Eager to Forgive (Jonah)

Scripture: Jonah 2:9
Date: 05/11/2013 
Lesson: 6
"The book of Jonah reveals, among other things, that God is more willing to forgive others than we often are."
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Welcome to Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist church in Sacramento, California. It is by no accident at all that you have joined us to study God's Word together. A special welcome to those of you who are joining us in a study - live on the internet - what a blessing it is to be able to stream all over the world and we can study together as one big happy family. Another welcome to those of you that are joining us through radio, television, however you're joining us - and also to those of you that are joining us right here to study in this very room. Welcome.

Let's sing together as we do every week. Pull out your hymnals at home or wherever you are - hymn #614 - 'sound the battle cry' - we're going to sing the first and the second verse of this one. And this comes as a request from Christina in Arizona, lerdon in the bahamas, deborah and denise in California, cedric in Canada, kaliah in england, dave in Indiana, larissa in new zealand, John in Oklahoma, jennifer in the Philippines - and then I also have a couple notes here - nanette from norway says, 'I love so much this wonderful song. I was in dubai in 2003 - very lonely, longing to go to church but when I opened the tv and watched central study hour, they sing this song. I cried of happiness and feel the presence of our Heavenly Father.

' And also henry in saudi arabia says, 'thank you for the message of the Lord reach here in saudi arabia - even though Bibles are not allowed here. Thanks for 3abn family and the message reaches saudi arabia.' Amen. We are reaching homes all over the world - that - my grandparents never even dreamed that could be touched and praise the Lord, he's wrapping up his work and we're about to go home - and until then we'll be sounding the battle cry - the first and second verse - hymn #614. I remember singing that when I was a little girl. It was popular when I was in pathfinders and we would March around and carry our banners and I just had that image as we were singing - it's like, that was a long time ago and I'm just still waiting for the Lord to come.

He is coming soon. Amen. If you have a special request that you'd like to sing with us on a coming study, I invite you to go to our website at 'saccentral.org' it's very simple, just click on the 'contact us' link and you can request any hymn in our hymnal and we'd love to sing that with you no matter where you're from all over the planet. As you can see, we get requests from everywhere. People join in every time that we have a presentation.

We are studying God's Word together, finding out the truth and drawing closer to him. Our next hymn is 'Day is Dying in the West' - hymn #51. This comes as a request from Irene in Australia, Pedro in Barbados, Margaret in Canada, Emily in Florida, Catherine in Hawaii, Dave in Indiana, Joyce in Kenya, Immanuel in Malaysia, Andrew in Massachusetts, Vern, Sandy, Jamie, Jenny, and Jared in North Carolina, Hilda and Eddie in Switzerland, and David in Thailand. Hymn #51 and we're going to do the first, the second and the fourth verse. Let's pray.

Lord, we know that you are all over - your spirit is all over this planet and it is still in control. It may not seem like it to us sometimes but, lord, you've promised us in Your Word that you are going to come and you are going to right every wrong and you are going to dry every tear and you are going to save us because you love us and we are so grateful, today, that we can come before you, we can kneel before you, we can sing to you, and that we can honor you because you are our Savior and our lord. So lord, we give you our hearts now, just open them - open our ears, our hearts - as pastor doug gives us Your Word - that we can be closer to you and we can be Jesus to those around us and that we can show others who you are and your great love and we can draw others and we can wrap this planet up and go home with you. We want nothing more. So lord, just touch us, fill us with your spirit.

Fill Pastor Doug - and lord, just come soon. We pray these things in your precious name, Jesus. Amen. Our study today will be brought to us by Pastor Doug Batchelor, senior pastor here at Sacramento central. Thank you very much.

Are we on? Sort of, huh? You can hear me. Welcome friends, welcome to central church. If any of you are visiting today, I want to welcome those who are watching on the satellite or cable - wherever you happen to be watching - some on the internet around the world and it's always very inspiring when we hear The Song requests that come in from just every corner of the globe. It just reminds us that people are out there listening. It was fun when Karen and I and nathan were in the Philippines a few weeks ago.

A number of people came up and said, 'oh yeah, we study Sabbath school with you.' And so we've got a big class out there and it's good to just recognize that as we begin. Today's lesson I'm really excited about. We're going to talk about Jonah. And I'm excited about that because that has been my favorite minor prophet book. So much so, I wrote a book about it and if you'd like this, this is our free offer.

If you'd like a copy it's called 'the sign of Jonah' and you can just call the number that you see on the screen and if you're listening on the radio that's 866-study-more - -788-3966 - ask for offer #149 and we'll send you 'the sign of Jonah'. I'll tell you why I think this is very important in just a moment - oh, you know, something else just popped into my mind - a lot of people tell us they watch our program in preparation for their own class - many are teachers - and they say, 'you know, we wish we could look at the study book but by the time it's mailed to us, the class is over.' You can read this online for free. Just go to 'amazingfacts.org' and you can see whatever notes I've got in here on 'amazingfacts.org' and you surf around there you'll find our free booklets and you can read it in a pdf file there. Okay, with that we're going to get into our lesson on Jonah and the lesson is titled 'eager to forgive' - 'eager to forgive' and we have a memory verse. I'm going to get this out of - get my notes out of my Bible here.

