Jonah’s Downward Trip
-There are many professors these days TEACHING AT HEATHEN UNIVERSITY AND AT PAGAN STATE:
1. Who have written off the entire book of Jonah as ALLEGORY, SYMBOLISM, or as A FICTIONAL but FUN KIND OF STORY!
2. And they do that, because basically they have trouble with anything SUPERNATURAL!
-And because the supernatural always exceeds their FINITE, PEANUT BRAINS!
-Therefore, because THEY CAN’T SWALLOW THE FISH, they don’t believe THE FISH SWALLOWED JONAH!
3. So, they turn it all into A NICE, HARMLESS ALLEGORY:
-Jonah representing Israel, the sea representing Gentiles, the fish is Babylon swallowing Israel.
-And, you and I are MOTHER GOOSE if we believe that!
4. I am sure it COMES AS A SURPRISE TO JONAH:
-To find out that he is only a fictitious CHARACTER, and the fish, fishy at best!
-Especially, seeing II Kings 14:25 reveals “HIM TO BE A REAL, LIVING, HISTORICAL CHARACTER.”
-Especially, seeing that Jesus mentions Jonah and his entire ordeal, as a FACTUAL, HISTORICAL ACCOUNT!
5. Interesting, that a few years ago:
-It hit the headlines, that a MAN, A WHALER had been swallowed by a whale!
-They caught the WHALE, after many miles, thinking they would pull a dead carcass OUT OF THE WHALE!
-Rather, they found the man alive, inside the whale, and the man lived, you talk about A FISH STORY!
6. But you see,
-We don’t need that account to believe the Word of God!
-No, No, God’s Word is simply God’s word, why, because HE SAID IT, that’s WHY!
7. And what is more:
-Our whole passage in life may well be likened to a journey through great and dangerous deeps. And huge is the comfort:
“THAT GOD NOT ONLY UNDERSTANDS, BUT COMMANDS THE SEAS OF LIFE,
AND EVERYTHING IN THEM IS UNDER HIS OMNIPOTENT CONTROL.”
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PROPHECY OF JONAH!
-The book of Jonah has AN INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT MESSAGE IN THE WORD OF GOD! Each time I study the book of Jonah, I see things that I have totally missed before. There is so much here! It makes me feel like the surgeon who confidently sews up the patient, and then discovers that there are a couple of important looking organs lying under the operating table.
-So important is the message of the prophet Jonah, that God literally “shook history” to PREPARE THE WAY FOR IT!
-How do we know that? Ancient history records 3 DRAMATIC EVENTS which ROCKED THE ASSYRIAN EMPIRE. In fact, Assyria:
a. Was an IDOL-WORSHIPING, POLYTHEISTIC CULTURE, (many gods) of pagan character! Very simply put:
“IDOLATRY IN ITS ESSENCE IS WORSHIPING THAT FOR
GOD WHICH IS NOT GOD.”
-Idolatry is always the religion of the pagans. Satan is some kind of deceiver:
“THAT THESE IDOLATORS ACUALLY BELIEVED THAT THOSE DUMB IDOLS
CAN FULFILL THE PETITIONS THAT THEY CANNOT HEAR, PITY THE
WANTS THEY CANNOT SEE, AND DO THE THINGS FOR WHICH
THEY CANNOT MOVE A HAND OR FOOT.”
b. They had a god for EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK, they worshiped those IDOLS FAITHFULLY.
c. It gets worse, which it always does with Satan. They fashioned “ALTARS” for those idols, and they sacrificed THEIR CHILDREN TO THOSE IDOLS on those altars!
d. In fact, they even had a god with a BIG HOLLOWED-OUT BELLY, with a fire in it:
-And they would THROW THEIR BABIES INTO THAT FIRE as human sacrifices to please their gods! Horrible! Make you nauseated? We do the same thing today, we call it “ABORTION.” It goes on every day of our lives in America by the thousands.
-If you carefully examine the IDOLATRY SCENE, you will always see A FIGURE STANDING IN THE BACKGROUND WITH A RED SUIT, POINTED TAIL, AND A HOOD WITH BLACK HORNS SEWN INTO IT.
God, in spite of THESE PEOPLE BEING THE MOST IDOLATROUS AND CRUEL, BARBARIC PEOPLE on the face of the earth:
a. God knows how to get THE UNGODLY’S ATTENTION! (how many have met God’s attention-getting committee?)
b. Listen to this NOW:
-In 765 B.C., history records there was A TERRIBLE PLAGUE in Assyrian territory.
-In 763 BC., history records there was “A TOTAL SUN ECLIPSE” at that point on the globe!
-In 759 BC., history records that there was ANOTHER MASSIVE PLAGUE in that area! And the Assyrians regarded it all AS JUDGMENT OF THE gods!
-And Bible historians, not coincidentally, record JONAH’S VISIT RIGHT AFTER THESE EVENTS!
