WHY I BELIEVE THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA

WHY I BELIEVE THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Running From God  (1)We are in our series on the Book of Jonah, called, “RUNNING FROM GOD” and this morning we are in Jonah 3 for our message titled “WHY I BELIEVE THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR AMERICA.” One question that I am frequently asked is – “Is God through with America?” Or “Is America under God’s judgment?” This morning’s message is very critical for all of us.

Jonah 3:3b-6, 10 3b Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city belonging to God, a three-day journey in extent. 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. 6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes… 10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Overall Background: We are at that point in our study of the book of Jonah where the focus has shifted from God working with Jonah as an individual to God working with the Ninevites as a people. So far we’ve seen how God disciplined Jonah when he disobeyed Him. Now we will see how God dealt with Nineveh because they disregarded Him.

This morning’s message is very critical for us to hear. In some ways, America is where Nineveh was 2700 years ago. We are in the middle of an economic, moral, and spiritual bankruptcy, just like the Assyrians. God is speaking to us today just as He spoke to the Ninevites of Assyria. He is giving us the answer to our problems as a nation. The question is – “Are we going to listen?” Before we get into the message, let me ask you this morning – “Do you care what’s happening in our nation?” Sadly, many people – young and old – think that as long me and mine are okay, I don’t care. Hopefully, this message will make you aware of what is at stake. If you do care, this message will give you the hope you are looking for our nation.

There are 3 things we will see in this message: First, the Morality of Nineveh; Second, the Message of Jonah; and finally, the Mercy of God.

 I. THE MORALITY OF NINEVEH.

Listen once again to verse 3…Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, belonging to God. Four times it claims that Nineveh was a great city. It even adds that it belongs to God. Why did He say that? Let me give you 3 reasons for that:

#1.It was great in size.

It took 3 days journey to walk through this city. It was not just one city but also a conglomerate of two or three cities, like RDU. Altogether it was a distance of 60 miles. The walls were 100 feet high and broad enough to let three chariots ride side by side. The city was big enough to have large spaces for farming and pasture. This would keep them self-sufficient in case they were surrounded. It had beautiful palace for the king. It is claimed by archaeologists that the population was somewhere over a million people.

#2.It was great in sin.

They were cruel in their treatment of their enemies. They did things that I cannot describe to you. All that we know of torture techniques fails in comparison. Historical records talk about pyramids of human heads after the defeat of the enemy. Boys and girls were burnt alive. Listen to how Nahum describes Nineveh – Nahum 3:1-5a 1 “Woe to the bloody city! It is all full of lies and robbery. Its victim never departs. 2 The noise of a whip And the noise of rattling wheels, Of galloping horses, Of clattering chariots! 3 Horsemen charge with bright sword and glittering spear. There is a multitude of slain, A great number of bodies, Countless corpses—They stumble over the corpses— 4 Because of the multitude of harlotries of the seductive harlot, The mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations through her harlotries, And families through her sorceries. 5 “Behold, I am against you,” says the LORD of hosts.” Not a place that you and I want to go on a vacation.

#3.It was great in history.

The first time we hear about Nineveh is in the Book of Genesis 10. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Shem’s son Asshur founded the nation of Assyria. He left Babel and moved out and obeyed God. But the sons and grandsons of Ham were rebellious before God. Listen to Genesis 10 and verse 8 onwards. Ham’s son “Cush begot Nimrod.” Nimrod = marad (Hebrew) means to rebel. In essence, it means, “let’s do as we please.” “he began to be a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.” It means “rebellious one before the Lord.”Early historical documents tell us that Nimrod was like the first Antichrist. He was a dictator. He tried to turn people away from God and to follow him. He was a hunter – not of animals but of men.

10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. In Babylon, he led the people of the world, at the time in the land of Shinar, Babylon, the land of modern day Iraq, to build “a tower whose top is in the heavens.” It was a temple dedicated to the worship of the heavens, the worship of the constellations, the worship of the sun, the moon and the stars (zodiac). This was sun worship. Today, all throughout the world you will find sun worship.But Nimrod did not stop there. 11 From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh…” What was his purpose? Maybe he was trying to infiltrate and corrupt Assyria like Babylon. This was how Nineveh got started.But for some reason it says in 3b Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city belonging to God, Meaning: God cared about Nineveh.

In many ways, we are where Nineveh was 2700 years ago. We are a great nation and we are also a sinful nation. CNN did a poll recently on how Americans view morality. If you compare it with a similar poll done in 1987 by Time magazine, it tells us how far we have come. Everything from “having an abortion, engaging in homosexual behavior, looking at pornography, smoking marijuana, and living with someone before marriage” has become more acceptable!

First Landing - Abidan and Nicole

First Landing – Abidan and Nicole

Shah Family - Chesapeake Bay

Shah Family – Chesapeake Bay

There is one area where we are very different from Nineveh. Our nation’s history goes back only 400 years. In fact, last week we were at Cape Henry on Fort Story – a joint expeditionary military base. We stood at the place known as the “First Landing.” This place, by the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, is where the first English colonists arrived at 4am on Sunday April 26th, 1607. It is now marked by a granite cross, put there by the Daughters of the American Revolution. They did this in memory of the cross that was set up by the colonists on April 29th, three days later. What took them three days to plant the cross? Because the pastor Robert Hunt had called for three days of prayer and fasting, saying, “From these very shores the Gospel shall go forth to not only this New World but the entire world.”

If God cares for Nineveh, a city founded by one who hated God, how much more does He care about America.

Application: There is a great attempt to rewrite the history of our nation. When you study history, it is obvious that our nation was founded as a Christian nation. Does that mean that everyone always acted in a Christian spirit? Of course not. But, because some lived contrary to the Bible does not mean all did. Nonetheless, we are a nation that is turning away from God. We are becoming greater and greater in sin. Unlike Nineveh, Christians are still a strong majority in this nation.

II. THE MESSAGE OF JONAH

4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Background: Just an 8 word sermon! Actually in Hebrew it is only 5 words! I think Jonah gets the Guinness Book of World Record for the shortest sermon. I call it the turn or burn sermon.

What was the result in Nineveh?

Jonah 3:5-9 5So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.

People wonder how can a nation or city like Nineveh respond so easily? Things were not going too well for Nineveh about this time. They had faced some military and diplomatic losses recently. They were also facing famine. There were some riots and uprisings among the people. Not only that, but they also had faced an earthquake and a solar eclipse in 768BC. Needless to say, God was working on Nineveh for sometime.

6Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. 7And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

The formula for revival is there in the Bible.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Several times in our nation’s history it seemed that we had hit bottom.

  • First time around 1730’s – The American Colonies were going downhill and God sent the First Great Awakening.
  • Second time was around 1790 – People were moving west and the country was going downhill. God sent the Second Great Awakening in the east and west.
  • Third time was in 1857. A man by the name of Jeremiah Lanphier led the prayer revival and countless many were saved. God raised up men like D.L. Moody and others.
  • Again in the 1920s and 1930s it seemed the morals of our nation were gone. God raised up the Billy Sundays and the Billy Grahams and many others.
  • In the 60’s and the 70’s it was the Jesus Movement where disillusioned young men and women turned towards God.
  • Now again in 2014.

Application: What message are we bringing to the world? As a church, are we actively sharing the good news?

III. THE MERCY OF GOD.

Jonah 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

Background: Some people have a problem with that – “God relented.” How can God change His mind? In the OT, 9 times we hear that God does not change His mind but 27 times it says that He changes His mind.

2 Peter 3:9-13 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Where do you stand with God? In Christ He has made a way for you. Do you know Him?

THE POWER YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR

THE POWER YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Running From God  (1)We are in our series on the Book of Jonah, called, “RUNNING FROM GOD” and this morning we are in our fifth message titled “THE POWER YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR.” We are talking about the Resurrection Power. The power that brought Jonah out of the great fish after being inside for three days and three nights. It is the same power that brought Jesus out of the grave after being dead for three days. It is the same power that brings a dead sinner to everlasting life. It is also the same power that gives us victory over sin and effectiveness in service. This power is not optional. It is essential.

Jonah 2:10 – 3:3 10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. 1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD.

Overall Background: Listen to verse 10 once again – “So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” I want us to think about that for a moment. I’ve spoken to our dog and she does what I tell her to do (most of the time). I’ve spoken to our cat and he never does what I tell him to do. I’ve seen animals like horses, elephants, tigers, and even dolphins respond to their trainers. But how do you get a great fish (probably a whale) to respond to you? We’re not talking about just any trick from Sea World like jumping through hoops or tossing a ball in the air. We’re talking about spitting up a human being that has been in its stomach for three days and nights, for all practical purposes is dead. By the way, it’s not just spitting him up because the fish could have done that in the middle of the sea. But spitting him up on dry land!

What kind of power is this? This is God’s Resurrection Power. It is God’s power to bring life where there is death. Human beings may try recreating this power but all they can come up with is Frankenstein.Jonah was brought to life from his death like existence by God’s Resurrection Power. He wasn’t the only one. Seven hundred years later, Jesus compared Himself to Jonah in Luke 11:30“For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.” Unlike Jonah, Jesus was literally dead in the tomb for three days.

Now listen carefully – This power was not limited to just Jonah and Jesus. It is the same power that brings a sinner dead in trespasses and sins and makes them alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). If you are lost this morning, I can’t make you alive. I can only point you to the one who can make you alive. Only God’s resurrection power can make you alive.

Let me go a step further – If you are saved this morning, this is also the only power that can give you victory over sin and victory in service. Paul says in Philippians 3 8 I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,

Lost or saved, you need resurrection power in your lives. Let’s see how this power works first in the lost and then in the saved.

I. RESURRECTION POWER FOR THE LOST.

Let me make a rather obvious statement. To be resurrected, you have to die first.

Jonah 1:17 “…And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”

Background: That phrase “3 days and 3 nights” is a popular Near Eastern motif. It was often used to portray the time taken to go from the land of the living to Sheol or back. Many times in the Old Testament we find that phrase. Abraham’s journey to Mount Moriah to sacrifice Isaac took three days. The Israelites wandered in the desert for three days before God provided water for them. Hosea says in chapter 6,1 Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. 2 After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. So 3 days and 3 nights was a picture of death. This does not mean that Jonah died inside the fish but he was in a death like state. He was powerless. Unless an external source of greater power than the fish were to step in, he is as good as gone.

Jonah acknowledges in Jonah 2:6 “…The earth with its bars closed behind me forever…7 “When my soul fainted within me,

Those who are lost – Eph. 2:1 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Every person comes in this world alive and dead – alive physically but dead spiritually. You are born inside the belly of the great fish – dead in trespasses and sins. No matter how much you try, you cannot get out. Some people trust in their good works to get out. They try helping the poor. They try to be neighborly (visit the sick and help the elderly). They try to be good parents. They try to be good citizens. Some people even try to help in church. Nothing helps. Listen to Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Jonah acknowledges in Jonah 2:9c “…Salvation is of the LORD.”

You have to acknowledge that you are dead. All the good you are doing is wonderful but you have to trust in the cross of Jesus for God to bring you out of the great fish of sin and death.

Application: Have you come to a place where you have acknowledged that you are dead in trespasses and sins? Have you looked up and said “God unless you save me, I will die in my sins?” Have you prayed to receive the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for you?

II. RESURRECTION POWER FOR THE SAVED.

Those who are saved – It’s wonderful that God delivered you out of the fish of sin and death. But there is another fish. This is the fish of self-effort – in dealing with personal sins and serving the Lord. Before you can have victory over sin and power for service, you also have to acknowledge your utter helplessness without the power of God. We think that once we get saved, we need to get busy living for God and serving Him. If you do these in your own power, you will have nothing but defeat.

Let’s look at Jonah’s story once again – Jonah ran from God. Did that surprise God? God knew that Jonah would disobey Him. God knew that Jonah would get into that ship to Tarshish. He was not caught off guard. As David said inPsalms 139, 1 O LORD…2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down…16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” If God wanted to stop Jonah from running, He could have stopped him before he even got out of bed. If God wanted Jonah in Nineveh, He could have prepared a great bird to airlift Jonah and drop him at the gates of Nineveh.

So why did God let Jonah run? God knew that Jonah was not ready to go to Nineveh. Don’t misunderstand me – disobedience was wrong and costly. But God knew that Jonah had no power against Nineveh. Nineveh was a wicked city, a sinful city, and a corrupt city. In his own strength and power he couldn’t do anything. God knew that before Jonah could go to Nineveh and preach, he had to die to self and be filled with God’s resurrection power.

Application: Many Christians are living in defeat and many Christians are living without fruits because they are trusting in the power of the flesh. They are trying to live for God and serve God in their own strength and power and they keep falling on their face.They may be sincere. They may be passionate. They may even claim, “It’s not me. It’s God.” But they are still working in the energy of the flesh. This kind of power does not come by singing louder, preaching harder, or praying longer. All that is good. But, God’s resurrection power only activates by drawing closer to the place of death. You have to come to place of helplessness and acknowledge – “God, I can’t but You can.” This has always been God’s way.

Jesus said in John 12:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” Although Jesus was talking about His crucifixion and burial, He was also laying out the principle of the Christian life.

Paul said in Galatians 2:20“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Jonah had to come to the end of himself before he could go to Nineveh. God was going to use Jonah’s disobedience to bring him to a place of death.

Jonah 1:17 “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah.”

Background: The word “prepared” is the Hebrew word “wayman” which can be translated “selected.” In most places it is used to convey the idea of carefully selecting the best option for the situation. What’s the point? The fish was not an afterthought. God purposely selected the fish beforehand. So He did what He always does with His children – He was going to let Jonah run and then use that to “work together for good in His life.” (Romans 8:28)

Isn’t that what God does in our lives as well? Even when we sin, He turns our disobedience, weaknesses, failures, and mistakes to work together for our good.

For e.g. Have you ever heard someone say – “Even if I were to go back, I won’t change anything.” Did we say that at the time? Of course not! Why do we say that now? Because God turned even our mistakes, failures, and sin into something positive in our lives. What is this positive? It is to bring us to a place of utter helplessness and weakness – a place of death – where we turn from relying on ourselves to relying upon God.

Application: Is God leading you through the valley of the shadow of death? Are you inside the belly of the fish? Has it been one day, two days, or three days? Don’t give up. Hang in there. He will not leave you there. He is bringing you to the end of yourself so He can give you His victory over sin and His power for service.

How did it go for Jonah? Jonah 2:10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. What happened next? Did Jonah continue his trip to Tarshish or return back to his home? Neither. Listen again to Jonah 3:1-3 1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, Aren’t you glad we serve a God of second chances?

Once again it is the same command. 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” The first call simply said to cry out against the city. Now it is the message that God will give Jonah. 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. There is a marked difference between the man who “arose to flee to Joppa” and the man who “arose to go to Nineveh.” What do you think he looked like? What does a man look like who has been inside a fish for three days and three nights? Probably bleached from head to toe because of all the gastric acids. But there’s more than that. He was a broken man. This man was not going in his own strength and power but God’s resurrection power. One of my friends always reminds me – “God’s going to break you to the level He’s going to use you.”

I’m jumping ahead but Nineveh was a city where people, and even animals, in God’s words, could not tell the difference between right and left. Jonah went to this city, full of the resurrection power, and preached a simple message – “Turn or Burn” and the entire city repented. Wow! What was the secret? It was the Resurrection Power operating in Jonah’s life. Before, he was just a prophet of God. Now, he was full of the power of God.

Paul is his prayer for the Ephesians says – 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know…19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead…”

Are you living in God’s Resurrection Power? Are you saved?

WHAT JESUS DID TO SAVE YOU

WHAT JESUS DID TO SAVE YOU by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

Many of us who are saved have never truly grasped the magnitude of suffering that our Savior went through on the cross for us. If we did, there would be a radical change in how we live. Many of you who are lost – if you truly understood how much Jesus suffered for you, you will respond to His love and be saved.

Running From God  (1)

Running From God (1)

Jonah 2:1-6 1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. ‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. 3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ 5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. 6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God.

Overall Background: Anytime we study a biblical passage, we have to first look at it in its original and immediate context. In other words, we need to understand it as the people who first read it understood it. Then, we can take step back and look at it from the larger and fuller context. So far, we have seen what the life of Jonah teaches us from its original context. It teaches us to obey God, accept God’s discipline, and trust His faithfulness in our lives. Now we need to step back and see it from the larger context. What does the rest of the Bible say about Jonah? How does it fit into God’s plan of salvation?

Well, Jesus mentioned Jonah at least twice in His ministry. When the scribes and Pharisees came to test Him and demanded a sign from Him. Jesus said in Matthew 12:38-41 39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For 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. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.

Jesus compared His death, burial, and resurrection to Jonah’s experience in the belly of the great fish. In a sense, if you want to understand how Jesus felt on the cross, read how Jonah felt inside the fish. This morning I want us to look at Jonah 2 and understand what Jesus went through on the cross for us. Is all this just to teach you something interesting and novel? No. It is help you realize how much Jesus suffered for us. If you are saved, this should motivate you to live a godly life. If you are lost, this should motivate you to get saved immediately.

3 important truths about the cross from the story of Jonah:

I. THE CROSS IS GOD’S ANSWER TO SIN.

2:3 “For You cast me into the deep.”

Background: Jonah is saying “God – you threw me into the sea.” There’s a little problem there. In Jonah chapter 1 God sent a storm to discipline him (not punish him) because Jonah was running from God. Once the sailors figured out that Jonah was the cause of the storm, they asked him in verse 11 “…What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?” Jonah responded in verse 12“…Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you…” At first the sailors refused but then, as it became worse, they asked God’s forgiveness and then…1-2-3…tossed him overboard. So, is seems that Jonah suggested and the sailors implemented. But now Jonah says – “God – you threw me into the sea.” What’s that all about? Listen carefully—

–       It is true that the chief priests and the elders plotted against Jesus to kill Him.

–       It is true that Satan incited Judas to betray Jesus was 30 pieces of silver.

–       It is true that the crowd shouted crucify Him.

–       It is true that Pilate passed the sentence and then washed His hands.

–       It is true that the Roman soldiers brutally nailed Him to the cross.

But the cross was from start to finish the work of God.

–       Listen to Peter on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth…23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

–       I Peter 1says, 18 “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things…19 but with the precious blood of Christ…20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world.

–       Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

Albert Schweitzer said that the cross was Jesus being crushed under the “unyielding wheel of history.” Not true. Jesus said in John 10:18 “No one takes it (my life) from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.”

It is true that human beings crucified Jesus, the Son of God, in a cruel, heinous, and evil way. Nonetheless, it happened just as God intended for it to happen. The cross was not an atrocity. The cross was not an accident. The cross was not an afterthought. The cross was God’s answer to your sin and mine.

Application: What do you think about the cross? Jesus took your punishment upon Himself so you don’t have to suffer in Hell one day.

II. THE CROSS IS GOD’S PUNISHMENT FOR OUR SINS.

2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. ‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. In his affliction Jonah cried out to God. The pressure was too much for him.

How about Jesus? So also Jesus, in His ultimate affliction, cried to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke 22:42-44 41 “…He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

That condition is called “Hemidrosis,” where a person is under such severe stress that the tiny capillaries in the sweat glands break and blood and sweat flow down together. Jesus was under extreme affliction because He knew what was coming. Jonah’s affliction was his own doing. Jesus’ affliction was because of our doing.

Back to Jonah 3 “For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods (Literally: river swirled about me) surrounded me; “All Your billows (breakers) and Your waves passed over me.” We know what that meant for Jonah – he was in belly of the fish and the fish was deep in the sea but inside the water was like a raging river. He was being tossed back and forth.

How about Jesus? On the night of the crucifixion Jesus was jerked back and forth.

  1. Arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  2. Taken before Annas the ex-high priest and questioned.
  3. Taken before Caiaphas and condemned for blasphemy
  4. Taken before the Sanhedrin and condemned and beaten.
  5. Taken before Pilate and accused of treason
  6. Taken before Herod and mocked.
  7. Taken back to Pilate and scourged with 39 lashes. His back was probably in shreds.
  8. Then He had to march up the hill to Golgotha. He was bloody, bruised, dehydrated, and exhausted.
  9. Finally, He was nailed to the cross between two common criminals. The nails are not what you use to hang picture frames.
  10. But the worse was the sin of every human being put upon Him and God’s wrath was poured upon the Son. This spiritual suffering was the worst.

Back to Jonah 2 4 Then I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight; Jonah felt abandoned by God.

How about Jesus? Matthew 27   45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” As Jesus feels the emotional, physical, and spiritual suffering of the cross, He feels abandoned by His Father.

Back to Jonah 25 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head. I find this interesting – Jonah had weeds wrapped around his head.

How about Jesus? John 19, 2 And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe.

Back to Jonah 2 6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; Jonah is saying that he has gone as low as any human being could possibly go.

How about Jesus? For 3 hours Jesus hung on the cross for our sins. He went as low as possible for us.

Back to Jonah 2 6 “…The earth with its bars closed behind me forever.” Jonah felt like he has

How about Jesus? Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.

Let me clarify – Jonah was disciplined for his disobedience. Jesus was punished for our transgressions.

Application: Did you ever realize how much Jesus suffered for us? By the way, you and I have no right to tell anyone that they will go to heaven without Jesus Christ. It is as if saying – Jesus, you really didn’t have to go through all that.

III. THE CROSS IS GOD’S PROMISE OF A NEW BEGINNING.

Jonah 2, 6 Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God…9 Salvation is of the Lord.10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

How about Jesus? Listen again to Peter in Acts 2:24whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

Praise God! Jesus did not remain in the grave. He came back to life on the third day. Why? Because He was God. He was sinless. He had finished the task of paying for our sins.

Why did I preach this message? Because it is Palm Sunday? No. Because it is Interesting? No. Because the cross demands a decision. Is Jesus your Savior?

For e.g. There was once an artist named Steinberg. He was using a young gypsy girl as a model for one of his paintings. Sometimes she would just come and watch him paint. One time Steinberg was painting his masterpiece “Christ on the Cross.” One day she said to him – “He must have been a very wicked man to be nailed to a cross like that.” Steinberg replied – “Oh no. Actually, He was a very good man. The best man who ever lived. He gave His life for others.” The gypsy girl asked him – “Did He die for you?” Steinberg stepped back and thought to himself – “I don’t even know the one I am painting.” He gave His heart to Christ. Why? He moved from the color, canvas, and palette and He moved into the story.

Have you ever moved into the story?

WHEN WE HIT ROCK BOTTOM

WHEN WE HIT ROCK BOTTOM by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

Running From God  (1)We are in our new series on the Book of Jonah, called, “RUNNING FROM GOD” and this morning we are in Jonah 2 for our third message titled “WHEN WE HIT ROCK BOTTOM.” All of us at some point in our lives have reached that place where the only way to go is up. Maybe some of you are there this morning. Don’t lose hope. Desperation can be a life-changing experience.

Jonah 2:1-3 1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. ‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. 3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’

Overall Background: Ask any child in Sunday School if they’ve heard the story of Jonah and the whale (big fish) and a smile will come across their face. We all know of the prophet Jonah whom God called to go to Nineveh and instead he ran in the opposite direction towards Tarshish. He got on a ship and went down to the lowest part, lay down, and was fast asleep. “God can’t find me here.” Really?!! God knows exactly where every person is every moment. Jeremiah 23:24 “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.

God knew where Jonah was and He sent a violent storm on the sea, so that the ship was about to broken up. Was God trying to punish him? Of course not! He doesn’t punish His children but he often disciplines them. Jonah knew that God was dealing with him so he told the sailors to pick him up and toss him into the raging sea and all will be well. Sure enough when they threw him overboard, the sea became calm. If that were the end, we would not be reading this book today. Listen to what came next. Jonah 1:17 “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.” Jonah 2 tells us what went on for those three days and three nights.In Jonah’s own words, he went down to hell. He went so low that he could see the roots of the mountains. In other words, he hit rock bottom.

Application: Let me ask you – have you hit rock bottom in your life? Are you rock bottom right now? How are you dealing with it? By the way, you don’t have to be in the belly of the fish to hit rock bottom. It can happen in the form of a personal tragedy, horrible accident, terrible sickness, relationship crisis, job loss, or financial problem.

This morning we will learn what to do when we hit rock bottom from Jonah 2.

1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR HELPLESSNESS.

3 “For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas,

For e.g. Think of the missing Malaysian plane. It is more than likely in the Indian Ocean. With all our technology and gadgets we cannot seem to find it.

Jonah is inside a big fish in the sea. Imagine how lost and helpless he is.

3 “For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods (Literally: river swirled about me) surrounded me;

The question in my mind is “Is Jonah in the Sea or in the River?” Sea is usually calm in the deep. So outside the fish it is calm but it is deep. Inside the fish it is like a river. Keep in mind that this fish is swimming. Verse 3again “All Your billows (breakers) and Your waves passed over me.” Jonah is not in some submarine taking a joy ride. He is being pounded left and right. Jonah is for the first time realizing how physically helpless and insignificant he is.

Some people trust in their bodily strength. Some people trust in their good looks. Some people trust in their connections. Some people trust in their wallets. When you are in the hospital room with your loved hooked up to all kinds of machines, that’s when you realize that you are not as big and tough as you thought. You would give everything you had to revert that situation but you can’t. I’m not suggesting that we need to act all helpless and weak. What I am saying is that we should acknowledge how small we are.

But it gets deeper – Verse 5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; Jonah is saying, “I felt like my soul was drowning.” What else? “The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.” At first reading, I want to laugh. I can picture Jonah with a bandana of reeds around his head. But what he is really saying is that he is choking.

Verse 6 I went down to the moorings (base) of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever.” Jonah is inside the big fish, plus surrounded by water, plus jostled around. How can he see where he is?The language he is employing is more spiritual than physical. What Jonah is saying is that he no longer knows where he is. You may not believe me but there are people here this morning that are exactly in that spot. They may not be inside the belly of a fish but spiritually they feel empty and lifeless.

Application: Are you trusting in your physical strength, outside beauty, connections, wealth, or family? Are you willing to acknowledge your helplessness.It can all be taken from you in a millisecond. Sometimes you can even feel spiritually helpless. Daily in my prayer time I tell God that I am nothing more than a clod of earth.

2. AFFIRM GOD’S PROMISES. 

Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly.

Background: Did you get that? Listen again – “Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God” = “El Yahweh Elohayaw.” So far it has only been Yahweh (Jehovah). It was all impersonal. Now he is in the belly of the fish. All the superficial is being stripped away and the prayer has become personal.It’s one thing to say, “The Lord is a Shepherd” but its quite another to say, “The Lord is My Shepherd.”

What’s more? Listen to verse 2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD. This is no rote prayer. This is a real cry for help. I can’t help but think of Peter walking on water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was fine. “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (Mathew 14:30) The moment he focused on his circumstances he began to sink and he cried out = he screamed.

2 And he said: “I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction.

Let’s put Jonah on the stand. “Jonah you disobeyed God. What makes you think that God will hear your prayer?”

Jonah’s Answer: Because God said in Psalm 50:15 “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

“But Jonah you really blew it.” I know but Psalm 103:9-14 says “…Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. 14    For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

So Jonah claimed the promises of God and prayed. As he prayed, his faith began to rise.

Jonah 2:2b-3  2b “And He answered me. ‘Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice. 4 Then I said, “I have been cast out of Your sight;Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.” 6 Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God. 7 “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.

Application: What promises are you holding on to? Throughout my life I’ve had many – “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” “All things work together for good to those who love God.” “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

3. ACT ON YOUR COMMITMENTS.

9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”

Many people make commitments to God when they are in the foxhole. If you will only get me out, I will serve you. God gets us out and we forget. Jonah kept his word. He wrote it down for us.

For e.g. Family in church back home that made a vow for their daughter to get healed and then forgot.

Application: Do you have an outstanding vow to the Lord? Do you have a pending commitment towards the Lord?

4. ALLOW GOD TO FINISH YOUR STORY

We know why Jonah asked the sailors to toss him into the sea. He knew that he had really blown his testimony with these guys. For him to stand before them and share the gospel was worthless. They wouldn’t listen. It was time to demonstrate the gospel. By the way, people are tired of our words. They want to see the gospel lived out in us. tweet this button

Jonah was acting out what Jesus would do one day. Jesus won’t be running from God. In fact, He is God Himself. He will come by “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” and human beings will take Him “by lawless hands” and crucify Him (Acts 2:23-24). That’s the only way God’s wrath against sin will be satisfied.

