Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Jonah: A Few Introductory Thoughts

* I recently began a sermon series though the book of Jonah.  In our church bulletin I posted the following as an introduction.

Today we begin a sermon series through the book of Jonah.  Why is it profitable to study this small book which details events from over 2,800 years ago?  Here are a few reasons why looking at Jonah is important and what I hope we will see over the next six weeks.

First, the book of Jonah is Scripture and is therefore “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3.16-17)  

Second, Jesus taught his disciples that the entirety of the Old Testament testified about him.  Luke 24.27 states: “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, he explained to them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.”  If we rightly read and understand Jonah we will see something of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Third, the story of Jonah can be deceptively familiar.  We think we know the story because we learned it as children.  In fact, we can almost begin to think of it as a “childish” story if we are not careful.  The book of Jonah is full of rich and subtle doctrine.  The book ends with a challenge to the reader.  I’m hopeful of unpacking some of the rich teaching and texture of the book for us.

Fourth, the book of Jonah has been attacked at a number of points.  Today’s sermon will look at some of these challenges and defend the historicity of the account.  Our God acts in history and reveals himself in concrete, historical revelation.  By examining some of these details our faith and confidence in God’s word should be strengthened.

Fifth, I want us to capture the really big message of Jonah—and it’s not about the fish!  For too long we have come to exclusively link Jonah with the fish.  In reality the fish is mentioned only three times in an incidental manner.  The really big character in the book of Jonah is God himself!  When we properly understand the book of Jonah we will see the God of sovereign compassion.  This vision of God will not allow us to remain as we are.  Jonah calls us to marvel at his sovereignty and praise him for his grace.  It also challenges us to align ourselves—our desires, ministries, and dreams—with God’s sovereign and compassionate purposes.

Jonah is a small book about a great God!  May God show us his glory and the glory of his Son, Jesus Christ through this book.