-Would you say God WAS PREPARING THE WAY, that GOD WAS GETTING THEIR ATTENTION?
c. AND, RIGHT AT THIS TIME OF JONAH’S VISIT TO NINEVEH TO PREACH REPENTANCE:
-Assyrian history, before polytheistic, now records a SUDDEN SWING TO MONOTHEISM.
-They turned to the WORSHIP OF THE ONE TRUE GOD, instead of MULTIPLICITIES of gods!
d. HOW MANY THINK that God can CHANGE EMPIRES, NATIONS, STATES, CITIES, TOWNS for HIS GLORY!
-God cannot only change HISTORY, but GOD CAN REWRITE IT!
-God will go to GREAT LENGTHS, TO SHOW MERCY, AND TO REDEEM THE LOST!
e. Listen now:
“SATAN BINDS NATIONS BY POSSESSING THEM WITH LIES, AND BEWITCHING
THEM WITH FALSE RELGIONS.”
“THE DEVIL REIGNS OVER THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD BY DECEIVING
THEM,AND WHEREVER GOD’S WORD IS RECEIVED, SATAN IS
DETHRONED AND MANKIND IS UNDECEIVED.”
We can count on this:
“ONLY AS FAR AS TRUTH GAINS GROUND IN THE WORLD, SO FAR
SATAN LOSES IT.”
II. THE WORD OF THE LORD COMES TO JONAH!
-Turn with me to Jonah 1:1-2,
“NOW THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME UNTO JONAH, THE SON OF AMMITTAI
SAYING, ARISE, GO TO NINEVEH, THAT GREAT CITY, AND CRY AGAINST
IT, FOR THEIR WICKEDNESS IS COME UP BEFORE ME.”
-THE WORD OF GOD CAME TO JONAH:
1. How often we read that in Scripture,
“THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO SO AND SO!”
-Now remember, it could also read:
“NOW THE LORD OF THE WORD CAME TO SO AND SO.”
-Why do I say that? Because:
“GOD’S WORDS ARE HIS SECOND SELF.”
-That is to say, he that shows contempt to a KING’S WORDS virtually affronts the king. It does not only dishonor His words, IT DISHONORS HIM. We must get that into our heads and our hearts.
2. Now what DO YOU DO ABOUT THAT? REMAIN NEUTRAL! The Word of God is COMING TO YOU THIS MORNING!
a. There is NO NEUTRALITY! If you decide NOT TO DO ANYTHING with the Word of God, then, YOU HAVE ALREADY MADE A DECISION about the WORD OF GOD, for there is no NEUTRAL MIDDLE ground!
b. God said to him,
“GO TO THE GREAT CITY NINEVEH, CRY AGAINST IT, FOR THEIR
WICKEDNESS IS BEFORE ME.”
-In other words Jonah:
a. Go to them, TELL THEM THEIR SIN IS A STENCH IN THE NOSTRILS of the ONE TRUE MIGHTY GOD!
-God is telling us that the foul odor of the sins of nations, of the sins of this NATION-AMERICA, have and do reach His nostrils. He has smelled it all before, and it is a nauseating aroma to Almighty God. It flat out STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN! And God has His ways of deodorizing the idolatrous, murderous, perverted nations.
b. And the Assyrians ARE GOING TO HAVE ONE CHANCE to repent and serve the Lord! This WAS NINEVEH’S LAST CHANCE for the MERCY OF GOD!
-Right this moment, America is living upon the MERCY OF GOD, and that not by any claim we have to it by past righteousness. It is the sheer mercy of God that we are not yet destroyed. Sheer divine mercy!!! And America, like Nineveh, must be warned that unless she repents of all her anti-God wickedness, she will will be destroyed. This is her final hour!!!
c. God’s Word is always CONTEMPORARY, maybe HE IS SAYING THAT TO YOU PERSONALLY THIS MORNING!
-One single drop of water, how small a thing it is. But as it is joined to the flood, so it too becomes terrible, it drowns and destroys.
-Let no man, including me, flatter himself and think that his sin has no share in the rot and smell of this nation.
3. And don’t get the idea that “NINEVEH WAS A LITTLE HICK TOWN.” God called it:
“THAT GREAT CITY.”
a. Nineveh was larger in that point of HISTORY than most modern cities!
b. It was teeming with MULTI-THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE, all idolatrous, pagan, cruel!
c. They had over the years TORTURED THE JEWS/PLUNDERED THEIR CITIES/STOLE THEIR HARVESTS/RAPED THEIR WOMEN! These were people rotten to the core, much like many of the Islamic nations today where they cut off infidel heads, and saw their children in half. Bloodthirsty, furious, lustful, barbaric, satanic! The devil raged in their lives. Everything negative that could be written about this people would have to be written in CAPITAL LETTERS.
d. And JONAH knew it, and HE HATED THEM WITH A PASSION! How many of us are like Jonah at this moment, desiring certain foul-smelling peoples and nations of the world to be obliterated by God? After all, sin never DIES OF OLD AGE, and the only way to deal with it is to kill it!
