I would like to have us look at Jonah the first chapter or so. In so doing we will see the church in action and the position we have in the world. You will find my comments bolded in the midst of the scripture verses. All scriptures quoted in this article are taken from the New King James Version.
Jonah 1:1-16 1Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2″Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” Jonah receives direction, a commission “Go” to the people who appear to be his enemies. The Ninevites served as an example of Gentiles who repented and were accepted by God (compare Jonah 3; Luke 4:26-27; 11:31 17:15-18 (Holman’s Bible dictionary).
We have the command to go (to the world that at times appears to be our enemies) and make disciples in Matth 28:18-20. Most of us see the sins of the world, and how they hate us and we just want to stay separate from them, like Jonah.
3But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.Most of us Christians are like Jonah, we hear a word and then go in the opposite direction, I can’t go to those people, we flee God’s presence with our decisions not to go.
4But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. Interesting, the storm affects the world’s people and the Lord sent it because of who? Their sins or ours? 2Chronicles 7:13-14
5Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. The world is afraid right now because destruction is upon it. There are so many bad things happening that are destroying economies, peoples and lands. Most of the Christians are sleeping in the boat, down in the lowest part so they can’t see or hear the wind and waves that are bringing destruction, so they don’t have to give up their comfort zone.
6So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.” The world is looking for an answer to what is happening, they are mad at the Christians who are sleeping or ignoring and blaming the sinners for what is happening in the world. The Christians are saying, “Their sins are the cause of this storm, earthquake or tsunami, let them pay the price for not receiving Jesus”.
7And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
Jonah is the problem, we are the problem. It is our sins that affect the world. we are the ones who are told that if we love Him we must obey Him. (John 14:15, 15:14)
8Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” These people are desperate, they need help. They want to know why they are going through this storm. They want to hear about this man and who His God is that could cause this big of a storm. Many of those in the world would love to know the truth, they are hungry for a God that can really do something for them and they are willing to repent.
9So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.Even though Jonah is in the wrong place, he gets to testify of his God, and makes known that He is the true God.
10Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. The world does not understand someone who would disobey their God. it is not a thought that would cross their minds. Who would be foolish enough to disobey God? Yet we do it all the time as Christians, we refuse to make disciples or to go and pray for others. We refuse to obey the Voice of God.
11Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us? – for the sea was growing more tempestuous. Jonah is the problem and yet he is the one with the answer also. They want to know what to do? They are asking the problem for the solution.
12And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” You know what this is, it is taking responsibility for the problems of the world not just the church. It is admitting that we are the cause of the storms. Jonah is willing to die to see these few men saved. What a change. We need to let the things going on in the world cause us to wake up also. Jonah’s change is the change we need to make. Instead of condemning them for what is happening in the world, we need to see that their death is our responsibility, and that we are the ones who need to repent and die for them, not them for us. That is what Jesus did and he told us to do the same. We are the ones who need to take the responsibility for what is going on.
13Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. Most of the world does not want us to die, they are really good people who just need a Savior. When we are willing to give our lives for them, they will try to see us safe. They will also start to cry out to the Lord for help in the storm.
14Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You Man, what a change for them, from strange gods to Jonah’s God all through a simple testimony. The wind is still blowing and they are still in danger but, they are changed.
15So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, we need to be willing to take the punishment for our sins of disobedience. We have not gone where God told us nor have we done what He commanded us to do. We should be asking God not to punish the world for our sins. God wants willing hearts, those who will lose their lives to find them.
and the sea ceased from its raging. Our being willing to die for them will calm the storm. God will see our repentance and theirs and not hold them accountable for our sins. Maybe He will give us another chance to Obey.
16Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows. When they see our obedience and see us repent and be willing to accept our punishment, they will fear the Lord also and bring a sacrifice to him. Today’s sacrifice is another soul brought to Jesus. The vow, is to live for him and die for others, to be His presence, to make disciples and Go in obedience to His voice.
2 Chr 7:14-15 14If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. It is our sins of not going when we are told to so many times in the New Testament that need to be forgiven and forbidden. We need to be accountable for our sins of disobedience.
When we do this, God will make a way for us to Do what He has sent us to do.
Jonah 1:17 17Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. God still has a plan. Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. We may have to suffer a little while but, God has a plan for us to live and obey so that many can be saved and discipled.
Jonah 2:1 1Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. Good start, maybe we should start there and see what the Lord would do to save the people who appear to be enemies of God’s people.
Jonah 3:2-3 2Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. God is a God of second chances, maybe He will give us all a second chance to, “Go and make disciples”.
Jonah 3:5 5So the people of Nineveh believed God, If we go maybe the people who are known as the enemy of God’s people will hear and believe.
Jonah 3:8-9 8But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Maybe many of them will repent and be baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Maybe we can stop some of the perishing that is going on if we will wake up and go do what the Lord is sending us to do… Maybe He is still a God of mercy and grace.
Jonah 3:10 10Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. If He did it then, will He do it now? Is he the same? What if we did this and many disasters are avoided? Just the thought brings me to my knees… How many more deaths will it take before we wake up and remember who we are and who He is. We were the ones who were told to Go into all the world and make disciples, If we don’t go how will they know?
Romans 10:14-15 14How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? The preachers are His disciples, not ordained clergy. 15And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Reading the next few verses should say it all.
Matthew 28:18-20 18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Mark 16:15-16 15And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Luke 24:46-47 46Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, Sounds like Jonah. 47and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Maybe we should go?
John 20:21-23 21So Jesus said to them again,”Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” I know some of them we would rather have die. They are bad people, terrorists and killers, but, so were the Assyrians. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Salvation is for everyone.
Here am I Lord, send me!