Jerry Locke
Series of 11 Short Studies
He Disobeyed The Word Of God

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Series of 11 Short Studies by one of our
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FAMOUS FAILURES - Part 4 - Jonah: He Disobeyed the Word of God


The one thing we all have in common is failure. All of us have a personal History of failure. All of us know the painful Heartache of failure. We are finding Hope for our failure.

We are engaged in a study of Famous Failures. We have taken a look at Adam in Genesis 2-3, the original failure, a man who defied the command of God. God used a symbol to reverse Adam's failure. Then we studied Moses, a man who disregarded the plan of God. What did God used to get his attention? A sight --- the burning bush.

Please turn to the book of Jonah (this is, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah). Some of you may have difficulty finding Jonah, but let me assure you he is not still in the whale. >What comes to your mind when the name "Jonah" is mentioned? The fish, the whale, right? This story has been through the years one of the most controversial parts of the Bible to liberal scholars. Of all the "fish stories" in the Bible, and there are many — fish with a coin in his mouth, Peter's catch of 153 fishes, feeding thousands with a few small fishes — Jonah's fish story is the biggest.

Are there any fishermen here? Someone asked, "Do all fishermen lie?" The truth is, "All men are liars, and some of them fish."

Turn to Jonah and let's see his failure; how God pursed him and what happened when he got right (at least, somewhat right) with God.

Who was Jonah, anyway? He first shows up in 2 Kings 14:25. This verse says he was God's "servant" and "prophet." Historically, he was set to be one of Israel's great prophets, following Elijah and Elisha.

Jonah 1:1-3

1. It was a Pressing Word. God said, "Go!" Jonah said, "No!" And that is exactly when Jonah's failure began. To put it plain and simple, Jonah disobeyed the Word of God. Most of us, evidently, have the idea that God's calls are suggestive and optional. "Jonah, if you want to...if you have time...if you feel you would like to..." God's calls are not suggestions or optional — they are commands to be obeyed, they are orders to be followed.

2. It was a Personal Word. How this word came we do not know. God has used all kinds of methods to personally reach us with His word (angels, dreams). But, regardless of how the word came, it was personal. It is wonderful that God still speaks a personal word to us today! Amen?

3. It was a Pointed Word, v. 2. Nothing vague at all. "Go to Nineveh." Can you imagine what Jonah was thinking? "God, you've got to be kidding? Those people are not Jews. They are not my kind of people. They are pagans....idolators...immoral. God, if you don't know it, these people are our enemies. Why don't you just destroy then now and save both of us a lot of trouble."

Jonah was about to learn what we need to learn when it comes to people.

* Nobody is so bad that they cannot be saved.

* Nobody is so good that they don't need to be saved.

4. It was a Purposeful Word. "Cry against it...their wickedness is come up before me." Jonah knew what could happen. He had probably seen it happen before. If they heard God's message they might be saved.

* People are lost whether they ever hear the gospel or not, John 3:18.

* People can only be saved by the word of God, Romans 10:17.

If it had been up to Jonah, the Ninevites would have all gone to hell! Could that be said of us, too?

When God said to Jonah, "Go," Jonah said, "no" and his disobedience got him into a whale of trouble!

With Moses God used a sight. But with Jonah God used a storm to pursue him. Sometimes God sends storms into our lives, v. 4. God takes credit for this storm. A little girl was refused to eat her prunes one evening. The mother said, "God isn't pleased with you." She was sent to her room. Just has she arrived to her room, as she set before her window, a huge electrical storm hit with lightening and thunder and rain. The little girl mumbled, "What a miss to make over two prunes!"

Jonah 1:4-5. Where is God's prophet in the storm? He is unconcerned, asleep! Jonah was the only person on that ship that could have laid hold on God during that storm and he is asleep. It is time we wake up . . . get up . . . straighten up . . . and speak up!

This is no time for . . .

sleeping, its time for sowing.

cruising, its time for crusading.

playing church, its time for being the church.

So, why the storm and why the fish? Two things that need to be said about that?

Because of God's Discipline.

Hebrews 12:5-7, 11

Disobedience to the Word of God will inevitably result in God's discipline. God's purpose in discipline is not simply to bring pain, its not to punish or hurt us. It is to bring us to repentance.

