It's good to be in the Lord's house.
Amen. There's something about the Word of God and the more I grow in my faith, the more I love it. The 66 books, God's inerrant Word. And if you're wondering where I'm going tonight, we'll be in the Book of Jonah. And it's always hard when you fill in just one sermon. As pastors taught us, you pick a book. You preach through it. And maybe by the time I'm 70, he'll be through the Book of Matthew.
Just kidding. But we hold the word high and lift it up here at Lighthouse. And it's important that we do that. And so Jonah chapter one is what we'll be at tonight.
This figure will start in one book, and we'll just kind of go through that as we get through more opportunities to speak. But if you would stand with me, if you can, to honor the reading of God's word. Jonah chapter one, verse one through four, says, Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, Arise and go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it. For their wickedness has come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. And he went down to Joppa, and he found a ship going to Tarshish.
So he paid the fare thereof and went down into it to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. Let's pray. Father, we just thank you for your word and the truth that is in it. Lord, as we come into your house this evening, Lord, many have had a long week, a difficult week, and Lord, we live in the midst of a pagan generation. Lord, may your word have weight.
May we come to it. May we meditate on it day and night. Lord, may it shape us. May it mold us, help it to conform us to the image of Christ. Lord, give us the courage to stand like a Daniel on the day that we live in. Lord, just have your perfect will. Hide me behind the cross. Lord, may you set out to do everything you've accomplished tonight in the services, not only here in the adult service, but also with the kids and the teens. We ask this tonight in Jesus' holy, precious name. Amen. Amen.
You may be seated. So why Jonah? Why did I choose Jonah? I believe that there are three reasons tonight, and the first one is a concrete example of sin and grace. We see that in the Book of Jonah, and we're probably familiar with this passage. If you've been in church any period of time, you're familiar growing up in a kid's church setting of Jonah and the whale. We can see a concrete setting of sin when Jonah runs away from God, and we can all attest to that. We've ran from God many times in our lives.
Amen. And I know for 30 years of my life I was running from the Lord, and it wasn't until someone cared enough to bring the gospel to my doorstep to share the gospel with me that I began to seek the Lord. And it was through a man of God coming in and the Spirit of God. But I also believe there's concrete grace that is shown in this book of Jonah. God is chastening Jonah. He's following after him, and the gospel was painted so clearly to us.
This could be the fifth gospel in a lot of ways. When we think about the Book of Jonah, you see the gospel to all nations. And so the second reason I chose it is most of us can relate to Jonah. Like I said a minute ago, we've all ran from God at times. At times, we have feared man rather than God. And I heard a message yesterday at that pastor's conference, and I believe there's a day and age as the pastor said this yesterday, it was Pastor Josh, and he said that there comes a day and age when we're going to have to choose who we fear more, man or God, and it's at our doorsteps.
And I truly believe that, and whichever one we fear more is where we're bound or need to. And so the second thing I believe in this why we can relate to Jonah is many of us live in a time of a lot of religious activity. We see a lot of religious activity in our day and age.
There's a lot of different types of churches in our community, a lot of different type of religious people in our communities. And Jonah acted religious, I would tell you, but his heart was not transformed. Jonah acted religious, but his heart was not transformed by the gospel. There's a huge difference between religious and the gospel. And you can be a religious person, and you can do a lot of religious things, and yet you can never have your heart transformed by the gospel. You can have people come to this church that sit here week after week, and their heart has not been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
They come to church, they sit in a seat, and they leave, or maybe not even just this church, other churches. And so the gospel is the difference. The third reason I chose this is because you can see God's love for a city. God loved the city of Nineveh. He was sending his prophet there to preach repentance so that they would turn to him. And so God loves the city of Zenia and every city throughout the world. All nations, tribes, and tongues will be a part of God's kingdom in heaven.
And so we as God's people must love our city and the people that live within our city enough to tell them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I say love and hate are not mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand. And what I mean by that is a man that loves his wife will love her so much that he'll hate anything that causes her harm. Same thing with your children. You love your children.
You love them so much that you're going to hate what causes them harm. And so we too must confront the sin in our day and age in which we live. Throughout this book of Jonah, we see God's desire for a city to repent and to worship him and to follow after him. A city of people who don't care about him. We see that there's a city that doesn't necessarily care about him or want to worship him. He wants them, yet they despise him. They reject him.
And yet he still loves them so much that he sends a messenger to tell them. And as we sit here in Zenia, Ohio, 13 years later after our pastor came to the city because he knew that there was a need for the gospel. And many of us here today are blessed because of that and many souls have been saved and we see the church that continues to grow here in Zenia. And it's all because a man faithfully followed God's call on his life.
And so as we begin this study, look for the following things. Sin and grace. Look for the gospel. The man who's looking to have his heart transformed by the gospel and look for God's love for the city of Nineveh. It brings me to my first point tonight. The commission to Jonah.
There's a commission given to him. We see that there in verse one. It says, Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying. And so when we look at Jonah again, we may know the story, but Jonah's name means dove and the Hebrew. And it's a proper name for God's prophet because all of all his people ought to be harmless as doves. We should be harmless as doves, the Bible tells us. And what I mean by that is we are to mourn as doves for the sins and the calamities of the land. We should be mourned by the sin and the depravity of the mind that we see in the day and age in which we live.
It should have an effect on us. And so his father's name was Amittai. And that means truthful. And for God's prophet should be the sons of truth.
Amen. And so to him, the word of the Lord came to him. And God's word is a real thing. Men's word are like the wind. There's not much weight. You can see that in the way that we have to legally bind our contracts now with 45 different signatures.
Probably more than that when you sign a house now. Men's words matter nothing. Talk is cheap, right? They say.
And just show me by your actions. It used to be that back in the day a man's handshake was his bond. But God's word is a real thing. It's weighty. John 17, 17 says, Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy word is truth. Psalms 1, 19, 89 says, Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. And so Psalms 19, 130 says, The entrance of thy word giveth light and giveth understanding to the simple. And so God's word is weighty.
And we need to hold to that in the day and age in which we live. He has been forever. He has been acquainted with the word of the Lord. Jonah has been acquainted with the word of the Lord. As a prophet, God would come and speak to him. Any of the prophets in the Old Testament. And then they would be God's representative.
They didn't have the benefit that we have today of the scriptures fully intact for us. And the prophet would come to the people of Israel and say, Thus saith the Lord. And he would be the spokesman for God. And so he was familiar with hearing God's voice. And he would be able to discern it from not the Lord's voice. And the orders now that were given to him, as we see in verse one, is Arise and go unto this great city Nineveh.
And so we see that God is speaking. And up to this point, Jonah is an obscure character in the Bible. 2 Kings briefly mentions him in verse 25. And it says that he is a prophet of God and much is not known of him up to this point. He is one of the leading prophets in Israel. He's coming in off the coattails of two of the most well-known prophets, Elijah and Elisha.
He is a man of respect to the people of Israel. And again, they spoke on behalf of the Lord. And verse two, it says, Arise and go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it.
For what? Their wickedness has come up before me. The wickedness has come up before God. The stench has come up before God.
And he's sending his spokesman to go and declare that they need to repent. So Nineveh is about 550 miles east of where Jonah was living. It was a well-known city at this time. It was a very complex city, about 60 miles in circumference.
These people were one of the cruelest people of this time frame. They would actually—I'll get to that here in a minute, get back to the circumference of the city—60 miles. They had a wall that was 100 feet high, over 1,500 towers that would be on the wall at 200 feet each. And the reports were that they could have chariots race around the top, three chariots wide. And that's how thick the walls were of the city of Nineveh. They were a barbaric people. They would take people outside the city, and they would bury them in the sand up to their head, basically, and leave them out in the desert, and they would go crazy, and then they would end up dying, and then they would bring the heads back and pile them up in pyramids outside the city. This is just a barbaric type of people. God says to his prophet, I want you to go to that city, and I want you to preach against their wickedness. And think about this for a moment.
And we've seen some wickedness in our day. Can you imagine this? This would be like going to Hitler in the height of the Holocaust, and saying, Hitler, you need to stop, you need to repent, you need to turn away from your sins. Or it would be like going to ISIS a few years ago and saying, hey, you need to stop this. Anybody signing up for that tour?
There's probably not too many people, right? We were joking around at the pastor's meeting yesterday, and some of the senior pastors, when they used to be assistants, and they were talking about how the senior pastor has to often make these difficult decisions, and as the assistant, you get to sit back and say, I'll pray for you, Pastor Josh, on that, as I'm eating my ham sandwich at lunch, or whatever it may be, and he's dealing with this difficult time. And so you imagine that, like you were asked by God to go to this wicked city to tell them to repent, and this is what God just asked Jonah to do.
And let's be clear about this. What God was asking him to do, from a human perspective, was irrational. But listen to Isaiah 55, verse 8 and 9. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For the heavens are higher than the earth, and my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Anybody else here tonight glad that God's thoughts and ways are higher than yours? I would be like John, I'd be like the sons of thunder.
