Jonah 4:5-11





Nineveh was the capitol of Assyria.

Cruelty, cult worship, idolatry and immorality abounded.



The people of Nineveh would cut off the nose of their enemies;

Slice off their ears;



Chop off their hands and feet.

They would skin their victims alive;



Impale them on stakes.

They would punch a hole through a person's tongue;



Put a leather thong through it;

And lead that person around like an animal.



They would take a man out into the desert;

And bury him up to his neck in sand.



They were so feared that entire villages were known to commit suicide rather

than to be captured by them.

Jonah did not like them.



He wanted God to destroy them.

It's even reasonable to assume that he wanted God to cast them into hell.

And he was totally unprepared for what God wanted him to do.

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; far their wickedness

is come up before me” (Jonah 1:2).



Jonah could not believe his ears.

This was a calling he would not accept.



How many of us are like that?

How many of us “love our enemies?”



“Bless them that curse us?”

“Do good to them that hate us?”



“Pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us” (Matt. 5:44)?

How many of us really care what happens to the lost in our community?



How many of us can blame Jonah because he did not want to witness to these        


We know we should witness to people.



But we make excuses.

“I'm too busy.”



“I don't know what to say.”

“That doesn't work anymore.”



“People don't want to be bothered.”

We are like Jonah.



He was a religious man;

A prophet of God.

But lie was actually refusing to do the will of God.


He had sin in his life.

But instead of looking at his sin.



He was looking at the sin of the people of Nineveh.

We do the same thing.



We have sin in our lives.

But we are looking at the sin of others.



Look at Daniel.

He witnessed to people who threatened to throw him into a lions den.



Look at Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego.

They witnessed to people who threatened to throw them into a fiery furnace.



Look at Peter, James and John.

They witnessed to people who ordered them to stop.



Look at Paul.

He witnessed to people who threatened to kill him.



Someone said, “Paul must have had a sunstroke.”

And someone else said, “God give us more people who have had a    




Anyway, Jonah seemed to think that if he ran away, God might get fed up     

with the people of Nineveh;

That God might get impatient and destroy them. So Jonah ran.

He boarded a ship to Tarshish;

And set sail.



But strange things happened.

1st---The Lord sent out a great wind into the sea;



A mighty wind.

Giant waves rolled.



They white capped.

They tossed the ship.



The crew was terrified.

They began to pray.



But they made a mistake.

They prayed to the wrong god.



If we are going to pray, we have to pray to the right God;

The God who can help us;



The God who sent this storm.

No other god can overrule Him.



So the crew prayed.

But their prayers failed.



Then, they began to lighten the ship.

They cleared off the deck.


Then, a crew member went down into the hold to clear that out.

And what a surprise!



There was Jonah fast asleep.

The crew member went and got the captain.



“Wake up, man.”

“Start praying.”



“Call upon thy God.”

Listen to this.



While the lost were praying to the wrong god, God's man was sound asleep;

Refusing to witness;



Refusing to do what God wanted him to do.

Who is the villain in this story?



Is it the crew who prayed to the wrong god?

Or, Jonah who didn't pray at all?



This is bad.

But, I suspect that many of us are just like Jonah.



A storm is brewing all around us.

Drugs, gambling and pornography are right outside our door.



Wickedness is growing more extreme every day.

Terrorism has reached our shores.


Courts are striking down Christian privileges.

Our nation is sliding into a cesspool of sin.



We need to witness and pray like never before.

But we have closed our spiritual eyes.



We are like Samson who went to sleep on Delilah's lap.

She cut his hair.



He lost his power.

We are not witnessing and praying.



The Church is becoming weaker and weaker.

Anyway, the crew decided to cast lots to determine who had offended the    

gods “and the lot fell on Jonah.”



Who are you?

Where are you from?



What have you done?

“I am a Hebrew.”



“And I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry       


“I'm running from Him.”



And when the crew heard that he was running from God, they were afraid.