God says “Okay Jonah. You’re willing to let your life be a testimony to the death of Christ. I will make your life a testimony to the resurrection of Christ.

10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

God can do the same for you. No matter how far you fall from God, the moment you turn and return to Him, your life becomes a living testimony. Isn’t that wonderful?!!

Do you know Jesus as your Savior?

WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN DISOBEY

WHEN GOD’S CHILDREN DISOBEY by Pastor Shah

Running From God  (1)

RUNNING FROM GOD – SERIES ON JONAH BY PASTOR SHAH

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:

I. THEY THINK THEY KNOW BETTER THAN GOD.

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.

II. THEY FEEL THE CONVICTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

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.

III. THEY JEOPARDIZE THE LIVES OF OTHERS.

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?

IV. THEY DESTROY THEIR TESTIMONY.

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?

 V. THEY HAVE TO FACE GOD’S DISCIPLINE.

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.

PUNISHMENT

DISCIPLINE

GOAL – INFLICT PENALTY GOAL – PROMOTE GROWTH
FOCUS – THE PAST FOCUS – THE FUTURE
ATTITUDE – ANGER & BITTERNESS ATTITUDE – LOVE & FAITH
ACTION – TORTUROUS & LEAVES PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SPIRITUAL SCARS. ACTION – PAINFUL BUT LEAVES NO SCARS. IT IS GIVEN CALMLY, QUICKLY, CONSISTENTLY, AND SPARINGLY.
RESULT – FEAR, GUILT, RESENTMENT, AND MORE ANGER RESULT – SECURITY, RESPECT OF AND FOR AUTHORITY

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?

WHEN GOD DISRUPTS YOUR LIFE

WHEN GOD DISRUPTS YOUR LIFE by Pastor Shah, Clearview

Running_From_God1This morning we are starting a brand new series on the Book of Jonah, titled, “RUNNING FROM GOD.” All of us who grew up in church are familiar with the story of Jonah and the Whale/Big Fish. Both children and adults love this book. When the Holy Spirit led me to it, I did not realize how many layers of truth were in this tiny 4-chapter book! I am looking forward to this series! This morning we are in our first message titled, “WHEN GOD DISRUPTS YOUR LIFE” from Jonah 1:1-3.

Jonah 1:1-3   1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,  2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”  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.

Background: When we think of the prophet Jonah, we picture him as either running from God or being inside the big fish. But that’s not how we first meet him. Jonah 1:2 tells us that God came to Jonah and commanded him to “Arise, go to Nineveh.” “Arise” – the Hebrew word is “qum” meaning “Up.” More than likely Jonah was asleep and God woke him up. What was Jonah’s response in verse 3? “But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Meaning: He woke up and ran. Keep in mind that He didn’t run just anywhere but he ran completely in the opposite direction from where God called him to go. What else? He found a ship going to Tarshish and verse 5 tells us that he “had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.”

For e.g. Reminds me of children on school mornings. You get them out of their bed, out of their room, and you think that they are in the bathroom getting ready or eating breakfast. But then you find them sleeping on the couch in the living room.

God woke Jonah up and told him to go to Nineveh. Jonah woke up and ran in the opposite direction, got in a ship, went to the cargo hold, and went back to sleep. The question that comes to my mind is “Was he tired?” “Did he have some kind of a sleep disorder?” Not really. There was something else going on in Jonah’s life. It was easier for him to be asleep than to obey. He felt that if he could just go back to sleep, it would all be over. But praise God that He does not give up on us. Even when we pull our covers over our heads, He comes after us and gently yet firmly starts to awaken us.

Application: I don’t know where you are this morning but the Holy Spirit does. He is coming to disrupt your sleep. He is pulling the covers back. He is whispering in your ears. If you follow to another room, He will not give up. He will still come after you. I hope that you will respond to His voice. Don’t keep running because He won’t follow you forever.

This morning let’s try to understand why Jonah was asleep (spiritually) and why he ran from God.

I. JONAH HAD LOST HIS SPIRITUAL FIRE.

If all you read is the Book of Jonah, you may think that he was some crazy nut, some coward, or some immature man who went AWOL. But that’s not true. In 2 Kings 14:25 we read that King Jeroboam had “restored the territory of Israel…according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher.”

3 things stand out to us from that passage:

A.   HE WAS A SERVANT OF GOD – That’s not an ordinary title. Moses was repeatedly called the servant of God. That title is not applied to all the prophets.

B.   HE WAS A VERY INFLUENTIAL MAN – Jonah was not some Podunk prophet. He prophesied to the King of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

C.    HE WAS A TRUE PROPHET – What Jonah prophesied actually came true. He prophesied that the Northern Kingdom will regain their territory under King Jeroboam II and it happened.

