This first sermon of this series gives the background and context for how to examine the book of Jonah, based on Jonah 1:1-3.

I can remember the first time I heard the story of Jonah.  After I heard the story, I didn’t go swimming for weeks. Oh, wait that was Jaws.  Now, I remember the story.  The whale ate Jonah, and he became a real boy.  Oh wait, that was Pinocchio.  Maybe I don’t remember the real story of Jonah as well as I thought!  All I have is images of the Veggietales version with Archibald Asparagus as Jonah (I would have gone with Bob the Cucumber myself).  And I bet I am not alone.  Ask anyone—they would tell you that Jonah is a fish story and one that is very hard to swallow, at that!  And as a result, we just don’t take these forty-eight verses very seriously (when was the last time you saw the Veggietales version of Hosea?).  But Jonah is a masterpiece of a story that speaks to us on many critical levels.  See, far more than a story of a whale, Jonah is the story of a prophet called by God to do the unthinkable.  But even more than that, Jonah is the story of Jonah’s God, a God who does the unthinkable.  Make no mistake about it, there is something very fishy about a story that is just as relevant today as it was 2700 years ago.  See, there is something stirring just beneath the surface with which we need to wrestle, something that, once discovered, will propel us into a new and exciting spiritual direction.  That’s the true story of Jonah!