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You Can Run...but God - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
January 18, 2021 2:00 am

You Can Run...but God - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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January 18, 2021 2:00 am

Do you remember playing hide-and-seek as a kid? Can you imagine trying to hide from God? In the message "You Can Run...but God," Skip shares the story of a prophet who found out you can run but you can't hide from God.

This teaching is from the series ...but God.

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Now the book of Jonah is a story about a man who ran from God and a God who ran after the man. It's a story of what I call a prodigal prophet.

That's really what he was. He was a prophet of God, but he was a prodigal prophet. So it's a story of a prodigal prophet and a pursuing God. Jonah ran from God's will. He ran from God's calling on his life. He ran from his responsibility before God, but God. God loves you so much that even when you run from him, he pursues you. Today on Connect with Skip Hitek, Skip looks at the story of a man who ran from his calling and helps you discover how you can confidently embrace God's plans for your life. Before we begin, here's a resource that will help you know God more intimately so you can experience a richer relationship with him. The best biographies make you feel like you personally intimately know the person you've read about, from Mozart to Mother Teresa, Sojourner Truth to Steve Jobs. It's exciting to learn the details of influential people, but one biography stands out above the rest, the biography of God.

Here's the author, Skip Hitek. There's nothing more elevating to mankind than the study of God himself. Discover the omnipotence, paradoxes, and mystery central to God's being and remove the limits you may have placed on who God is. I've noticed that almost every problem that a person has in their life stems from an inadequate view of God. Skip's new book is Our Thanks, when you give $35 or more today to help keep this ministry on the air.

Call 800-922-1888 or give online securely at connectwithskip.com slash offer. Okay, let's get into today's teaching. We're in Genesis chapter 31 as we begin our study with Skip Hitek. There was once a farmer who had three sons named Jim, John, and Sam, and they really wanted nothing at all to do with God. People shared with them, shared their faith with them, invited them to church, and it was always a disinterested response.

They just really had no time at all for God. Until one day, one of the boys named Sam got bit by a snake. In fact, it was a rattlesnake.

Doctor was called in to treat them. Then the pastor came in to sort of assess what was going on and, and to pray for the situation. So the pastor looked at what was happening and decided to pray a very interesting prayer. He said, Oh, wise and righteous father, we thank thee that in thy wisdom, thou did send this rattlesnake to bite Sam.

He has never been inside the church and it's doubtful that he has in all this time ever prayed or even acknowledged thy existence. Now we trust that this experience will be a valuable lesson to him and will lead to his genuine repentance. And now, Oh father, wilt thou send another rattlesnake to bite Jim and another to bite John and another really big one to bite the old man? For years, we have done everything we know to get them to turn to thee, but all in vain. It seems therefore that what all of our combined efforts could not do, this rattlesnake has done. We thus conclude that the only thing that will do this family any real good is a rattlesnake. So Lord send us bigger and better rattlesnakes.

Amen. What we have in the book of Jonah is essentially God sending a bigger and better rattlesnake. Though it wasn't a snake, it was a great fish.

And some have gotten in the weeds with this and tried to determine that it was a mysticete whale, a catadon macrocephalus. All of that is really irrelevant to the real story of what's happening with Jonah. But God is getting this prophet's attention.

And we're in a series, we call it, but God, you know that by now. And but God is a phrase that appears 45 times in scripture, 45 times. It's a game changing phrase. Another 60 times the phrase, but the Lord, that's what we're going to find in the book of Jonah. So over a hundred times is this idea of but God or but the Lord. And what happens is everything after those words in the story is radically different because God inserted himself. And the reason this phrase, but God is a game changer, it means that no matter who you are, no matter what you have done, no matter how you may have failed, no matter what problems and issues keep dogging your life, the truth is God can make things different for you from now on.

But God. This phrase also points to a greater truth. And that truth emerges here in the book of Jonah. And it's the truth that God is active in the affairs of this world.

