Április közepén elkezdtük új sorozatunkat az ószövetségi karakterekről. Nem feltétlenül a legismertebb személyeket vizsgáltuk, hanem azokét, akiknek az életében egy nagy mélypont vagy egy törés kellett ahhoz, hogy igazán Istenhez forduljanak.
Jellemző történet Jónásé, aki mind lelkileg, mind fizikailag mélypontra került. Larry április 15-én beszélt Jónás választásairól. Kiemelte, hogy Isten rendelkezett úgy többször is, hogy Jónás mélypontra kerüljön. Ilyen volt a tengeri vihar és az odarendelt hal, aki elnyelte őt. Az engedetlen próféta már három napja ült a cethal gyomrában, amikor egy gyönyörű zsoltár formájában végre Istenhez intézte szavait: hálát adott neki és elismerte, csak Ő tudja megszabadítani. A mélypont után ez volt a fordulópont, az Úr szólt a halnak, hogy köpje ki a Jónást a szárazra.
A második mélypont a “tök jelenet” volt, a Ninive pusztulását páholyból végignézni akaró próféta megleckéztetése. Mind az árnyékot nyújtó, nagy levelű tököt, mind az azt megrágó férget Isten rendelte oda. Célja a példázat általi tanítás volt, ami egy prófétától egyébként sem idegen.
Isten meg akarta menteni a nagyvárost, Ninivét. Jónás makacs szófogadatlansága veszélyeztette ezt a tervet. Előbb Jónás lelkét kellett megmenteni, ehhez volt szükség a “mélypontra”, a hal gyomrára. Érdemes elgondolkodnunk azon, hogy múltunkban vagy jelenünkben miért kerültünk időről-időre mélypontra és hogyan reagáltunk minderre. Akár a mi hibánkból, akár más okból történt, legtöbbször kétségbesetten Istenhez kiáltottunk, aki vigasztalásával segítségünkre sietett.
Jónás nem tudott arról, hogy halbéli kalandja maga is egy prófécia. Jézus önmagához hasonlítja őt, amikor a törvénytudók mennyei jelt kérnek tőle.
E gonosz és parázna nemzetség jelt kiván; és nem adatik jel néki, hanemha Jónás prófétának jele. Mert amiképpen Jónás három éjjel és három nap volt a cethal gyomrában, azonképpen az embernek Fia is három nap és három éjjel lesz a föld gyomrában.
Ninive férfiai az ítéletkor együtt támadnak majd fel ezzel a nemzetséggel, és kárhoztatják ezt: mivelhogy ők megtértek a Jónás prédikálására; és ímé nagyobb van itt Jónásnál.
Jónásról már korábban is tanítottunk néhányszor, érdemes átolvasni a beszámolókat, vagy újra meghallgatni a tanításokat:
Bibliai hithősök a fazekas kezeiben – Jónás
Kispróféták – Isten küldöttei a nehéz időkben – Jónás
Larry április 15-i tanításának vázlata a keretben olvasható.
Jonah (or me?)
Larry L. Winckles
April 15, 2018
Most of us have had the experience of running away from dangerous situations. Perhaps not as dramatically as we see in the movies, where Captain Jack Sparrow runs away from the cannibals, or where Indiana Jones runs away from an African tribe, but I think we all have run away from something that we think may be dangerous. And perhaps we have also run away from God because we were afraid that what he wanted us to do was also dangerous.
Today we are starting our new series of Old Testament character studies by looking at the life of the Prophet Jonah.
Now as far as prophets go, Jonah didn’t have a very long spoken prophecy – it was only 4 words in Hebrew, which translates to 6 words in Hungarian, and 8 words in English. But today we will see that Jonah’s life served as a prophecy, not only to the people of Israel but to us today as well. The story is about Jonah, but it could just as well be about you or me, because it is at heart the Book of Jonah is a prophetic story about God and His purposes in salvation. It also provides us with a lesson in obedience and shows us that it is foolish to run away from God.
The Book of Jonah takes place during the time of King Jeroboam II, which is between 750 and 800 years before the birth of Christ, and just before Israel was conquered by the Assyrian, never to rise again until modern times. The nation had moved away from God. God had repeatedly called them to repent through the prophets Elijah and Elisha.
But it wasn’t to the nation of Israel that God wanted Jonah to deliver a message to, but rather to its hated neighbor the Assyrians in one of its most wicked cities, Nineveh.
Jonah was a prophet, a man of God, and you would think that he of all people would be obedient. But then God calls him to do something that he didn’t want to do. Jonah 1:1-2 says, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai:
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
Now that would have been quite a journey, especially in those days. From Joppa to Nineveh is about 900 km, which is just about the distance between Budapest and Stuttgart, Germany. But did Jonah set out on this rather long journey? Not at all! Let’s read on: But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Jonah disobeyed God and ran the other way, setting sail by boat for Tarshish, a city thought to have been somewhere in southern Spain, which would have been about 4000 km away! That’s about the same as the distance between Budapest and Tehran, Iran or between Budapest and Reykjavik, Iceland. What is Jonah’s problem? Isn’t he a man of God? Why isn’t he being obedient? Why doesn’t he want to do what God told him to do? What do you think?
Well things didn’t work out exactly as Jonah planned. The ship was caught up in a terrible storm and even the sailors feared that the ship would sink. In the middle of these terrible circumstances it is interesting to notice the contrast
between Jonah and the sailors. You can read about it in the first chapter of Jonah.
