If we are honest, every Christian here will admit that there have been times when we ran from God. Some ran the longest from God regarding salvation. Others have run regarding surrender of something in their lives. Others have run because of not wanting to tithe, witness, pray, teach, etc. But understand this…. If Jesus Christ is not the Lord of our lives we will find ourselves doing the same things that Jonah did. Jonah fled from the Lord when he found out what God’s will was for his life. So the question still stands as we go through this letter! Am I Jonah?
Let me ask you! Can God use us and still receive the glory in our disobedience or in the times of God’s chastisement? The answer to that question is yes! See, there is a chastisement that we endure during our disobedience. In other words we are not of the hook. God can still use in our disobedience. Now that’s not a licence to disobey. What I’m saying “even in our plans that we think are better than His, God can use any situation to bring Him glory…..even when He is in the process of spiritually spanking us.” So, I want us to look through the example of Jonah to see some of the things a believer goes through or endures while he or she is away from God.
RUNNING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION ONLY LEADS TO CHASTISEMENT FROM GOD (V4- V9)
How did God pursue Jonah? (v4) “the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest..” This was no ordinary storm….it was a big, mean and nasty storm! Why do I say that? According to the text “so that the ship threatened to break up” (v4) This means to break apart (to sink the ship) We could say it had the same power as “Hurricane Joaquin” which has had the same power to have people looking for a 750 foot cargo carrier. This was God’s plan or chastisement to make Jonah understand that you can’t run from God.
“Chastisement “means “to rebuke or discipline” A child of God realizes that he cannot be beneath God's wrath (which means under His wrathful judgement). The chastening which we endure from God is not destructive, but corrective. As Charles Spurgeon said “God never allows His children to sin successfully, and Jonah is proof of the truth of that statement.” Heb 12:6-7 says “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?” See our disobedience is Sin! And Sin always needs to be dealt with quick and swiftly by a sovereign God.
Because if it isn’t dealt with…..…a ripple effect happens! We have broken fellowship with Him according to 1 John. We are ineffective as servants to ministries that God has called us to. In a sense we become useless to the Gospel until God gets a hold of our lives. These are major problems for many Christians and the church. What do I mean by that? Not only was Jonah seeing first-hand the chastisement for his disobedience. But we also see the ripple effect of Jonah’s disobedience as it affects others. It says in (v5) “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. And selfishly go in the other direction.
Where was Jonah when all this was going down? Resting peacefully in his selfish bubble as the ship was moments away from possibly sinking. (v6) When he woke, in his heart he knew this storm was for him, not the other men in the boat. So what did they do? What any good pagan worshipper do, they panic and try to find answers to why this happening “they cast lots” (v7) “Lots “were used for dividing; consulting and prophecy. This act was sort of like throwing dice. Lots were made from the ankle bone of a sheep.
Lots have been used through the Old and parts of the New.
- Lev 16:8-9
- Joshua 14:2
- 1 Sam 10:20-21
- Nehemiah 10:34
- Acts 1:26
We have also seen it in Matt 27:35 “And when they had crucified Him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.” What’s interesting with the crew from the ship and Jonah is that we see something amazing…this is not luck or chance it feel on Jonah. We see God providence as He overruled the lots to fall on Jonah. “the lots all fell on Jonah” (v7) when this happened the men in the boat knew this storm was all because of Jonah. But why did it fall on Jonah? So they ask him a series of questions (v8-v9). They must have been satisfied! Because after Jonah answered their questions the bible says “the men were exceedingly afraid” (v10) means their fear was doubled. Because of Jonah’s selfish decision to flee from God, he put others in harms way. This brings me to my next point!
RUNNING IN THE OTHER DIRECTION FROM GOD ONLY LEADS TO SELISH DECISIONS (V10 - V16)
Remember you can never outrun the Creator of the universe who spoke life into existence. Think about for a moment!
- The Lord knew Jonah was going to flee to Tarshish.
- The Lord knows Jonah was going to board this ship full of pagan sailors.
- The Lord knew Jonan would be asleep in the lower deck of the ship.
- The Lord knew the lots would fall on Jonah.
- The Lord knew…..so why do you run?
My question for you is! Am I Jonah, and do, if so why do you have such a low view of God, especially as it pertains to His will for my life? The Lord is everywhere and He knows where you’re in your walk with Him and He definitely knew where Jonah was and the same principle can be said of your life. It’s time to stop running and make a right decision. It was time for these sailors to make a decision. (v12) “And he said to them “pick me up and throw me onto the sea”; then the sea will become calm.” A first glance when you read this, you would think to yourself “that was a brave and selfless act you did Jonah.” But on the contrary! We see the exact opposite. Jonah was willing to die then to face the fact that he disobeyed the true living God. Jonah would rather die than to follow the Lords command and repent of his wrong selfish choses. Jonah would rather die than go to Nineveh. I say that because 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.
This is where God can still use our bad decisions and chastisement for His glory and our good. 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 in Nineveh! Ask yourself something? Without looking sideways or getting buffed up with pride! 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 who desperately need the gospel? 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” The lost world might not have an exact understanding of what a Christian ought to be, but they have a pretty good idea by how we live and treat one another. At this point, through selfish planning by Jonah….
- God no longer at this moment is speaking to him.
- Jonah lost his spiritual energy
- Jonah lost the power to pray
- Jonah lost his testimony before the unsaved.
The blessings of opportunity squandered and the affects it has on others. But we see an amazing change in the life of these sailors (v14) 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? The answer is found in (v8-v9). 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 (v5) but unto the true Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob…the God of Jonah. The God of the Hebrews (the one who parted the Red Sea.....the Nile). See, God can take any situation to display His Glory and He did all this even with a disobedience and unwilling prophet named Jonah.
- God created a storm.
- God controlled the lots to fall on Jonah.
- God puts these sailors into his life for a purpose.
- God also by His sovereignty stopped the terrible storm from continuing.
Since trying to row to shore wasn’t working and they’ve tried everything to their abilities. What did they do? Answer is found in (v15-v16) “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.” Jonah 1:16-16. What was the result of this decision? It says “sea ceased from its raging” (v15) another miracle performed by our LORD. Immediately stopped, and became calm; and the wind also ceased from blowing, the storm was over! Same thing happened with the disciples were afraid while Jesus slept. In Matt 8:26-27 it says “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?"
We need to understand! This is the same God who feed and keep the Israelites from harm in the desert, as He patiently guided them into the promise land and it took 40 years. 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. But look what happened! (v16) “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows” This wasn’t some natural fear, as before. This wasn’t a menial fear or a fear of punishment. This was a reverential expression of godly fear as they finally knew who God really was. As the Proverb says “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Prov 1:7. They began to worship the true God.........The One who wonderfully delivered them 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!!
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 bring the gospel to the nations……the pagans! To display the wonderful grace and mercy of a Sovereign God to those around him. These men offered sacrifices and vowed to Him “Vows” which means “a promise to the one and only God.” We will serve you Living God as Ps 50:14-15 says “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." 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!
- Am I so afraid to be used by a holy God?
- Is my excusing or running away, the answer to my problem?
- What has running accomplish in my life for the glorious gospel?
- Do I care about the lives of those who are perishing in our community?
- Is my present storm a result of disobedience today?
- Am I being chastised by a holy God who loves me?
- Do I truly believe that God is Sovereign and that He will use me whether I 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? Remember, it’s not about us and our abilities…..it’s about Him using us for His glory. As one writer said “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!” The promise was given as it says Isaiah 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." Please church family “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?
Correction in the audio! Mean't to say Elijah and the prophets of Baal 1 Kings 18 (Thank you and sorry about that)
Correction in the audio! Mean't to say Elijah and the prophets of Baal 1 Kings 18 (Thank you and sorry about that)