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July 5, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Greg Mazak begins a Seminary Chapel series entitled “Old Testament Servants,” with a message titled “Jonah: A Servant Chosen and Equipped,” from the book of Jonah.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina today on The Daily Platform we begin a new study series from seminary chapel called Old Testament servants today speaker is Dr. Greg Mae Zach, who for over 25 years has served in Christian ministry as a youth pastor camp and conference speaker and as an adjunct professor at Bob Jones seminary what I honored to preach the word this morning. Here we have this topic this site topic of chosen and equipped and we are given a speaker some latitude because we can pick an Old Testament character and as I was praying through this was was actually couple months back immediately. My mind went to the prophet Jonah.
And if you want to open up to Jonah were to be reading a lot of Scripture today I'll try to keep my comments to a minimum allowing time for prayer after an initially this was not planned to be the first message I think providentially it works out, perhaps well, that it would be and so I begin just with a simple illustration even as you get ready to turn to Jonah kind of a tongue-in-cheek story. There was a man a a middle-aged man with children and a wife and it was Sundays, a Christian man and it's Sunday morning and his alarm clock goes off and he hit snooze again and again and again and his kids come in and say dad. Come on, it's time to church. Wake up and he just ignores them.
His wife comes in and says, honey it's time for church, get up and and he basically ignores her and finally there dressed ready to go. The wife comes into the bedroom and says hunting you have to get up you have to go to church and he's little bit angry and he says give me three good reasons why I should go to church this morning and I'll go and she said you want.
Reason number one reason number one is Jesus died on the cross for you you should want to go and worship Christ. Is that okay that's one. Give me another one. She looked at him and said okay you're my husband you're the father of our children.
You're supposed to be the spiritual leader of this house, and as the spiritual leader of the South you should want to take us to church go to church. He said okay.
He said okay that's to give me 1/3 one she looked at him and said you're the pastor I and you should want to go to church. Now we we cut a smile at that silly.
I'm sure fictitious story and end if that were true, it would be sad but my question is would it be surprising maybe it depends on how you think of people involved in vocational ministry whether you think of a pastor, a missionary, a vocational biblical counselor. How do you view people that are involved in what we would call vocational Christian ministry, and this is oversimplified but some people would suggest that maybe they are the spiritually elites we would call them the clergy to make sure your distinct from the laity right you would never drop down to being an accountant and attorney or an architect. Those would be beneath you because as a person who really loves Christ your above that. In fact, you even have to hit the requirements of first Timothy three and Titus one. Those are things we require of people in ministry because of that's a higher standard right that's how some would present. I am not dismissing that I'm making a suggestion.
There's a second way to view people involved in ministry that may be there simply gifted differently because God has given them a different task to perform. No better, no higher note lower no worse than an accountant and attorney or an architect, and would we require them to hit the requirements in first in the three first Timothy three and Titus one. Well of course not, because they are held to a higher standard that that's how every Christian should live.
And if you're involved in ministry are supposed to be an illustration of what is required of every Christian. If that second view of ministry is somehow at least close to being accurate, then it really shouldn't be surprising. It's sad, but it's not surprising when we study the life of a man like Jonah. And so here we are in Jonah person who does not do well in ministry.
It's sad. I would suggest is not surprising you say white to simple points in our message this morning. The first one is God graciously uses unlikely servants and then we'll see. That is our first point, our second point will be God graciously saves unlikely people first point. God graciously uses unlikely servants of the sky begin reading and I'm reading from and he asked me if you want to follow along. Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of them. It's a icing.
So God's word is clear to him. What is it say three things arrives. Secondly, go to Nineveh, that great city. Thirdly, call out against it for their evil is come up before me. But Jonah is you know rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa found a ship going to Tarshish, so he paid the fare went down with to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord. Verse three that's repeated twice she's running away from the Lord, and I think we've all heard sermons about how if he's running away at the Tarshish is going very far away. The other side of the Mediterranean. Perhaps the west side of what we would know of AFSCME and what is this doing this is demonstrating Jonah's heart. He's not a man who understands grace. We know he's running away from God's calling will read a bit in chapter 4, because he knows that God has a desire to save the wicked people like the Ninevites and Jonah is not excited about that.