-Suddenly Jonah doesn’t seem so far away. We can hate peoples and nations so bad that we refuse to even pray for them, which is in direct disobedience to the Word of God. Hello Jonah! You know you are his twin when their destruction is more attractive to your heart than is their salvation. Small world after all, isn’t it? Do I feel that way about HAMAS, the MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, ISIS, and all the rest of these bloody Islamic demon-possessed groups. I confess, yes I do at times!
III. WHAT WAS JONAH’S RESPONSE TO THE WORD OF GOD?
-He did something which developed long before the 21st century. Listen:
“HE WANTED TO DO HIS OWN THING, AND NOT GOD’S THING!”
-That PHILOSOPHY HAS BEEN AROUND FOR A LONG TIME!
a. Hey man:
“DO YOUR OWN THING, BE A LAW UNTO YOURSELF, DON’T LET ANYONE TELL
YOU WHAT TO DO, INCLUDING GOD, ABOVE ALL – GOD!”
b. Be “CONCERNED ABOUT OLD #1”, and you become all “INTROVERTED WITH INGROWN EYEBALLS!”
“YOU GET INTO THAT SELFISH SYNDROME, WHERE EVERYTHING HAS
TO GO YOUR WAY!”
“YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE WHO SAY WHAT YOU
WANT TO HEAR OR BELIEVE.”
“SO WE MIGHT JUST AS WELL GO OUT BLOW SOME GRASS/or TRANSFER
OUR MEMBERSHIP, depending upon WHAT GENERATION YOU’RE FROM!”
5. And then WHAT HAPPENS when “YOU WANT TO DO YOUR OWN THING?”
a. First of all:
“YOU ARE PRACTICING THE NATIONAL RELIGION OF HELL!”
-And when WE DO THAT, WE ARE FASHIONING AN ALTAR TO SATAN, and sacrificing ourselves to him!
-Satan WHO STUCK A DAGGER IN God’s face and said,
“I WANT TO REPLACE YOU, AND DO THINGS MY OWN WAY!”
-Jonah wanted his own desires, for GOD TO FRY THE ASSYRIANS IN HIS MICROWAVE, millions of Assyrians crispy fried.
-And Jonah had his STRONG REASONS for wanting them all exterminated. It was his reason set on fire by anger and hatred.
“CHRIST DEMANDS THAT OUR IMPERFECT AND SOMETIMES LETHAL REASON
BOW DOWN TO HIM, FOR WE MUST PUT OUR HEADS UNDER HIS FEET.”
“A POISONED REASON, AN INFECTED AND VENEMOUS JUDGMENT, IS CHRIST’S
AND CHRISTIANITY’S GREATEST ENEMY.”
-How does that grab us? Hear it:
“A SICKENED MIND WILL ALWAYS BE JOINED BY A DISEASED WILL.”
-And when YOU ARE CAUGHT UP WITH WHAT YOU WANT (WILL)/ YOU THINK (MIND)/ YOU FEEL (EMOTIONS), you are then FASHIONING AN ALTAR TO SATAN AND SACRIFICING YOURSELF AND OTHERS TO HIM.
b. Second, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WANT TO DO YOUR OWN THING:
-Is that YOU END UP GOING AWAY FROM THE LORD’S PURPOSES INSTEAD OF FLOWING WITH HIM.
-There is an incredible phrase found in Jonah 1:31,
“BUT JONAH ROSE UP TO FLEE UNTO TARSHISH FROM THE PRESENCE
OF THE LORD.”
-Do you see ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT STATEMENT?:
1. Amazing WHAT WE BELIEVE when ONCE WE START FASHIONING AN ALTAR TO SATAN!
2. The very FIRST THING ANY JEWISH KID LEARNED about the Nature of God, the very “FIRST THING” was this:
“GOD IS EVERYWHERE, AND YOU CANNOT FLEE FROM HIS OMNIPRESENCE!”
4. It was the first reality the HEBREWS LEARNED ABOUT GOD, about JAHWEH:
“WHITHER SHALL I GO FROM THY SPIRIT, OR WHITHER SHALL I FLEE FROM
THY PRESENCE….IF I ASCEND UP INTO HEAVEN, THOU ART THERE, IF I
MAKE MY BED IN SHEOL, THOU ART THERE…IF I TAKE THE WINGS
OF THE MORNING, AND DWELL IN THE UTTERMOST PARTS OF THE
SEA, EVEN THERE SHALL THY HAND LEAD ME, AND THY RIGHT
HAND SHALL HOLD ME.”
5. And yet, if you read Jonah 1:3 closely, you will find that it is stated twice:
“TO GO FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD.” (Amazing)
IV. JONAH GOES DOWNWARD
-But there is another TWICE REPEATED PHRASE IN Verse 3 which you must see:
“AND WENT DOWN TO JOPPA, AND HE FOUND A SHIP GOING TO TARSHISH, SO HE
PAID THE FARE THEREOF, AND WENT DOWN INTO IT, TO GO WITH
THEM TO TARSHISH.”
