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I am Jonah, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 2, 2024 9:00 am

I am Jonah, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 2, 2024 9:00 am

Have you ever found yourself resisting God’s will? You hear him calling you in one direction, but you have another direction in mind?

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. The book of Jonah shows you who the real Savior is. Jesus does everything right that Jonah does wrong. Jonah ran from his enemies. Jesus ran toward them. Jonah was on a mission of revenge because he hated the Ninevites. Jesus came on a mission of rescue because he loved them. Jonah was all about his own self-protection.

Jesus poured himself out in self-sacrifice. Welcome back to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and apologist, J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Bitovitch. It's day two of 2024, and you're back. Let's make it a habit to be together each day at the same time, all right? Okay, let me ask you a question. Have you ever found yourself resisting God's will? Like, you definitely hear him calling you to go in one direction, but you have another direction in mind?

I know I've been there before, and I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only one. In fact, maybe you feel that way right now as we start the new year. Well, today, Pastor J.D. is opening to the book of Jonah to learn from a runaway prophet who's a lot like us.

Does that bring a little comfort? Let's grab our Bibles and join him now. Jonah, chapter 1, verse 1. Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, and said, arise and go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it because their evil has come up before me. Two things about Nineveh. First of all, it was a very great city. Secondly, it was a very wicked city. In fact, historians tell us that Nineveh was one of the cruelest, most vicious cities in the ancient world.

I was looking this week at a series of pictures, like hieroglyphic kind of stuff, that the Ninevites produced about what they would do to a city when they conquered it. They would skin alive a lot of the men and the women and the children. They would rape women and kill them.

They even boasted in their histories about raping and killing little girls. These are the people that God has told Jonah to go to. So I feel like you probably shouldn't be so judgmental on Jonah.

What would you have done if God told you to go to those kind of people? Verse 3, but Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found the ship going to Tarshish, so he paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. Here begins Jonah's rebellion.

He gets God. God clearly told him to go, and Jonah runs the other way, right? So here's a couple things that you should notice about his disobedience here, okay? First, Jonah was upstanding in every other way. Jonah was one of Israel's primary religious leaders. Jonah was like the Billy Graham of Israel.

Write this down. Rebellion is simply saying no to God. There's a lot of godly people who look like they're walking with God in every other way, like Jonah, but there's some area, there's some area they're saying no to him in. Maybe for you it's a relationship that you know is not pleasing to God, but you won't quit it. And maybe it's a sin you need to confess. Maybe it's a sacrifice of your time that God is leading you to make, to be involved with some ministry, and you're just like, no, I'm not giving that up. Maybe it's like Jonah to go somewhere, somewhere very uncomfortable, to leave family, friends, to leave what's comfortable, and to go to a place, and you are just saying no to God. Second thing that I notice in this verse is that little phrase that says he found a ship ready.

Found a ship ready. You ever notice that people assume the readiness of the ship is like God's okay on whatever situation they're about to go into? I've talked to people in the midst of adultery, and they're like, well, I was miserable in my marriage, and then magically I just met this other person, and they're perfect. And I know that God wants me to be happy.

He doesn't want me to be miserable in marriage, so that must be God's okay that he wants me to go into this new relationship. And I want to say to people, don't you think that there might be an enemy who is laying a trap for you? You've got an enemy whose primary responsibility is to ready the ship for your disobedience. The readiness of the ship is not necessarily God's okay in the situation.

The readiness of the ship might be your enemy that is laying a path and a trap for your destruction. All right, verse four. But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea. That's the problem you see with running from God is God's already at the place you're running to, and he's in the whole place in between the place where you are and where you're going.

So God's fully in charge. Then the mariners were afraid, and each one cried out to his own God. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had laid down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, what do you mean, old sleeper? Arise, call out to your God. Perhaps the God will give a thought to us that we may not perish. And so they said to one another, come, let us cast lots that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell on, surprise, Jonah.

And they say, look at him, and they say, tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your job, by the way? Where do you come from? What's your country?

What people are you from? Jonah said to them, I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, not very much, but a little, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land. Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and they said to him, what is this that you have done?

For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he just told them. Write down a couple more things, right? Our disobedience affects others. For some of you, your disobedience is destroying the people around you.

Here's another thing. God sends storms to break his people from self-reliance. God sends storms into your life to get your attention. You see, one of two things will humble you.

Listen to this. Either your theology or this kind of storm, this kind of affliction. Your theology should humble you. Your theology should teach you that you're a sinner, that you desperately need God, that rebellion is stupid. But because most of us, including me, are hard-hearted, what God usually does is he sends a storm of affliction.

He puts you flat on your back, so you look in the right direction. So, for example, if you're a slave to money, then God attacks it. You're proud, and you don't want to listen to anybody, so God allows you to fail. Now, by the way, I'm not talking about all affliction. Not all affliction goes back to disobedience. Sometimes God allows these things just as a part of his plan in our lives, but sometimes there's a storm that God puts in there because he is in love, trying to wake you up and get your attention.

Some of you are there in that spot right now. Now, you say, well, how do I know if I'm in one because of my disobedience, or if I'm in one just because? You'll know. I mean, if God's a loving father, when he sends a storm to get your attention, he's going to let you know what he's trying to do, right? I mean, with my kids, I don't spank them and then be like, no, spend the rest of the week trying to figure out what that was for.

No, if I'm trying to get their attention, I tell them immediately in the midst of discipline what I'm getting their attention for. The same way if God is trying to get your attention, he'll make it clear. If you don't know, just ask him, right?

And if he doesn't bring something, if he doesn't show you something, then I wouldn't assume, I wouldn't obsess about that. But the point is, some of you know exactly what I'm talking about right now, don't you? The moment I brought this up, and I hold the storm, all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit puts his finger on something in your life and says, this is what I'm talking about. And the whole question I'm asking is, why do you keep resisting him?

Don't keep resisting it. If Jonah had continued to fight this storm, it would have killed him and everybody aboard. Jonah ends up submitting to the storm, getting thrown in, and then the storm goes away. And that begins the process of his salvation. If you fight the storm, it'll kill you. If you submit to it, it'll be the beginning of your salvation.

So don't resist it. I mean, things end very badly for Jonah because he got in the boat. If he'd repented before he got in the boat, he wouldn't have gone through all this.

I mean, he ends up in the belly of a fish that smelled like an outhouse at a state fair. It's a terrible experience. You don't have to go through that. You don't have to end up in that kind of marriage.

You don't have to end up in these places. Listen to a loving God who wants to speak blessing and life into your life and quit resisting your heart and hardening your heart against him. Verse 11. Then they said to him, what shall we do to you that the sea may quiet down for us?

Because the sea was just growing more and more tempestuous. Verse 12. So he said to them, pick me up and hurl me into the sea. Then the sea will be quiet for you because I know it's because of me that this great tempest has come upon you. Verse 13.

Nevertheless, the men rode hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous around them. Kudos to the pagan sailors, right? They at least don't want Jonah to die, which is more than he cares about them. But sadly, now they're in a rowing contest against God.

I mean, how would you like to be there? You're rowing, you know, and God's like at his finger on the string going, ha, ha, ha. You know, it's just, it's not working out well for them.

So finally, they're like, we're not getting anywhere. Verse 14. Therefore, they called out to the Lord, O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life. Do not lay on us innocent blood because you, Lord, have done as it pleased you. Then they, verse 15, picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.

By the way, I get kind of a funny word picture here. You don't have to laugh, but it's just, you know, do you see the order of all this? Okay, so the, you know, the huge waves, they're all going to die. So then they pick up Jonah, they throw him into the sea, and immediately it says the sea ceased from its raging. So Jonah hits the water, bloop, lake Placid, you know, just like a stagnant pond. And Jonah's like, well, dang, that worked pretty well.

Pull me back up in the boat. Then right after he says that, verse 17, the fish comes, takes Jonah down for three days into the bottom of the ocean. Before I bring this to a close, let me give you a few brief concluding thoughts that are going to set the whole tone for the rest of the book of Jonah and are going to show you where we're going to go in this series from here, okay?

Again, you ought to jot these things down. Number one, the book of Jonah shows you what a real sinner is. The book of Jonah shows you what a real sinner is. It's like I told you earlier, Jonah's upstanding in every other way. He's just not willing to do this. Jonah, you see, was in a dilemma.

I want you to appreciate this. He's in a dilemma. God tells him to go to Nineveh. One of two things will happen in Nineveh, okay? Option A, they don't repent. Jonah shows up, walks to their streets, tells them 40 days you're going to be overthrown unless you repent. They don't repent. How do you think that turns out for Jonah? Based on what I've already told you about the Ninevites, it's not going to work out well, right?

That's option A. Option B, they do repent. And then Jonah's enemies find salvation. People that have done unspeakable cruelty against Jonah are saved. And by the way, if Nineveh and Assyria prosper, guess who that hurts?

Israel. In other words, watch this, Jonah is willing to obey God until it comes to a point where he's either got to lose his life or he's got to give up what he loves, which is to be the religious leader of a very prosperous nation. You see, I would say that's a pretty good picture of many of us religious people. Most of the people in here are religious people, which means that you are pleasing God in most areas of your life. But then there comes a point where God asks you to obey in something that takes something very precious from you. And that's where you become Jonah. Because you won't obey when it actually touches your sense of identity.

For some of you, your identity is your money. That's why you won't be generous with it. For some of you, your idol is your children. That's why you won't release them to the will of God. You'll obey God until it comes to a point like Jonah, that it touches your very core.

That shows you what a real sinner is. There's a clue, by the way, in verse 3. It says that Jonah fled from the presence of the Lord. Now, basic theology 101, which Jonah would have understood, is that you can't really flee from the presence of the Lord. So he's not talking about getting out of God's presence. That word presence in Hebrew is the word panim.

And what it means is face. It means the relationship with God. What he fled from was the relationship with God. He knew he wasn't going to escape God. He didn't want God's face in his life. You see, up until this point, Jonah had always been able to have God's pleasure and these things that he loved. And when those things went like this, Jonah stuck with this, even if he had to run away from God.

That's always what obedience is about. Is the face of God so valuable to you that you would literally give up everything in your life, anything that you cherish, to be able to maintain the presence, the face of God. We're glad you've chosen to kick off the new year with us here at Summit Life. If you're new to this program, learn more about us by visiting jdgrier.com. We'll finish up our teaching here in a moment, but first let me tell you about a daily email devotional that's available to our Summit Life family. I know we are all on lots of email lists, many we just ignore, but let me encourage you that this one will bring great value to your devotional life this year. In fact, the short daily readings even follow along with our current teaching on the program, so you can stay plugged into the truth of God's word regardless of your schedule. This email just might be the step that you need to establish a regular study of God's word this year, so be sure to contact us right away. To sign up for this free resource, visit us at jdgrier.com slash resources.

That's jdgrier.com slash resources. Thanks for being with us today. Now let's get back to the final moments of today's teaching on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor JD.

Daniel chapter three. If you've grown up in church, you're familiar with this story. Three Hebrew teenagers that are told to bow down before a golden statue.

They won't do it. Again, you know the story. Most of you, if you were thrown, they were thrown into the fiery furnace and Nebuchadnezzar, the king who threw them there, looks in there and he says, wait a minute, didn't we throw three guys in there? And they're like, yeah. And he's like, I see four walking around.

The fourth one's like the son of God. You know, and here's the question that story presents to all of us. When you're in a situation where obedience to God takes you into the flames, which is never desirable, would you rather go into the flames with Jesus or stay out of the flames without him?

Because essentially that's always the question. For some of you that are in this situation in a marriage and you don't have a justifiable reason for divorce and you come to me and I've had these conversations, they're like, well, I'm trying to choose between this marriage, which is miserable, and this marriage, which will make me happy. I'm like, no, you're really choosing between this marriage and God.