I'd be ready to call down hail and lightning and thunder on them, and be like, hey, let's just take them out, let's drop a Moab on them, something like that, right? It's just, we'll be done with it, especially before I was saved. But let's look at how Jonah responds in verse 3. But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the ship, or from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa, and he found a ship going to Tarshish, and he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it to go with them unto that city, from the presence of the Lord. And so we have a map we're going to show, and it may not be as clear, but as you can see where Joppa is, none of it's 550 miles northeast of that, and Jonah's going down to get to the boat to head to Spain. He's like, no, Lord, I'm not going that way. I'm going as far as I can.
And at the time, this was probably the furthest of the known world. So he's like, I'm fleeing as far as I can away from this place, Lord. And so Jonah says, not a good idea, God, but I'm just going to go a different way.
I'm going as far and as fast as way as I can from you. What a surprise. Here it is that Jonah ran, but why he ran. It's not a surprise why he ran, but it's more of a surprise as to why he ran from God. And so not because he would lose his life, not because he didn't think God would cause the whole city to repent. Remember, this guy is a prophet of God.
He's seen some pretty amazing things that God has done. And the answer to the reason why Jonah fled is in Jonah chapter 4, verse 1 through 3. It says, But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the Lord and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying when I was yet in my country? Therefore, I fled before Tarshish, and I knew that thou are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness and repentance thee of the evil.
Therefore, now, O Lord, take I beseech thee my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live. And so he said the reason that he got up and he left and he fled the way that he did was not because he was afraid of the people. He didn't get up and flee because he didn't think God would do the work that he said he was going to do. He didn't want them to repent. That's why Jonah fled.
Jonah got into trouble because his attitudes were wrong. And at first he had the wrong attitude towards the will of God. Anybody ever have, you know, maybe like you just don't feel like doing God's will today? We have this flesh that's tied to us, and it's a struggle. That's why Jesus said in Luke 9 23, you know, you must deny yourself daily.
Take up your cross. And so he had a wrong attitude towards the will of God. And I would say that it is in obeying the will of God that we find our spiritual nourishment.
John chapter 4 verse 34 says this, Jesus said unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work. I also say that it is our enlightenment. It enlightens us. What I mean by that is John 7 17 says, And if any man will do his will, he shall know the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether it be I speak of myself. And it is also an empowerment. God's will is an empowerment to the believer. And we see that in Hebrews chapter 13 verse 21. Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. And so God's will is not only is it a spiritual nourishment and enlightenment, but it is empowering to the believer.
And just take a moment to think about this. To Jesus, the will of God was food that satisfied him. Yet to Jonah, the will of God was a medicine that choked him. And so the question for us tonight is how does this reflect in our life? Is doing the will of God, is it nourishment to us?
Is it something that we long to do or do we find it repulsive? Do we find it taxing at times to do God's general will in our lives? Jonah forgot that the will of God is the expression of the love of God.
According to Psalms 33 11, it says, The counsel of the Lord standeth forever in the thoughts of his heart to all generations. And so God called him to Nineveh because he loved both Jonah and the Ninevites. The reason Jonah got in the boat was because he was self-righteous. And the Jews thought it was only to them. They thought that they were the chosen people, but they were chosen to be a light unto all nations so that they would come to God. And Jonah was self-righteous. He liked most other Jews when you read even in the New Testament when the Jews would not go through Samaria. They were, in a way, they were bigoted towards other nations.
They were bigoted towards other nationalities. And so here he didn't want to go for these reasons. Secondly, Jonah had a wrong attitude towards the word of God. Not only was his attitude wrong towards the will of God, but his attitude was wrong to the word of God. When the word of the Lord came to him, Jonah thought he could take it or leave it. We live in a day and age where people think that they can take the word of God and they can cherry-pick the Bible. I like this part, I like that part, but this part over here, it doesn't conform to maybe the lifestyle I want to live, the sin that I have in my life, so I'm not going to have that part of the Bible.
I'm going to reject that part. And so Jonah thought he could take it or leave it. However, when God's word commands us, we must listen and obey to it. Luke 6, 47 says, And why call you me Lord, Lord, and not do the things which I say? And so the question is, why then if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, which, by the way, we believe that he is.
He's omnipotent, he is powerful, he's all-powerful. Did he ask Jonah to go? If he knew that Jonah was going to flee, why did he ask Jonah to go? And why would he ask this man who he knew hated these people to go to them?