Memory verse is Jonah chapter 2, verse 9 and I'm going to read it from the new king James version, if that's okay with you. Jonah chapter 2, verse 9, and hopefully you can say it along with me. Are you ready? "But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord." Those words are the deepest prayer of praise in the Bible. Do you know why it's the deepest prayer of praise in the Bible? Because he prayed it at the bottom of the mountains.

You don't get any deeper than that. He prayed that prayer when he was in the digestive system of a whale down in the bottom of the mountains - by his own testimony that's where he was. Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Jonah - and you'll find the book of Jonah - it's there grouped with the minor prophets and it's after Obadiah and before the book of Amos, if I remember correctly, and so - oh, I think I may have got that wrong - it's before the book of Micah - sorry - yeah, I knew I had that wrong. Jonah chapter 1 - I'm going to read through this with you and just - we're going to look at a lot of lessons. Now our challenge is we need to cover the whole book of Jonah in one study today.

You know, for some of the books they gave two lessons, Jonah should have had four lessons because there's so much in here and so - I'm going to hasten through. One thing I want you to know is this is a very important study for us because Jesus referred to it. Matter of fact, don't lose your place in Jonah, but turn to Matthew chapter 12. Matthew 12, verse 39 - I want to show you something. Matter of fact I'm going to have someone read one of these verses for me.

Who's got Luke - we gave out some verses - Luke 11:29 - did someone get that one? Okay. Jolyne, you'll have that in just a minute. First let's read what we find in Matthew 12:39, "but he" - Jesus - "answered and said to them, 'an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.'" Alright, for one thing, did Jesus believe Jonah was real? Some people think Jonah's just a fable in the Bible but Jesus doesn't talk about it that way, so that ought to settle it for you. And he says there is a sign of Jonah - 'no sign will be given to this generation but the sign of the prophet Jonah' - "for as Jonah was three days and three nights" - note that - "in the belly of the great fish, so will The Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of nineveh" - that's where Jonah went to preach - "will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.

" - So Jesus says, 'Jonah, Jonah, Jonah, Jonah' - he believed Jonah was real. Now, not only does Jesus talk about the sign of Jonah in Matthew 12, you go to Matthew , verse 4 he says it again. Matthew 16:4, "a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." Only one sign would be given to that generation - the sign of who? Jonah. So we need to know something about Jonah to know what Jesus said is that sign. Okay, go ahead jolyne, read Luke :29 and 30.

"And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, he began to say, 'this is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For as Jonah became a sign to the ninevites, so also The Son of man will be to this generation.'" Now that's important because there are a lot of people who fixate on what Jesus says in Matthew 12, regarding the three days and three nights. Have you run into people that get troubled over that and they try to figure out was it a Wednesday crucifixion and how does that fit - we'll get to that in just a minute. I want you to notice, in Luke, he doesn't mention the three days and three nights.

In Matthew 16 - doesn't say three days, three nights. Matter of fact, Luke says, 'as Jonah was a sign to the ninevites' - so the sign doesn't even happen until Jonah is regurgitated and he's already in nineveh - that's when the sign happens. So we've got to be careful not to fixate on the time period but we'll address that in just a minute. Alright, to the book of Jonah - chapter 1, verse 1 - "now the word of the Lord came to Jonah" - the word 'Jonah' means dove - "The Son of amittai," - Jonah's a real character, not only because Jesus refers to him, but if you read in 2 Kings 14:25 it talks about another prophecy that Jonah made and he lived during the time of the Kings there - "saying, 'arise, go to nineveh, that great city,'" - nineveh was one of the biggest cities in the middle east during that time - "'and cry out'" - or prophecy - "'against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.'" Now when God says the wickedness of a nation has come up before him - do you remember when God said that the cry of sodom had come up before him? What happened to sodom? They didn't last very long. Lot was the prophet in sodom and gomorrah to be a testimony to them, but they didn't have a prophet to warn them in nineveh so God said, 'look, I love people.

I want to save people.' - That's what this lesson is all about - 'I'm going to send a prophet to give them a warning.' So he tells Jonah 'arise and go. Prophecy to them. Their wickedness has come up before me. Judgment is about to come.' But Jonah doesn't want to go. Now, can you understand why? Syria and nineveh are in roughly the same territory.

Part of it, I guess, would be in ancient iraq right now. How are the modern relationships between the arabs that live there and the Israelites today? Not too good. They haven't been very good for a long, long time. Here you are 500 years before Jesus and they were bad then too. You remember naaman the syrian came to Israel asking for healing and the King said, 'oh, he's just starting trouble.

