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1026. Jonah: A Servant Chosen and Equipped

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
July 5, 2021 7:00 pm

1026. Jonah: A Servant Chosen and Equipped

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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July 5, 2021 7:00 pm

Dr. Greg Mazak begins a Seminary Chapel series entitled “Old Testament Servants,” with a message titled “Jonah: A Servant Chosen and Equipped,” from the book of Jonah.

The post 1026. Jonah: A Servant Chosen and Equipped appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today on The Daily Platform, we begin a new study series from Seminary Chapel called Old Testament Servants. Today's speaker is Dr. Greg Mazak, who for over 25 years has served in Christian ministry as a youth pastor, camp and conference speaker, and as an adjunct professor at Bob Jones Seminary. What an honor to preach the Word this morning.

But here we have this topic, this assigned topic, of chosen and equipped. And we are giving his speaker some latitude because we can pick an Old Testament character. And as I was praying through this, this was actually a couple months back, immediately my mind went to the prophet Jonah. And if you want to open up to Jonah, we're gonna be reading a lot of Scripture today. I'll try to keep my comments to a minimum, allowing time for prayer after. And initially, this was not planned to be the first message. I think providentially it works out perhaps well that it would be. And so I begin just with a simple illustration, even as you get ready to turn to Jonah.

Kind of a tongue-in-cheek story. There was a man, a middle-aged man with children and a wife, and it was Sunday. He's a Christian man, and it's Sunday morning. And his alarm clock goes off, and he hits snooze again and again and again. And his kids come in and say, Dad, come on. It's time to church.

Wake up. And he just ignores them. His wife comes in and says, honey, it's time for church. Come on, get up.

And he basically ignores her. And finally, they're dressed ready to go. The wife comes into the bedroom and says, honey, you have to get up. You have to go to church.

And he's a little bit angry. And he says, give me three good reasons why I should go to church this morning, and I'll go. And she said, you want reason number one? Reason number one is Jesus died on the cross for you.

You should want to go and worship Christ. He said, okay, that's one. Give me another one. She looked at him and said, okay, you're my husband. You're the father of our children. You're supposed to be the spiritual leader of this house. And as a spiritual leader of this house, you should want to take us to church.

Go to church. He said, okay. He said, okay, that's two.

Give me a third one. She looked at him and said, you're the pastor, all right? And you should want to go to church. Now, we kind of smile at that silly, I'm sure, fictitious story. And if that were true, it would be sad.

But my question is, would it be surprising? Maybe it depends on how you think of people involved in vocational ministry. Whether you think of a pastor, a missionary, a vocational biblical counselor, how do you view people that are involved in what we would call vocational Christian ministry?

And, you know, this is oversimplified. But some people would suggest that maybe they are the spiritually elite. We would call them the clergy to make sure you're distinct from the laity.

Right? You would never drop down to being an accountant, an attorney, or an architect. Those would be beneath you. Because as a person who really loves Christ, you're above that. In fact, you even have to hit the requirements of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Those are things we require of people in ministry because that's a higher standard, right? That's how some would present it.

I'm not dismissing that. I'm making a suggestion there's a second way to view people involved in ministry. That maybe they're simply gifted differently because God has given them a different task to perform.

No better, no higher, no lower, no worse than an accountant, an attorney, or an architect. And would we require them to hit the requirements in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? Well, of course, not because they're held to a higher standard, but that's how every Christian should live. And if you're involved in ministry, you're supposed to be an illustration of what is required of every Christian. If that second view of ministry is somehow at least close to being accurate, then it really shouldn't be surprising. It's sad, but it's not surprising when we study the life of a man like Jonah. And so here we are in Jonah, a person who does not do well in ministry. It's sad.

I would suggest it's not surprising. You say, why? Two simple points in our message this morning. The first one is, God graciously uses unlikely servants.

And then we'll see that as our first point. Our second point will be, God graciously saves unlikely people. First point, God graciously uses unlikely servants. I'm just going to begin reading, and I'm reading from an ESV if you want to follow along. Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amitei, saying, so God's word is clear to him.

What does it say? Three things arise. Secondly, go to Nineveh, that great city.

