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The Gospel According to Jonah


The Gospel According to Jonah

Shipmates, this book containing only four chapters—four yarns—is one of the smallest strands in the mighty cable of the Scriptures. Yet what depths of the soul does Jonah’s deep sealine sound! What a pregnant lesson to us is this prophet! What a noble thing is that canticle in the fish’s belly! How billow-like and boisterously grand!

So writes Herman Melville in Moby Dick about the miniature but magnificent book of Jonah.

Beginning this Sunday and continuing through July 31, we are going to embark on an expositional cruise through this “boisterously grand” Old Testament narrative. Each week we will hear the good news of a God who is full of boundless grace and compassion not just for “us” (Jonah, the Israelites, and 21st Century evangelicals) but for “them” (the pagan sailors, the Ninevites, and today’s godless despisers of Christianity).

Searching questions keep tapping on the window of my heart as I read this book. How near to the heart of God am I? Am I aware of God’s grace and compassion toward me? Can I say I’m still amazed at his grace? And if I’m amazed at his grace toward me, might I also be angry at his grace toward others? Do I ever resent the fact that God relents from judging sinners who repent?

The book of Jonah is a literary and theological masterpiece. The ESV Study Bible writes, “While the story line is so simple that children follow it readily, the story is marked by as high a degree of literary sophistication as any book in the Hebrew Bible.” Thus it is a book that rewards repetitious reading.

Would you consider taking up the Jonah challenge  over the next six weeks? Read the book with me thirty times. You can read through it aloud in less than fifteen minutes—and if you do this every weekday over the next six weeks, you’ll grow very fond and familiar with the words of this fascinating gospel story.

As you prepare to hear the Word of God preached, consider taking some time to read the passages on Saturday night, either by yourself or with your family. Our preaching plan is as follows:

June 26 | Jonah 1:1-3 | Fleeing a Gracious & Compassionate God (David Sunday)

July 3 | Jonah 1:4-16 | Fearing a Gracious & Compassionate God (Dan Leeper)

July 10 | Jonah 1:17-2:10 | Seeking a Gracious & Compassionate God (Dave DeHaan)

July 17 | Jonah 3:1-10 | Repenting to a Gracious & Compassionate God (David Sunday)

July 24 | Jonah 4:1-4 | Resenting a Gracious & Compassionate God (David Sunday)

July 31 | Jonah 4:5-11 | Answering a Gracious & Compassionate God (David Sunday)

In all our reading and hearing, let us remember the words of our Savior: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).

Jesus was swallowed up by death but could not be held in death’s belly. Through his death and resurrection, death has been swallowed up in victory. In his name, repentance and forgiveness of sins is being preached among all the nations of the world. Jonah points us to Jesus. Therefore, let us receive and rejoice in the gospel according to Jonah!

Eager to preach the Word to you,

Pastor David Sunday