1. I want YOU TO SEE THE WORD DOWN, DOWN to wherever, BUT DOWN is the DIRECTION.
2. Wherever WE WANT TO DO OUR THING, AND FASHION AN ALTAR TO SATAN, YOU’RE GOING DOWN SPIRITUALLY!
3. It’s A DOWNWARD TRIP, that’s the only direction possible, ELEVATING SELF WILL ALWAYS LEAD YOU DOWNWARD TOWARD SATAN AND AWAY FROM GOD.
4. Interesting, Jesus said the same thing in other words in Matt. 23:12,
“WHOSOEVER SHALL EXALT HIMSELF SHALL BE HUMBLED, AND HE THAT
SHALL HUMBLE HIMSELF SHALL BE EXALTED.”
5. And, guess WHO WILL BE THERE TO PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION DOWN FROM GOD’S PURPOSES?
-Jonah lived in a place called HATHHAPHER – II Kings 16:25, 500 miles from Nineveh!
-But the next time we find him, he’s in Joppa, modern day TEL-AVIV, 500 miles from Nineveh!
-Jonah, “YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY”, but then he knew that.
-Jonah is headed for a place called TARSHISH, which in fact is MODERN DAY GIBRALTAR!
-And, Tarshish, get this, is 2500 miles away from the PURPOSE OF GOD – Nineveh!
-And why Tarshish? How many of you have ever heard the phrase, “ALL THE WAY TO TIM-BUCK-TO?”
-Tarshish to Jonah was TIM-BUCK-TO, for navigators then thought that WAS THE END OF THE EARTH!
-You go TO TARSHISH AND YOU DROP OFF THE EDGE, it was considered THE ENDS OF THE EARTH!
-That is where, DOING WHAT YOU WANT AND FASHIONING AN ALTAR TO SATAN WILL BRING YOU: From the will of God and the purpose of God, DOWN, DOWN, DOWN!
And what DO YOU SUPPOSE, just let me ask you this:
a. What DO YOU SUPPOSE the chances of finding a SHIP THAT APPEARS TO BE GOING TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH ARE?
b. On a Sunday morning, at 3:00 A.M., from Joppa, exactly when you arrive there!
c. And you arrive there WITHOUT RESERVATION, and they just happen to need one more passenger!
d. What, do you suppose THE CHANCES ARE OF THAT HAPPENING, especially seeing ships seldom run from Joppa to Tarshish!
-My Friend, THE DEVIL WILL ALWAYS BE THERE, to help you when YOU WANT TO ESCAPE THE WILL, PURPOSES OF GOD!
“SATAN IS BUSIEST AND CONCERNS HIMSELF ABOVE ALL
WITH MANIPULATING PEOPLE TO BELIEVE THAT
GOING HIS WAY IS FAR BETTER AND SAFER
THAN GOING GOD’S WAY.”
-It is SATAN’S preoccupation with man:
“TO GET MAN TO RUN FROM GOD AND RUN TO HIS BETTER WAY, WHICH
IS BOTH THE MASTERPIECE AND GATE OF HELL.”
“THE GREATER SHARE OF THE HUMAN RACE CONTINUES TO SUCK THAT POISON
FROM THIS MOST ALLURING FLOWER IN SATAN’S GARDEN.”
-Satan did it in the Garden of Eden, and he has been doing it ever since:
-Hey Buddy, need A SHIP TO TARSHISH, it only goes once a year, and it happens to be docked at Joppa for your convenience!
a. But, if you believe that SHIP BEING THERE IN ALL OF THAT was merely COINCIDENCE!
b. Then, you probably would buy PROPERTY IN AFGHANISTAN FROM a traveling salesman! Listen to me, THE DEVIL WILL ALWAYS BE THERE:
-When you WANT TO DO YOUR THING, SATISFY YOUR FEELINGS, AND FLEE FROM THE PURPOSES OF GOD!
-The devil will always be THERE TO HELP YOU, AND GREASE YOUR SLIDE DOWN TO TARSHISH!
-He will even send people into your life to encourage you, WHISTLING YOU DOWN!
-The devil’s TAXI will drive up and say:
“HEY BOY, NEED A RIDE TO TARSHISH?”
-He will even find YOU SOMEONE TO SIN WITH, someone OF LIKE PRECIOUS APPTITUDE!
-Or, HE MIGHT EVEN GREASE YOUR SLIDE DOWN with a promotion, to tie you down more firmly to his altar, and let you make a little more, so one day you can buy a little more, mortgage a little more, and you become a living sacrifice on his altar, and the altar of the world’s system, less time for God, worship and study of God’s Word.
c. And all the time Satan is telling you that you are a success, you’re making it, you’re doing it, way to go.
d. You see, the ISSUE IS THIS:
“IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO COMMITMENT, WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE WILLING TO BE A LIVING
SACRIFICE ON THE ALTAR OF GOD, TO MAKE AN ALTAR, LAY YOURSELF UPON IT, AND
SAY, ‘LORD, WHAT WOULDEST THOU HAVE ME TO DO!’”