They just want a war.' And it was the syrians that raided the coasts of Israel and stole away that little girl that worked - they were always warring with each other and you can hear about ben hadad, the king of syria - and they were just always going at it with each other. So to send a Jewish prophet into the capital of syria and tell them how bad they are and God's going to burn them up wouldn't go over well - can you understand that? So Jonah doesn't want to go. And, for one thing, he figures, 'look, if their judgment is looming and I go and I preach to them, they'll repent and they won't be destroyed and I'd just as soon they do get destroyed because of all the grief they've caused Israel. So I don't want to go. For two reasons: 1) it's not going to be popular - I might be killed and 2) if I don't go, maybe he'll just burn them up and we won't have this problem anymore.

' And so - now, you know, Jesus tells us love our enemies, but in the old testament you didn't hear as much of that. I know you do find the verse 'love your enemies' even in the Bible - in the old testament, but they didn't practice it. I mean, you can read Psalms where David talks about, you know, vengeance on his enemies, and they thought that was right. And in your heart, if you'd be honest, you've probably prayed those prayers too - or at least thought those thoughts. Come on now, have you ever had somebody who was really unkind or did something really mean to you and you thought to yourself, 'you know, if lightning should happen to strike their house' - that you probably wouldn't be very sorry.

So Jonah's a prophet - he's a child of God - he had the Spirit of God, but he also had that carnal nature and he thought, 'no, I don't want to do that.' So "Jonah arose to flee to tarshish from the presence of the Lord." Now, I've got a map I'll show you in a minute, but tarshish isn't on this map - now I wish I'd given you two. Picture the mediterranean - do you have a little picture of the mediterranean in your mind right now? You know, roughly - you go past that boot that looks like italy - and you go to the far end and you've got that big knob that's spain and then, eventually you go through the gates of hercules and you're off in the atlantic - that little narrow channel there - that little pinpoint where the gates of hercules are was the farthest point in the mediterranean and they figured once you went past that you went out into dragon country. There was nothing else out there - you'd sail off the end of the earth. The farthest seaport you could go to was tarshish and, you've heard me say before, that was my mother's maiden name because she was Jewish it was Ruth tarshis - and, you know, it was as far as you could go. So, like, in America we say, 'oh, they went all the way to timbuktu, because we actually had marines that were once based in timbuktu and they said if you were at timbuktu, you could not be at any more remote a place - and so, when you thought about the most remote place you could go, they would say, 'oh, he went all the way to timbuktu.

' You ever heard that expression? Back in Bible times they said, 'he went to tarshish.' Because it was the end - it was the last port before you sailed off the end of the earth. So he wanted to go as far as he could go from the Lord. By the way, not only as far as he could go - as far as he could go in the opposite direction. God told him to go east - he went west. Now Jonah's probably thinking to himself, 'maybe I should be doing what God tells me to do but, you know, the Lord knows I really don't want to and, after all, he gives us the desires of our heart and I'll just put a fleece out before the Lord.

If I get down to joppa and when I get to joppa, if it turns out there's a boat that's sailing my direction, then maybe it'll be God's will.' So lo and behold he gets to joppa and there's a boat and it's got - he says, 'well, this must - well, lord, I'm not sure if this is your will but I tell you what, I'll throw out another fleece. If they've got an empty spot on the ship - if they've got room for one more passenger, it must be your will.' What do you know? They say they've got - and he said, 'oh, I don't know if I've got the fare. Lord, I'll put one more fleece before you. If I happen to have enough money to buy a ticket and they're going my direction, I'll know that this is okay with you - that I go the opposite direction.' Sure enough, he checks around in his pocket - he's got just enough for a ticket. You know, people start to rationalize like that to themselves when they're not doing God's will - you can talk yourself into thinking anything.

I've seen people that were ready to leave a good husband or a good wife because they found somebody else and they start to look for signs that God's going to somehow bless their disobeying God and it's amazing to me all the signs they manage to find. Was it God's will for him to run? But look - how providential - he found a boat with extra room and he had the money and when he took off it was fair sailing. It must be God's will. You know what that tells me? There are a lot of people out there - and Jonah was a church member, don't forget that - who are not doing God's will but they've convinced themselves it's okay because things seem to be going alright. You can be on your way to destruction and the boat could be rocking peacefully sending you to sleep and it doesn't mean you're in God's will.

It might seem like all the traffic lights change right on time for you while you're running from God and you must think, 'well, the Lord's blessing' - and you know you're disobeying God. Just because things may seem to be going okay for awhile doesn't mean you're necessarily in the will of God. By the way, somebody look up for me, please, Matthew 7:21 - and who has that? First let's find out - right up here. Okay pancho? Yeah, please. So he arose to flee from tarshish - from the presence of the Lord - and he went to joppa, "and found a ship going to tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

" One more thing I've got to tell you about this - what town did he go to? Joppa - no, first he went to joppa, right? You know, he launches from joppa because he doesn't want to talk to the gentiles - the syrians were the gentiles - 800 years later what town does God send Peter to to first preach to the gentiles? Where was cornelius? Joppa. Isn't that interesting? Jonah didn't realize - when he left the port that day he thought he was running from the gentiles - where does he end up? Does he ever make it back to joppa or does he go from joppa and end up at the gentiles? I think that's interesting. Okay, go ahead, read for us Matthew 7:21. Matthew 7:21, "not everyone who says to me, 'lord, lord,' shall enter the Kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven." Was Jonah a prophet of God? Did he know the name of God? We'll be talking about that in our message later today. So Jonah knew how to say, 'lord, lord' but was he doing the will of God? Was he at risk of perishing? So Jesus said, 'there's people that are members of the church that are not doing my will.

' And the bottom line is: are we doing the will of God? Now, you know what is amazing to me? It's always amazing to me, how could lucifer think you could fight God? I mean, if anybody should know that you can't fight and beat God, you would think it would be one of the greatest of the creations would be wise enough to know that. But sin will make you stupid. It does. Wouldn't a prophet of God know that you can't hide from God? Where does - you know, right after this bombing happened in boston, knowing how many people have cameras on their phones and how many stores have cameras and there are just cameras everywhere - and I used to live in boston - and I thought, 'somebody's going to have this character - these characters - on camera. It's just a matter of time.

' And sure enough - does God have cameras everywhere? Someone look up for me Jeremiah :24 - who has that one? Right over here. Hold your hand up so that he can see you with the microphone - hold your hand up there - there you go. And while they're getting ready for that, I'm going to read psalm 139, verses 7 through 10 - psalm 139:7-10, "where can I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?" - What did Jesus say? 'I will be with you always' - "where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there;" - of course no one questions that but go to the opposite direction - "if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me," - and, by the way, this was written before Jonah ran from God. Did Jonah know this psalm? - He did 'even if I go to the uttermost parts of the sea you're there' - "if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me." You can't run from God. Go ahead, please read for us Jeremiah 23, verse 24.

Jeremiah 23:24, "'can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?' Says the Lord; 'do I not fill heaven and earth?' Says the Lord." And then you know there's - thank you - there's that prophecy of Ezekiel where he says, 'son of man, dig through the wall and look and see what they do in secret.' And doesn't Jesus say, 'those things that are done in secret will be proclaimed from the housetop'? There's no secrecy from God. You can't hide from God. But - yet Jonah, he runs from God - and you notice, the word of God says to Jonah, 'arise' - that's a levitating word - but Jonah doesn't listen and he goes down - that's a descending word. And he not only goes down when he hears the Word of God, it says he goes down to joppa, he goes down to the ship, he goes down in the lowest parts of the ship and he figures, 'you know, seems like the boat's gently rocking' - and the breeze is carrying them to their destination and it's - you know, running from God is tiring so he sleeps and he - he's getting ready to go down one more time, right? Jonah goes down, down, down - Word of God says 'arise' - he doesn't listen to the word of God he goes down, down, down. And if you listen to the word of God it will lift you - you run from God, you're going to go down.

They say that when a person is drowning - they used to have this old wives' tale that says, you know, they'll be bobbing to the surface - when they go down the third time they're not coming up. Have you heard that? That if someone can't swim or they're drowning or they get a cramp out in the water, they flail for help - 'help! Help!' - Third time, 'help!' They're not coming back up. I don't know if someone actually did a survey to come up with that but it's probably not very scientific. Jonah's going to be going down. And it says that he goes down into the lowest parts of the ship.

Well, here he is sleeping and while he's sleeping a storm begins to brew and it must come up very suddenly. You know, the Lord loves us - and sometimes when we're on the road to destruction he will try to wake us up with trouble. "But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea" - notice the word 'great' - "and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up." Now, this is no small storm. It's so serious it says "the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his God, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.

" Now here he is, asleep, and everyone up above - they are throwing the cargo overboard, they are praying to God - or the Gods, I should say - these are the pagan sailors and, you know, they sail all around. They're probably phoenicians because they kind of operated - they owned the sailing industry back during that time. They've actually found phoenician boats that have sunk during storms with their cargo intact. Some of you have heard of dr. Robert ballard who found the titanic - he's also researched for a lot of other missing ships and in searching for another particular ship, they found an ancient phoenician vessel - dating back to the time of Jonah - they weren't even looking for and it was filled of all the amphoras and jars of wine and oil and the different cargo that they were carrying from port to port.

These sailors, knowing that their cargo was heavy and that life is more - life is worth more than your stuff - 'what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?' - And Jesus said, 'a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.' They said, 'what good is this stuff if we die?' They started to toss all of the valuable cargo overboard to lighten - to buoy the ship - because they can - it says the ship's about to be broken up. As the ship crests now, on the top of one wave, and then it rocks and teeters - they can hear it creaking - and then it dashes down - it groans and creaks again as it goes through the trough of the wave and the wind is blowing and twisting - their ships were not built as well today as - back then as they are today - and this whole ship is twisting and groaning and creaking and it's about to explode into smithereens and they're all praying to their Gods - and the captain, he goes down below the deck and he's looking for anything else worthless he can throw overboard. And what he finds is - a worthless prophet. A prophet that will not prophecy - how much good it is worth? And he goes down there and he's just amazed - and you know what he says? And Jonah was fast asleep - by the way, who on that boat knows the Lord the best? Who on that boat has the best Bible knowledge? Jonah. Who on that boat is at least certainly a church member? How many on the boat are praying? All the pagans except who? Who is sleeping on his way to destruction? Isn't that interesting? What is the condition of the church just before Jesus comes back? How many of those ten virgins - what percentage are asleep? A hundred percent are asleep when the bridegroom - remember, they're all asleep - fifty percent wake up and they've got extra oil - the other fifty - but they're all asleep.

Jonah's sleeping as he's about to perish and you wonder how many out there in the church they know the truth. Who should be praying for those sailors about to perish? He's surrounded by lost, about to perish, and he's sleeping. Could that describe the church today? Jonah - don't forget, as we look at the story of Jonah - even the jews in Christ's day believed the story of Jonah was a message to the Jewish nation. His whole experience was an analogy to the Jewish nation. Here he is, the prophet of God, he's been given a message to go preach to the gentiles and, instead, he says, 'I don't want to tell them.

I'm just going to keep it to myself.' And everyone is perishing around him, yet he's got the truth. He's the prophet of God. He was failing to do his job and it's like the Jewish nation. They were failing. They were like that rich man clothed in purple feasting while the beggar laid at the gate desiring the crumbs that fell from their table and - could that also describe the church today? When we know the truth - we know Jesus - and we're happy to get together and have our socials, but we don't really take it to the lost.

And what will it take to wake up Jonah? A storm. What's it going to take to wake up the church? A storm. Something's going to have to come along and wake us up. Then the captain comes and he says - he's amazed - he's going down there with some lamp and he's looking around for any kind of ballast or something to throw overboard and he's amazed and he says, "what do you mean?" There's indignation - amazement in his voice - "what do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; that perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish." Okay, make a note - underline, underscore, highlight - 'no sign will be given but the sign of Jonah.' Jesus said that he is like Jonah. Is there a story in the new testament where Jesus is asleep in the lowest part of a boat during a storm and they wake him up and they say, 'master, carest thou not that we perish?' Right there is something that ought to at least capture your attention.

They said the same words, 'master' - in amazement - he's asleep in the lowest part of the boat - everyone's awake, throwing everything overboard, bailing the boat and Jesus is asleep. 'No sign will be given but the sign of Jonah.' Is Jonah the vehicle to the sailors ultimately finding peace? When they do something with Jonah they find peace. When the disciples wake up Jesus did they find peace? They have to offer Jonah in order for them to get peace. We need to offer Jesus if we want peace. Do you see the analogy there? So there is just great symbolism in this story.

So he wakes him - now, I don't have time to read everything because I'm looking at a clock and we still have three chapters to go, but they ask him a bunch of questions and they say in verse 8, "for whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?" They ask him, actually, seven questions here. Finally they say, "what shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?" 'How can we do something to you that we might have peace?' And he says, 'you must throw me overboard.' I thought, 'why didn't he just say, 'well guys, I'm the trouble. I know that.'' They cast lots - by the way did they cast lots around the cross of Jesus? They cast lots and the lot falls on Jonah and he says, 'I know it's my fault. I worship the living God who made the land and the sea. You need to throw me overboard.

' I thought, 'well, Jonah, why don't you walk the plank yourself? Why don't you just dive overboard? Why do they have to offer you?' Do we have to take responsibility for the death of Jesus? Don't we have to make it personal? We can't just say, 'well, he died for the sins of the world.' We need to really accept culpability - 'he died for my sins.' It says 'when you make his soul an offering for your sin' - in Isaiah 53 - we need to take him up - so to speak. They didn't want to do it. They rowed hard to bring the ship to land. You know, during one storm - the disciples were in a wind storm and they rowed hard to bring the ship to land and that's when they saw Jesus walking on the water - so there's a second story of Jesus on the sea that's like Jonah. They're rowing hard to bring the ship to land - the disciples rowed hard and out in the middle of the sea Jesus came walking to him.

It's kind of interesting because this story is opposite - this story they invite Jesus into the boat and suddenly they're at their destination. Christ becomes the solution in both stories. And then, finally, they realize they're not going to be able to save themselves and they pray - verse 14 - I'm in Jonah chapter 1, verse 14, "therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, 'we pray, o lord, please do not let us perish for this man's life,'" - there you've got that word 'perish' - "'and do not charge us with innocent blood; for you, o lord, have done as it pleased you.'" Isaiah 53 - it says, 'it pleased him to be bruised for our sake' - he was pleased to bruise him for our sake. And it said, 'innocent blood' - did pilate say, 'I will not be found guilty of this man's blood. I am innocent of this man's blood'? Not only was there a casting of lots - here you've got someone saying, 'we don't want to be charged with innocent blood.

