Advice from the Second Greatest Missionary of All Time

What Jonah Would Say if He Were Alive Today!


June 30, 2013 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (Matthew 12:38-41)


A.    There was a GREAT prophet named Jonah

B.     He lived and preached about 750 years before the birth of Jesus

C.     He preached through all of the area around Galilee in North Israel – and was well known

D.    750 years later, when people asked Jesus for a miraculous sign to prove that He was the Messiah (Jesus had already done many miracles, and proved it countless times already), Jesus instantly reminded them of Jonah (Mt 12:38-41)…


1.      A real prophet – not a made up story for children

2.      Literally and really survived 3 days and 3 nights in a whale

3.      A great preacher

4.      And I believe, that Jesus was recognising Jonah as the 2nd greatest missionary of all time!

5.      Yet, he preached the greatest revival meeting of all time – in the capital city of Nineveh, 600,000 pagan, Gentile sinners were converted, and saved from God’s coming judgment!


E.     He not only was well known for being a great preacher, but also…


1.      For being very stubborn, and refusing to do what God had commanded

2.      For having a bad attitude about lost people


F.      And his Book that bears his name is his advice to us today!

G.    What would Jonah say if he were alive today?

H.    I hope that you already know the Biblical story of Jonah…

I.       I am going to just sample a few verses

J.       Let’s see if we can pick up and hear what his advice is about Missions, and world evangelism!


II.    Message


A.    Do Care About the Lost (Jonah 1:1-3a) – care about the wicked, the pagans, those bound in darkness of sin!


Jonah did not care about many things!

1.      He hated the Ninevites – why?


a.       The Ninevites were PAGAN People!


1)      Built massive, pagan temples, Ziggurats – huge pyramids for human and animal sacrifices

2)      Multitude of gods and goddesses – Marduk was the highest ‘god’ – he was cruel

3)      There was no good afterlife in their religion


b.      The Ninevites were Wicked People


1)      When the Ninevites captured a city they slaughtered all the leading citizens. When I say slaughtered, They stretched men out flat on the ground and tied their hands and feet to stakes and literally, with a knife, skinned them alive. They made pyramids out of human skulls to mark the route the conquerors had taken.

2)      They lived as wickedly as Sodom and Gomorrah in their cities and homes

3)      They hated God, and they hated God’s people! Constantly attacking and destroying entire cities and villages throughout Israel


c.       The Ninevites were a Condemned People


1)      Every nation has a period of time that where they seem to grow and expand, but at some point will have to give account to God, and be judged for how they lived

2)      Assyria (Nineveh was the capital) had become the greatest empire of its day

3)      But they were rapidly decaying, and would soon be judged by God

4)      It was at this time, that God wanted to warn them through Jonah of the impending judgment

5)      But Jonah did not care for them at all! WANTED them destroyed by God!

6)      He had no interest in seeing them saved from the wrath to come!


d.      Hey! It doesn’t matter how wicked someone is, care about their SOUL! GOD CARES (John 3:16; 2Peter 3:9 “not willing that any should perish”)


2.      Jonah couldn’t care less about the lives of the sailors that he put at risk by being on their boat, running away from God (1:3-5)!

3.      Jonah didn’t care anymore about the will of God


a.       He used to, when it went along with what HE wanted to do – preaching to his own people – on the job, at church, amongst friends

b.      But not anymore!


4.      Jonah didn’t care even about his own life (1:11,12) He had a death wish – wanted to die!

5.      Why has Christianity become like Jonah?


a.       Where did we lose our compassion for people who are blind to the goodness of God?

b.      What happened to our burden for people headed to a devil’s hell?

c.       According to Psalm 142:4, somebody somewhere is crying out right now “I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.”


6.      Shouldn’t WE care?

7.      I think Jonah would beg us all to CARE! To be concerned about OTHERS! Especially those “who know not God.” 1Cor 15:34 “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”


Do Care About the Lost

B.     Stay Soft (Jonah 1:17, 2:1)


1.      Jonah USED to be soft towards the will of God – when it suited him (2Kings 14)


a.       Jonah was a very well known prophet

b.      Stood up to evil king Jereboam II

c.       And had his prophecies fulfilled all the time

d.      He enjoyed being used of God

e.       But not anymore!


2.      Jonah had learned to fiercely fight God’s will – resisted God’s clear words to him!


a.       He let his own feelings, pride, frustrations, anger, bitterness, and bad attitudes make him hard, and cold towards God’s word, and towards preaching, and towards souls!

b.      He ended up resisting all the pressures from God to do His will

c.       The storm was GOD coming against him (1:5,6) – that sinking ship was GOD taking him down

d.      But Jonah would rather have DIED than do what God told him to do!

e.       He was “fast asleep” just waiting to die – not worried at all


3.      But, do you know what Jonah would say if HE was preaching right now?


a.        Don’t get hard towards God!

b.      Job said it well; Job 9:4 “who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?” You can’t win, fighting the Lord of heaven and earth!


