27 September 2015

SERIOUSLY, WHERE WILL YOU RUN?


Jonah 1:1-3

Is God All Powerful?
Is God All Knowing?
Is God Everywhere present?
Is God sovereign?

These are the questions you want to ask yourself when you read a passage of scripture like this or any passage in bible for that matters. There is absolutely nowhere to run or hide for anyone or anything. God is all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present and completely sovereign over your life. Listen to what the word of God says! “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 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! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night," even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” Psalm 139:1-18

The great theme of this book is the divine sovereignty of God. The expressions “The Lord prepared” and “God prepared,” frequently repeated, would be evident to this truth. Throughout, however man may plan, and whatever he may attempt, it is God who is over all, and working all things in such a way as to bring glory to His own name. This is why every one of us has a little bit or a lot of Jonah in us. We forget this biblical truth! God is sovereign and knows best for each and every one of us. We find it easier to retreat or flee our responsibilities as God’s children than it is to face things on the front-lines as Jesus did. 

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? Am I Jonah? DO YOU REALIZE? The further you runway the harder it is! Why? It will always catch up to you.........Running does not solve the problem! As Christians, it’s our duty to face whatever the Lord puts in our path and to never run from His sovereign will for our lives. Jonah was a man who didn’t want to follow God’s instruction. Jonah was a man who thought it would be better to go his own way.....”My way is much better than God’s way.

Jonah wasn’t some common man…..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 need to obey God when He says “GO”God purchased you from the slave market and He has declared you to be His property. Not only did God save from the pits of Hell….. He saved you, to use you, for His glory as a light, a beacon or example of His extravagant grace founded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.


As the scriptures say……“You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” I Cor:6:20. “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” I Cor:7:23. “[Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” Titus : 2:14.

We see two things in opening remarks of Jonah’s letter.

FIRST, WE SEE A COMMAND TO OBEY, BECAUSE GOD IS COMPLETELY IN CONTROL.

Look (v2) Arise, go to Nineveh that great city, and call out against it.” Why? They were wicked and shady characters who desperately needed to taste God’s mercy. This statement is proof that God extends His saving grace beyond just the nation of Isreal….it extends to you and me. As we read in Romans 3:28-29 “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,” See, Jonah wasn’t listening to God and His commands. Why? Jonah knew about the people of Nineveh. See Nineveh wasn’t your normal or typical city….it’s not somewhere you want to raise a family or retire in or go on a family vacation too. Nineveh was situated on the Tigris River, Nineveh was the capital of the mighty Assyrians, Nineveh was well known as one the.........
  • Wickedest of people (segregated from outsiders)
  • Heavily into Pagan Idolatry  (The worshipped the Fish god)                      
  • No Bible knowledge of any sort (they did not know the God of Israel)
  • Haters of anyone outside their city

Nineveh was known to be heavily protected by huge inner walls: 50 feet wide that were a 100 feet high and 8 miles around. Nineveh was feared for the cruelty of their soldiers to captives of neighboring nations. Nineveh was widely known for…….Sacrificing their children to pagan deities. Shameless in their disregard for human life in general. They were known as “the Bloody City” In Nah 3:1 it says “Woe to the bloody city, all full of lies and plunder-- no end to the prey! “ They were a barbaric nation! A prime example of what human depravity really looks like according to the scriptures. They were naturally bent and unfixable …..But that’s the whole point to the gospel. We are all bent and need saving, just like the Ninevites. This wasn’t an easy city or situation for Jonah to enter into to!
  • What would you do, knowing who these people are?
  • Would you go and preach the only way of eternal life 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 His master plan, for those who desperately need to hear the gospel. Jonah had a duty to perform and a responsibility to the message of God! But! Jonah choice to run!! Where are you running to Christian? Where are you running to and why? How you respond to the call, will determine who and what you love the most! We see Jonah’s answer in the next verse (v3)


SECOND WE SEE A WRONG RESPONSE AND LOW VIEW OF GOD

Look (v3) Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Again, the first thing that pops into my mind is this…..Where will you go Jonah? How is that even possible Jonah? How can you hide from the sovereign Creator of the Universe? Think about what Jonah is trying to do! It’s like playing “hide and go” seek with a two year old, who covers their eyes and doesn’t go hide but says “you can’t see me” This is no different for Jonah and for us at times! Do you think by running a few hundred miles in the other direction that God is going to be sitting on His throne and saying……“ I wonder where Jonah went too? He hasn’t posted on Facebook in a while, no selfies of himself on his travels.”

This is serious business church family! Fleeing not only from the Lord’s Command….but trying to flee from His presence. Only brings and produces heartache and discipline from a holy God. What Jonah did was willful disobedience. “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. In Deut 18:19 Moses penned these words “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, we must do it. There is no door number two Where you say “I don’t think so” because you will have to stand before God.

(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 supposed 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? We need to understand no matter if you’re a Prophet like Jonah or a Christian layperson.

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)

Jonah thought he could flee to Tarshish and escape the presence of the Lord. Again I’m blown away by this opening verse of this letter! God is everywhere Jonah? GOD is Omnipresent.

“Omnipresent” means that God is everywhere present at the same time; He is unbounded. This is one of His glorious attributes that only He wills. John MacArthur said “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.” In Jeremiah 23:24 we see this truth "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 and has such a low view of God. There are many Jonah’s today, who do the same thing he did by running in opposite direction. Fleeing, disobeying or make excuses when the Lord calls us to go is not just on the mission field in some remote part of the world. He commands us the same way in the workplace, our homes, businesses, our community and our neighborhoods.

Sadly, we flee with excuses like……
  • I’m too afraid
  • They’re not going to listen to me.
  • I’m uneducated and do not want to mess up the truth of God’s word.
  • I don’t know what to say to my peers at work, school, and neighbor and so on.
  • I don’t know if I would say enough or too much.
  • I don’t want to offend anyone, I just want to fit in and leave a peace with people. 

I want you to understand something this morning! You cannot hide from God. So stop trying! But also know God is much bigger than your inabilities. That’s why God chose the simple to reprove the wise of this age. Why? For this very reason! God gets the glory in your life as you live for Him and the gospel message. Paul penned these words “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." 1 Cor 1:27-31

The greatest thing you can do when you feel you can’t is to submit to God, because he doesn’t need you but choses to use you in your weaknesses and in your inabilities to shine through you. Why? Because only God can do that! God gets the glory as He uses us for His purposes. As David Platt said when he talked about reaching this world “the Church is plan A, there is no plan B.”

So where are you running to and why?
  • Running doesn’t solve the issue or the problem.
  • Running doesn’t change the mind of almighty God.
  • Running doesn’t bring blessing and rest in Christ.

Do you recognize what running does…….
  • Running leads to chastisement from a holy God.
  • Running leads to a miserable Christian life, filled with guilt and doubt.
  • Running only prolongs you inability to grow and be as blessing to others.
  • Running only leads to opportunity squandered (regretting that I should had of done something….. not to earn favor with God, but to be used by Him for His glory.)

God did not call us to sit on our butts and do nothing as this world passes you and me bye. God did not call us out of darkness so we could sit on the fence and watch others do it. We are to live for Christ in every avenue of our lives! This means privately, outwardly and corporately. See to follow Jesus is to…….live with radical abandonment and be faithfully committed to whatever God has for our lives….Without excuses or But! Jonah chose to run in the opposite direction with the idea that maybe the further I run God will change His mind. But as Moses penned “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” Numbers 23:19

So the question for you is! Am I Jonah? This is a question you need to think about as we go through this little book.

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