Evangelism According to Jonah
1. What did God command Jonah to do in the city of Nineveh?
Jonah 1:1 Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
God commanded him to cry against that city, or to preach to them. This is equivalent to the Christianís duty of witnessing today.
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
God commands His church to "cry" as it were, to a lost and dying world. We are preach the gospel to all nations. We are to be witnesses unto Jesus first at home (Jerusalem), and then farther and farther out from our home base (Judaea and Samaria), and then to the uttermost parts of the earth. This is the great commission that Jesus gave His church.
2. What was Jonahís response to the Lordís command?
What do you think Jonah did? Do you think that He obeyed God? No! Instead of obeying God, Jonah ran in the opposite direction of Nineveh.
Jonah 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
Why did Jonah disobey God and not preach to Nineveh?
1. Was he afraid? No, he wouldnít have told the sailors to throw him in the raging sea if he was a fearful man.
*Many of us donít witness because we are afraid of people. Sometimes they are mean and obnoxious, and cruel. Sometimes they say hateful things to us. But we need not fear them. We have God Almighty with us, Who is for us, Who keeps and protects us, and will cause our work to be fruitful and prosperous.
2. Was Jonah too busy doing other things to do the Lordís work? No, that wasnít it. Jonah was a prophet of God. He recognized His duty to do Godís work before his own personal interests.
*Sometimes that is our problem. We have too many other things to do. Sometimes we are too busy for the Lord and His Work. He gives us everything, and yet we wonít even give Him a little of our time to witness for His great and glorious name. We wonít even take a few hours a week out of our busy schedules to share the gospel of Jesus with poor lost sinners, by which gospel we were saved from our sins, and given eternal life, and a sure hope of Heaven.
3. Did Jonah not believe that God could or would do a work in Nineveh? No, this wasnít Jonahís problem either. He knew well the power of God to do mighty works of salvation.
*Sometimes this is our problem. We just donít believe the Lord can or will work for us in saving lost sinners. We just donít believe that the Lord will use us. Deep down inside we think that our efforts are a big waste of time. Oh we of little faith! Beloved, God said that His Word would NOT return unto Him void, and that it would accomplish the thing whereunto He sent it. What is wrong with our thinking?
4. Then what was Jonahís problem? The fact is, Jonah just didnít care about the people of Nineveh. In fact he despised them. They were Gentiles and not Jews, and he hated them! He was prejudice against them.
*I think that this is also our problem today. We just donít care about souls like we
should. But, God rebuked Jonah for his hateful, uncaring attitude:
Jonah 4:9 And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, [even] unto death. 10 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
*I believe that God also rebukes us today when we donít care about souls like we should. He rebukes our prejudices just like He did Peterís as Acts 10. We are to love and care for everyone regardless of their color, or nationality, or sex, or age, or social background, and we are to seek the salvation of their souls.
3. What was Jonahís message to Nineveh?
After Jonah experienced the ride of his life in the fishís belly, and spent three days and nights in the ďWhale University of TheologyĒ, he decided after all that it would be better to obey God, than to run from Him. You know, you canít run from God and get very far.
But what do you suppose that Jonah preached to Nineveh?
Jonah 3:1 And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, 2 Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. 3 So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three daysí journey. 4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a dayís journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
The gist of Jonahís message was one of severe warning. ďYet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrownĒ. We donít hear any love and compassion in that message, do we? Just turn or burn!!! Jonah said. This is not to suggest that lost sinners do not need to be warned. They do! But the warning ought to be in love for those souls we are warning.
May God help us to love souls, and not just witness and preach to them out of mere obedience to the Lordís command, but because we love them, and desire to see them saved.
4. Finally, what were the results of Jonahís preaching?
What do you think that the people of Nineveh did when they heard Jonahís preaching? Well, something miraculous happened!!! They believed God, and obeyed the message!
Jonah 3:5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
We would never expect such wonderful results from such a simple and harsh message coming from such an unloving, uncaring messenger. This only goes to show that God is able to take the smallest, most feeble efforts and cause great things to come of them.
The power to accomplish great spiritual feats is in God, not in the messenger. This is good news, as more often than not we feel weak and helpless to do anything for the Lord.
Therefore we should be encouraged to use what abilities that God has given us to do His work, knowing that He is able to do great things with what little we have.
What does God command us to do? Be a witness for him. What should be our response to the Lordís command? Go and preach out of love for souls. What is the message we are to preach to the lost world? Repent and believe the gospel! What results might we expect from our witnessing? We never know what God might do, but we should expect God to do great things. He is a miracle working God. It is His Word, and His gospel, and His work that we are doing. He will give the increase in His time and place. We just need to trust Him and continue to serve Him, and not be discouraged and not quit. Amen.