V. JONAH PAYS THE SHIP FARE
-The glorious good news of the gospel is this:
1. God was NOT DONE WITH JONAH, even though Jonah was RUNNING FROM GOD!
2. God LOVED JONAH, even when JONAH WAS FLEEING FROM HIS WORD AND HIS WILL!
3. God still LOVES US, even when WE GET ON OUR LITTLE SHIPS TO TARSHISH!
4. God loves Jonah, us, while WE ARE ON OUR SHIPS, JUSTIFYING OUR VOYAGE, HE LOVES US.
-Oh friend, I can tell YOU ABOUT RUNNING FROM GOD:
1. And, oh, the excuses, self-justification that I did while my ship went downward
2. And, there I was, IN MY LITTLE BOAT, propelled by the little self going around in circles!
3. But, all the WHILE, GOD LOVES US, God loved me, you, even TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
4. That is exactly the meaning of Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:18-19,
“MAY BE ABLE TO COMPREHEND WITH ALL THE SAINTS WHAT IS THE BREATH,
AND LENGTH, DEPTH, AND HEIGHT, AND TO KNOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST
WHICH PASSETH KNOWLEDGE.”
5. That LOVE OF GOD IS AS:
a. DEEP AND DOWNWARD AS ANY HELL YOU MAY BE IN!
b. BROAD AND WIDE AS ANY AND ALL PLACES ON EARTH YOU MAY HAVE BEEN!
c. STRONG AND ENDURING AS ALL THE YEARS YOU HAVE SPENT RUNNING!
d. HIGH AND GLORIOUS AS THE HEAVEN HE WANTS TO TAKE YOU TO!
6. OH YES, GOD LOVED JONAH even as in Jonah 1:3,
“FORKED OUT THE MONEY TO PAY FOR THE TRIP.”
a. OH YES friend, Satan will TRY TO CONVINCE US IT COSTS TOO MUCH TO SERVE GOD!
b. When, in fact, SOONER OR LATER, we will HAVE TO PAY DEARLY for following Satan!
c. Satan is always TRYING TO FLASH RELIGIOUS PRICE TAGS, COST TOO MUCH, THIS RELIGION BUSINESS:
-After all, you can’t STAY IN THAT MARRIAGE, IT COSTS TOO MUCH, GO DOWN TO TARSHISH!
-After all, YOU CAN”T GIVE UP THOSE PLEASURES, I MEAN, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
-After all, on and on it goes, RELIGIOUS PRICE TAGS, when in fact, WE END UP PAYING MUCH MORE FOR RIDING ON THAT BOAT TO TARSHISH!
7. And furthermore, while Satan would FLASH RELIGIOUS PRICE TAGS BEFORE YOU:
-We are NOT INTERESTED IN RELIGIONS, RELIGIOUSITY, but in RELATIONSHIP!
-A personal relationship WITH JESUS CHRIST, that IS SO LOVING, that it makes all OBEDIENCE A PLEASURE, AND THE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE A JOY BEYOND WORDS!
-Don’t let HIM FOOL YOU WITH RELIGIOUS PRETENSES, JESUS LOVES YOU, AND WANTS TO GIVE YOU ETERNAL LOVE AND LIFE!
-Oh yes, God LOVED JONAH while he was trying to run from God.
-A young man made an appointment with the secretary of a pastor friend of mine, a young man he had never met before in his life.
a. He sat down with the young man, and after some small talk, the pastor asked him WHAT HE NEEDED TO SHARE!
b. They prayed together, and the prayer released the young man to share!
c. He went ON TO SHARE THAT HE WAS A HOMOSEXUAL:
-For years he had lived this way, listening to the devil’s JUSTIFICATIONS AND RATIONALS!
-He had been ON THE DEVIL’S BOAT TO TARSHISH, THE DEVIL’S PERVERTED LOVE BOAT!
-And now WITH GUILT, SHAME, FEAR, DESPAIR, HE WAS PAYING THE PRICE THEREOF!
d. Then, as he went on, OH THE GLORY OF THAT DAY:
-HIS TEARS flowed, and then at ONE MOMENT THE TEARS WELLED UP IN HIS EYES!
-The pastor thought that HIS EYES WOULD BURST WITH THE TORRENT, and he asked the young man, “WHAT IS IT”?
-The young fella said, “I HAVE TO KNOW”, AS HE SOBBED, “DOES JESUS STILL LOVE ME?”
-The pastor said, “YES MY BROTHER, I Corinthians. 13:8 tells us,
“HIS LOVE NEVER FAILS!”
-Then he said weeping, “WILL HE RECEIVE MY LOVE TOO, I’M SO PERVERTED?”
-“Oh yes,” said the pastor, “HE LOVES YOU/RECEIVES YOUR LOVE just as you are! ( no one has ever been turned away)
e. TODAY THAT YOUNG MAN IS SAVED/FORGIVEN/SET FREE/TOTALLY SOLD OUT TO JESUS!