Why? And so here's why God asked Jonah to go. Because he knew how Jonah's heart would respond. So what he wanted to do in his prophet was inform him, even though you act and you look and you do religious stuff, at times your heart has not been transformed and conformed to the will and to what I have commanded you to do.
And he's like, I'm going to reveal some things to you through this command. And so the question is, has anyone here tonight ever had God stir in your heart or prompt in your heart to do something, yet you didn't feel like acting upon it? I got to go talk to my neighbor about Jesus.
They're annoying, that dog's yapping, I just want to kick it. And it's just like, I have to go talk to my neighbor about Jesus. And sometimes we don't feel like it, do we, if we're being honest. At times we don't necessarily want to pick up our Bible in the morning and read. Sometimes it is a matter of the will. We have to will ourselves to conform ourselves to get in the Word, to get to pray.
We've heard over the last several weeks about prayer. Sometimes you have to spend, you know, you just have to force yourself to do it until you get in that habit. It may not be the most glamorous thing that you want to do, but at times you're just like, I need to do it. I must, needs to do this.
I must do it. And so the Lord, he's like, Lord, I don't want to share the gospel. I don't want to tell these people to repent. And in these moments and seasons, often God is trying to reveal things to us that we might not be aware of yet in our own hearts and in our own lives. And so as he's asking us or prompting us to do things, we need to just surrender, just be a yes man for God.
Just go all in. And if there's a neighbor, there's somebody at the gas pump next to you and you're like being felt like you need to share the gospel with them, do it. You will be blessed. I can remember the first time I went on visits. Not first time, but so I've shared this story with the teens, and it's kind of scared them, I think.
Now they don't want to go on visits. So I started coming, I was going on visits, and I went with pastor, you know, and I was like, oh, this is great, because the first month or two we would go on visits. He would do all the talking.
It was absolutely the best. I'd sit over there. I would pray.
I'm like, Lord, you know, soften this person's heart and any questions they had, he would answer. It was phenomenal. And I got to see people saved, got to see how to witness to people. And it was about six weeks in, and it was the last visit.
And I will never forget this. We go up to this house. It was over here in the Indian Platte, and he knocks on the door and we wait a minute. He knocks again. Finally, the lady opens the door.
And I'm waiting like the other six weeks. Is he going to start talking? I'm smiling at her.
She's smiling at me. I turn and I look. I don't know where he went. He's gone.
It was like three steps and he's half a block away. But I mean, he is gone. And she's looking at me and I'm looking at her and I'm like, and she's probably like, what's this guy doing? He's lost.
Like, what's wrong with him? And I'm like, ma'am, I said, I'm with Lighthouse Baptist Church. And she's like, OK. And I said, yeah, we just wanted to invite you out to church.
OK. I failed miserably in sharing the gospel with that lady that day. But what it did is it let me know that I needed to be better prepared in sharing the gospel. I needed to be ready to give an account. I need to be able to share my faith with others. And I will never forget that.
And it sharpened me. So listen, friends, how unloving would it be of God to allow Jonah to continue to walk in the facade that he he's got it all together. He's a religious man.
He's a prophet of the Lord. He does what he needs to do. And he's got it all all together. By the way, none of us have it all together.
None of us have it all together. This should be good news for each and every single one of us here tonight. Why is this good news? Because every one of us, to a certain degree, can be self-righteous. Maybe you're self-righteous here tonight and the fact that you have had your heart transformed by the gospel. Every single one of us is self-righteous in some degree or another. And so the question is, why is this dangerous and deadly for us to become self-righteous? And that's because we tend to build our identities on what we are self-righteous about.
So for Jonah, he was not just self-righteous about being a religious man, one who knew the true God, one who understood who understood it and his self-righteousness and led him to build his entire security and find his complete identity in being that guy. And so growing up, my dad taught me hard work. My stepdad taught me hard work. And any time that you wanted something in life, you needed to go out there and work for it and get it. And so a lot of times early on, I had a lot of self-righteousness built up and how I could work hard. I could outwork the guys that I worked with. And I built my identity in that. And I would put my co-workers down because they couldn't do what I was doing at that time because I was wrapped up and working hard.
And I wouldn't be merciful to them. I would compare myself to them, build myself up, put them down. And that was my self-righteousness in the workplace early on.
Also, another example was growing up, I could play baseball and I had a partial scholarship and all those sorts of things. And I could do things on the field that others could not do. And I would brag and I would boast about those things.
