Many Christians feel lost in the prophets. There are so many events, places, kings and empires that we may never have heard of before. However, the prophets make up 17 books of the Old Testament! We don't want to neglect them and yet often feel lost reading them. So how do we even begin?
Why does the long and ancient history of Israel so dominate the first three quarters of your Bible? How are we to fit the many themes and threads of the Old Testament together with the message of the New? How can we better learn to read the Bible as one great Story that finds its resolution in Jesus?
The more we see Jesus in His majesty and supremacy the more stunned we will be by the cross. We need to sink our roots down deep into Christ. We need to sink our roots down deep into Christ. We need to sink our roots down deep into gospel soil, by meditating on God's word and by meditating on the gospel. As we do this we will begin to abound in thanksgiving.
We close out our study of Jonah today. We have seen God's love of the city. We have seen God's sovereignty over His creation (including our lives!). How do we fit God's sovereignty together with the fact of our sufferings and grief and pain? How could a good God allow - even 'appoint' - not only our pleasures but our pains?
Confessionals are times where North Avenue Church stops and considers our sin and our need to repent and worship God. These times precede the sermon.
What is a real awakening and revival? How can we be praying more often for God to do this in our city? Why is Jonah angry when God awakens and spares an entire city under his preaching? Jonah 4 introduces a twist ending that changes how we are to read this whole story. From this fresh perspective we get a better glimpse into the inner workings of Jonah's heart (and ours!) and see the gentleness and compassion of God as He works to transform Jonah's religious pride.
The book of Jonah continues to be about God's sheer mercy. God first shows Jonah mercy so that he might show Nineveh mercy. Then God pours out His Spirit through the preaching of His word and thereby awakens an entire city to the reality of God, judgment, and salvation. God's anointed message coming at God's appointed moment is irresistibly powerful. May the gospel awaken Athens also!
The first beacon of hope begins to appear while Jonah is in the watery depths, surrounded by breakers and waves. On the verge of death, he is swallowed up by a great fish and his life is preserved. For the first time, Jonah really begins to pray. As the runaway prophet says, "I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and He answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice" (Jonah 2:2). Come with Jonah and learn to pray in the seminary of the storm.
To run from the Word of God is to run from the God of the Word. Jonah runs from his call to the nations and thus misreads his circumstances. Where are we supressing God's Word in our lives? Where are we misreading our circumstances?