And that's something we tend to forget. Because enough stuff around us happens that seems rather haphazard. It seems random and without meaning that we can sort of tend to forget that God can change things or that God is even active. You know, we're not atheists, we're not agnostics, but some of us tend toward deism and deism is a belief in an absentee God. There may be a God, he may have wound up the world, but he stepped back from it. He's not really directly involved in the affairs of people. The Bible, however, portrays a very different view of God.

He may be working behind the scenes, but he is working nonetheless. Now, the book of Jonah is a story about a man who ran from God and a God who ran after the man. It's a story of what I call a prodigal prophet.

That's really what he was. He was a prophet of God, but he was a prodigal prophet. So it's a story of a prodigal prophet and a pursuing God. Jonah ran from God's will. He ran from God's calling on his life.

He ran from his responsibility before God, but God. This last week, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Dr. James Dobson for his radio broadcast. And he first asked, first question is, tell me your testimony. How did you get saved? And my testimony is pretty easy because it's just like yours.

The first part of our testimonies are identical. We were running from God. Whatever the circumstances were that made that running the details is irrelevant, but we were all running from God. Then God got a hold of our lives.

All we like sheep have what? Gone astray. That's our testimony. I know one guy who even said my testimony is easy. I ran, God chased.

I did all the running. God did all the chasing. But God isn't going to let Jonah go that quickly or that easily.

God inserts himself into the situation. And Jonah's testimony, if I were to give it to you in three little phrases, I would put it this way. Jonah ran from God. Then Jonah ran to God. And from that point on, Jonah ran with God. And that's the great story that can be our testimony. We run from God, but there's a moment that we go, not good. I'm going to repent.

And we do. And when we come to him from that point on, we run with him and our lives take on a meaning and purpose like no other. Or you could say, God said, go. Jonah said, no. And God said, oh, and you'll see that.

Let's look at the beginning of the story. Jonah chapter one, verse one. Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai saying, arise, go to Nineveh, that great city and cry out against it for their wickedness has come up before me. But Jonah arose 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 into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea so that the ship was about to be broken up. Now fill in a little bit of the story. The soldiers panic, they freak out. Nothing works. They get a hold of Jonah.

Who are you? They interview him. Jonah says, throw me overboard.

So eventually they do. Verse 17. Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish, whether it was a catadon, microcephalus or whatever, doesn't matter. Three days and three nights. Chapter two, verse one.

This is funny. Then Jonah prayed. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord is God from the fish's belly. What's amazing is Jonah does not pray until now. He's a prayerless prophet.

But now he does. He prays. Chapter three, verse one. Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time saying, arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you. So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three day journey in extent. Without reading all the verses, because you're familiar with the story, we'll look at a few more, but I want to show you three lessons, three life lessons, three basic lessons from this story of the prodigal prophet.

I've written them down in your outline so you can follow along. First is this. God, God's call doesn't guarantee our success. God's call does not guarantee our success. Now notice in verse one something, the word of the Lord came to Jonah.

What does that mean? It means God called him. After all, Jonah is what? He's a prophet. So God is calling his prophet. Prophets should speak for God. So the commission, the call is go to Nineveh. So here's God going, Hey, Jonah, this is God.

I've got a mission for you to go on. But clearly Jonah resisted God's call. Verse three, Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Now let me fill in a little history. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire. The Assyrian empire was the mortal enemy of the Jews.

In fact, we'll take 10 of the tribes captive eventually. So they hate each other. Nineveh, the capital, happens to be 550 miles east, northeast from where Jonah was in Israel. Tarshish is 2,500 miles west of where he was.

It's where the Mediterranean empties into the Atlantic Ocean. It was from Jonah's vantage point, the farthest you could get away from the you could get away from Nineveh. So it's like Jonah went outside and got his compass. Okay, God wants me to go there, which means I'll go there, as far away as I possibly can.

Why? To avoid God's calling. Now, I had a dog like this once. He was a Springer Spaniel, beautiful animal, but either really dumb or just really stubborn or both. But, and I'm not making this up, whenever I would call him to come, you know what he would do?

He would go. Here's the owner, the master calling the dog. But my calling did not guarantee that dog's success. Because every time I called, he'd go.

And that got to be dangerous because one day as a car was going around the street, I could see what could happen. And he didn't have a leash on. And so I wasn't thinking I called him, I should have said go.

But I called him. And he went toward the car. And I kid you not, my dog ran into the car.

You've heard of cars running over dogs. That didn't happen. It didn't need to happen. My dog ran into the car. He was just stunned.

He was okay. But I should have just stopped right there and renamed that dog Jonah on the spot. I called him, but my call did not guarantee his success.

Which brings me to where I'm going with this. Has God placed a calling on your life? I can answer that.

Absolutely, yes. God has placed some summons, some calling, some set of directions on your life. He has saved you, but he saved you for a purpose. And that purpose is his purpose. Which means every single believer, every single Christian has a calling, has a calling.

Thus, a Christian without a ministry is a contradiction. We're all called to something. Everyone has a next step, a step of spiritual growth, a step toward service or involvement or even mission. And so the question of the moment is, are you resisting that summons, that calling?

You have a call. 1 Corinthians 1, Paul says, you see your calling, brethren. Ephesians chapter 4, walk worthy of the calling wherewith he has called you. Now, some of you might be thinking, I never heard God call me. I never heard God in an audible voice say, skip. Of course, he wouldn't say Skip to you.

He'd use your name, wouldn't he? But maybe you're expecting a sort of a Cecil B. DeMille experience, you know, a Hollywood God speaking dramatic thing. And could it be that the problem isn't God speaking to you? The problem is really you listening for God. Maybe you're going through life as it were with your hands over your ears.

You've already determined where you're going. And so you just go not listening for his voice. Now, what we know happens with Jonah is he eventually does obey. And he does see incredible success.

And I mean incredible. The whole city of Nineveh, 600,000 lived there at the time. All of them turned to God. In fact, in one of the most understated verses, perhaps in all of the Bible is chapter 3, verse 5, where it says, so the people of Nineveh believed God. Really?

You can't give me a little more detail on that incredible event than that. Talk about understated. All of the people in Nineveh believed in God, so he will eventually go. He will eventually see great success, but here's the point. Only after a lot of time is wasted.

And only after a lot of pain is endured. I want you to notice something with me. Let me look at verse three a little more closely. Jonah rose to flee from Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa.

Found a ship going to Tarshish, so he paid the fare and went down into it. Later on, it's going to say Jonah went down into the gullet of this creature. Three times, the text makes reference to Jonah going down, down, down. Now, I know that meant literally he was going down from a higher place, but I also see this as a metaphor. He went down spiritually. Now, from a worldly perspective, he's going up. Way to go, Jonah. It's a step toward freedom and liberation and upward mobility. You're asserting yourself. Well, you're doing your thing. You're following your passion, but any step away from God's will is going down. He went down, down, down.

Look a little more carefully again. Same verse. Found a ship going to Tarshish, so he paid the fare.

That's a haunting phrase to me. He paid the fare, and we know what that means. He reached into his little profit pocket, pulled out some change, some money, and he paid the money to buy a ticket to go 2,500 miles west to the southwest coast of Spain.

That's where Tarshish was. It's how far away he wanted to go, and he had the money to do it. He paid the fare.

I got a question for you. Did he ever reach his destination? Did he ever make it to Spain? He did not.

He made it and encountered one of those very common Mediterranean storms that sank Paul's ship later on in the New Testament. So he paid the fare, but he never got to his destination. And here's the principle. When you go your own way, you never get to your destination, but you always end up paying the fare. But when you go God's way, you always get to the destination and God will pay the fare.

It's an incredible principle. Jonah illustrates the first part of that little statement. Someone else in the Bible illustrates the second, Moses, or Moses' mother, named Jochebed. Remember the story of Moses' mother, how she takes a little moe, baby moe, and she's going to see him no moe, because she puts a little moe in a little basket, right? A little reed basket, a little boat, and puts it on the Nile River and watches in incredible heartbreak as that little boat floats around the bend and she thinks it's over.