I would become puffed up. And so what are you and I self-righteous about as we sit here tonight? Make no mistakes. Everyone here tonight is self-righteous in some way or another, in some area or another. What is it that you have a tendency to build your entire identity in and around? Because you do not only work for that, but you constantly think about it. You let it become a false idol in your life.
You have put others down that are not as good as you in those areas. And my prayer tonight is that the Lord would be merciful to us, that he would rip those false idols away from us. He would bring those walls down wherever we're hiding behind or putting our identity in other than God. And I love what Paul said in Galatians 2 20. He says, I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.
And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. And so Paul's identity was wrapped up in Christ. You think about that when he's talking in Philippians about all his accomplishments. He said he counted them all but dung.
It was all but waste. And so he was pressing towards the mark of the high calling of Christ. And now look with me back to verse three again in Jonah. Jonah 1 3 says, But Jonah rose up. And so God reveals that Jonah's identity is not in him. There's always, let me say this, there's always going to be a ship.
Fleeting away from where God wants you to be at. And what I mean by that is the ready way is not always the right way. I'll say it again. The ready way is not always the right way. Ladies, there's always.
And I say this because I've dealt with counseling more so this year than in the past. Ladies that are lonely, there will always be a man. Not a righteous man, but there will always be a man there. He will be always be waiting. Men that like to fantasize. Your thoughts.
There will always be a device available. It's not like, think about this, Jonah went down to the shipyard. He didn't like go down there like, Oh man, there's no ships here today. Like think about that. He knew that there was going to be a ship that was going to take him as far as way as he could to get away from God. It's like if we went to a car dealership, we'd expect a car to be there, right?
I know it's been kind of crazy with some of that with new vehicles and stuff. But again, you go, it's going to be there. There's always an escape that is available if you choose to pursue that route. But we should not.
As children of God, we should not seek to do that. There will always be a way around accountability. It will always be there. And it's not like you have this moment and you run away from the Lord and hope that it's not going to be there. The alcoholic that turns to the bottle knows that the alcohol is going to be in the bottle. The addict that turns to the drug knows it's going to be there. And so we have to guard ourselves.
It will be there. And we know that you need to know that it will always be there. And one of the most profound things you can know about yourself is how you specifically and uniquely run from God. You need to know that you need to put safeguards that you need to have accountability partners. I need to have accountability partners.
I need to have safeguards in my life and people to hold me accountable. So what do you do when you run and where do you go? Because it's going to be waiting. Jonah goes down and guess what just happens to be waiting at the dock? It's a ship.
There's a ship there. He's going to flee the Lord. Then in verse 4 here, it says where we shift. So up to this point, we have seen a concrete example of sin. Jonah is fleeing from God.
It's where you and I live daily. There's a tendency that we at times want to run away from the Lord. And sometimes we think our ways are better than his ways.
It brings me to my second point tonight. Jonah's flight and God's pursuit of him. And God's pursuing all of us. He is after our hearts.
He is a jealous God, the Bible tells us. So verse 4 through the rest of this account tonight, you're going to see a concrete example of God's love and his mercy and his chastening sinners even though they don't want any part to do with him or his love. And you see that in verse 4. But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea and there was a mighty tempest in the sea so that the ship was like to be broken. Interestingly, Jonah, he's lost the voice of the Lord.
Think about that. He could go to God. He could discern God's voice. God would come and speak to him and he would go speak on God's behalf to the people. And here in verse 4, it says, But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea.
At this moment, God was no longer speaking to Jonah through his word. Pain was going to be his teacher. And for us in our lives at times, we either listen to God's word or pain can be our teacher.
As I've grown over the years, I much rather prefer to learn from God's word than allow pain to be my teacher. And so God has called the Jews to be a blessing to all nations of the earth. Genesis 12 one through three tells us that. But when they were out of the will of God, they brought trouble instead of blessings.
Think about that. When Abraham lied twice, he brought trouble upon Egypt. Achan brought trouble upon Israel's army because he robbed God.
And Joshua Chapter seven. And now Jonah is bringing trouble to a boatload of pagan sailors because he fled. And so this is not God's wrath to send the storm on the ship. That's God's mercy. God's mercy is when he is chastening after us. And in the pains of life, when we have pain to be our teacher, that's God's mercy. The worst thing he could do is allow Jonah to leave and never chasten after him.
To bring him back to him. You want to talk about God's wrath? That's turning someone over to God's wrath.
