His stamp of authenticity on the book
2. to deny historicity of Jonah is to deny Christ
CLOSE: Yes, the account of Jonahs being swallowed by a great fish is curious. But for Bible believing people it is also a terribly important bit of history.
Cecil A. Hutson
25 August 2002
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)