Why would you be excited about God saving a wicked group of people unless you saw yourself as the same as them. See if you saw yourself as wicked as a Ninevites you would rejoice in other people like you would come to know Christ as we would say the New Testament language. But Jonah is not there right he's Jewish. We all know he's better than others, at least in his view, he would think that.
And so here he is filled with prejudice. Here he is struggling and yet God calls him. God knows this. God knows the heart that he has. God has perhaps you would say and I know there's many different people different places in life. But if God if you would have this this conviction that God has called you into vocational ministry he has called you in spite of your sin, not because you're better than the next person.
Not because you're spiritually superior but because he has simply chosen to do that than unless you would think more than God doesn't really care about sin will that's certainly not the case. Let's keep reading. A second point God pursues us in our sin.
I start reading from chapter 1 verse four and I just finished a whole chapter. If you want to follow along, but the Lord curled the great wind upon the scene and there was a mighty tempest on the seed of the so that the ship threatened to break up and it just a quick comment God hurtling a great wind, a storm God bringing difficulties in our lives never to hurt us, always because he loves us never to judge us but pursuing us because he knows that it's best to deal with this issue of arson so he doesn't ignore it or keep reading. Then the mariners were afraid Nich cried out to his God, and they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the seat a likeness for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and he laid down. It was fast asleep, so the captain came and said to him what you mean you sleeper arise call out your God. Perhaps the God will give a thought to us that we may not perish, and they said to one another for seven. Come, let us cast lots that we may know and whose account this evil is come upon us, so the cash/lot fell on Jonah.
They said to him tell us on whose account this evil is come upon us. What is your occupation ready come from what is your country and of what people are you said to them on the Hebrew I fear the Lord, the God of Avenue made the sea and the dry land than the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, what is is that you have done for the menu that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord from Yahweh because he told them than they said to him, what shall we do to you that the sea may quiet down for us for the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, me up hurled me into the sea than the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great therapist is come upon you. Nevertheless the men rode hard to get back to dry land, but they could not for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the Lord, O Lord, let us not perish from this man's life and lean not on us innocent blood for you, oh Lord, have done as it pleased. You, so they picked up Jonah hurled them into the sea and the sea ceased from its raging than the men feared the Lord exceedingly and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made bows and then we get down to the bottom of chapter 1 in verse 17 and we see the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah.
And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. You say what is God doing he's pursuing Jonah in his sin so he could bring him to a place of confession as he convicts Jonah of sin and that could be 1/3 subpoint and we pick it up in chapter 2, and again a nonreading quickly, but as you would know chapter 2 a brief chapter what happens in Jonah chapter 2 verse one then Jonah prayed to the Lord is God from the belly of the fish saying I called out to the Lord out of my distress. He answered me out of the belly of ship. All I cried, you heard my voice for you cast me into the deep in the heart of the season.
The flood surrounded me all your waves and your bill is passed over me that I said I am driven away from your site yet.
I shall again look upon your holy temple waters closed in over me to take my life. The deep surrounded me weeds were wrapped around my head about my head up the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever yet you brought up my life from the pits Lord my God when my life was fainting away. I remember the Lord and my prayer came to you and to your holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope in steadfast love, but I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you what I have vowed I will pay salvation belongs to the Lord and the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. You say what's going on there. Here is Jonah convicted of his sin. Here is Jonah confessing to the Lord.
His sin and what does the Lord do it's what the Lord always does he four gives us of our sin.
We we serve a gracious God and he calls us in spite of our sin, just like Jonah, he pursues us when we sin, never to get even never to judge us right that was taken care of on Calvary, but he brings us graciously to the place were we would honestly acknowledge and confess arson and he forgives us, you say was Jonah forgiven will let's go over to chapter 3 and just read the first verse, the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying verse two. Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city call out against it. The message that I tell you that's what the Lord told Jonah to do the first time Jonah ran got pursued him.
Jonah was convicted guy forgave him and then God says okay Jonah let's go now this is what I have for you to do. Aren't you glad that God would give us more than one chance. Aren't you glad that you don't have to hit a certain level that that if I could just keep my life rights and end never fall into sin, then God would use me, but if I fell into sin, then it's all over that that's that's not how God is and as sad as the story of Jonah is in many ways.