4.      Now, God doesn’t want WIMPS! What He is looking for is someone who is strong in conviction, and strong in commitment, but who immediately softens at the name of Jesus, obeys the commandments, and who passionately cares about what God cares about!

5.      Oh, the best life, the best heart is a soft heart towards the things of God


a.       We all need a broken, contrite, easy to be entreated attitude – easy to be persuaded

b.      Not having to be FORCED (like Jonah had to be)!

c.       Keep your heart soft towards the spiritual needs of this world


1)      Yes the economy is in the toilet

2)      Yes people are starving, and drinking disease filled water all over the world

3)      Yes, wars are raging all over the world in Syria, Africa, Afghanistan, and Burma

4)      But worst than all of that is the hopelessness of billions of souls without a Saviour


d.      Oh that we were soft enough to hear just the whisper of God saying “Who will go for me, and whom shall I send?


Do care about the Lost

Stay Soft Towards God

C.    Don’t Miss the Blessings of Obedience – of just doing what God says to do!


1.      Jonah experienced, without even trying…


a.       The conversion of all those pagan sailors on that ship (1:14-16) – that’s cool!

b.      The miraculous safety of God – in a whale – for 72 hours in stomach digestive juices!

c.       And he experienced THE greatest revival in the entire Bible! (600,000 people) from the king down (Jonah 3:5-10)

d.      Pentecost in Acts 2 doesn’t even compare – ONLY 3,000 were saved that day!


2.      And yet, through it all, Jonah missed it, didn’t enjoy any of it (Jonah 4:1-3)!

3.      Hey! When you do what God says to do, there is a blessing for you!


a.       Even when you don’t WANT to do it, but go ahead and do it anyway, God still will bless, because it is HE doing the work

b.      Start enjoying the miracle of …


1)      Just reading your Bible (Rev 1:3) “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein

2)      Just going Soul-winning (Psalm 126:5) “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

3)      Just being faithful inviting people to church – some will come and get saved!

4)      Just tithing, and giving so that Missionaries can go where you and I cannot go!

5)      Visiting missionaries yourself and helping them start churches

6)      Keeping your family in church, and in their devotions!


4.      It is a shame that too many Christians MISS the blessings of obedience – just doing what God says to do!

5.      I think Jonah would seriously urge us to not miss any of those blessings!


D.    Lastly, Look for the Life of Christ in Everything We Do (1Peter 1:8-11)


1.      Jonah should have been the greatest prophet in the Old Testament. Greater than Elijah, Daniel


a.       But because he only saw the Ninevites as his enemy

b.      Because he only saw troubles as a reason to quit and die

c.       Because the mercy of God on lost sinners was not as important as a small shelter against the sun


2.      Jonah never saw the Son of God at work in his life


a.       Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego got to see the Son of God in their fiery furnace

b.      Daniel got to see the Son of God as the stone cut out without hands, slamming against all the world’s empires

c.       Moses saw the Lamb of God in the Passover

d.      Abraham saw Jesus on that altar when he was about to slay his own son, Isaac

e.       But Jonah saw nothing of Jesus! Even though He was at work the whole time


3.      Today, if Jonah were right here before you, he would hang his head in shame and say, “I should have been looking! I should have seen Jesus in everything that was happening in my life!”


a.       The sacrifice of one man, to save the life of those sailors – just like Jesus

b.      The burial for 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the whale – like Jesus

c.       The resurrection of Christ was seen, as Jonah was vomited out of that whale back onto dry ground – alive and kicking

d.      The results of preaching including the conversion of multitudes of pagan Gentiles , like you and me!


4.      Jonah’s life philosophy used to be “Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3)

5.      What it should have been is (Php 1:20) “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”


III.    Conclusion


A.    Today, Jonah is well known as the Rebellious Prophet, the Bad Attitude Baptist, the Runaway Prophet, the Bad Luck Preacher, and the Disobedient Prophet…

B.     Jonah could have gone down in history as the greatest prophet of all time!

C.     He would have been known as the second greatest Missionary of all time, next to Jesus Christ!

D.    But he let his own feelings, his pride, frustrations, anger, bitterness, and bad attitudes stop him from earning such honour!

E.     What is stopping YOU from being a great soul-winner?


1.      If only WE cared – had a burden / passionate compassion for the lost world around us that is under the soon coming wrath of God!

2.      If only WE just obeyed God’s command to go, give, and pray for souls!

3.      And, if only we saw our Lord Jesus in what we are called to do!


a.       Not looking anymore at the obstacles, or the problems, or the costs, or the failures

b.      But always looking unto Jesus!

c.       Following His lead


F.      I wonder, what Jonah’s are in the audience today, who need to realise all this and make the right choices about going, and giving, and praying!

G.    Wouldn’t it be nice to not have many regrets as a Christian?

H.    I wonder if there are any Jonah’s in here today who are running from God in other ways too? Just neglecting to get saved, neglecting their Bible, neglecting getting baptized, neglecting to give… whatever God is asking