Written and preached by David P. Nolte

JONAH 1:1-17

A man and his wife were figuring how much money they could save by putting in a garden. The wife said, "With this garden we'll be able to save over $300.00 by not purchasing canned vegetables." The husband said, "Yes, and after buying this new tiller, these garden tools and all these expensive fertilizers, it only cost us $1500.00 to do it!" That seems to be a pretty non-profit way to save money! A boy had a paper route. He got up at 4:00 every morning to deliver his papers before school. Finally the month came to an end and he glumly discovered that he was $64.00 in the hole. Excessive draws, failure to watch his paper count and people not paying him put him in arrears. That's a pretty non-profit way to run a business. How frustrated that husband was; how disappointed that paper boy was. But God must have some frustrations and disappointments, too, because of some non-profit workers. Jonah was one of them. Jonah - commissioned by God to preach to Nineveh wanted no part of it. He fled to Joppa, making himself, for the moment at least, a non-profit prophet. God had a job for him to do, but he didn't obey. As you read this chapter notice that everything in it obeys God: the storm, the sailors, the fish. Everyone and everything - except Jonah. Look back at the text with me:

    1. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. This gentile, pagan nation was wicked to the max. They were violent, cruel, oppressive and were, significantly, an arch enemy of Israel. Little wonder Jonah didn't want to go there!
    2. God, however, saw the grossness of the sin and immorality and violence of that great city. It didn't escape His notice. The awful sight rose up before Him like an ugly gray cloud. Every sin of every nation and person still rises up before Him. The sins of earth are an awful sight in heaven. We may deceive others, we may fool ourselves, but there is no hiding things from God:
      1. Psalms 139:1-4 (NIV) "O LORD, You have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD."
      2. Proverbs 15:3 (NIV) "The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good."
      3. Hebrews 4:13 (NIV) "Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account."
    3. You can't hide things from God! When a person peels an onion, the odor is obvious; when you run over a skunk the smell is obvious; when you forget to use your Dial soap, something becomes obvious - and when we indulge in sin, it is obvious to Him Who beholds all things. He sees the sins of our world and sends us with the Gospel.
    4. Talk about being observed without knowing it. A man parked his Mercedes and a thug came along, and thinking nobody saw him, decided to steal it. A girl, looking out a second story window, saw what was happening and called out, "God is watching you!" The thug stopped, looked around and slunk away, looking skyward. God is watching the immorality, the corruption, the infidelity, the vices of this world - and He's sending His workers with His word - let's not be like Jonah and prove unprofitable.
    1. God called, Jonah reacted promptly and decisively: "No way! I don't think so! I want no part of it!" Then he ran. Notice
      1. He went down to Joppa. Running from God is always a downhill proposition. It is always degrading to disobey.
      2. He paid his fare. There is always a price attached to fleeing God's will. And guess who pays it!
      3. He became a non-profit prophet. There is no good produced when we forsake the Lord and His will for us.
    2. There is a lesson we ought to learn - and we will learn, perhaps the hard way: You cannot run from God! David learned that and wrote, Psalms 139:7-10 (NIV) "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast."
    3. God may be laying His hand on you for some particular service. He might be calling you to go to a neighbor or friend or family member. Don't be like Jonah and be non-profit. Don't try the absurdity of running from God.
    4. Trying to run from God is like a man who was camping in a national park when he was awakened by a bear trying to break into his ice chest. The man yelled at the bear, scaring it away and waking up all the other campers. The man muttered and fumed while he tore down his campsite. A camper asked, grouchily, "What are you doing? I's 4:00 in the morning!" He replied, "I'm getting away from these bears!" He moved about half mile away and pitched his tent again. Guess he thought that short move put him out of the way of bears. Jonah must have thought fleeing to Joppa would put him out of God's way, too. Jonah, a non-profit prophet.
    1. God sent a storm to thwart Jonah's absurd flight, to waken him, to frighten him, to get him out of the boat, into the fish, back onto dry land and into His will. He would never have been in storm or the belly of that fish if he'd been in the center of God's will. But Jonah suffered the consequences of disobedience. What an awesome plight.
    2. There are always consequences to our choices and actions. And we don't get to determine what those consequences are!
    3. Consequences to sin are always unpleasant ones. There may be pain, or shame or deep regret. When we wantonly disobey, God will send trials. He is not as interested in our comfort as He is in our character; He's not as concerned about our serenity as He is about our spiritual safety. So, when we sin, consequences come
      1. To humble us
      2. To make us realize our need of Him
      3. To mature and develop us
      4. To test and prove us
      5. To chasten and correct us
    4. A man was called by God to go to the mission field. He planned to go, he really did, but became engaged in business and it was lucrative. His plans for the mission field were tabled and then cancelled as he prospered. But his business failed, his marriage fell apart and his children were alienated. Years later, in sad retrospect, he said, "Down in my heart is a great void. My life has been a failure - both from the standpoint of the world, and from God's point of view." What an awesome plight. What a telling soliloquy to a spiritually non-profit life.
Jonah was a non profit-prophet. God called, he ran. But is there no comfort here? Is there no hope for Jonah? Is it "One strike and you're out!"? Is it "You had your chance and blew it!"? Jonah has disobeyed; he has run away; he has been cast into the sea. But look at verse 17 "But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights." In the midst of what would be certain doom, God delivered him. True, it was an unrequested stay in the Halibut Hilton - but it was rescue! There is hope for the Jonahs of this world. God's will may be resisted, His voice unheeded; Consequences come. Storms upset us. We are non-profit in the scheme of God. But - God is not finished with us. God has invested in your rescue. God still has a plan for your life. God still calls you to "go to Ninveh!" What matters today is that you let God have the rest of your life. What matters is that today you hear and heed His summons to go where He sends. Before you can go, you must first come. Come to Jesus today; come for salvation; come for forgiveness; come for eternal life. And then commit yourself to go - freely, willingly, and unconditionally wherever He may send.

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