18 June 2010

Where Are You Running To?



What would do if you were in a situation that would possibly cause you endure PHYSICAL HARM, or worse yet! DEATH!.................All for the blessed Gospel of Jesus Christ? What would you do if someone asked you to go and share this blessed news to a hostile group or community of people? What is the easiest thing to do when something is causing you to get out of your comfortable Christian life? Do you ignore the situation? Do you run away hoping the problem will eventually go away or get solved by someone else? DO YOU REALIZE the further you runway harder it is! Why? It will always catch up to you.........Running does not solve the problem. As Christians! It is our duty to face whatever the Lord puts in our path and not run from His sovereign will for our lives. Turn with me to a story of one man who didn’t want to follow God’s instruction and thought it would be better to go his own way “Jonah”
• Jonah was a prophet from God (going back to 2 Kings 14:25)
• Jonah represented God to the 10 northern tribes during a time of relative peace and prosperity
• Jonah proceeded Amos as a prophet to the Northern Tribes
• Jonah and Amos were living in very similar political and cultural conditions
• Both Syria and Assyria were weak, allowing King Jeroboam II to enlarge the northern borders of Israel

Things were going relatively well for Jonah! Until the LORD came to Him and said “Arise Go to Nineveh...” Can I tell you something that is very important! We ALWAYS needs to obey God when He says go....... or when we are to do something.....Andrew Murray says "Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the essential characteristic of our lives." Jonah wasn’t listening to God and His commands.........Jonah knew all to well about the people of Nineveh. He hated them becuase they were so wicked and pagan. See Nineveh wasn’t your normal or typical city!

• Nineveh was situated on the Tigris River
• Nineveh was the capital of the mighty Assyrians

Nineveh was one the.........
1) Wickedest
2) Heavily into Pagan Idolatry
3) No Bible knowledge of any sort
4) Haters of anyone outside their city
• Nineveh was known to be heavily protected by huge inner walls: 50 feet wide....100 feet high....8 miles around.
• Nineveh was feared for the cruelty of their soldiers to captives of neighbouring nations

Nineveh was widely known for:
1. Sacrificing their children to pagan deities
2. Shameless in their disregard for human life in general
3. They were known as “the Bloody City” (Nah 3:1) Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and plunder-- no end to the prey!
4. Basically they were a barbaric nation! A great example of human depravity
This wasn’t an easy city or situation for Jonah to enter! What would you do? Would you go and preach to this wicked nation? Would you run like Jonah as far away as possible? Or Would you walk by faith in God’ providential care to see you through this situation. Jonah had a duty to perform and a responsibility to the message of God! But! Jonah choice to run!! Let me ask you!!!Where are you running to Christian?

1) RUNNING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION ONLY LEADS TO A LIFE FILLED WITH DISOBEDIENCE (V1- V3)

“Fleeing from the Lord’s Command” Disobedience (means) To neglect or a refusal to obey; a violation, a breach of duty prescribed by authority. In the OT "disobedience" is frequently described as "a refusing to hear. (Deut 18:19) "And whoever will not listen to My words that he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him." I will require it of you; I will punish him severely for it. The act of disobedience is going to be required of you. Nothing goes undone by a holy a sovereign God! See when God calls a person Like Jonah here to proclaim His Word, we must do it and not say “I don’t think so”................... because you will have to stand before God.

EXAMPLES OF GOD CALLING HIS PEOPLE TO GO!

1. Moses at the burning bush (Exo 3:1-8)
2. Jeremiah and his call to preach (Jer 1:5)
3. John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-17)
4. The twelve disciples (Mark 3:13-14)
5. The apostle Paul (Gal 1:15-16)

(v2) “Arise, go to Nineveh” See this is a command not a request again if the Lord tells you to do something you do it! Jonah knew the Law of the Lord, and he also knew he was suppose to listen and follow God’s commands. Jonah did the exact opposite of what God commands from His children. Jonah chose to “flee” and go as far away from Nineveh as possible. Are you doing this today? Does God want you to do something that would require you to go? Disobedience leads to heartache or worse death! Adam and Eve, eating the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:6-11)................Lot's wife, in looking back upon Sodom (Gen 19:26)........Moses in making excuses when commissioned to deliver Israel (Exo 4:13-14)...........The Israelites refusing to enter the Promised Land (Deut 1:26; Num 14:1-10)..........And Jonah disobeying a direct command from God “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me." Jonah thought he could flee to Tarshish and escape the presence of the Lord. HELLO JONAH, think about it for a minute!...............................God is what? Omnipresent!!

Omnipresent (means) God is everywhere present at the same time; He is unbounded. “If God is everywhere, it is foolish to think we can hide from Him. However, it also means that a believer may experience the presence of God at all times and know the blessing of walking with Him.” John MacArthur(Jer 23:24) "Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? Declares the LORD. To think that a person can run away from the eternal presence of the Lord is plan foolishness. Sadly though there are many Jonah’s today....who do the same thing he did. Fleeing (disobeying or make excuses) when the Lord demands us to go!!

