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The Sign of Jonah

Jesus tells us that the sign of Jonah is the sign of the end times and that NO SIGN will be given.

Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. 12 But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”(Mark 8:11–12)

I am so appalled at how men are twisting God’s word with false signs and wonders. It is like a scene right out of the bible. Jesus said you can predict the weather but you can’t predict what I am doing!

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” (Jonah 1:2).

“cry out against it” what did God mean? Did he mean go get a pulpit, a camera and a platform and preach a message? Do you think that is what it takes to come against wickedness? I don’t believe that was the “commissioning”! I believe the wickedness is powers and principalities that had seated themselves in that city, just as they do today. If you believe the way to revival is to preach a bunch of messages then Israel is already saved.

The gospel is a “witness”. There must be a witness of the gospel in the earth. The microphone and the platform is not on TV or on Sunday morning it is seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The gospel is LIVED OUT.

Jonah had to battle the enemy. His assignment was to battle the enemy first in his own life. That enemy was fear. He had to battle that fear of man. He ran in the opposite direction because he knew he didn’t have what it took to face the enemy seated over Nineveh. But God called him to it and so he faced it anyway.

He faced it in the storm on the sea. Maybe that is where you are, facing the storm where you can deal with the enemy in your heart. Because until you drive you out of your life you are not going to have power to drive it out of a city.

Jonah wanted a lifestyle in the marketplace of the sea. He wanted the riches of the world. He went to Joppa away from the assignment. He wanted a life of ease.

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)

The burden against Tyre. Wail, you ships of Tarshish! For it is laid waste, So that there is no house, no harbor;From the land of Cyprus it is revealed to them.2 Be still, you inhabitants of the coastland, You merchants of Sidon, Whom those who cross the sea have filled And on great waters the grain of Shihor, The harvest of the River, is her revenue; And she is a marketplace for the nations.(Isaiah 23:1-3).

The word of the Lord came again to me, saying, “Now, son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyre, and say to Tyre, ‘You who are situated at the entrance of the sea, merchant of the peoples on many coastlands, thus says the Lord God: “O Tyre, you have said, ‘I am perfect in beauty.’4Your borders are in the midst of the seas.Your builders have perfected your beauty.5 They made all your planks of fir trees from Senir; They took a cedar from Lebanon to make you a mast. 6Of oaks from Bashan they made your oars; The company of Ashurites have inlaid your planks With ivory from the coasts of Cyprus.7Fine embroidered linen from Egypt was what you spread for your sail; Blue and purple from the coasts of Elishah was what covered you. 8 “Inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were your oarsmen; Your wise men, O Tyre, were in you; They became your pilots. 9Elders of Gebal and its wise men Were in you to caulk your seams;All the ships of the sea And their oarsmen were in you To market your merchandise. (Ezekiel 27:1–9).

 

The Western Church is caught up like Jonah. They want to preach the message and collect the offerings. They want to live to preach, live to be on camera and live to be seen as something really spiritual. All the while they don’t live out the message. Their lives are in pursuit of the merchandise they can market.

They want the message but they don’t want to live it out they just want to preach it. Jonah knew the people’s heart was hard. He knew they wouldn’t believe him but that was because he had no power. He didn’t have authority. He wasn’t willing to obey God. The message of God’s love needed to be lived out to Nineveh, the hard-hearted people needed to experience the love and grace of God. Jonah was arrogant and full of pride just like our preachers and pastors are today, full of themselves.

There is no witness of Love in their message because they don’t live it out. They just want to preach to people and market their merchandise. That is the sign of Jonah.

Somewhere in that belly of the whale Jonah encountered God and he experiences God’s mercy. Smelling like vomit he shows up on dry land. I think Jesus said in that day I will vomit you out of  my mouth, I never knew you.

So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.” (Jonah 1:6).

Sleeper! There was no power in Jonah to speak to the storm and drive it out, to calm the seas. He couldn’t call on God because he was in rebellion. Lots of people are praying but because their lives are not living out the gospel they have no power, they are like clanging symbols, there is no love, no compassion. They are not living out love, grace or mercy towards those in sin and lost. They are not laying down their lives. I know it is true. Because it takes everything, it costs everything, it is a hard, intense life to live out. It is costly, it is painful, it is lonely and it is hard! Just look at the price Jesus paid and what He told His disciples they would face. And face it they did and died the most horrible deaths.

And you think you are living that out in your luxury homes and cars and itinerate schedules?

10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous.

12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.” (Jonah 1:10–12).

“For I know that this great tempest is because of me”. Jonah had a revelation. He had no power and he was separated from God’s instruction. His answer was to commit suicide, end his life. What great faith, what trust in God. Jonah had an assignment and he could not end his life. God was going to use him, that was God’s plan.

The story of Jonah in the belly of a whale is a miracle. God may use you as His sign, He may do a miracle in you and through you but do NOT mistake that for everything being ok between you and God. The miracle you received or that God used you to preform is NOT repentance and salvation.

The Western Church is teaching and preaching that miracles are the relationship. Beware that message is twisted and the gospel must be a witness, not a sign, not a miracle but a witness. A life lived out not hands laid on someone and they are healed, that is not the gospel. The gospel is a life lived out, the sign follows a life lived out, the miracles follow a life lived out. First you must have a life lived out. That is why miracles aren’t happening every day as normal. People aren’t living out the life.

Jesus healed everywhere He went because He lived out the life. He went and He loved and He gave His life in obedience, every moment of every day. He didn’t come and find all the synagogues and grab the podium and preach, He lived out the life of obedience. He was with the sinners and He was with the religious living out the life and giving them wisdom, answers to their questions and answering their needs. He had love, compassion and He wept. He had a life of prayer but He didn’t just pray He lived out the life.

Chapter 2 of Jonah’s story is a prayer of repentance. He was given the grace that He was to witness to Nineveh. The rescue he received was the rescue he was to give to a hard-hearted people who were just as rebellious as he was. True repentance causes our heart to be tender.

Was Jonah’s heart tender? He must have been full of God’s power at that point because the bible tells us the people heard God, not Jonah.

And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them (Jonah 3:5)

Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,

Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. (Jonah 3:6–10)

It is so obvious that the people’s response and the Kings proclamation had nothing to do with Jonah. Jonah obeyed God and God touches the people with mercy, He relents from doing harm.

Jonah was broken from his near-death experience. God miraculously saves him and he was carrying a tender heart but look how quickly he returns to his old ways.

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry (Jonah 4:1)

This is the sign of Jonah. He did not truly repent or else he would NOT have responded to mercy with anger. This is the sign of an unbeliever. To be so hateful in the face of God’s mercy when he himself just received mercy and grace. This is the state of the church today! We are hateful and arrogant when God has been so kind and merciful to us. We aren’t loving and meek, we are proud and arrogant.

The rest of the story is the wrestle of God and man. A God who relented from doing harm trying to convince an arrogant proud man who can’t see his own condition.

Have mercy on us Lord, we are void of power and quite possibly smell like vomit.

I suggest we study and do what Jesus said instead of seeking a “sign” which is what an adulterous generation does.

But He 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. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights 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. 41 The men of Nineveh 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. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.

43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:39–45)

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