Running From God  (1)

We are in our new series on the Book of Jonah, titled, “RUNNING FROM GOD.” There is a whole lot more to this tiny 4-chapter book than a man being swallowed by a whale. This morning we will see what happens, “WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN DISOBEY.”

Jonah 1:3-6  3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. 4 But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”

Application: This morning’s message is one of those that you wish about 10 people in your life could be sitting by you listening. We all know those people who professed to be Christians, claimed to be saved, followed through in baptism, served faithfully for a while, but now they’re not here. They are running from God. They are living in disobedience. They are willfully sinning. They are living opposite of what they know is the way. You have questioned whether they are truly saved. You have questioned whether they ever understood the gospel. This morning’s message will help you understand what’s happening in their lives. Also, this morning’s message will help you understand the difference between those who are saved and running from God and those who are lost and running from God. There is a world of difference between the two.

Let me also add something very important – there are many here this morning who are saved and who are not running from God. That’s wonderful! Keep serving God. But let me caution you – don’t ever think that it won’t happen to you. All of us are “prone to wander” and “prone to leave the God I love.” Guard yourself. Be humble. We’re all just a step or two away from losing our way. But, let me remind you – Nothing can separate us from “the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

5 things happen when God’s children disobey:


3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

Background: God called Jonah to go and preach the gospel to the people of Nineveh, the Assyrians. Instead, Jonah ran from God in the opposite direction. Reason he ran from God – because God is too gracious and too merciful. People take advantage of Him. They promise to obey Him and then once they have received His blessings, they go back to disobeying Him. God needs to change His strategy and step up His judgment.

Let me make a point here – Christians begin to backslide when they think they know better than God. The Bible is replete with such examples:

–       Adam and Eve – don’t eat the fruit of this one tree. “We want to be like you.”

–       Abram and Sarai – wait on my timing. I will give you a son. “How about the maid woman?”

–       Lot’s wife – don’t look back. “I just want to see what’s happening to my home.”

–       Moses – speak to the rock and water will come out. “No! I’m going to strike the rock.”

–       Peter – don’t follow me. This cross is not for you. “Even if they deny you, I won’t.”

How foolish we are when we think that we know better than God. Some of us need to write our own Bible and title it “The Holier Bible.” Lost people sin because that’s who they are by nature. Saved people sin because they think they know better than God. tweet this button

Application: Do you think you know better than God? That is the first step to backsliding.


3 …He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it…5 …But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.

Did you notice how many times it says “down?”Why does Jonah keep going down? He is trying to get away from the Presence of God, the conviction of the Holy Spirit.Anytime Christians sin, the Holy Spirit of God brings conviction on them.

Listen carefully – There is a world of difference between conviction and conscience. Everybody has a conscience, even lost people. We all know when something is wrong. Conscience says, “You shouldn’t do this,” and “You shouldn’t be here.” Conviction of the Holy Spirit is much more. He not only tells you, “You shouldn’t do this” but also tells you what you should do. He not only tells you, “You shouldn’t be here” but also adds, “Where you should be.”

For e.g. Sometime back I was on 85 behind a big truck. I saw a vehicle way back and I knew I had plenty of time to pass and get back in the right lane and I wasn’t going slow. As I turned my signal to get into the left lane, this vehicle decided to speed up. Well, I was already in the left lane now, so this guy decided to tailgate me. As I pass the truck, He gets into the right lane and passes me and cuts me off real close. My blood pressure begins to rise and my foot begins to press on the gas. Conscience told me to let it go or I may get a ticket or hurt someone but that wasn’t enough. Conviction had to step in and remind me – “what will this do to your testimony?” and “Will this please God?” That’s the Holy Spirit.

John 16:8 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

 Application: When you sin, do you have a conscience or do you have a conviction? Do you hear what you should not do or do you also hear what you should do. Do you hear where you should not be or do you also hear where you should be.


4 But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

Background: God is proving to Jonah that he cannot run from Him. He has power over the land and the sea. The sea god was considered to be a powerful god. Once he takes a prisoner, no one can rescue them. Think of the Malaysian place – they’re still having trouble finding it. According to Canaanite myth, the false god Baal had to conquer the sea god Yam, in order to establish his throne. So also, among the Babylonian people, the false god Marduk had to conquer the sea god Tiamat before he could establish his throne. Our God can send a storm and He can calm a storm. He can control the sea creatures of the deep and He can walk on water!

But here’s the problem – It’s not just Jonah who is in trouble. The sailors are about to die as well. He endangered the lives of others because of his disobedience.

Don’t forget – Your actions affect other people. You can have your kicks but you cannot control your kickbacks. Your decisions will affect your children and your grandchildren and your great-grandchildren. It’s not generational curse but generational disobedience. What are you doing this morning that is destroying other lives?


The ship is breaking apart. The sailors are afraid; they are throwing their cargo overboard but Jonah is still asleep. What a sad testimony…He knows the truth but right now he is living in disobedience. Their captain even calls on him to pray but Jonah is still disobedient. Then they cast lots to figure out who is responsible and the lot fell on Jonah.

I think they already knew it was Jonah. Somehow they knew something was not natural about this storm. Somehow they knew that Jonah was connected to this storm. What do you think gave him away? There’s something about a child of God that is different from the world. They know you’re not one of them. You may pretend to be.

Listen to them in verse 8 Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” What is their response? 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?”

What a sad testimony? He could have led those sailors in trusting in the creator God. He could have taught those sailors to pray to the living God. He could have calmed their fears to rest in the powerful God. Instead, he lost his witness before them.

Application: What are you doing this morning that is driving people further from God? Do people at work or in your neighborhood know that you are a Christian? Are they shocked to find out that you go to church? Is there a look of disbelief when you invite them to some program?


The sailors tried to make it row harder but it did not work. It just got worse. Jonah’s solution – “Throw me into the sea.” At first, they refused but then reluctantly, they asked God to forgive them and then

15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. What do you think went through Jonah’s mind? This is the end. Oh no – this is just the beginning! 17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Background: Now begins discipline time. Some of you grew up in abusive situations that left a scar on your heart and mind forever. We are not talking about that. There is a big difference between PUNISHMENT AND DISCIPLINE.




Application: Is God disciplining you? If you are His child, He won’t punish you. That’s double jeopardy. He has already punished Jesus for it. Don’t run from it. Don’t get angry about it. Don’t blame someone else for it. Recognize it, receive it, and run to Him.

Hebrews 12:7, 11  7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

When God’s Children Disobey: 1. They think they know better than God.  2. They feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. 3. They jeopardize the lives of others. 4. They destroy their testimony. 5. They have to face God’s discipline.

There is one thing that still remains to be said – You have to think about this one. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous. 12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you…”

If Jonah’s going overboard is going to save the people, why didn’t he just say “Adios Amigos” or “Peace Out” and do a back flip into the ocean?

He was demonstrating the gospel of grace. He was acting out what one day Jesus, the Son of God, would do. Listen to the words of Peter in Acts 2:22-24 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—  23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

Invitation: You can either moan or groan over your past or let it become a testimony to God’s grace. The choice is yours.

You know what the sailors did in Jonah 1:16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows. Meaning: They got saved.

Are you saved?

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