That's what you're choosing. Is God valuable enough that you'll stay in the midst of an unfulfilling marriage? Is God valuable enough that you would go to a place that God sent you even if it was uncomfortable for you? Until God becomes that precious and valuable to you. So you'll never really obey him. What God did is he just showed Jonah, he's like, you look like everything's right, but I'm still not your God. These things are your God, not me.

You see what I'm getting at? It shows you what a real sinner is. And by the way, every year in the synagogues, Jonah, the book of Jonah is read in its entirety. And the Jewish people have a tradition where they all in unison, after it's read, will say, stand up and say, I am Jonah.

I think that's a great picture. You are Jonah. We are Jonah. We do it every day when we struggle to obey God when it's personal to us and when it's deep and when it's costly. I am Jonah.

Here's the second thing you should know from this series as we get into it. Number two, the book of Jonah shows you who the real savior is. The book of Jonah shows you who the real savior is. You see, there's a contrast that's being set up between how Jonah feels about the Ninevites and how God feels about them. Jonah wants to see them destroyed. God wants to see them forgiven. Yet Jonah, the Ninevites' sin against Jonah was terrible. The Ninevites' sin against God was even greater. Jonah wants vengeance.

God wants mercy. Jonah is actually giving you a picture of the real savior who would come for the Ninevites. You see, in Matthew 12, Jesus would say that he was going to be a prophet like Jonah, right?

He said that his death and resurrection would be a fulfillment of the sign given through Jonah. Jonah was cast out into the sea, right? And when he went into the sea, the sea became calm. Then he was swallowed by a well for three days or a big fish for three days and then spit out on dry land again so that he could preach repentance and life to Ninevites. Jesus was cast out into the sea of God's wrath and that sea became calm.

Then Jesus was taken into the heart of the earth for three days and then Jesus was brought back to life so he could preach repentance and life to the Ninevites. The difference, of course, was that Jonah went through all of this involuntarily because of his disobedience, but Jesus would go through all of it because of our disobedience. Jesus does everything right that Jonah does wrong. Jonah ran from his enemies.

Jesus ran toward them. Jonah was on a mission of revenge because he hated the Ninevites. Jesus came on a mission of rescue because he loved them. Jonah was all about his own self-protection.

Jesus poured himself out in self-sacrifice. And when Jonah sees this about God, he resents it. I hear people say sometimes like, well, God of the Bible is so judgmental.

The reason they say that is because they've never tasted the depth of evil. The moment we get a taste of the depth of evil, which Jonah had tasted from the Ninevites, he's crying out for their vengeance. What you've got to see, listen, is that the Ninevites' sin against Jonah was terrible, but the Ninevites' sin is actually nothing compared to your sin against God. Our sin crucified Jesus.

And when God's son was crucified, God's response was not to come and cry out for our vengeance but to come and offer himself for our salvation. You see, I told you that we ought to say, I am Jonah. The other thing you're supposed to do in this book is say, I am Nineveh.

I am Nineveh. And when I realize how God came after me, you see, what that's going to do is it's going to transform your heart so that you're not like Jonah anymore. You see, what Jonah's going to show you is that there's three possible responses to the Word of God. One response is flat out rebellion.

Some of you were there. No, God, I'm just not doing it. That's one response. Response number two is where you submit like Jonah's going to in chapter three, but you're just not happy about it. I don't want to end up in the belly of a whale, so I'm going to do this so I don't get destroyed.

Right? That's not what God's after either. What God's after in the book of Jonah is this third option, which is what we call gospel-transformed obedience, where you begin to act like God because you love like God. You begin to do what God wants you to do because you think like God has you think. The way that that happens is through a profound experience of grace. If you understand that God has given you this grace, then it transforms your hearts for the Ninevites. It's why I always tell you guys, God's not just after obedience. He's after a whole new kind of obedience, an obedience that is not a bare-knuckled kind of, I hate this, but I'm going to do it because I'm afraid of God, but an obedience that flows out of your heart because your heart's become like God's heart. And the only way you can ever have that is to have a profound experience of transforming grace. So let me give the diagnosis for some of you.