Jonah said, “Throw me overboard and the sea will become calm again.”




“Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to bring the ship to land.”

1st---Notice, that these men who didn't know God cared more about Jonah   

than he cared about the people of Nineveh.



They didn't know God.

But they didn't want anything bad to happen to Jonah.



They were willing to risk their lives to save him.

This should not surprise us.



The world is full of good people who aren't Christians;

Good people who will break their back for someone in need;



Good people who will even do more for us than some in the Church.

But these good people are lost.



And we don't care enough to witness to them.

We are like Judas Iscariot.



He was called to serve Jesus.

But he abandoned his calling for thirty pieces of silver.



We are called to take the gospel into our community.

But we have abandoned our calling for pleasure and work.



2nd---Notice, that the crew could not out maneuver God.

“For the sea wrought and was tempestuous against them.”



The harder they rowed, the greater the storm raged.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

But if God is against us, who can help us?

We cannot fool God.



We cannot hide from God.

We cannot run from God.



The crew could not get the ship to shore.

They had a choice.



Throw Jonah overboard or perish with him.

So they threw him overboard.



But God had a great fish waiting.

And the fish swallowed Jonah in one gulp.



Let me say here that some call this a parable; an allegory; a legend.

They doubt that this happened.



Keep two things in mind:

One, Jesus treated this story as a real event.



He used Jonah's predicament in the belly of a whale as a sign of His own time         

in the grave.

Two, the sperm whale is the only whale with a throat large enough to swallow         

a man.



Sperm whales live in the Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of Israel.

And history records an actual case of a man surviving three days in the belly

of a whale in the fifteen hundreds.



Anyway, at this point, Jonah was a dead man except for one thing (pause).

God still cared about the people of Nineveh.



God still wanted Jonah to witness to them.

This should cause us to ask ourselves:



Why is God allowing me to live?

Am I doing what God wants me to do?



Am I a factor in changing my community for Christ?

Is God prolonging my life because He wants me to witness to someone?



If we are not serving God, we are of no value to God.

Our value to God is not determined by what we CAN do.



It is determined by what we ARE doing.

Anyway, a great whale got Jonah.



That is when this prayerless servant of God finally began to pray.

Are we like that?



Do we only pray when things are going bad?

Notice something else:



There was Jonah;

Far out to sea;



Deep under water;

In the belly of a whale;


But God still knew where he was.

God could still hear him.



And God answered his prayer.

The whale “vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.”



Then the Word of the Lord came unto Jonah a second time.

“Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it.”



And this time Jonah knew he had better not rebel.

The only running he did was straight toward Nineveh.



It's sad to say.

But it took a terrible experience to get Jonah to witness to these people.



Is that what its going to take for us?

Is it going to take a terrible experience to get us to witness?



Notice what happened.

The people of Nineveh heard the Word.



They repented of their sins.

And these heathens who cut off people's limbs,



Who skinned people alive;

Who punched holes in people's tongues to lead them around like animals;



These incredibly wicked people changed their ways.

And God spared them.


No matter what we've done,

No matter how bad we've been,



If we will hear the Word, believe it;

Receive it;



Repent of our sins;

And confess Christ;



We will be saved.

The important thing is not how we start out.



It's how we wind up.

God loves us.



He's in the saving business.

If that was not so, He would have destroyed Jonah, Nineveh and US.



Now---if the story had ended here, we would have a happy ending;

A success story.



But it doesn’t end here.

God wants us to take a second look at Jonah.



When Jonah learned that God was not going to destroy the Ninevites, he was         


He went to the outskirts of Nineveh.



He sat down on a hill where he could overlook the city.

He thought that God might change His mind.

He wanted to see the Ninevites get what was coming to them.

He wanted to see God wipe them out.



A farmer cared for his sheep in the mountains.

It had not rained in months.



He was running out of grass.

He could see bunches of grass growing out of the cracks in the side of the    




He tried to climb up to them.