1. Jonah was running away from God
2. The captain has to tell Jonah to pray
3. When the sailors find out that Jonah is responsible, they try to save his life rather than throw him overboard
4. They themselves began to pray to the Lord
5. They better understood the consequences of Jonah’s disobedience than Jonah did
So now we must ask ourselves the question, “When do we feel tempted to run away from God?” Jonah doesn’t seem to be the right man for the job. So why did God want to send him to prophesy in a wicked, pagan city? Why did God send Jonah? Perhaps it was for Jonah’s benefit as well as for the benefit the people of Nineveh through Jonah. It seems likely that God’s plan to call the people of Nineveh to repentance had three purposes. 1) To shake the people of Israel out of their apathy and realize how hard their hearts have been towardsGod, 2) To begin fulfilling His promise, made to Abraham, to bless the nations of the world, and 3) As a foreshadowing of the coming of the Messiah, who would bring salvation to the whole world. What happened to Jonah? He was eventually thrown overboard and immediately swallowed whole by some kind of great fish, perhaps a whale. That got Jonah’s attention! He immediately began to pray to God, without any prompting from someone else! He began praising God, thanking him for his rescue, and eventually realizing that indeed, salvation comes only from the Lord. He knew that already in his head, but now he believed it from his heart.
There is a big difference between knowing the truth and living the truth!
Now we must ask ourselves the next question. “In what ways does God get our attention when we try to run away from him?”
While in in the big fish, Jonah repented and promised to proclaim the salvation of the Lord. After three days the Lord caused the big fish to spit out Jonah onto dry ground. Three days. Does that number sound familiar? Jonah is the only prophet that Jesus compares himself to, in Matthew 12:40, where he compares his death and resurrection to the experience that Jonah has gone through. Jonah’s experience foreshadows the way that God would ultimately bring salvation to mankind.
For us, it seems obvious that Jonah was being disobedient. We can see what he should have done right away. But what about you and me? Most of us know the truth of what God has done for us through Jesus, but that doesn’t mean that we live it out. That doesn’t mean that our lives show it. We run away from what we know God wants us to do. What kind of circumstance or tragedy will it take in order for God to get our attention? Why is it that we often must sink to a low place before we are willing to make changes in our lives?
God is the God of second chances. God showed Jonah great mercy, and not only spared his life but gave him another opportunity to be obedient to his call to prophesy to the people of Nineveh. And this time Jonah obeyed! Jonah probably still had all of his previous fears and doubts, but he put those aside in order to follow the Lord’s command.
The message that God told Jonah to bring was very short and to the point – Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown! It was short, but it was the message that the people of Nineveh needed to hear. It came at the time when their hearts were ready. What was their response? They believed God. They believed in the God that Jonah was proclaiming, they acknowledged their sin, they believed that God was right in pronouncing judgment upon them, they were sorrowful, and they responded by taking action. They declared a fast. They repented of their sins!
And God forgave them and did not destroy the city as promised!
This is exactly the same as the process of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. We must believe in Jesus, we must acknowledge our sin and be sorry for our sinfulness, we must ask for forgiveness, and we must trust Him and accept
his gift of love and mercy. God would rather show mercy than punish. We see this in his dealing with the people of Nineveh, which foreshadows the work of Jesus Christ.
So we must ask ourselves another question, “What can we learn about God in these chapters, so that we can better obey him?”
Amazing! Wonderful! Hallelujah! Amen and Amen! A perfect fairy tale happy ending! Or maybe not, because the story continues. There still is chapter four. Jonah is still Jonah, and God is still God.
In chapter four we find out the real reason that Jonah ran away the first time that God called him. He ran away because he knew that God was going to forgive those evil people. Why should God be forgiving and merciful? Jonah was angry with God!
“Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I
knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah
4:2-3In fact, Jonah was holding out hope that perhaps God would change his mind and destroy the city anyway. And if he was going to do that, Jonah wanted to be sure to have a good view. He hoping for the worst to happen! So he found
a place in the shade, outside of the city, and sat down to wait and see what would happen. God chose this time to teach Jonah a further lesson, first by causing the plant to grow up and then by causing it to be
destroyed by a worm and a hot wind, leaving Jonah unprotected in the blazing hot sun. Jonah became very angry over the destruction of the plant. And then God spoke to Jonah.
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their
left—and also many animals?” Jonah 4:10-11
And here we have the contrast between God and Jonah (or perhaps we ourselves). God wants to show mercy, he is greatly concerned for the lost and would rather see them saved than be destroyed. Jonah couldn’t care less about the lost in the city of Nineveh. He didn’t want God to show mercy to them. But he was willing to receive God’s mercy when he needed it! He failed to see the parallel between his running away from God and coming to the lowest point in his life with the people of Nineveh who had also reached a low point in their own lives and culture.
Jesus came to seek and to save that which is lost, and that includes you and me! But I wonder who I am really most like in my attitude toward the lost – God or Jonah? Do I have great concern for the lost, or am I completely indifferent to them? And what about you? Where would you place yourself on a scale between God’s attitude of concern and Jonah’s attitude of indifference?
If you think that you have concern for the lost, then what are you doing about it? You may think that in your head, but perhaps in your attitudes and actions you are more like Jonah than you would like to admit.
So what can we do about it?
First, we need to be thankful for the great gift of salvation that God gives us. If you haven’t yet experienced this in your own life, then there is no better time than right now to trust in Jesus!
Second, we need to pray that God would change our hearts, helping us to show real concern for those who are lost in sin and darkness.
Third, we need to be prepared to obey the Holy Spirit’s leading in our lives and to do the things that God asks us to do. That means we need to take action! We need to tell others about how being a follower of Jesus has transformed our lives, and how they can experience new life in him. This is being obedient to God’s command to us as Jesus gave it to his disciples that we find in Matthew 28:19-20. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.