In this sermon, we are going to look at what is the symbolism of Jonah’s story?
Looking around the world today; you will realize that so many people are going through the storms of life like Jonah.
This storms are interpreted as the miseries; pains, afflictions, sorrows, hardships, trouble etc.
And this is simply because, they are not living the purpose for which God sent them to earth.
So let us look into the symbolism of Jonah’s story to make a comparison to the lives of this kind.
The command to go and preach in Nineveh.
Jonah’s story begins with Gods command for him to go and preach in Nineveh.
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)
Now this command is the destiny that God has designed for us all, even before we came into this world. Remember what He said when He called Jeremiah
”before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”‟ (Jeremiah 1:5)
And as we see in Jonah’s case; God created him for the purpose of preaching to save the people of Nineveh from the destruction awaiting them. Same way He has beforehand, also designed a destiny for you and me.
Jonah tries to run away from God.
But then, Jonah became stubborn and tried to run away from the presence of the Lord.
But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, he went down 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. (Jonah 1:3)
And that is the same way most of us deviate from our propose destiny, and enter the wrong boat that is heading to the wrong destination.
God sends a storm.
But God made sure the journey became rough for Jonah:
But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. (Jonah 1:4)
(So because we are not doing the things God sent us to do on earth; so we could live a life that pleases Him, He now sends a storm i.e, all sorts of troubles into our lives; just as He did to Jonah).
The storm affects others.
And the storm affected others who were in the boat with him:
Then 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 to the lowest parts of the ship, had laid down, and was fast asleep. (Jonah 1:6)
Now these storms in our life does not affect us alone but ;also the very people around us.
Tht is our family members, friends, nations and the world as a whole. Because had it been we were living our destiny, we would have been a source of help to those around us.
And the mariners calling to their gods who could not calm the storm proves that, even if the people around us seek help from other sources i.e. native doctors, fake prophets etc. they will not find any solutions to their problems).
There is an important point I want us to note here: Jonah was not aware of the ongoing storm, since he had gone down to the bottom of the ship and slept; that is the same way most of us are unable to realize the storms in our lives today; even if things are presently going well with you; have you stopped to look around?
For instance, are your children and parents doing good – academically and physically; Or are they always falling sick; causing you to go to the hospital every now and then?
If yes! Then, this should prove to you that you are not heading to the right direction, your boat is bound for Tarshish, not Niniveh, and worst of all, you are onboard sleeping!
To the ministers: you might think you are in Nineveh doing the work God sent you because, your church has grown through the years; being able to record so many branches spread across the world with so many members.
But if you can’t answer the questions below, then know that you are still in the boat going to Tarshish.
What message are you, as well as your pastors preaching to your congregation?
Are you into the devils new acts they call counseling and assignments, performing it on your members?
Are you also using magic oils, handkerchiefs, aprons to perform miracles,
knowing that we can only perform miracles through the power in the name of Jesus?
Do you pray in front of statues, images etc. and encourage your members in doing same, knowing that true worshippers must worship God in Spirit and in Truth?
How is the life of your children, family and church members, Are they growing in the Spirit and making physical progress both in good manners, health and godly wealth?
Does your church have evangelist going about spreading the gospel of Christ?
And do you yourself go out to witness outside the walls of your church, and thereby win more souls to God?
If you can’t answer these questions right, then this message is just for you; you need to leave that boat heading to Tarshish and board a boat bound for Nineveh.
The mariners wake Jonah.
Now the mariners had to wake Jonah, and ask him to also call on his God to save everybody. Only to find out that he is the very cause the storm is raging on the sea, and the reason is his running away from the presence of God. Jonah 1:6-10.
At this point, I want you to note that this very message is the mariners that have come to wake you from your sleep.
And now that you have found yourself to be the cause of the storm that is not just affecting you alone but others; you have to make the same decision that Jonah made in the next chapter we are going to see, or else the boat you are in will sink and cause you and everybody onboard to be drowned in the sea.
Jonah decides to be cast into the sea.
At this point, Jonah decided they cast him out of the boat into the sea. Jonah 1:11-15.
