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?


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.


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.


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?


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.

%d bloggers like this: