Sunday, 06 February 2000 00:00

The Gospel According to Jonah

Jonah 1:11-17 (KJV)

Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? For the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, has done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

The word gospel literally means "good spell" or "good news." We, of course, are very familiar with the gospel in the New Testament, but we unfortunately overlook many beautiful gospel pictures in the Old Testament. Our text is a wonderful foreshadowing of the good news of Christ.

  1. The sailors can be compared to sinners...
    These merchantmen picture you and me without a relationship with God. Look at their lives.
    1. They are caught in the hands of an angry God...
      The waves are evidence of God's anger. The wind is a sign of His wrath. This storm is a clear indication of God's anger toward sin. This is not a pleasant subject to discuss. Psalm 7:11: "God is angry with the wicked every day." Jeremiah 10:10: "At God's wrath the earth will tremble." Romans 1:18: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven..."
    2. They try to escape God's anger by their own methods...
      "The mariners cried every man unto his god" (1:5). Then they said, "What shall we do?" (1:11). "(But) the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not" (1:13).
      1. The sailors first tried religion.
      2. They questioned.
      3. Then they turned to self.
    3. They finally accepted the only answer, which seemed ludicrous...
      To these sailors it appeared wicked to take another man's life. They resisted at first the notion that the storm would be abated by an "innocent" person being thrown overboard. The gospel of Jesus Christ to many is "foolishness" or "tasteless." But the death of Jesus Christ for the abatement of God's anger directed toward sinners is power unto salvation.
  2. Jonah can be compared to Jesus...
    Just as the actions of Jonah brought salvation to the sailors, so too the work of Jesus Christ, and the act of putting Him to death on the cross brings salvation to sinners. Jesus truly saves.
    1. They both gave their lives willingly...
      Jonah volunteered himself up on behalf of the sailors just as Christ said, "No man takes my life, I lay it down willingly" (John 10:18). However, it was not suicide. Jonah was thrown overboard, and with Christ "with wicked hands ye did crucify..." (Acts 2:23).
    2. They both gave their lives with others in mind...
      Jonah tells the sailors in verse 12 that "it is my fault this storm has come upon you." The suggestion to be thrown overboard was given to calm the sea on their behalf. Though Christ died not for His own sin (He knew no sin), the death He died was for others. He became sin for us. He acted as our substitute that God's wrath be calmed.
    3. They both gave their lives effectually...
      "The raging sea grew calm" (NIV v.15). When Jesus died God's wrath was abated.
  3. The Ship can be compared to Salvation...
    Those on the ship (the sailors) were saved from the storm. Just as Noah and his family were saved from the flood, so too, all those who are in Christ are saved from the wrath of God. Salvation is not multiple ways to the same God, but one way to the only God of the universe. Are you in Christ? Do you trust Him for the forgiveness of your sins? Do you know Him?

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