Thirdly, call out against it, for their evil has come up before me. But Jonah, as you know, rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare, went down to it to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

Verse 3, that's repeated twice. He's running away from the Lord. And I think we've all heard sermons about how if he's running away to Tarshish, he's going very far away, the other side of the Mediterranean, perhaps the west side of what we would know of S. Spain.

And what is this doing? This is demonstrating Jonah's heart. He's not a man who understands grace. We know he's running away from God's calling.

We'll read of it in chapter 4. Because he knows that God has a desire to save wicked people like the Ninevites. And Jonah is not excited about that. Why would you be excited about God saving a wicked group of people unless you saw yourself as the same as them? See, if you saw yourself as wicked as a Ninevite, you would rejoice at other people like you would come to know Christ, as we would say in New Testament language. But Jonah's not there, right? He's Jewish.

We all know he's better than others, at least in his view, he would think that. And so here he is filled with prejudice, here he is struggling, and yet God calls him. God knows this. God knows the heart that he has. God has, perhaps you would say, and I know there's many different people in different places in life, but if you would have this conviction that God has called you into vocational ministry, he has called you in spite of your sin, not because you're better than the next person, not because you're spiritually superior, but because he has simply chosen to do that, then unless you would think, well then God doesn't really care about sin, well that's certainly not the case.

Let's keep reading a second point. God pursues us in our sin. I start reading from chapter 1 verse 4, and I'll just finish the whole chapter if you want to follow along. But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea so that the ship threatened to break up. And just a quick comment, God hurling a great wind, a storm, God bringing difficulties in our lives, never to hurt us, always because he loves us, never to judge us, but pursuing us because he knows that it's best to deal with this issue of our sin. So he doesn't ignore it.

I'll keep reading. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his 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, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your God. Perhaps the God will give a thought to us that we may not perish. And they said to one another, verse 7, Come, let us cast lots that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.

So they cast lots, the lot fell on Jonah. They said to him, Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from?

What is your country and of what people are you? He said to them, I'm a Hebrew, I fear the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land. Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, What is this that you have done?

For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, from Yahweh, because he had told them. Then they said to him, What shall we do to you that the sea may quiet down for us? For the sea grew more and more tempestuous, he said to them. Pick me up, hurl me into the sea, then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.

Nevertheless, the men rode hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore, they called out to the Lord, O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you. So they picked up Jonah, hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made bows. And then we get down to the bottom of chapter 1 in verse 17, and we see the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

You say, What is God doing? He's pursuing Jonah in his sin, so he could bring him to a place of confession as he convicts Jonah of sin. And that could be a third subpoint, and we pick it up in chapter 2. And again, I know I'm reading quickly, but as you would know, chapter 2, a brief chapter. What happens in Jonah chapter 2 verse 1? Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying, I called out to the Lord out of my distress.

He answered me out of the belly of Sheol. I cried, You heard my voice, for you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me. All your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, I am driven away from your sight, yet I shall again look upon your holy temple. The waters closed in over me to take my life. The deep surrounded me. Weeds were wrapped around my head, about my head at the roots of the mountains.

I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever. Yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you and to your holy temple.

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. But I, with the voice of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord. And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

You say, what's going on there? Here is Jonah convicted of his sin. Here is Jonah confessing to the Lord his sin, and what does the Lord do?

It's what the Lord always does. He forgives us of our sin. We serve a gracious God, and he calls us in spite of our sin, just like Jonah. He pursues us when we sin, never to get even, never to judge us, right?

That was taken care of on Calvary. But he brings us graciously to the place where we would honestly acknowledge and confess our sin, and he forgives us. You say, was Jonah forgiven?

Well, let's go over to chapter 3 and just read the first verse. The word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time saying, verse 2, arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you. That's what the Lord told Jonah to do the first time. And Jonah ran. God pursued him. Jonah was convicted. God forgave him, and then God says, okay, Jonah, let's go.

Now, this is what I have for you to do. Aren't you glad that God would give us more than one chance? Aren't you glad that you don't have to hit a certain level, that if I could just keep my life right and never fall into sin, then God would use me.