• I’m too afraid
• They are not going to listen to me
• I don’t know what to say to such wicked people
• I don’t want to offend

What does Jonah Do? He goes in the opposite direction of Nineveh “So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.” (v3)


2) RUNNING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION ONLY LEADS TO CHASTISEMENT FROM GOD (V4- V9)

Chastisement (means) to rebuke or discipline. A child of God realizes that he cannot be beneath God's wrath, and hence, that the chastening which he endures is not destructive, but corrective. (Heb 12:6-7) For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline Disobedience is Sin! And Sin always needs to be dealt with quick and swiftly by a sovereign God. Because if it isn’t. We have broken our fellowship with Him. We are ineffective as servants to Him. In a sense we become useless to the Gospel that saves to the uttermost. We are about to see firsthand how God disciplines a child of God......His prophet Jonah! Look at (Verse 4) “But the LORD hurled a great wind (this is a miracle) upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up”. Not only was Jonah seeing firsthand the chastisement for his disobedience. But we also see the ripple effect of Jonah’s disobedience...which is what happens when we disobey God.....we cause a ripple effect to those around us. (Verse 5) “the mariners (heathen men) were afraid and every man cried out to his god (false gods, pagan gods). Jonah's world was crashing down all around him and it’s all because he chose to disobey God. What he was doing was wrong (sin) BY NOT FOLLOWING GOD’S INSTRUCTION! When he woke he also knew in his heart the storm was for him not the other men in the boat. So what do they do? The Bible says “they cast lots”...........Lots (mean) God sometimes sanctioned this mode of deciding in difficult cases. “Lots,” according to the ends for which they were cast, were for dividing; consulting; divining. Sort of like throwing dice. Lots were made from the ankle bone of a sheep. Another example (Matt 27:35) And when they had crucified Him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.We see God overruled the lot in the case of Jonah which makes this another miracle! “the lots all fell on Jonah” in (verse 7).
3) RUNNING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION ALWAYS ENDS IN MAKING A CHOICE (V10 - V16)

Remember you cannot outrun the Creator of the universe who spoke life into existence. (Ps 139: 2-8) You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to Heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! You know when I sit down and rise......The Lord knew Jonah was asleep in the lower part of the Boat. You discern my thoughts.........He knew Jonah’s decision before he made it. You are there............The Lord is everywhere. He knows where you are in your walk and He definitely knew where Jonah was. It was time for these men to make a decision. Verse 12 And he said to them “pick me up and throw me onto the sea”; then the sea will become calm." Jonah was willing to die then to face the fact that he disobeyed the true living God who was sending him to a pagan and evil nation to repent and worship the God of Creation. Jonah would rather die than to follow the Lords command. Jonah would rather die than go to Nineveh! But look at what these men did (v13) Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. What do we notice here in this verse? These men were willing to work harder so that they could save the life of one man. These men had more compassion for him then he had for 600,000 souls! Ask yourself something? Do you care about the lost who are perishing into Hell every minute of every day? Is your attitude like Jonah’s, I would rather die than preach repentance and salvation to a lost a fallen world? Is the soul of a lost person worth taking you out of your comfort zone?
These heathen sailors had something Jonah didn’t have “Compassion and concern for others.” Someone said “non- Christians never look better than when they are compared with some Christians” But we see an amazing change in the life of these sailors (Verse 14) "Therefore they called out to the LORD, "O LORD, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you." These men cried out to the God that created them why? Look at (Verse 8-9) We need to understand there was a change in the lives after hearing Jonah’s answer! They were not pleading unto their gods as they did in verse 5......But unto the true Jehovah, the God of Jonah. The God of the Hebrews (the one who parted the Red Sea.....the Nile) This is what I love about God. He can take any situation to display His Glory and He did all this with a disobedience and unwilling prophet named Jonah.
1. God created a storm
2. God controlled the lots to fall on Jonah
3. God puts these sailors into his life for a purpose
4. God also by His sovereignty stopped the terrible storm from continuing

(Jonah 1:15-16) So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows. And look what happened “sea ceased from its raging” another miracle performed by our LORD. Immediately stopped, and became a calm; and the wind also ceased from blowing the storm was over! Same thing happened with the disciples.....(Matt 8:26-27) "And He said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of Man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?" This is the same God who feed and keep the Israelites from harm in the desert. This is the same God who made the blind to see......The deaf to hear......The lame to walk. This is the same God that rebuked the storm for the sailors and His prophet Jonah. (Verse 16) “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows” This was not a natural fear, as before, not a menial fear or a fear of punishment, but a reverential godly fear. Remember what Solomon said “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Prov 1:7. They began to worship the true God..................The One who wonderfully delivered from this storm. The God of the Hebrew’s Lord Jehovah! The Great Provider!!The God that delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt! The God who parted the Red Sea. The God that protected them by a Cloud in the daytime and a Pillar of Fire by night! The God that came to saves lost sinners!! I love what John Calvin said "Since no man is excluded from calling upon God the gate of salvation is open to all. There is nothing else to hinder us from entering, but our own unbelief”. God can take this chosen prophet Jonah in all his disobedience and use him to display the wonderful grace and mercy of a Sovereign God to those around him. These men offered sacrifices and vowed to Him (Vow means: a promise to the one and only God)! We will serve you Living God. We serve a wonderful and amazing God who will take any situation we are in and us it for Good! God is sovereign and He is in total control of ever situation, whether we like it or not! ASK YOURSELF THESE SUNDAY QUESTIONS AS WE CLOSE! Are you so afraid to used by a holy God? Is running away the answer to my problem? What does running away accomplish? Do I care about the lives of those who are perishing in our community? Are you facing a storm as a result of disobedience today?
Do you believe that God is Sovereign and that He will use you whether you like it or not? The answers to all these questions can be found in this Minor Prophets account! Jonah’s situation can be applied to every single one of us today? May we walk in obedience even if it seems tough to do so, in a world that hates Jesus Christ and His Gospel? “So many times we say that we can't serve God because we aren't whatever is needed. We're not talented enough or smart enough or whatever. But if you are in covenant with Jesus Christ, He is responsible for covering your weaknesses, for being your strength. He will give you His abilities for your disabilities!” Kay Arthur. As the prophet Isaiah said in 6:8 ‘..............I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." “Remember as you leave this building you are entering the mission field” The question we need to ask ourselves is........ARE YOU GOING TO RUN OR GO?

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