' They called it innocent blood and then they threw him overboard. These are the same words that you find - the story of Jonah is an analogy of Christ. It says they "threw him into the sea" - verse 15 - "and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows." They start out praying to their Gods - small g - and then after Jonah tells them about his God that sent the storm, then they make vows to Jonah's God. And so, through Jonah, these gentiles on the boat convert to jehovah.

And it's through Christ the gentiles come - isn't that right? It's through Christ the gentiles come to jehovah. "Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights." Oh, you know, this is - this is a place I probably ought to park and explain this. There has been a lot of confusion among Christians - when they read the statement that Jesus makes in Matthew chapter 12 - as Jonah was in the belly of the whale or the great fish. The word can be translated either way.

It didn't have to be a mammal. It says, 'great sea creature' - whatever it was - whether it was a whale or whether it was some big grouper. We don't know exactly what kind of fish it was and I don't think it matters. The Bible says 'the Lord prepared a fish' and that means the Lord could have made one big old freaky fish that was big enough to swallow him. I have no problem believing God could have done it.

It could have been - now a baleen whale will not swallow a man. They eat plankton. But a sperm whale has teeth. They eat squid. They will swallow a man and many men have been killed by sperm whales.

There's one man, his name is James bartley - his name was James bartley. They called him a modern Jonah and he was on a ship called 'the star of the east' back in the 1800s that was capsized. The little whaling boats that were going out - one of them was capsized by a whale. Two of the sailors disappeared. When they were butchering that whale - they never found - they assumed both of them died.

When they were butchering that whale they finally got to the stomach - and this was after 24 hours by the time they got the thing alongside and they let one night pass and they actually butchered the whales back then, they didn't load the whale on the boat, they did it on the side of the ship and when they rolled the thing over to cut away the blubber and they saw the stomach, there was something still moving inside. They thought it was a squid. They opened it up and out slithered James bartley and he was still alive. And they cleaned him up and put him in the captain's quarters and eventually he revived and he told his experience. And this is - this is recorded pretty clearly in history.

You can read it for yourself. So the idea of a man being swallowed by a whale and surviving - James bartley was only there about 20 hours. I know it says Jonah - three days and three nights - it can happen. He was able to breathe in there. I believe it.

He was alive, it may have been a very big whale and - or like I said, there's other fish - and, you know, what fish do is they actually continue to change the air in their stomachs because they use it as ballast for going up and down and so a man could breathe in there and - three days and three nights. Now if Jesus died - let's suppose the three days and three nights represent the tomb. If Jesus died on what day of the week? Friday - we call it 'good Friday' - 'preparation day' the Bible says. Some argue that was the preparation for the passover, not the Sabbath, but I believe it was for the Sabbath - the weekly Sabbath - so if Jesus died on Friday and he spent Friday night in the tomb and Saturday night in the tomb, when did he rise? First day of the week - pretty clear - Sunday morning. That's part of three days but it's only two nights.

Is that right? So people say Jesus clearly says 'three days and three nights' - there's only one way you can read it. It says it very clearly 'and three nights'. How do you reconcile that? Let me tell you what the answer is: you know, years ago, people read Daniel 8:14 and they said after 2,300 days and then the sanctuary will be cleansed.' And this whole movement rose up and they figured out the dates there in Daniel and it came to 1844 and they kept calculating and recalculating and it came to 1844 and he didn't come. And they thought, 'where'd we go wrong?' Well, you know where they went wrong is they misunderstood what the sanctuary was. They thought the earth was the sanctuary going to be cleansed by fire.

They went through the Bible - they said, 'you know, there's nothing in the Bible that says the earth is the sanctuary. They realized, 'well, we got that wrong and we were looking - it was right in front of us. We missed it.' Where in the Bible does it call the heart of the earth 'the tomb'? Nowhere in the Bible. When you pray the Lord's prayer 'thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven' - does in earth mean the tomb? No. People have automatically assumed because they see three days and three nights that they're supposed to start when he's put in the tomb.

When did Christ begin to suffer for the sins of the world? It was Thursday night in the garden of Gethsemane. Matter of fact, you can read where Jesus said, 'now is the hour' - speaking of that time - oh, where did I put that? Matter of fact, he says it four times in the Bible - that that was the hour when he would begin suffering. He said, 'now is the hour of darkness' and - here it is - Matthew 26:45 - when he prayed with his disciples three times and he came to them when he said, 'not my will - thy will be done' - he said, 'are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand.' You remember when his brother said, 'if you're going to do these things, show yourself to the people.' And Jesus said, 'now is not my hour. My hour is not ready now, but your hour is always ready.' Christ always kept saying, 'my hour has not come. My hour has not come.