Lord, I trust him to you. She did it by faith. But somebody picks up that little basket and it was Pharaoh's daughter, or the handmaids of the daughter. They bring the baby basket to Pharaoh's daughter. And she said, wow, this is one of the Hebrew's babies. Well, I'll raise this baby myself in my palace. But she says, I don't want to do all the work, so go to the Hebrew's camp and find a Hebrew mother who can nurse this child for me. So the handmaids go over and happen to pick out Moses' mother. And Pharaoh's daughter says this, take this child and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages. And she says, wow, this is one of the Hebrew's babies.

I will give you your wages. Can you imagine somebody saying, I'm going to pay for all the needs for you to raise your baby from childhood to adulthood? You know what it costs to raise a child born in 2015? Apart from college, just to raise a child?

$234,000 to raise a single child in today's culture. So Moses' mother gets to raise Moses and the Egyptian government pays for it. God is arranging this. So there's the principle. You go your way, you'll never get to your destination and you'll pay the fare. You go God's way, you will get to the destination and God will pay the fare. But there's a pressing question we have to look at. Why did Jonah run?

What is he thinking? I mean, he is a prophet, right? What's a prophet's job? To speak for God. This is his job description. He becomes the worst missionary in history. God says, go. He says, no.

So why did he do it? Well, there's a few possibilities. Possibility number one, it was too tough. It was too difficult for Jonah. I mean, once you pay the money to get into a boat, you're not responsible.

The ship captain is responsible to take you from this point to that point. That's easy. When you walk to Nineveh, 550 miles, you got to go through the desert. It's difficult. It's hard. And then for a Hebrew prophet to speak to Ninevites with a message from an unknown God probably is not going to go over very well anyway.

So that's just too hard of a task. By the way, just a little fun fact, FYI. You know who founded the city of Nineveh? A guy by the name of Nimrod. Ever hear that name, Genesis?

He was the great grandson of Noah. He founded the city of Nineveh. The word Nineveh means the residence of Nunu, which is an Akkadian word for fish. So Nineveh means fish town. It's fish town. They were right on the Tigris river.

It's just an interesting fact because the guy with the greatest fish story is about to go to fish town, a town where they worshiped a fish God, a couple of them, and come up with a message. So that's possibility number one. It's too difficult. I'm not going.

Second possibility was too dangerous, too dangerous. Did you know that the Ninevites were famous or infamous for their brutality? Look at what it says in verse two. The Lord says, their wickedness has come up before me.

I am taking notice of how wicked this city is, and I'm going to do something about it. There was another prophet that was sent to the Ninevites by the name of Nahum, the prophet, who says of Nineveh, it is a bloody city, a great number of bodies and countless corpses are there. The Ninevites were known for dismembering people, decapitating people, burning people alive. One of their emperors, Ashurbanipal, the grandson of Sennacherib, would take people's lips and tear them off their bodies while they were alive, pull their hands and feet off, and then kill them. Tiglath-Pulisir, another of their rulers, flayed his captives alive and then piled up their heads so there were eventually piles of skulls at the gate of the city of Nineveh. So if you're Jonah and God says, go to Nineveh, you're thinking, no thanks, I want to get ahead in life, not add my head to a pile of a bunch of other people. So two possibilities, it was too difficult, it was too dangerous.

Now truth is, none of those were the reasons. The real reason that Jonah ran from the Lord isn't because it was too difficult or dangerous, but because it was too disdainful. That's Skip Hyten with a message from the series, But God. Now, here's Skip to share how you can keep these messages going strong to connect more people to God's truth. As believers, we're called to encourage, teach, and share Christ with one another. That's the sole purpose of this radio ministry. We want to connect you and as many people as we can to Jesus through these Bible-based messages, and your partnership helps make that possible. Please consider partnering with this ministry today through a generous gift to keep these teachings coming to you and others.

Here's how you can do that. That's the point. God is in the business of using the most unlikely people. It's my life verse, 1 Corinthians 1, God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. God won't force you, he respects your choice, but let me put it this way, God has ways of strongly persuading you. Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-02 21:50:07 / 2024-01-02 21:59:33 / 9

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