East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
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June 16, 2013
"The Christian Message"
Jonah 1:1-2

Intro : Visiting Joe Monday: "Remind us what we're here for!" Series of sermons to do just that: Book of Jonah! Surprised? Most associate Jonah with a whale, but important lessons in this little book! Jonah will remind us what the Christian church is here for! Today answering the question, "Does the Christian church have a relevant message, a message that speaks to today's world? If so, what is that message?" (Read Jonah 1:1-2.)

The message comes from God! "The word of the LORD came..." Look at Jonah. Hardly anything known about him outside his little book. Lived 750-800 years before Jesus' birth. Only other reference is 2 Kings 14:25. (Read.) Jonah lived during the reign of Jeroboam 2, King of Samaria. Samaria was Northern Israel, trying to worship God & idols. However, Jonah predicted that under Jeroboam 2's reign Samaria would prosper economically, militarily. Speculation: Jonah was a patriotic, pro-Israel type of person. Nothing remarkable about Jonah! Except! "The word of the LORD came to Him!" God spoke to Jonah, called him to share a message. Same way, Church seems unremarkable. But we've been entrusted with God's word. Our message comes from God!

The message involves God holding humans responsible for how we live! "Its wickedness has come up before Me." Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, a cruel, arrogant, nation. March against other countries and demand huge amounts of money from them. If country refused to pay, Assyrians would use the most violent tactics possible to defeat, them. Jonah's country, Samaria, was paying tribute money to Assyria. Assyria, the big bully on the block: Wealth, military might, the will to dominate. Human POV: no one could stop Assyria. But God calls Jonah to remind Nineveh that God holds humans responsible for how we live! Can't live however we want. Will be a day of reckoning. God keeps a record. He'll punish every evil act with perfect justice! Same way, Church: Must declare God holds us responsible for how we live!

The message is first of all negative: God is angry over sin! "Preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before Me." Wickedness! (Heb. ‘rayah') God was angry over Nineveh's sin. They were anti-God. They worshiped other gods. Arrogant, violent, cruel. Disrespected God and humans. (Nahum described Nineveh as "the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims," and asks, "Who has not felt Nineveh's cruelty?") Nineveh's wickedness angered God. He commanded Jonah, "Preach against it!" Wickedness of this world still angers God! (Read Romans. 1:18.) God's absolute holiness demands that He justly punish sin! Same way, Church: God calls us to rise up, preach against the world, declare that God is angry over the world's wickedness! First the bad news: God is angry over sin!

The message is motivated by God's mercy! "because its calamity/misery has come up before Me." Same Heb. word (‘rayah') can be translated "wickedness" or "calamity/ misery." Hints at another reason why God gave Jonah this message. Assyria had experienced six years of famine, an earthquake, a solar eclipse, (terrifying!) and suffered diplomatic and military defeats. Rebellions occurring among the people. A difficult, unsettling time for Nineveh. As surprising as it might seem, God looked on the suffering of Nineveh's people, and He felt compassion for them. God's warning to Nineveh was motivated by His great mercy! Same way, Church: God is merciful, compassionate, caring; why He calls us to share His message. The message is motivated by God's mercy!

What is the church's message? Health? Wealth? Political change? Social policies? No! Church's message to the world is a spiritual message: Angry over our sin, grieved over our suffering, God has spoken a warning: In view of My coming judgment, repent! Turn from your sin, forsake your wickedness, find relief from your misery by turning to God. Place your faith in Jesus Christ alone to save you from God's wrath! Message of the prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul. This is the Christian message for the world today! The timeless, unchanging, ever relevant message from God to us: Repent!

Application : 1) If you are not a Christian, repent and place your faith in Jesus. 2) If you are a Christian, God's command to Jonah is for you. NIV: "Go!" Heb: "Arise! Go!" This urgent command of God expects sacrificial action! Moment of decision! God has given His church this message to share with Sharon, with the world.

Next Week: What is the hardest substance known to man? What disease has cost more human lives than every other plague put together? What slavery do we eagerly submit to? What does Jonah have to do with any of this? Find out next Sunday!

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© East Side Church, 2013