' His mother said, 'turn the water to wine' - he said, 'woman, this is not my hour.' It's not time yet. But finally after the garden of Gethsemane - after he has - Thursday night - the last supper. He institutes the Lord's supper. He surrenders to his father's will. His sufferings begin, the mob comes and ties him up.

Every other time in Jesus' life when the mob tried to stone him or throw him off the hill, could they touch him? He became invisible or I don't know what he did but they - they couldn't hurt him because his hour had not come. But when the mob finally came with Judas - I think that Judas really thought that Jesus would shake himself like sampson and suddenly use his power and Judas thought he was doing everyone a favor by forcing Jesus to use his power to create an incident where finally the armies of Israel would rally. I don't think Judas ever believed he would be arrested because he'd escaped every other time. But not that time. Thursday night, when the mob came, they tied him up and they began to brutalize him and beat him and mistreat him and try him and they carried him from hither to yon - back and forth between pilate and caiphas and herod and annas - and he was drug around like that whale carried around Jonah and he began to be spit on and beaten.

His sufferings did not begin on the cross, did they? What's the penalty for sin? You all said death but that's not really the whole story. The penalty for sin is not just that you die and go to sleep. The penalty for sin is you are rewarded with suffering according to what you deserve. You know the parable in Matthew about that unmerciful debtor? It says you - he was to be tormented according to what he deserved. Will the wicked be punished according to their sins of their life? Did Jesus take that punishment for us as well as the penalty of death? He suffered and died - so it's not just death - suffering and death.

Do we all agree? Christ's sufferings - when did they begin? Thursday night. He was in the heart of the earth - in the world there, that means cardia - that's the heart - that's where you get the word cardiac - of the world - and it's talking about love not the world - the evil of the world - the devil claims the world - his dominion - Christ finally - the father withdrew his protection. He was in the hands of a lost world and its demons for three days and three nights. He was suffering the penalty for sin starting Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night. You see how the heart of the earth is not the tomb and it all makes sense? The heart of the earth is in the grip of the devil.

The way that sea monster had ahold of Jonah and he took him wherever he went - the mob had Jesus. He was in the hands of the world for three days and three nights until Sunday morning when he rose. Does that make sense? Now I've got a lot more evidence in this book here that you can send for called 'the sign of Jonah' but I just thought I should deal with that. So, then Jonah prays. And we don't have time to read the whole prayer, but it says here in verse 2 - this is chapter 2, verse 2, "I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and he answered me.

Out of the belly of sheol I cried," - now it talks about Christ experienced sheol or the grave for us - "and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all you billows and your waves passed over me." He was separated from God. Christ was separated from God. You look at this prayer and it's talking about what Jesus went through. "Then I said, 'I have been cast out of your sight;'" - 'my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' - "'Yet I will look again toward your holy temple.

'" - He said, 'father, into your hands I commend my spirit' - "the waters surrounded me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head." - Did Jesus have a crown of thorns around his head? - "I went down to the moorings of the mountains" - he went as low as you could go - "the earth with its bars closed behind me forever;" - Jesus faced the second death - "yet you have brought up my life from the pit," - he was resurrected - "o lord, my God." So this all describes Jonah's prayer that is what he prays is really a description of what Christ went through on the cross. You see that there? You look at some of the messianic Psalms - like psalm 22 and the others - you'll see a lot of the same verbiage is used that Jonah prayed - is what Jesus experienced on the cross - the separation from God - this darkness, this going down to, you know, forever - the second death - lostness that the wicked will face. But somehow, and this is - really should be encouraging - if anybody would think, 'you know, how could God hear my prayer?' Could anybody be further from God than Jonah and yet Jonah prayed. Did God hear his prayer? Have you ever thought you've gone too far from God for God to hear your prayer? I mean, Jonah was in total rebellion. He was running from God, he's now paying for his running from God, he's at the bottom of the mountains.

But when it comes into his mind to pray does God hear a sincere prayer of repentance no matter how far you've gone? Could anyone be further from God than Jonah was in that fish at the bottom of the mountains? "So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land." God is so kind, you know, he forgave Jonah - he could have burped him out in the sea and said, 'you swim.' But he'd had a rough time so God then showed him mercy and he told the fish 'I want you to beach yourself and I want you to regurgitate Jonah.' And I heard a preacher say one time, 'a hypocrite will even make a whale sick.' And so, what happens then - after Jonah goes through all that? He's probably thinking, 'you know, lord, I've been through enough. Thanks for forgiving me. I'm glad that we can just forget about this incident of just preaching to the ninevites.' Does God say, 'I've changed my will now'? Nope. Chapter 3, "now the word of the lord came to Jonah the second time," - and what does it say? 'We're under a new dispensation now, Jonah, you don't need to keep my law anymore.' Does His Word change? "Saying, 'arise, go to nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.'" - Now does Jonah argue? No. There's no resistance at all.