-He has totally LAID HIS BODY ON THE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE TO JESUS! NEVER BEEN HAPPIER!
-He never misses church, there Sunday morning, evening, Wednesday, fellowship group.
-In fact, he is at church more than he’s home, to work, serve, sing, worship, sacrifice.
-And is totally, healthfully in joyful submission to the pastor and pastoral staff. Hallelujah! The long awful trip to Tarshish is over – forever!
VI. JONAH – THE STORM – THE FISH
-But it did come easy, for the story is yet to be:
1. Jonah WENT DOWN, PAID THE PRICE, AND GOT ON HIS SHIP TO NOWHERE!
2. And we read in Jonah 1:4,
“BUT THE LORD SENT OUT A GREAT WIND INTO THE SEA, AND THERE WAS A
MIGHTY TEMPEST IN THE SEA, SO THAT THE SHIP WAS LIKE
TO BE BROKEN.”
a. Now listen to me, Jonah COULD HAVE STOOD IN THE BOW OF THAT BOAT, AND REBUKED THE WIND AND THE WAVES.
b. And done so, UNTIL THE COWS CAME HOME, OR FISH WENT TO SCHOOL, IT WOULD HAVE DONE NO GOOD.
c. It would not have made any difference, BECAUSE THIS WAS A “STORM” FROM THE LORD.
d. And they THREW JONAH IN THE SEA, AND we read this in Jonah 3:17,
“NOW THE LORD HAD PREPARED A GREAT FISH TO SWALLOW UP JONAH.
AND JONAH WAS IN THE BELLY OF THE FISH THREE DAYS AND
-You might say that JONAH BECAME THE WORLD’S FIRST DEEP PROPHET….HE HAD A THREE DAYS RESERVATION FROM GOD IN THE JAWS HILTON! Though it must have seemed like a terrifying life sentence in solitary confinement!
-HOW MANY OF YOU KNOW?:
1. That it would be easy for the FLESH to determine that THE BOAT IS FROM GOD…THE FISH FROM THE DEVIL!
2. Fact is, it was JUST IN REVERSE, for verse 17 says,
“THE LORD PREPARED A GREAT FISH TO SWALLOW HIM.”
a. And the word prepared really means “APPOINTED,” God appointed this fish!
b. I can hear someone say:
“YOU SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE SIZE OF THAT SUCKER FISH.”
c. Well sir, Jonah 3:17 calls it A GREAT FISH, and Jesus in Matthew 12:40 calls it A WHALE!
d. In any event, THAT WHALE OF A GREAT FISH was ON DIVINE APPOINTMENT, TO SWALLOW JONAH!
-You see, OUR LOVING GOD:
1. Knows HOW ESSENTIAL “HUMILITY” IS in HIS SERVANTS, and essential TO HIS KINGDOM!
2. Especially essential TO THOSE WHO ABSOLUTELY INSIST on DOING THEIR OWN “ARROGANT” PRIDEFUL THING!
3. I can’t think of anything MORE HUMBLING:
“THAN TO BE SWALLOWED BY, AND EVENTUALLY BARFED UP BY A WHALE, AND THERE SITS OLD JONAH, ON THE BEACH, LOOKING AND SMELLING A BIT UNTRADITIONAL, AND BROTHER, WHERE HE WENT, HIS COLOGNE PRECEDED HIM, YOU KNEW HE WAS APPROACHING”.
4. God knows how to HUMBLE AND CONDITION HIS SERVANTS into USEFULNESS!
5. And until they ARE HUMBLED AND SUBMITTED, they are neither USEFUL OR USABLE TO GOD.
-And then, when humbled, Jonah finally preached THE WORD OF GOD TO WICKED NINEVEH:
1. We read in Jonah 3:5,
“SO THE PEOPLE OF NINEVEH BELIEVED GOD, AND PROCLAIMED A FAST, AND PUT
ON SACKCLOTH, FROM THE GREATEST OF THEM TO THE LEAST OF THEM.”
2. From the king to the citizen, the entire wicked city, repented, turned to the Lord. God grant that here!
3. NO WONDER the devil keeps so many OFF GOD’S ALTAR, no wonder he tries TO STOP OUR EARS TO GOD’S WORD!
4. NO WONDER he tries TO DILUTE OUR TOTAL COMMITMENT TO Jesus, with LITTLE SIDE TRACKS.
5. And TRIES TO BECKON US FROM WORSHIP AND THAT DIVINE ATMOSPHERE WHERE IS THE ANOINTING OF GOD!
6. Where we learn God’s Word, and then respond BY MAKING AN ALTAR OF COMMITMENT AND TOTAL SACRIFICE TO GOD!
-We might well say that JONAH DIED A THOUSAND DEATHS down there in the BELLY OF THE GREAT FISH. Even to the end, Jonah had much more dying to do. We might well call Jonah the original “DIE HARD,” and he indeed “DIED HARD.” But then, when it comes to dying to self, who doesn’t “DIE HARD?” Jonah was always trying to wriggle back into himself and his prejudices. We must constantly die to self to live for God. It is the Christian way of dying and living! Hear me:
“ONLY WHEN WE PASS FROM THIS WORLD ARE OUR SELFISH CRIES FINALLY
MUFFLED AND EXTINGUISHED.”