I hope none of us would find it surprising now. If our view is you know somebody being used of God.
No doubt it has to be a spiritually elite person, then this story is incredibly surprising.
But if I am getting a handle on grace and perhaps sovereignty, then maybe I'm understanding that we are just tools in the potter's hand, and God uses whom he well and every time someone in ministry quote unquote falls. It is absolutely sad but never surprising, even as many of us saw yesterday when and every new site I came across mega-church pastor 30-year-old with wife and children commit suicide. I don't know him and and so I can't say anything to reflect on his ministry. I am somewhat aware of the head pastor of that ministry vaguely. I'm not familiar, so I can't speak at all except to note that it hit the news mega-church pastor commit suicide sad, incredibly sad, surprising why. If God uses rusty tools to perform his work and I asked that question that we on purpose would God use rusty tools.
How many sermons do you remember from six and seven years ago and I think most of us would say not many that doesn't mean they were bad but I for one person safe like a good meal.
You can be blessed with many good meals and 567 years, you might later not remember specific one as I was meditating on Jonah. I actually remembered a specific sermon preached on our campus. It was preached in 2013.
The title of the sermon was called, God uses rusty tools and one of the points that the author made in that sermon and just gone sermon audio if you'd like to listen to it. Just look up the title. God uses rusty tools is he asks the question why and one answer, he suggests, is because there are no other tools to use and if you are at all aware of yourself.
You have no problem with that and I think most of us would answer the question. Is it possible that some would actually not see themselves that way and actually believe that they have arrived at a place where they are not a rusty tool and their sanctification is on such an incredible level that they are the spiritually elite and they embrace the concept of clergy and they know they are so far better than others, but I wouldn't think that would be something that would be widely embraced, even in this room even as we would read accounts like this of Jonah, but maybe there's a second reason why God would call unlikely people like Jonah to ministry and maybe that's because God graciously saves unlikely people if if God in his grace saves unlikely people, then why would it be surprising that God in his grace uses unlikely servants. If God is looking for the good people that the good people right that the people that are good family man. The people that are good citizens. The people that are good patriots. The people that we we all like to live next to. If those are the kinds of people that God saved, then we would expect the kind of people that God uses in ministry as a service would also be those kinds of people. But if God graciously saves unlikely people, then it wouldn't seem that God would graciously use unlikely servants, and as you know well what do we read in the rest of Jonah, that God graciously saves unlikely people. What kind of people sinful people like the Ninevites here we read in Jonah chapter 3 Jonah chapter 3 verse three.
So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh and you've all heard I would think stories of how incredibly sinful, unkind, just mean these people were so Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city three days journey in breath. Jonah began to go into the city. Going a day's journey called out yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown and the people of Nineveh believed God. They call for a fast and put on sackcloth.
Sackcloth and the greatest of them to the least of them and some people struggle seriously like the whole city turns to Christ as we would say based on that sermon. I mean come on there there's not a whole lot there right 40 days Nineveh be overthrown well. Notice what the Texans verse six. The word reached the King of Nineveh on Hiroshima. Sharon removed his robes governance up to sackcloth and set matches as he issued a proclamation published Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles let neither man nor beast or North lactation anything.
Let not let them not for you to drink water. Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let them call out Mike to Lizza God let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is an essential nose got me turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger so that we may not perish when God saw what they did, how they turn from Their Evil Way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do them and he did not do it again is not a surprising thing that that message would convert a city. Is it surprising to you if if I share one element of how God saved me the gentleman who led me to Christ as we would say was not a Christian, a graduate of the school, but not a Christian, a full-time missionary to the campus where I was studying, but not a Christian. I didn't know that he led a Bible study I went fast forward I put my faith in Christ. He later leaves his wife. He later lives in adultery with multiple other men I had no idea.
And people say is that surprising to you. Well, in some ways perhaps but if God is sovereign and the power is the Scriptures, then maybe even a simple message like this from a less than stellar profit can be used by God to change the eternal destiny of many inner-city and so Jonah preaches and God works in people are saved well. We know that God is a God who saves sinful Ninevites Jonah is not real happy about it.
We read Jonah 4 but it just please Jonah exceedingly was angry.