God has a way of dampening our spirit (a little dive in the ocean did that for Jonah).

And God has a way of demonstrating His sovereignty (ending up in a big fish did that for Jonah). Look carefully at what God "prepared" for Jonah.

· Jonah 1:17 "Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to shallow up Jonah…"

· Jonah 4:6 "And the Lord God prepared a gourd…"

· Jonah 4:7 "But God prepared a worm…"

· Jonah 4:8 "And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind…"

It took three days and three nights of Jonah living in the "whale motel" and sleeping on a foam-blubber mattress, to even temporarily break Jonah from his stubbornness. Jonah was restored, but he still had to go.

Because of God's Desire, 2 Peter 3:9. One sermon and an entire city was shaken. Are there any Ninevites in your life? People you despise, but people who need salvation.

Here's the good news about failure from Jonah. God was willing to give Jonah a second change, Jonah 3:1-2 "The second time." Mark that in your Bible. Let it encourage you not to fail, but when you fail --- don't you love this about God?

God also gave Jonah the same commission, Jonah 3:2. God's orders had not changed. The same people were to be confronted. "Go unto Nineveh." The same preaching was to be conducted. "Preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee." Some people have gotten the idea that preaching is outdated, but it is here to stay. Jonah was called to preach! I love preaching. I love to hear preaching. I cannot imagine not preaching or wanting to hear preaching.

Then there was some spiritual compliance, Jonah 3:3-4. "So Jonah arose." Jonah had a long time to reflect on his experiences during his five hundred mile trip to Nineveh. A lot of time was wasted between chapters 1 and chapter 3, wasn't there? Jonah wasn't at some seminary training for a great task. He was in God's woodshed being chastened by the Lord. The better path for living is obedience to the will and Word of God. It is always better to obey God. v. 3. "According to the Word of the Lord." Think about it. The word he had disobeyed, Jonah now declares. 40 days to get right with God or you've had it!

God used a failure. Like one old country fellow said, "God can hit some mighty straight licks with an awful crooked stick!"

Finally there are the stunning consequences, v. 5-10. The prophet was a walking object lesson from God, his skin no doubt bleached from his stay in the fish. As he proceeded through the city, his one-sentence sermon brings incredible results. It is the most responsive evangelistic effort in history. The result of Jonah going to Nineveh with God's message was threefold.

* Faith, v. 5a. They "believed God." They took Jonah's words to be the words of God.

* Fasting, v. 5b-9. Look, these people got serious. Everybody made time for God. They got on their faces. There were no big shots and little shots, they were all sinners. They cried out to God because of their sin. When God does a work in people's hearts they do not avoid sin, they acknowledge it! Why, even God's people today are debating whether some things are sins are not. "Who says it is wrong to . . . drink? . . . Fornicate? . . . Lie? . . . Cheat? . . . Trash people? . . . Swear?

What did the city of Nineveh do? Matthew 12:39-41. They repented!

* Forgiveness, v. 10. God forgave these people and extended their lives. This passage has been a point of controversy to some and of quiet concern to others. What does it mean, "God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."

Let me be the first to admit that I do not understand everything in the Bible, but I believe every word to be God's Word. If I could simplify it it means that God did not blast them into eternity like they deserved, He forgave them.

Don't miss this point: When one man got right people got saved!

When the saved get right the lost get saved!

We're the problem - not the world! Actually, 3/4's of the Book of Jonah (three chapters) is written proof that the single biggest obstacle to seeing people saved is God's people.

What would happen if we got really right with God?

* Daddies and mamas — homes.

* Church members — church.

* Old friends — neighborhood.

Few would disagree that we need an old-fashioned, Christ-centered, Bible-based, sin-hating, devil-chasing, hell-hot, judgment-certain, eternity-long, soul-stirring, heart-breaking, sinner-saving, saint-surrendering, Spirit-sent revival! Amen!

Closing personal lessons to learn from Jonah.

(1) It is impossible to successfully run from God.

(2) There are no limits to what God can use to get your attention.

(3) Disobedience always creates turmoil in the life of a believer.

(4) Failure does not disqualify a person from God's service.

(5) Our main concern should not be whether a man can live in a fish, but whether the spirit of Jonah lives in us!

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