But if I fell into sin, then it's all over. That's not how God is. And as sad as the story of Jonah is in many ways, I hope none of us would find it surprising. Now, if our view is, you know, somebody being used of God, no doubt it has to be a spiritually elite person, then this story is incredibly surprising.

But if I am getting a handle on grace and perhaps sovereignty, then maybe I'm understanding that we are just tools in the potter's hand, and God uses whom he will. And every time someone in ministry quote unquote falls, it is absolutely sad, but never surprising. Even as many of us saw yesterday, when on every news site I came across, mega church pastor, 30 year old with wife and children commit suicide. I don't know him, and so I can't say anything to reflect on his ministry. I'm somewhat aware of the head pastor of that ministry, vaguely. I'm not familiar, so I can't speak at all, except to know that it hit the news.

Mega church pastor commits suicide. Sad. Incredibly sad. Surprising.

Why? If God uses rusty tools to perform his work. And I asked that question that way on purpose.

Would God use rusty tools? How many sermons do you remember from six and seven years ago? And I think most of us would say not many.

That doesn't mean they were bad, right? I've heard one person say it's like a good meal. You can be blessed with many good meals in five, six, seven years. You might later not remember a specific one. As I was meditating on Jonah, I actually remembered a specific sermon preached on our campus. It was preached in 2013. The title of the sermon was called God Uses Rusty Tools. And one of the points that the author made in that sermon, and just go on sermon audio if you'd like to listen to it, just look up the title, God Uses Rusty Tools, is he asks the question why.

And one answer he suggests is because there are no other tools to use. And if you are at all aware of yourself, you have no problem with that. And I think most of us would ask the question, is it possible that some would actually not see themselves that way? And actually believe that they have arrived at a place where they are not a rusty tool, and their sanctification is on such an incredible level that they are the spiritually elite, and they embrace the concept of clergy, and they know they are so far better than others. But I wouldn't think that would be something that would be widely embraced even in this room, even as we would read accounts like this of Jonah. But maybe there's a second reason why God would call unlikely people like Jonah to ministry, and maybe that's because God graciously saves unlikely people. If God in his grace saves unlikely people, then why would it be surprising that God in his grace uses unlikely servants? If God is looking for the good people, the good people, right, the people that are good family men, the people that are good citizens, the people that are good patriots, the people that we all like to live next to, if those are the kinds of people that God saves, then we would expect that the kind of people that God uses in ministry as his servants would also be those kinds of people. But if God graciously saves unlikely people, then it wouldn't seem odd that God would graciously use unlikely servants. And as you know well, what do we read in the rest of Jonah?

That God graciously saves unlikely people. What kind of people? Sinful people like the Ninevites. Here we read in Jonah chapter 3. Jonah chapter 3 verse 3, so Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, and you've all heard, I would think, stories of how incredibly sinful, unkind, just mean these people were. So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days journey in breath. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey he called out, yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown. And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest of them to the least of them. And some people struggle, seriously, like the whole city turns to Christ, as we would say, based on that sermon.

I mean, come on, there's not a whole lot there, right? 40 days, Nineveh will be overthrown. Well, notice what the text says. Verse 6, the word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robes, covered himself with sackcloth and satin ashes. And as he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, let neither man nor beast heard nor flock taste anything.

Let them not fear to drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.

Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger so that we may not perish. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. Again, is that a surprising thing, that that message would convert a city? Is it surprising to you if I share one element of how God saved me? The gentleman who led me to Christ, as we would say, was not a Christian. A graduate of this school, but not a Christian. A full-time missionary to the campus where I was studying, but not a Christian.

I didn't know that. He led a Bible study. I went.

Fast forward. I put my faith in Christ. He later leaves his wife. He later lives in adultery with multiple other men. I had no idea.

And people say, is that surprising to you? Well, in some ways perhaps, but if God is sovereign and the power is the scriptures, then maybe even a simple message like this from a less than stellar prophet can be used by God to change the eternal destiny of many in a city. And so Jonah preaches, and God works, and people are saved.

