Grace for Today
Jonah’s Great Commission (Part 1)
Thank you for joining us for the new weekly article called Grace for Today. Each week, we’ll choose a book from the Bible and move through it verse by verse. The goal is to gain a deeper understanding of the truths found in each text of Scripture selected and then look together at how these truths may be applied and lived out. So, if you’re interested in a closer walk with Christ please join each week and together we’ll draw closer to the Lord. I pray the Lord is glorified through our study and our lives.
The first book we’ll focus on is the Book of Jonah. Jonah is found in the Old Testament in the section where the Minor Prophets are collected. As we study, we come to see through the book that God is sovereign over the created universe and that He often uses less than the most desirable folks to accomplish His will, that’s good news for us.
***Please open your Bibles to the Book of Jonah and read (Jonah 1:1-6). Our study for today is entitled, Jonah’s Great Commission.
Many years ago in Chicago a murder trial was underway. The trial had gone on a long time and the defense lawyer found himself up against a wall. The defense attorney Clarence Barrow, who was an open agnostic made this comment as a last ditch effort to try and turn the jurors. He said, Why a person could as easily believe this man’s testimony as he could believe that the whale swallowed Jonah.
To begin with, if the Word of God is going to affect us, we must submit to its authority and believe that it’s true and accurate. Jonah is a true account. Jonah is documented in Scripture. Jesus believed Jonah was a real person (Luke 11:29). Many scholars today would like us to believe the book of Jonah is simply a parable or allegory. They are wrong. It’s more than a children’s tale.
There was an Old Testament prophet who thought he could escape the Long arm of the Lord. Jonah was his name. The book of Jonah is situated among the Prophets in our Bibles. However, it doesn’t contain much prophecy, only one verse to be exact. It is a narrative, except for the poetic nature of Jonah’s prayer in verse two, which very much resembles a psalm.
Usually, when a book is written, it is written about the prophecy, not the prophet. This book is different; it focuses mainly on the prophet.
To introduce Jonah we should first go to the Book of 2 Kings which we only find one verse that really tells us anything about this prophet. From this passage we do get an idea of Jonah’s frame of mind.
***Please read (2 Kings 14:23-27).
In the 2 Kings passage we learn that even though Jeroboam the son of Joash refused to repent of his sin, God still blessed the nation of Israel because God loved the people and there was no one left to help them. Through this, we do see God’s longsuffering and mercy.
In an unprecedented way God shows grace to His unrepentant people. God gave King Jeroboam military strength even though he was a wicked king. God did this because He is a covenant keeping God.
Jonah’s first task as a prophet was to announce the good news that God would restore Israel’s borders. Because of this, Jonah may have thought that Israel alone was God’s people and that God didn’t care about anyone else. He may have even thought that repentance was optional.
Jonah did prophecy this good news but deep in his heart he probably longed for his people to repent of their sin and turn back to God.
This is some background to get us going.
Jonah’s Great Commission (Jonah 1:1-3)
Jonah starts with a Sovereign God commissioning His prophet Jonah for a task. God had prepared Jonah for the task. God had also been at work in the lives of the Ninevites. They were unusually weak during this period in their history. God had also brought about other events to weaken their pride and self-reliance.
Have you ever said NO to God? Have you ever known that God wanted you to do something and you turned Him down? Have you ever run from the will of God? We try it all the time. We either think we can flee God’s presence or He’ll forget or He’ll come around to our way of thinking. Our bad theology will continually cause us trouble.
A truth from the Book of Jonah is that God loves all people groups. The nations are His. Why is it that we think God is only for us?
Doctrine Taught- Jehovah, the God of Israel is the God of all the peoples of the earth.
***Please read (Rev. 7:9-10).
Some of these people groups mentioned in Revelation 7 are from Nineveh and were converted at the preaching of Jonah.
Can you picture the event? Jonah is so excited to get his second opportunity to prophecy for the Lord. He thinks yes! I get to announce another blessing from God. Man the people really liked the last sermon I preached and they patted me on the back as they left the church and told me how good it was and how much it meant to them. God is so good…I love my job as a prophet!!! Then came the message God wanted preached…  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”
To make application for today is to realize that God is often working in ways we don’t know. He is behind the scenes perhaps working on that loved one who is lost or your friend at work. Just like the commission Jonah received from God, we too have been given a commission.
***Please read (Matthew 28:18), Here, Jesus gives us our task. We are to go like Jonah and proclaim the message God gives us. We know the message God wants us to share is the Good News that Jesus lived a perfect life, He was crucified for the sins of His people, and He died. On the third day, He rose victoriously and now is seated at the right hand of the Father. Like the lost Ninevites, there are lost folks around us that need to hear the Gospel and their need to repent.
The challenge is to boldly go and share lovingly with those God sovereignly places in our path. I pray that the Lord will give you boldness to go and tell and that He will open their hearts and grant them repentance and faith.
Next week we’ll look to see what amazing things the Lord does through the life of Jonah.
Grace and Peace,
Grace Community Church, www.gccWaverly.com
313 W. 2nd Street, Waverly