(Now Jonah’s decision to be thrown into the sea means “repentance‟, and being cast into the sea means “baptism‟ (that of water and fire) of which Jesus talked about; “most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”. (John 3:5). And is summed up in this scripture ‘
“Repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “for the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. (Acts 2:38-39).
Then after your baptism and receiving of the Holy Spirit, one more thing you should do is… let’s go back to Jonah’s story to find out.
The whale swallows Jonah.
A great fish finally swallows Jonah:
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. (Jonah 1: 17)
(Jonah being in the belly of the whale three days and nights symbolizes three days dry fasting.
You can also see this happen in the life of Jesus. After being baptized by John, He was led by the Spirit to the wilderness to fast for forty days and forty nights. (Mark 1:9-13).
Therefore it is compulsory that one must embark on a dry fasting after baptism in order to receive the Holy Spirit.
Because, it is in this dry fasting that you would pray God to direct you into the destiny he designed for your life. As well as ask Him to put you on the right boat bound for Nineveh where your destiny lies.
(Use Jonah chapter 2 to reflect on Jonah’s prayer during his three days fasting).
And also note that, after Jesus came out of His dry fasting, He immediately began His ministry. (Mark 1: 14 down)
Afterwards, you will witness the manifestation of God’s power pushing you into the road of your destiny; wherein awaits millions of souls to be saved by you.
Because, God will surely speak to the fish to vomit you to dry land; and send you down to Nineveh to deliver the message that will save a million souls).
In the preceding chapters Jonah 3 and 4; you will discover how thousands of souls were saved by Jonah’s preaching in Nineveh. And the step they took was the same step Jonah and Jesus took, of which you too must take.
Beloved, the same fate awaits you, only if you once again; take the same steps that Jonah, Jesus and the people of Nineveh took.
I’d love to end this sermon with my own true life story.
My true life story.
I finished my SSCE in 1999, and in 2002 I combined results and gained admission into Akwa Ibom State polytechnic, Ikot Osurua, (after three years trials in WASCCE and with no good grades in one sitting).
Unfortunately, I was wayward in school; skipping lectures and hanging out with the bad guys; and because of that, I couldn’tsucceed in the preliminary exams, so I was back home again.
But my dad, who wouldn’t have me stay at home; secured admission for me the same year into the then College of Agriculture, Obio Akpa.
But again I dropped out a year later; this time, not because of poor performance in academics, but because I saw a future I thought was my destiny.
I wanted to become a rap star; and upon hearing that opportunities abound in Lagos, I dropped out from school, used the fees I was supposed to pay and take my final semester exams, board a night bus without my parents knowledge and found myself in Lagos the following day.
Not knowing that I was onboard a ship heading to Tarshish; running away from the presence of God, and not to Nineveh where He told me to go.
To cut a long story short, I had to be in the tempest of life for fifteen good years.
That is from 1999-2014 when I was cast out of the sea into the belly of the fish where I stayed for more than three days (in constant dry fasting and prayers) until the fish finally vomited me to dry land, and I arrived in Nineveh where the Spirit of God is now using me to preach the gospel of Christ and bring back souls that were lost to him.
And the miracle that took place in my life immediately I repented was gaining admissions to study in University of Uyo.
Beloved, it took me fifteen years of setbacks, miseries, hard lucks, pains, hardship, sorrows and all tempests you could possibly think of in life, before I could realize was Jonah of this age and thus followed the destiny God designed for me.
And yours might be a year, two or even more than fifteen, but thank God this message has reached you today.
So use this Jonah’s story to look back at your life and into your present situation: Do you have problems in your career, work place, business, marriage etc?
Have you visited nearly every prophets and herbalist around; done every assignment: bathing in the street at night, going to the stream to bath with an egg, Sacrificing goats and fowls.
Have you done all these things but yet, you cannot seem to find any solution to your problems?
This is the set time for you to rise up and act according to the message in this sermon. And I assure you that sooner, you will give a testimony about your life.
May God give you the grace through His son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.