But he could not.



He hired a climber.

But it was too dangerous.



The farmer said, “The grass is precious.”

“We have to get it.”



They lowered a rope over the cliffs.

And picked several bundles of grass.



Shouldn't we care that much about the souls of people?

Aren't they precious?



They are difficult to reach,

But aren't they worth the effort?



We go to extremes to do other things.

Why can't we go to extremes to witness?

Anyway, Jonah didn't care about the Ninevites.

So God prepared three more things to teach him a lesson.



1st---While Jonah sat out there on that hill overlooking the city,

God caused a gourd to grow up to shade him from the hot sun.



That gourd made Jonah very happy.

God finally did something he liked.



He looked on that gourd with compassion.

It shaded him from the hot sun.



And Jonah thought that his new found, God-given shade just might mean that         

God was pleased with him after all.

2nd---God caused a little worm to come along.



And that little worm ate a hole into the stalk of Jonah's precious gourd.

It withered and died.



Jonah lost his shade.

The object of his comfort which God so quickly gave was just as quickly     

taken away.



3rd---God caused the sun to bear down.

And a vehement east wind to blow.



The sun got hotter and hotter,

The wind got dryer and dryer,




Jonah suffered.

He felt faint.



He wanted to die.

That is when the Lord said, “Thou hast had pity on the gourd for which thou         

hast not labored, neither madest it grow;”



“Which came up in a night and perished in a night.”

“And should not I spare Nineveh that great city?”



Hey, Jonah!

You cared about a gourd;



A plant;

A temporary thing;



Something that's here today and gone tomorrow.

But people are more important than plants.



Souls live forever.

Tom and Rick raised cattle on adjoining farms.



The fence between their farms got pushed down.

Tom's cattle got out.



They trampled down some of Rick's crop.

Rick got angry.



He rounded up Tom's cattle.

But he refused to give them back until Tom paid for the damage.

Tom apologized.

He repaired the fence.



He paid for the damage.

He took his cattle home.



A few days later, the fence got pushed down again.

But it was Rick's cattle that got out this time.



His cattle trampled down some of Tom's crop.

The shoe was on the other foot.



Tom had a chance to get even.

He rounded up Rick's cattle.



But he didn't lock them up.

He took them home.



He turned them over to Rick.

Rick was embarrassed.



“Tell me what the damages are so I can pay you and get it over with,” he      


Tom replied, “You don’t owe me anything.”



“We're neighbors.”

“And I would rather lose some of my crop than to lose your friendship.”



That night, there was a knock on Tom's door.

Rick was returning the money he had received a few days earlier.

“Please take it back,” he said.

“You have something that I don't have.”



“But I want to try to get it.”

“And maybe returning this money will help me get started.”



How many of us care more about grass and flowers than we care about        


How many of us care more about ballgames and hunting than we care about




These are our gourds.

They come in a night and they go in a night.



But let's remember something.

God took Jonah's gourd away in just one morning.



And He can take our gourds away just as fast.

We are in a struggle to do right.



Sin has damaged our mind; our emotions; our feelings.

Sin has affected our ability to make right decisions.



We rightly perceive ourselves as the "OBJECTS" of God's love.

But we wrongly ignore the fact that we are the "MEANS" through which God         

loves others.



He wants us to pray and witness.

He called us to do this;



Called us to be ambassadors for Christ.

Some might be in Church today, if we witnessed to them.



But we are standing around.

And waiting on them to come on their own.



The Scriptures tell us to let our lights shine.

Some of us have lamps that are lit.



But we need to clean off our globes.

And it should not be what we think or feel about it.



It should be what God's Word says about it.

Today, I am urging you to make an effort to get the inactive back to Church;



To reach out to others in the community.

We need them.



They need us.

If just a few of us could get just one person a year, it would make a     

significant difference in this Church.



But if none of us get any, the Church will eventually die out.