This is the problem. I mean, yeah, you're obedient to God, but you're not passionate about God. You don't weep during worship.

Right? You don't naturally want to give your life to tell people about Jesus. You're stingy with your money. You might tithe, but you're not generous.

You want to know why? Because you've never had a profound experience of grace. And I can stand up here and threaten you with the belly of the whale and tell you if you don't act right, he's going to swallow you up, and that might be true. But that's not what God wants. What God wants is for you to understand you are Nineveh. You're Nineveh. And when you understand that, that will create in you the same kind of heart that he has for Nineveh. And you'll find yourself giving like Jesus gave.

So you're Jonah and you're Nineveh. All right? That's where we're going to go in the next several weeks.

But let's make sure we do first things first here. Let's just stop and say that some of you are on the deck of a ship, if we could just use that metaphor, and there's a storm, and you need to repent. I don't say this is doom and gloom, but it's just going to get worse.

It's just going to get worse. By the way, if it doesn't get worse, that's actually a really bad sign, because that might mean God's just taking his hand off of you because you're not even his child. If God loves you, he's disciplining you, and you just need to repent and submit. If God loves you, he's disciplining you, and you just need to repent and submit. I got really good news for you.

Listen, this is a little transforming news. Listen, that storm in your life is not God paying you back for your sin. You know how I know that? Because God paid Jesus back for your sin. Jesus already went through the tempest of God's wrath. He already went into the belly of the well for three days.

He already went through all the punishment. So watch this. The storm in your life is not to pay you back. The storm is to bring you back. The storm is not to pay you back. The storm is to bring you back. The storm is not God's retribution. The storm is God's restoration.

So you just got to submit to it. That's the question I ask you is why are you resisting God? God just wants to bless you.

He just wants to make you like him. He's a father of God who just wants to pour his life into yours. Why are you resisting? Who are you kicking out?

It's the God who came as Jesus Christ so that he could save you. Don't resist him. Don't resist him. Because it's just going to get worse. It's just going to get worse. I said before you life and death. I said before you blessing and cursing. The choice is yours.

It always is. The choice is yours. Blessing and life, death and cursing. Choose life.

Okay? The perfect teaching to begin this new year. Choose life. While we're a lot like Jonah, looking to protect ourselves and our agenda, Jesus sacrificed it all to give us eternal life.

Will you choose him today? You're listening to Pastor JD Greer and this is Summit Life. If you missed any part of today's teaching or if you'd like to hear more teaching from Pastor JD, visit our website to browse the online sermon archives.

You'll find this and more free of charge at jdgreer.com. This ministry exists to bring the gospel to as many people as possible through the radio, podcasting, television, the web and more. And we'd like to invite you to partner with us to help more people dive into the gospel through these channels.

After all, when you give to Summit Life, that's the mission you're supporting. And as an expression of our thanks, we've got a very practical resource we put together for you. It's the 2024 Summit Life Planner. This is the final week to get this resource, so don't miss your chance to start the year off right.

No matter what you do, you can't add more hours to your day. So how do we make the most of our time and use it effectively? Well, it takes some forward thinking and we hope this planner will be a daily reminder to stay in God's Word and to make Him the center of all your plans. We're so grateful for you and your partnership with us as we begin a new year of ministry together.

But you know, as important as these one-time gifts are, the foundation of this ministry comes from the ongoing support of our gospel partners, those who commit to regular monthly giving. Ask for the Summit Life Planner when you become a gospel partner today or when you give a single gift of $35 or more. Just a few more days to reserve your copy. So call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or you can give online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Venovich inviting you to join us tomorrow when Pastor JD gives us some practical advice for those moments of crisis that overwhelm us. That's Wednesday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-02 10:19:11 / 2024-01-02 10:30:33 / 11

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