He prayed to the Lord and settled orders not this what I said when I was yet in my country. That is why made a strictly to Tarshish, for I knew that your gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love lunching from disaster.
Therefore, now, Lord, please take my life from me, it's better for me to die than to live in the Lord said do you do well to be angry, obviously incredibly sad to read this. Here's a guy who should be rejoicing right that people would come to Christ and he said I think this is a very sad story. But again, perhaps not surprising while verse five Jonah went out of the city and said to the east of the city and made a booth for himself.
There he sat under it in the shade, deletion, see what would become of the city, not the Lord God appointed a plant made come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over said to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad, because of the plant. But when Don came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plan so that it withered.
When the sun rose God appointed a scorching east wind and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah, so that he was faintly and he asked that he might die and said it's better for me to die than to live, but God said to Jonah do you do well to be angry for the plant.
He suggests I do will be angry.
Angry enough to die in the Lord said you pity the plants for which he did not labor nor did you make it grow, which came into being in the night perished in a night should not.
I pity Nineveh, that great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left and also much cattle. Perhaps people and great spiritual darkness.
Some would suggest other suggest children who would not know the right hand from the left here is a compassionate God pointing out to Jonah that he should be a compassionate prophet.
He's not. And yet God still used him. But if God graciously saves unlikely people. Maybe that's not surprising because we just seen in the tax God not only saves sinful Ninevites. He saves sinful people like us because who would dare say I'm better than a Ninevites that I am more deserving of God's grace. Can I remind us all of the kind of people that God calls to salvation from first Corinthians chapter 1 beginning in verse 26 can consider your calling brothers not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
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.
Consider your calling. Why did God call you to salvation.
Now this is seminary right so I'm allowed to say something is a least a little bit theological right. Many of you most of you perhaps will take systematic theology and you know when you take the word call in the New Testament, in the epistles. It's always effectual. It's never general. Why did God call you to salvation because he did not because you were somebody, not many of you were wise not because you were powerful, not because you were of noble birth. I say this it in our congregation. Christ didn't die for winners to put your faith in Christ is to acknowledge that you're a loser. Winners don't need a Savior, losers, or people say I people who say I need Christ and I'm nothing apart from Christ, God forgive me of my sin. I'm nothing. And God saves people like that. Those are the people that God calls to salvation people that are so simple in their thinking that they actually believe when they read the New Testament in Matthew 1240 that just Jesus speaking just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth and you say to me you know Greg, are you the kind of person who believes that a great fish could actually swallow a guy like Jonah and spit him out and preach a brief message and a whole wicked city repents. I a Jew because I it's in the Scriptures, and I believe it the same Scriptures and tell me God came in the flesh, and he lived a perfect life and then he went to a cross and he suffered and died in my place, paying the price of my sin.
And if God can save Amon on likely person like me then why can't God use and on likely servant like me. I wrapped this all up in two things, let me just go back one click. God graciously saved in unlikely person like you want preaching through Romans. On right in Chapter 11, I am just thinking all of the time of God's grace.
And if God graciously saves an unlikely person like you, then God will graciously use and on likely servant like you and I want to say that by God's grace as we wrap up to encourage you because no doubt some of you were struggling and you say you know I don't have a lot going on.
In fact I'm struggling with sin in big ways and and I just don't think I qualify to be used by God will of course you don't qualify. No one qualifies can I also say to those of us who are older and to different degrees have tasted at least a little bit of what some would call ministry success that to any degree that would be accurate and maybe we've never run at least.
In a sense the way Jonah did and maybe we never did, obviously were here what some have done even the previous illustration of the California pastor any good that we've been involved in is all by God's grace, a God who will graciously use an unlikely servant like you. Be encouraged. The God who saves you by grace is the God who will use you by grace. This is just. Perhaps one big take away spiritual encouragement that I see here in this wonderful account of Jonah (father, we thank you that you would graciously save unlikely people like us and we pray by your grace that you would graciously use unlikely servants like us and will thank you. In Jesus name, amen. You been listening to a sermon by Dr. Greg Mae Zach, one of the seminary professors at Bob Jones University and part of the series about the Old Testament servants. Thanks again for listening.
We look forward to the next time as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform