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The Runaway Prophet

By Joe Boot/ May 25, 2014

Series  Jonah and the Word of the Lord

Context  Westminster Chapel Toronto

Topic  Mission Of God

Scripture  Jonah 1:1-6; Mark 4:30-41

Jonah's vision for ministry was at odds with Gods vision. As with all rebellion, Jonah's problem with God's call was moral, not intellectual. It is embracing the word and purpose of God that brings life and peace.

Sermon Notes:

  1. Jonah enjoyed the privileged calling of declaring the word of the Lord to the nations.  But we cannot live off past obedience; we must respond obediently to God’s word to us today.
  2. Nineveh was a great city, but an evil one.  Implicit in God’s call upon Jonah is God’s sovereignty as lawgiver, ruler and judge over all the nations. 
  3. God’s dealings are covenantal, with families, cities, and nations.  We are all either covenant keepers or covenant breakers. 
  4. The whole earth is under a curse for breaking God’s covenant (cf. Isaiah. 24:4-6; Amos 1-3; Romans 1).
  5. God’s judgment on the nations is an expression of His mercy, just as His warnings are an act of grace.
  6. God’s warning for Nineveh meant the judgment was reversible.
  7. God intended to remind the Hebrews of His relationship to the Gentiles as well as with Judah.
  8. Jonah’s sense of offense toward the Ninevites is not difficult to understand:  he was called to preach to cruel apostates.  Nineveh represented the height of gentile revolt against God.
  9. Like Jonah, we too can lose sight of the purpose of God in calling wicked people to repentance.
  10. In the gospel both God’s grace and judgment are magnified.
  11. It is not an act of kindness to neglect giving the word of the Lord to the city.  It is to deny it the opportunity to repent.
  12. Jonah rejects the word of God by going in the opposite direction, to a foreign city away from God’s presence.
  13. Jonah was apostate, resigning his prophetic commission, turning his back on God.  But God’s prophet cannot resign.
  14. Jonah’s flight represents Israel’s failure to be God’s servant and a light to the Gentiles.
  15. The sailors recognized that this was not a usual storm. God who governs the weather sent the storm. 
  16. When we disobey God, those around us are also affected by the consequences of God’s discipline.
  17. Jonah’s vision for ministry was at odds with God’s vision. As with all rebellion against God’s word, Jonah’s problem was moral, not intellectual. 
  18. Our ministry plans and activities are often a substitute for doing God’s work, which will sometimes include the task of declaring God’s grace to our enemies.
  19. Jonah’s heart is exposed by God in his flight His presence.
  20. Our lawless desires, man-centred ideas, and resulting apostasy can have devastating consequences for those around us.
  21. Jesus delights to do God’s will, brings God’s word to the Gentiles, and calms the storm sent to test the disciples.
  22. Embracing the Word and purpose of God is life and peace.

Application Questions

  1. What is the Christian philosophy of history given to us in the scriptures?   How does God’s covenant fit in?
  2. What are the effects of our disobedience upon those around us?  Give examples.
  3. Contrast Jonah and Jesus in their handling of the storm.
  4. Do desires to maintain social respectability or scientific acceptability keep us from speaking God’s word?
  5. Do we withhold the opportunity of repentance from our city, because of a sinful sense of pride or superiority?

Sermon Notes