This is about getting connected. To many people in our day getting connected means that you now have an account on Facebook. The kind of connection I want to explore in this book is one that required no computer network and took no engineers to build. It unites us to everything in this universe, and to the God who is her maker. It is the great and grand and glorious purpose of redemption. It has existed from the beginning of time and will be here though all eternity.
In order to talk to you about this connection, I want to take you through a study of the Old Testament Book of Jonah. This small book about an otherwise obscure Hebrew prophet suggests that nothing is more important in this universe than the redemptive work of God in the life of a fallen humanity. Every single character in Jonah is touched in some dramatic way by the ultimate concern of God’s redemptive purpose. Every character and every prop is somehow an instrument of God’s overarching purpose to save people: a storm, a preacher, his message, the whale and even a groveling worm. More than that, all of these characters and their lives are intertwined. Redemption has many tentacles, many points of connection.
I personally believe that the book of Jonah is a historical narrative, not the fanciful fable that many moderns think it is, or the allegory that many Christians down through history have thought it was. In believing in a historical Jonah, I find myself aligned with one noteworthy Galilean carpenter who also believed and taught the same.
Accepting Jonah as history, I am encouraged to know that a prophet of Israel wrestled with the personal failings of fear, unbelief, anger and racial prejudice under the caring, redemptive hand of God. I am also glad that God the Holy Spirit has seen fit to put all of this on display for us here. It reminds me that even the Prophets were what they were because of the power of God at work in weak human vessels like me. He uses the weak things of this world to shame the wise and the strong.
Jonah is a great book of instruction. A sad thing about us is that we far too often learn things in the classroom of life when we should be learning them in the school of the Holy Scripture. We often have the opportunity to learn what someone else learned in the classroom of life by ourselves looking at it through our study and worship.
In this story of Jonah, God has given us a story of power and immediacy. If faithfully taught, expectantly heard and faithfully applied to our lives there is no telling what God can do through us and for us through it. Oh, that we would not learn everything in the school of hard knocks and in this case that we would learn from God the Holy Spirit through Jonah!
This book is from written sermons that were delivered orally. Since then, they have been edited specifically for the written page, but no attempt was made to remove any stylistic differences between them, or to change the flow or relationship of ideas from one sermon to the next.
Joel W. Knapp