Well, we know that God is a God who saves sinful Ninevites. Jonah's not real happy about it. We read Jonah for it. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly. He was angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you were gracious, God and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me.

It's better for me to die than to live. And the Lord said, Do you do well to be angry? Obviously incredibly sad to read this. Here's a guy who should be rejoicing, right, that people would come to Christ. And he's sad. I think this is a very sad story.

But again, perhaps not surprising. Well, verse 5, Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself. There he sat under it in the shade till he should see what would become of the city. Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant, but when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was fainting. He asked that he might die and said, It's better for me to die than to live. But God said to Jonah, Do you do well to be angry for the plant?

He said, Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die. And the Lord said, You pity the plant for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night, perished in a night. Should not I pity Nineveh, that great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle.

Perhaps people in great spiritual darkness, some would suggest, others suggest children who would not know their right hand from their left. Here is a compassionate God pointing out to Jonah that he should be a compassionate prophet. He's not, and yet God still used him. But if God graciously saves unlikely people, maybe that's not surprising, because we've just seen in the text, God not only saves sinful Ninevites, he saves sinful people like us. Because who would dare say I'm better than a Ninevite, that I am more deserving of God's grace. Can I remind us all of the kind of people that God calls to salvation from 1 Corinthians chapter 1, beginning in verse 26.

Consider your calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards. Not many were powerful.

Not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.

God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. Consider your calling. Why did God call you to salvation? Now this is seminary, right? So I'm allowed to say something that's at least a little bit theological, right?

Many of you, most of you perhaps, will take systematic theology. And you know when you take the word call in the New Testament, in the epistles, it's always effectual, it's never general. Why did God call you to salvation? Because he did. Not because you were somebody. Not many of you were wise. Not because you were powerful.

Not because you were of noble birth. I say this in our congregation. Christ didn't die for winners. To put your faith in Christ is to acknowledge that you're a loser. Winners don't need a savior. Losers are people who say, I need Christ. And I'm nothing apart from Christ. God forgive me of my sin.

I'm nothing. And God saves people like that. Those are the people that God calls to salvation. People that are so simple in their thinking, that they actually believe when they read their New Testaments in Matthew 12 40, that just, Jesus speaking, just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth? And you say to me, you know, Greg, are you the kind of person who believes that a great fish could actually swallow a guy like Jonah and spit him out and preach a brief message and a whole wicked city repents? I do because it's in the scriptures. And I believe it.

The same scriptures that tell me God came in the flesh and he lived a perfect life and then he went to a cross and he suffered and died in my place, paying the price of my sin. And if God can save an unlikely person like me, then why can't God use an unlikely servant like me? I wrap this all up and two things.

Let me just go back one click. God graciously saved an unlikely person like you. I'm preaching through Romans.

I'm right in chapter 11. I am just thinking all of the time of God's grace. And if God graciously saves an unlikely person like you, then God will graciously use an unlikely servant like you. And I want to say that by God's grace as we wrap up to encourage you, because no doubt some of you are struggling.

And you say, you know, I don't have a lot going on. In fact, I'm struggling with sin in big ways and I just don't think I qualify to be used by God. Well, of course you don't qualify.

No one qualifies. Can I also say to those of us who are older and to different degrees have tasted at least a little bit of what some would call ministry success, that to any degree that would be accurate and maybe we've never run at least in a sense the way Jonah did and maybe we never did, obviously we're here, what some have done even that previous illustration of that California pastor, any good that we've been involved in is all by God's grace. A God who will graciously use an unlikely servant like you.

Be encouraged. The God who saved you by grace is the God who will use you by grace. This is just perhaps one big takeaway spiritual encouragement that I see here in this wonderful account of Jonah. Let's pray. Father, we thank you that you would graciously save unlikely people like us and we pray by your grace that you would graciously use unlikely servants like us and we'll thank you in Jesus' name. Amen. You've been listening to a sermon by Dr. Greg Mazak, one of the seminary professors at Bob Jones University and part of the series about Old Testament servants. Thanks again for listening. We look forward to the next time as we study God's Word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-24 15:55:19 / 2023-09-24 16:06:15 / 11

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