"So Jonah arose and went to nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey in extent." Now, they're not sure. Some of them, matter of fact, right in my Bible it says, 'meaning unknown' when it says, 'three days journey' - I've got a map. Go ahead, put that up sherle - on the screen. I want to show you something and those at home should be able to see it.

Here you've got the - a big red star on the right - top right. You see where nineveh is? That blue line is one of the ancient roads to nineveh. You see the mediterranean on the left. You see joppa down on the lower left. So Jonah starts there, but then there's the storm and then there's three days inside the fish.

We're guessing that the whale - because God is good - beached him somewhere closer to nineveh because you've got nearly 400 miles from the mediterranean to nineveh, which means that if - when it says nineveh is a city of three-days journey, there was no ancient city that we know of that was three-days journey across or even three-days journey around because it's a flat area and you could walk fifty miles in a day if the roads were good. You've got to really hoof it, but you could. A marathon runner - how long do they take to go 26 miles? The record - what is it, four hours? Two? Boy, I haven't checked in awhile, have i? So, you know, a person - it's a pretty rough - pony express riders could go up to a hundred miles in a day. So when they say, nineveh was an exceeding great city of three-days journey, if they had the best road that they had back then, and they did have good roads that went, actually, from the mediterranean to nineveh - it was the capital - and he got on a string of fast horses, he would have had to be almost at full gallop. But when it says he got there in three days, he must have been in a big hurry to do God's Word that last time.

Then the other thing I think is very interesting - it tells us, "then Jonah began to enter the city on a first day's walk." - And that translates to half a day - "and then he cried out and said, 'yet forty days nineveh will be overthrown.'" Pause. Stop. Listen. If you don't hear anything else during the lesson today - and I know some of you've got Scriptures I haven't given you a chance to read. This is very important.

We're talking about the sign of Jonah. When did Jesus begin his ministry? How old was he? - After his baptism, right? His public ministry - so Jesus began preaching when he was 30. How long did he minister? Three and a half years - we all in agreement? Same period of time as the famine in the days of Elijah. And did Jesus say that Jerusalem would be destroyed - that there would not be one stone left upon another and that this generation would not pass away until those things happened? How long is a Bible generation? 40 Years. You remember he made that generation wander because of their lack of faith - they wandered 40 years? So, here it says that Jonah goes three days, he enters the city half a day, and then he says in days it'll be destroyed.

But they repented and that's why Jesus said the people of nineveh will rise up against the people of this generation - because they repented at the preaching of Jonah and one greater than Jonah is here. Jesus preached for three and a half years and said to the Jewish nation 'if you don't repent, at the end of this generation you'll be destroyed.' Forty years later it was destroyed. That is the sign of Jonah. The sign of Jonah is that Jonah - his life, in many ways, mirrors the life of Jesus - through his experience with the fish and his experience with the warning that came. The other thing is the greatest revival in the Bible took place because Jonah preaches.

Do they listen? And they repent and God forgives them. The greatest revival that you find in the Bible is a reluctant evangelist named Jonah that preaches to gentiles. At what point in history does the gospel really leave - exclusively being the Jewish religion and go and in one generation becomes the gentile religion? It's because of Christ and his ministry. During that 40 years after Jesus preached the gospel goes to the gentiles starting with cornelius and then Paul takes it further and there's a great revival and there soon are more gentile believers in jehovah than there are Jewish believers in jehovah and it was through the preaching of Jonah that you also have a similar revival. Now the interesting thing about Jonah and I - it's just an incredible book.

You realize in the story of Jonah - everybody obeys God in the book of Jonah - follow me - the sailors obey God, the storm obeys God, the people in nineveh obey God, their animals even repent. They put sackcloth on their animals. They obey God. The gourd - never got to it, but you know the story - this plant - the gourd obeys God, the worm obeys God, the weather obeys God, the wind obeys God, the ninevites obey God, the sailors obey God. Everyone in the story of Jonah obeys God except Jonah.

All of creation obeys God except his church. Jonah, sort of, is an analogy of God's people in the old testament - the jews - and his church today - where we know the truth but we're reluctant to share it. And if we would get over our fear - I mean, who wants to go through a fish experience? Jonah almost went all the way through a fish, didn't he? If you don't want to go through a fish experience and a storm experience then we need to be willing to share our faith and tell people the good news and warn them about the bad news, right? And this is, I think, the central message of Jonah. I've run out of time, dear friends, but I want to remind you, in case you didn't hear at the beginning, we have a free offer and it's called 'the sign of Jonah'. It's a good complement for the lesson today - it's perfect, actually - and if you'll call the number on the screen - -788-3966 - ask for offer #149 when you do or you could just call us at Amazing Facts or you can read it for free online at 'amazingfacts.

org' thank you for studying with us and I think we covered the panorama of the book and hopefully we were all blessed. God willing, we'll study together again next week.

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