-Frankly, the story of Jonah wouild be comical in many ways IF IT WASN’T SO TRAGIC. Still, it remains the Bible’s greatest TRAGICOMEDY from chapter to chapter!
-THE BIBLE TELLS US THIS,
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains a single seed.”
-Actually, literally translated, this says, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone.” It remains MONOS, solo, alone, a mono-seed. “But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” A single kernel of wheat all by itself is lonely but also ineffective. When I used to do farm work while growing up, sometimes I’d grab a jacket that maybe I’d not worn in a while and sometimes when I put my hands in the pockets, I’d find a kernel of wheat or corn. It had fallen in there unbeknownst to me in the course of my work. And it could have stayed in that pocket forever but it would have been ALONE AND UNPRODUCITVE. It could do no good there.
-One way or another, for a kernel of wheat to do any good, it has to die. Either it gets sunk into a harrowed trench of soil and buried so it can then sprout and grow or it gets threshed and ground into flour with which to make bread. Either way, a MONO-KERNEL off by itself will do no good. “IT HAS TO DIE,” Jesus says, if new life is to be produced.
-In John 12 we know Jesus is referring primarily to himself. Paradoxically and against every messianic anticipation, he was going to have to sink deep into death if he was ever going to give life to anyone. But lest we think this is only about Jesus, our Lord also makes clear that this is to be our pattern too.
-There is a line in John 12:26 that we often hear quoted in quite sunny ways:
“Where I am, my servant will also be.”
-Typically we hear this quoted at funerals and so these words convey the idea that the deceased person is now in glory with the Lord Jesus. And although that may be a legitimate extension of John 12, I think the real meaning here is that if Jesus is the seed that dies in the soil of this earth, then if we are to be servant followers of Jesus, that is where we must go as well.
-“When I am lifted up,” Jesus goes on to say, “I will draw all people to myself.” And just in case you are tempted to interpret this up-lifted status to mean something glitzy, John sticks in a little commentary in verse 33 to make clear that the “lifting up” Jesus had in mind was the CROSS. Ultimately Jesus would get lifted up in the ascension into heaven, but the first ten feet of the ascension came by way of a cross. Jesus’ upward journey started when the Roman soldiers hoisted Him up skyward at the PLACE OF THE SKULL.
-So if you want to fly off into glory with Jesus, you’ve got to be part of the first ten feet of the trip as well. You can’t prop up a stepladder on the side of the cross, climb it, and then meet Jesus at the top for the balance of the journey to glory. You’ve got to be crucified with Him. You have to be the kernel who gets buried into death with Him. “Where I am, my servant will also be.” WITH JONAH, YOU MUST DO DOWN INTO THE SEA AND DIE TO SELF.
-But as a servant, it is not up to you to pick and choose the times and places you want to be with Jesus. You are with Him always and everywhere or you are with Him never and nowhere.
-Unless a kernel of wheat falls, falls down, gets buried into the earth and dies, it’s lonely and alone. But if it dies, it may well produce a great cloud of witnesses, a host of life, a cornucopia of good kingdom fruit. THE ENTIRE CITY OF NINEVEH REPENTED AND TURNED TO GOD. JONAH, AFTER DYING AND RISING, COULD HAVE NEVER DREAMED THE FRUIT HE WOULD BEAR FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.
-Whether or not the world cares for the kind of fruit that emerges from the servant pattern of dying and rising with Christ, Jesus assures us that this is fruit that lasts forever.
1. King of Babylon, great Babylon that ruled the world!
2. And one day Nebuchadnezzar walks out on his palace porch and says:
“I BY MY MIGHTY POWER, HAVE BUILT THIS MIGHTY CITY, TO BE THE
CAPITAL OF MY GREAT EMPIRE.”
3. You may think there might BE A TOUCH OF PRIDE IN THAT STATEMENT? It got God’s attention!
4. And God says:
a. Neb, I am going to humble you!
b. And with the WORDS STILL IN NEB’S MOUTH, NEB LOST HIS MIND AND WENT INSANE!
c. Went out on his belly, ate grass like a cow, grew bird’s feathers for hair, eagles claws for fingernails!
d. And HE DID IT FOR SEVEN YEARS, AND WHEN HIS REASON CAME BACK, THE FIRST WORDS OUT OF HIS MOUTH WERE:
“GOD, YOU’RE SOVEREIGN, YOU OWN IT ALL, YOU RULE OVER ALL.”
-By the way, WHAT DO YOU SAY, WHEN YOU WALK OUT ON THE PORCH OF YOUR LIFE AND ASSESS THINGS?:
1. It’s my life, I run it, I do what I want, I want to do my thing!
-Oh, I see! How about YOUR BREATH? Who gives you that? Who guarantees it!
