Grace for Today
Thank you for joining us today for another edition of Grace for Today. As we continue through this amazing and, at times, surprising Book of Jonah we are learning together that God is in fact much bigger than we ever imagined.
Last week we learned that the Prophet Jonah had received direct orders from God to go and preach to the wicked Ninevites. However, upon receiving his missionary directive, Jonah heads in the opposite direction away from Nineveh!
To get us thinking biblically about what’s happening here, I want to ask an important question…Is God’s decree dependant upon man in order to be fulfilled?
Let’s look to our text of Scripture under consideration today, as we unpack these verses pray that the Lord will open our understanding concerning them.
The Lord’s Great Commotion
*Please stop now and read Jonah 1:4-6
Was God’s presence limited to the region of Palestine? God’s plans are not frustrated by a puny prophet. This was no ordinary storm at sea. But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea. God created this storm with one purpose, to teach Jonah that He is in charge. People cannot ultimately run from Him. God created it to also show Jonah that He is the Lord everywhere and over everyone.
There are some theologies floating around that almost everything depends on man’s obedience and willingness to cooperate with God. These theologies leave very little to God’s sovereign purposes. If this type of theology is true then when Jonah fled away from God, this should have been the end of the matter. After Jonah had sinned by his disobedience then the story should have went something like this: After Jonah decided to do what he wanted, then God was forced to try something else. This type of response makes sense based on a man-centered theology where everything depends on us. This makes sense if God is up in heaven wringing His hands to see if we will obey or not. The problem with this type of theology is that God is not man centered, He is God-centered. The Lord intervenes. He creates a storm and hurls it to the sea. To show Jonah who is in charge. By the way, we also learn here that God is in charge of the weather.
Verse 5 turns the focus from Jonah to the pagan sailors. A principle for us to learn here is this…when God’s people are disobedient others are placed in danger. We don’t sin in a vacuum. Sin always affects others.
Let’s look at the sailors. They are in this situation because Jonah is rebelling against the will of God. They are pagans, they worship other gods. They are calling out to their gods. Another truth taught here is that man has a god instinct that is within his being. He knows there is a God by the testimony of his conscience and the testimony of creation but he doesn’t know anything specific about God until God reveals truth to him.
These sailors were doing everything humanly possible to save themselves. They were courageous, hardworking, compassionate, lost people. They had no where to turn and were about to die and Jonah, God’s child, was below the deck sleeping. Jonah belonged to the true God and he had a message from God but he was down in the belly of the boat sleeping. Think of it, there were lost people around and he was sleeping. Jonah didn’t care about them. In his sin, he was blinded to the fact that there were lost people around who needed to here the Good News. There were people who were not worshipping the true God. Do Christians ever sleep when lost people are in danger?
Another thing to note today is, when God’s child is out of fellowship pagans look holy. 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.” The sailors only knew that Jonah was different. Man, get up! We are going to die! Try your God! They didn’t know to whom Jonah prayed, but they assumed he had a god also. We see that when people are left to themselves they will invent false gods to their own liking.
These Sailors were very religious. The same thing is true today, lost people are very religious. They need to be introduced to the real God so that He is worshipped and glorified. If God’s people are not busy sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others, who’s going to tell them?
Paul in the Book of Acts talks to the Pagan people in Athens.
*Please stop and read Acts 17:22-25.
Lost people are very religious. Like the people in Athens who prayed to the Unknown God to cover all the bases. These sailors were desperate and ready to try anything. They wanted to cry out to Jonah’s God just in case He could help.
Do you see God at work in the lives of these people? God is sovereignly at work in the lives of all people groups. He is also at work in the lives of folks today. He hurls things our way to show us reality many times. There is a coming storm for the lost. God is at work in their lives. He has commissioned us, like Jonah, to go and tell the Nations that they must repent and call out to God for mercy. Does God want to send you on a trip to tell others that their sin has come up before Him? He may want us to go across the ocean or across the street but He does want us to go. Are you running toward God or in the other direction? What will God do to get your attention?
God had a two-fold purpose in sending Jonah to the heathen people of Nineveh.
1- To declare coming judgment to excite within them repentance.
2- You’ll have to wait for another edition of Grace for Today
What does this first section in the Book of Jonah mean to believers?
God loves more people than just you. The pattern of going and declaring God’s Word is the same today. God will save the elect through our faithful witnessing of His hatred of sin and judgment coming to sinners and His grace and mercy to save through Jesus Christ.
What does this section mean to non-believers?
If you’re reading today as a non-believer, God has declared that His wrath will come to you. When the time that God has decreed comes to pass, He will exercise His just judgment against you for your sin. Your evil has come up before God like those people who lived in the great city of Nineveh. The Good News is that Jesus Christ has taken God’s punishment for sin upon Himself. He died the death that sinners deserve. Stop trusting in your own righteousness. Stop being like the sailors in today’s account who thought they could save themselves. Trust Christ today for salvation.
Join us again next week for Grace for Today. We’ll see together what happened in the midst of this God ordained storm at sea.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Brian Evans