It's just allowing them to go. In Romans Chapter one, at a certain point, God says he turns them over to a reprobate mind. So you see, you want to see God's wrath?
You just see that he would let him go. Listen to Proverbs three, verse 11 and 12. My son despise not the chastening of the Lord, neither be weary of his corrections. For whom the Lord loveth, he correcteth, even as a father the son whom he delighteth.
And the same thing in Hebrews Chapter 12, verse six through seven. For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourges every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dilleth with you as with sons. For what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
And so basically, if God is not chastening after the person, they probably are not a believer. God chastens his children. Just like your children, when they get out of line, you have to correct them. I've got an 11-year-old, I seem like I am on him all the time.
It's just like, come on, get with the program here. But he's just following, it's just the hereditary sin. Leaves a closed land on the floor like his dad did.
Just those things, you see that repeat. But yeah, you're chasing after him. I remember once, he's riding his scooter down the street.
I kid you not, I probably shouldn't even share this story, it's embarrassing. He's riding his scooter down the street, and I think he just had his underwear on at the time. And he has an American flag on his scooter, and he's yelling, America, America, America. And he's like three or four years old. And I'm like, oh, this is so embarrassing, why is he like his mother?
No. But anyways, I'll be in trouble for that later. But he had to correct him.
Like, you need to have some clothes on, and just chasing after him a little bit, and coach him along. Notice this in verse 5, Jonah loses spiritual energy. Again, Jonah was a prophet of the Lord, and you see, it's a slow slide. As he's removing himself from God's will, God's word, he is slowly moving further and further away from God.
He's losing spiritual energy. Look at verse 5, then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his God, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it up of them. But Jonah was also throwing stuff off?
No, he was fast asleep. Jonah is sleeping. The boat is in turmoil, the sailors who are used to, you know, the wicked seas and stuff like that, the storms on the seas, they're panicking, they're throwing things off the boat, and Jonah's just fast asleep.
This is such a wicked storm that these hardened fishermen, they're afraid. Not only that they start to cry out to his own God, it says there, that they start crying out to their own pagan gods. These pagans cry out to their gods, and they start throwing the cargo off, but Jonah was asleep.
Is that not the place where many people go to get away from God? When hardships happen in their lives sometimes, they just, I'll just go to sleep for a while. I'll sleep this off, I don't want to think about it, I don't want to deal about it. I'm just going to take a nap, I'll deal with it tomorrow. Let me just go to sleep so I don't have to think about it.
He was not concerned about the safety of others. In fact, he had lost the spiritual energy that God had once given to him. Proverbs 24 33 says, Get a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.
So shall thy poverty come as one travaileth, and thy want as an armed man. So not only did Jonah lose his spiritual energy, Jonah also then starts to lose his power in prayer. Anybody ever have a loss in power in prayer? Maybe you haven't prayed like you should and you get off track and there's seasons of life where you're not praying.
Or sometimes maybe you're praying but you just feel like you're just not connecting with God and you're just whatever that might be. And Jonah 1 6 says, So the shipmaster came unto him and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper, arise? Call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us that we perish not. And so notice the heathen sailors are praying for help. Yet Jonah, who knows the one true God as Jeremiah 10 10 says, But the Lord is the true God. He is the living God and he's the everlasting king. He knows him, but he is not praying to him.
The pagans are praying to their pagan gods. Yet Jonah is fast asleep. A loss of power in prayer or not praying at all is the first indications that we are far from the Lord. And that we need to get right with him. If we're not praying and we're not reading the word like we should be, that's a good indicator. You know, you take your car in to get a diagnostic check. They have maybe your check engine lights on.
They're going to run a diagnostic to see what's going on with it. And a lot of times in our spiritual walk, it's because we are not reading our Bibles like we should. We're not praying like we should. And we feel distant and far from God. And so, of course, Jonah would first have had to confess the sin that he had in his life and to determine to obey God at this point.
Something he was not willing to do at this point. Psalm 66 18 says, If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. We have to have a clean heart. We have to confess our sins.
1 John 2 8 and 9, right? And so we have to confess our sins. And so Jonah not only had lost his spiritual energy, he had lost his prayer, but Jonah is losing his testimony. And that's one thing as a Christian. It takes a lifetime to build your testimony, and it can be gone in an instant, right? It can be gone in just a second.
It's just a split second decision, and it's gone. Your testimony is destroyed. And so Jonah is losing his testimony here in verses seven through 10.
It says in verse seven, And they said unto, said everyone unto his fellow, Come and let us cast lots that we may know for whose cause this evil was upon us. So they cast lots, and a lot fell upon Jonah. Jonah's busted.
Jonah's busted dead in his sins. Who in here has ever been caught doing something that you probably shouldn't have been doing? I have so many stupid stories I could tell you on this. So many.
And some of the most recent ones. I was running a race with pastors brothers in Chillicothe, and it's a 150 mile relay race, and it's overnight, and you're just not sleeping. And I'm just not in the right frame of mind, and we're running through a state park.
I probably shouldn't even say this is online. And I'm like sweating, and it was cold. We started out early in the morning.
It's like three in the morning. I'm running through the woods, headlamp on and everything. I start sweating and getting cold.
And Jeff was there. He knows this. And I'm like running, and all of a sudden I'm just burning up. So I take my hat off, and I throw it down in the woods. I'm thinking, well, you know, it'll be all right. Somebody pick it up. We get to the next checkpoint, and we're waiting for Jared to come in and finish.
The wildlife officer is there, and he knows Jared, and he's talking to him afterwards. And we get to talking, and I'm like, oh yeah, I threw my hat down. And he's like, you mean to tell me you litter? They would buy clothes to wear to church, and you weren't allowed to wear them to school. And so me being the rebel, I didn't want to even go to church. So then I was going to wear the church clothes that I was supposed to wear to church to school because I wasn't supposed to wear them to school.
And so my dad's in law enforcement, and he's working third shift. And I'm thinking, well, he'll be sleeping when I get home still from school so I can sneak in the house, take these clothes off, and he'll never know it happened. So I had this plan. I get in the house. I'm walking to the room. I close the bedroom door. Anybody have those push-button locks on the bedroom door? And it clicks.
Well, if you turn the knob and push it in, and then you release it at the same time, it doesn't make any noise. And I'm like, I got this. I'm trying to change real quick before dad comes in. He was on me. Man, he was on me. He hit that door. He knocked on it. He's like, what are you doing? I'm like, nothing. He's like, open this door. I'm like, in a minute. Next thing I know, it was like SWAT team coming in, and that door got kicked down.
He was coming in, and I'm there, like in the clothes and everything. I'm like, busted. There's times we just move on.
There's so many stories. I pray for us that God will bust us when we are running and hiding from him, and we're in our sin. I'm not saying that I hope bad things happen to us when we're in these seasons, but I hope that God, in his mercy, he catches us when we're running from him, and we're in the middle of a lie, and that he can expose our sins. We're to strive to be holy people. We're to strive to live a sanctified life. 1 Peter 1, 15, and 16 says, But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversations, because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy.
We're to strive to live a sanctified and a holy life. He is merciful to us. God is merciful to us when he exposes our sin. When we get on the road of running from him, he is merciful to chase in after us and bring us back to him. Listen to these men in verse eight.
It says, Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us. What is thine occupation? And whence comest thou? What is thy country? And what people art thou?
And so there's four questions that these pagan sailors ask Jonah. They ask him, What is your occupation? What do you do for a living? Where did you come from? What is your country? And what people are you?
Four basic questions. And remember, Jonah's name means dove. Dove is a symbol of peace. His father's name means faithful or truthful, something that he had not done up to this point. He wasn't living up to his calling as a prophet of God, and he had no message for them from God. And then verse nine, it says, And he said unto them, I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, which hath made the seas and the dry land. So Jonah says all that there.
He answers three of the four questions that they had asked him. The one he failed to ask them was, What is your occupation? The very thing that he had put his identity in and being a prophet of God and being a Jew.
He told him that he was a Jew, but he failed to tell me he was a prophet of God. He was ashamed to say that I am a prophet of God in this moment. The question for us tonight is, have we ever been ashamed to tell someone that we are a Christian?
Have we shied away from that at times? Because we've had a fear of man, especially maybe when we have sin in our lives or in the pagan culture with which we live in today. Not only does he feel shame, but it gets worse than that. And verse 10 through 12, it gets much worse. It says in verse 10, Then were the men exceedingly afraid and said unto him, Why hast thou done this?
For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee that the sea may be calm unto us? For the sea wrought and was temptest, and he said unto them, Take me up and cast me forth into the sea. So shall the sea be calm unto you, for I know that for my sake this great temptest is upon you. So Jonah's gone from just outright depression to kill me.
Throw me in the sea. For Jonah, it's far better to be thrown in the sea and die than to do God's will at this moment in his life. His shame, Charles Spurgeon said this, that God never allows his children to sin successfully. We must not make a mistake of calling Jonah a martyr here, for the title would be undeserved. Martyrs die for the glory of God, but Jonah offered to die because he was selfish. He would rather die than to obey God's will in his life.