Jonah was far from being crazy, coward, and immature. He knew better. But for some reason he had lost his spiritual fire.

That is a warning to all of us. Unless you guard your spiritual fire, unless you stoke your spiritual fire, it is very easy to start living in the smoke. I meet a lot of people who at one time did great things for the Lord, served in the church, taught Sunday School and Bible Studies, went on mission trips, even led others to the Lord. But now there is a spiritual deadness, fatigue, and slumber in their lives. If you talk to them about the things of the Lord, they just yawn in your face. It’s almost as if the Enemy has put them under a spell.

Application: Are you under a spell this morning? Are you spiritually asleep? Do the things of God move you any more? Does the voice of God move you anymore? If not then ask/beg the Holy Spirit to awaken you.

II. JONAH HAD BECOME FRUSTRATED WITH GOD.

When Jonah had prophesied that Israel (the Northern Kingdom) would regain their lost territories, it was based on the condition that they would turn to the Lord. God does not say – “I’ll bless you and prosper you but you can do whatever you want to do.” There are conditions. But here’s the amazing thing – God completes His end of the bargain first.

Why does God do that? Listen to 2 Kings 14:26-27  26 For the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter; and whether bond or free, there was no helper for Israel.  27 And the LORD did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.

Isn’t God gracious and merciful?!!

For e.g. Recently in critiquing the Noah movie, Bill Maher called God a “Psychotic Mass Murderer who gets away with it,” “A guy who drowns babies,” “Why do we get our morals out of this book (Bible)?” “Why do people follow any of it?” He even called God names.

What do I say to that? The mouth that you are using to speak, the breath that you are using to form words, the brain waves that you are using to instruct your vocal cords, and the heart that is pumping blood into your brain are all God’s gift to you. He kept His end of the deal, even if you failed.

Because God did not punish Israel and take back His blessings, Jonah had become disheartened.

To understand this, you have to go to Jonah 3:10-4:3   10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. Jonah 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.  2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, “Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.  3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

Jonah was frustrated with God’s justice and mercy. Is it any surprise why he ran? He was saying – “I’m not working for someone who does not fit in my box.”

I believe that there are people sitting here this morning who are frustrated with God.

–       Why does He answer prayers sometime and not the other?

–       Why does He heal sometimes and not the other?

–       Why does He seem to help the wicked and leave the innocent to fend for themselves?

–       Why does He delay in bringing judgment? Why does He delay in showing mercy.

Isaiah 55:8-9  8“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

“God executes His promises but deliberates His judgments.” tweet this button

No matter how close we get to God in our spiritual lives we have to remind ourselves that we will never truly grasp the mind of God, the mercy of God.

Application: Are you frustrated with God? Are you disappointed with God?

III. JONAH HAD ASSUMED THAT GOD WAS THROUGH WITH HIM.

Jonah was called to be the prophet to the Northern Kingdom. But it appears that he was no longer in the North. He was actually in the South. If he went to Joppa to board a ship, according to Jonah 1:3, then he was probably in Jerusalem. If he was up north, then Acco would have been the closer port. In fact, when he is inside the fish, he prays in Jonah 2:4 “I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.” So more than likely he was hanging out at the temple. He had given up on his previous assignment. He was probably living in disguise since the people of Judah didn’t think much of those from the North. Furthermore, he was a Galilean from Gathe-Hepher, which was 3-miles northeast of Nazareth. What do we know about Nazareth? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Jonah just wanted to be left alone. “Glory days are over and I’m just content to sit on this recliner and rock and watch the world go by.”

But he doesn’t realize that God was not through with Him. Isn’t that amazing that we might give up on God but He doesn’t give up on us?!!

There was another assignment that He had for Jonah. This time it was to the pagan nation of Assyria. God was stirring things up in Nineveh. Jonah just wanted to be remembered as the great prophet of the Northern Kingdom. God in his sovereignty wanted every child in Sunday school to break out in a smile to hear the story of Jonah and the whale. One day even Jesus compared Himself to Jonah.

I don’t believe Jonah was shocked when he heard God’s voice. He knew sooner or later God would come looking for him.

For e.g. Many of you may not have heard the name Francis Thompson. He was a tremendously gifted young man. His father wanted him to go to Oxford but he lost his way due to Opium and failed again and again. He would make attempts to turn around and still go right back to the same old ways. He would find old newspapers from the garbage and read them and write some of the most heavenly prose and poetry to the editors. They were amazed at his work and they said that there is out in the streets someone who was probably greater than Shakespeare.

He finally found Christ and wrote the poem Hound of Heaven.

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

Up vistaed hopes I sped;

And shot, precipitated,

………..

Halts by me that footfall:
   Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
   ‘Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
   I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.’

Application: Many of you this morning – God is calling you. He is disrupting your conclusions. He is challenging what you have long believed. Don’t run out. Don’t get into a boat and try to hide. It’s time to receive His love through Jesus Christ.

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