Intro: Jonah series reminds us what church is to be, do. Review: God calls
Jonah to cry out against Nineveh; (motivated by God's mercy, we call people to repent.)
Jonah ran away; (guard our hearts from sin.) God sends storm, sailors scared, Jonah
sleeping; (wake up to dire situation of world under God's judgment.) Sailors ask
Jonah questions; (listening is most effective strategy for witnessing.) As we continue
story, we'll discover why Jesus' cross was necessary for God to forgive sinners.
Jonah's Solution! (Read Jonah 1:11-12.) Why did Jonah tell the sailors to toss him
overboard? What were his motives? Still trying to escape God; final act of rebellion?
No. Could have just jumped overboard! Instead, he involved the sailors. He is admitting
his guilt, ready to receive his just punishment from God! (Read Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel. 18:4.) Why is Jonah's solution so drastic?
Knew the soul who sins is the one who will die.
Question: Why doesn't God
just forgive sinners, without punishing them? God is who He is; absolute moral uprightness,
purity; perfectly just. Therefore, must punish sin! (We desire criminals to receive
justice!) To ask God not to punish sin is to ask Him not to be God! Terribly offensive
thought! Told humans at beginning: "If you sin, you die!"
The Sailors' Struggle! (Read Jonah 1:13-15.) Why were the sailors reluctant to do as
Jonah instructed? Because the solution seemed so drastic! But sailors' rowing insufficient!
God prevents them from returning Jonah to shore (to begin to obey?) Why? Because
sin has already been committed. Merely changing behavior isn't enough! (Efforts
of sailors mirror our efforts to placate God, change our behavior when conviction
comes.) Finally, begging God for mercy, realizing they have no other choice, they
toss Jonah overboard. Sea grows calm! Drastic, astoundingly effective, solution
to their problem! Why does it work? Because the soul who sins is the one who will die!
The Sailors' Salvation? (Read Jonah 1:16.) Sailors even more fearful of such a powerful
God! "Feared a great fear," offered a sacrifice (not on boat, went to Jerusalem?),
made vows (promising further worship.) Were sailors' conversions genuine? Bible
scholars disagree. But what did the sailors know? The Israelite's God, Creator of
heaven and earth, was angry over sin. Sailors had witnessed firsthand that God takes
sin so seriously that only death will satisfy His wrath. Only one, drastic solution
: the soul who sins is the one who will die!
Jonah's Salvation? (Read Jonah 1:17.) But we don't dare linger, becausec
Jonah is sinking fast. "God provided a great fish." Science behind fish? Not the
point! Point: Why did God send the fish? Don't assume it's God's way of saving Jonah.
We know the story; fish will spit Jonah out. What if we were hearing story for first
time, with Israelite ears? (Read Amos 9:1-4.) Fish = Sea/Chaos Monster = Hell/Death itself!
"Three days and three nights" may be an ANE figure of speech for length of time
it took a person to travel to realm of the dead. Today's "six feet under." Jonah
is swallowed by Death itself, because the soul who sins is the one who will die!
But surprise! Jonah doesn't die! Why not?
Jonah's Sign! Because although God, in His justice, demands punishment for
sins, God in His grace desires to show mercy to sinners. This is why God shows grace
to Jonah in this unusual way. Through the fish, God ultimately saves Jonah's life.
So does the fish symbolize Jonah's salvation, or damnation? Yes! Salvation comes
through judgment! Lot delivered out of Sodom. The Exodus. Jonah. Ultimately, Jesus
on the cross! God's judgment was poured out on Jesus, the perfect, innocent, infinite
sacrifice who satisfied God's wrath. This is how our sin is forgiven. The sign of
Jonah points to Jesus. (Read Matthew 12:40.) Jonah's "death" is an imperfect picture
of the death of Jesus. Jesus took our place, died for our sins, and then
raised from the dead after three days and three nights. This is the only solution,
and it's drastic! Jesus, the Innocent One, became our substitute. His death was
the only way God could both punish sin as it deserves, and also show mercy to sinners.
Application : We're in the same boat with the sailors, with Jonah. Facing
God's just wrath over our sin. We know that our sin is deserving of death! We
know there's only one solution, but it's drastic! Asking Jesus, the Innocent One
to take our place!
Next Week: Why does God allow difficulties to overwhelm His people? Does
He have a reason? When we encounter those crushing times, how should we respond?