And so stop and think for a moment. If he had just fallen to his knees and he had confessed his sins to God and repented of that, Jonah might have seen, he would have seen the storm stop and he would have had the opportunity himself to witness to the pagan sailors on the boat with him. We would be like, and isn't this us, like previous to being saved, and sometimes even when we are in the mess and the muck of sin sometimes, we try to clean it up ourselves, don't we, at times. And so we would be like these sailors, we're starting to throw more stuff. We're not going to throw Jonah off, like we're like Jonah, start throwing some more stuff off this boat. Let's make it lightweight, let's go. Jonah is like, nope, I'm busted and I'm ashamed.
Throw me over, just kill me. And I would say this, if we put our identity in anything other than Jesus Christ, you run the risk of when that is taken away from you to going into some really dark places. There's athletes that have placed their whole identity in the sport they play, and when that is taken from them, they go into some really dark, depressing places. Now anything that we build our identity in outside of Christ will not last. And so verse 13 tells us, nevertheless, the men rowed harder. They were rowing even harder against the storm to bring it to the land, bring the boat to the land, but they could not, for the sea wrought and was temptest against them.
So it's interesting here. It's a vivid picture of us when we're stuck in our sins and sometimes as humans we try to get through that. We try to dig ourselves out of it instead of throwing our lives to Christ. Instead of calling upon the Holy Spirit, instead of turning to God and repenting of our sins and asking Him to forgive us, sometimes we just try to dig our own way out of it, or sometimes we try to bury it.
We try to hide it and God will uncover that. Verse 14, Wherefore they cried unto the Lord and said, We beseech thee, O Lord, we beseech thee. Let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood, for thou, O Lord, has done as it pleased thee.
And so God is using this sinner, that's all He can use, we're all sinners, to reach other sinners. This is the true God and the living God, the everlasting King, and here they are, they're throwing themselves upon God's mercy. And then they threw Jonah over. Who should have been the first person to throw themselves on God's mercy? It should have been Jonah. Jonah should have been the very first person to throw himself on God's mercy. Verse 15 and 16, So they took up Jonah, and they cast him forth into the sea, and the sea ceased from her raging.
Then these men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows. Just think, if Jonah would have stopped, repented, he would have given the opportunity, God would have calmed the seas, Jonah would have had the opportunity to tell them of God, to repent from their sins, yet he did not. And so they pick up Jonah, they cast him in the sea, and it is calm, it is done.
The sea has ceased. The very thing that Jonah was trying to run and flee away from and proclaiming, repentance. He was called to preach to Nineveh, to preach repentance, and the very thing he was running and fleeing from doing, was just used, despite all of his efforts, to flee from it. When the storm ceased, they feared God even more, and offered a sacrifice to him, it tells us there, and they offered vows to the Lord, for us to rebel against God's will, as Jonah did, is to invite God's chastening upon our lives. The Westminster Catechism states that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. So we glorify God by enjoying his will and doing it from our hearts. Galatians, or Ephesians 6 says, Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the what? The heart. This is where Jonah failed. He did not do it from the heart.
Jonah could agree with the Psalmist in 1 18, Psalm 118 18 says, The Lord hath chastened me, sore, but he hath not given me over unto death. And so, four closing thoughts tonight, as we close, corporately, as a church. How are we going to continue to respond to the city God has put us in, in our neighborhoods, and in the community of Zenia, and in the 20 different cities that are represented here? How are we going to respond to the calling that God has given to us to be good neighbors, as citizens of heaven, within the city of Zenia and our communities which we live in? How are we going to love the city even though they don't necessarily agree with what we believe and what we think?
How are we going to respond to this text? How are we going to grow, are we going to grow self-righteous towards our city? Are we going to grow self-righteous as a church? And my prayer tonight is that we would not do that. That we would remain humble like we are. That we would speak the truth with love and compassion in order to seek and save the lost. This was Jesus' focus, wasn't it? And Luke 19, 10 says, As for the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost. If you would stand with me tonight. There are, again, concrete examples of God's grace, God's mercy. Is there things in your life that you're fleeing from God? Are there things maybe that God has prompted you to do that you're not following His will for your life? If you would bow your heads, close your eyes. Just ask tonight, do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? If you would bow your heads, close your eyes.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-18 03:01:30 / 2022-11-18 03:22:32 / 21