-What about YOUR HEART? Huh? The old Ticker? The beat goes on! God owes you another and another!
-You think so! No, It’s all His, doesn’t OWE US ANYTHING!
-I HAVE BURIED 4 month olds, 40 year olds, 84 year olds, THE SAME GOD RULED ALL!
-The Bible says,
“IT’S APPOINTED UNTO ALL MEN ONCE TO DIE, AND AFTER THAT THE JUDGMENT!”
-The important thing is:
“ARE YOU SERVING HIM, IS YOUR ALL ON THE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE LAID?!”
-And the Key word is “ALL”, or ARE YOU LAYING HALF before God and keeping half for yourself?
-Friend, either YOU ARE TOTALLY ON GOD’S ALTAR OF COMMITMENT, OR TOTALLY ON THE DEVIL’S.
-None of this HALF ON, HALF OFF BUSINESS!
2. Listen to me:
-As I go through the Bible, the MEN AND WOMEN who really MADE IT FOR GOD’S GLORY!
-Are THOSE WHO MADE ALTARS, laid their lives sacrificially, totally before God, and responded to the Word!
-Those ARE THE ONES THAT GET TOTALLY CLEANSED IN HIS BLOOD, AND TOTALLY EMPOWERED BY HIS SPIRIT, AND TOTALLY USED FOR HIS GLORY!
3. I want to say this to you Christian, and those who call yourselves Christians:
a. I know that this message about Jonah has been VERY DIRECT and there’s A REASON FOR THAT!
b. I AM MAD AT THE DEVIL, MAD AT WHAT HE HAS DONE TO GOD’S PEOPLE!
c. I am SICK OF WHAT HE HAS DONE TO GOD’S PEOPLE, SICK OF THEIR BEING DECEIVED!
d. I AM SICK OF HIM TELLING THEM, AND THEY BELIEVING HIM, THAT THEY CAN COME INTO NICETY-NICE CHURCHES!
e. And sit there, in PADDED PEWS, and think they can HALF-ALTAR, HALF-HEART, HALF-BODY, HALF-SACRIFICE THEIR WAY TO HEAVEN!
f. I AM GOING TO FIGHT THE DEVIL ON THAT TILL I DIE, FOR HE DECEIVES MANY WHO SHALL BE LOST!
g. I am going to fight HIM ON THAT, otherwise SOME PEOPLE HERE ARE GOING TO BE LOST IN THE END!
I ask you, each one of you:
-How long has IT BEEN since you did what Romans 12:1 tells you to do?
-How long, if ever, since there has been an altar in your life, an altar on which you said:
“LORD GOD, I GIVE MYSELF TO YOU, I RESPOND, YOUR WORD HAS COME UNTO ME.
I RESPOND BY LAYING MY LIFE TOTALLY ON THE ALTAR FOR YOU!”
-You say, that’s fine Pastor, but THAT’S A PRIVATE MATTER, LEAVE ME ALONE, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!
-NO, NO, NO, listen, you’ve GOT TO GET THIS THROUGH YOUR HEAD:
a. You see, the idea of THE ALTAR was and is THAT IT IS A PUBLIC RECORD!
b. Altars are PUBLIC TESTIMONIES OF COMMITMENT TO CHRIST JESUS!
c. Jesus DIED AS A PUBLIC testimony OF HIS LOVE FOR YOU AND SACRIFICE FOR YOUR SINS!
d. There WAS NOTHING PRIVATE ABOUT IT, AND THERE NEVER IS!
-THIS IS AN ALTAR, right here IN THE MOST VISIBLE PART OF THIS CHURCH!
-It is not “A PENTECOSTAL TRADITION”, or “CHARISMATIC RITUAL”, any more than Calvary was!
-It is AN ALTAR before God, whereby WE LAY OURSELVES TOTALLY BEFORE HIM IN RESPONSE TO HIS WORD:
“I AM YOURS LORD, I WILL OBEY, I GIVE YOU MY ALL, USE ME TOTALLY!”
-I place myself VISIBLY, I give myself visibly, even as Christ gave Himself for me.
-AND TODAY, AND FROM THIS DAY ON:
a. I pray to God THAT EVERY DEACON/ELDER, EVERY SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER, EVERY ROYAL RANGER LEADER.
b. Every Missionette leader, every C.A. leader, every Prime Timer, every youngster and oldster!
c. Every Fellowship group leader, the new comers, every worshiper, WILL PLACE HIMSELF ON GOD’S ALTAR REGULARLY!!
d. That’s why I say again and again:
“THE ALTARS ARE OPEN, THE ALTARS ARE OPEN, THE ALTARS ARE ALWAYS OPEN!”
-And right now:
a. May it go on record, that THIS CHURCH PREPARED AN ALTAR BEFORE GOD!
b. And that, they NEVER STOPPED, but continued TO LAY THEIR ALL BEFORE HIM, AND BOUND THEMSELVES ON THE ALTAR, BY CORDS OF LOVE TO JESUS! Amen!!!