Intro : Last week, started a series of sermons drawn from Jonah. Purpose:
To remind us what our church is here for. So far, discovered the primary job of
the church is to call people to turn from their sins and place their faith in Jesus.
God's message came to Jonah. How will Jonah respond? As we examine Jonah's response,
we'll discover the biggest challenge to our church fulfilling its mission. (Read
Starting with a close up on Jonah!
Intelligence! (Mind) We tend to look with favor upon intelligent people.
Jonah is using his mind here. His trip to Joppa was not simply a spur of the moment
decision. This trip took planning, intentionality. Jonah leaves his home. He goes
to Joppa; he finds a ship that will take him to Tarshish, a seaport on the southwest coast
of Spain. Ninevah was east. Tarshish was as far west as a person could go.
Determination! (Will) We tend to look with favor upon people of great determination,
who meet and overcome obstacles to achieve their goal. Jonah is determined to travel
to Tarshish. Mentioned three times in v. 3! Joppa was a Gentile seaport. Jonah is
separating himself from the Jewish temple, from anyone who may know God. Doesn't
want to be swayed from his course of action. Jewish tradition says Jonah's family
was quite wealthy, that he sold his home to pay for the trip. May be truth in that
tradition, because the text of vs. 3 says: "Paid her fare" (bought the boat!) Determination!
Action! (Body) We tend to look with favor upon people of action. Jonah is
a man of action! Look at all the verbs in vs. 3! Ran, headed, went down, found,
paid, went aboard, sailed, flee! Jonah is taking action; he's leaving behind family/friends,
everything that's familiar. He's a man on the move!
Transition : Jonah is an intelligent, determined, active person! But, for
being intelligent, Jonah seems foolish! For being determined, Jonah seems stubborn!
For taking action, Jonah seems so weak! Why do I say this? Pull back from close
up, see big picture!
Big Picture! Structure of vs. 3 (in Hebrew, better reflected by New American Standard Bible (Read) :
Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
To Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
He went down to Joppa
and went down
Found a ship which was going to Tarshish, Paid the fare
Notice emphasis on Tarshish, (opposite of where God told Jonah to go,) repetition
that Jonah was running away from God, and repetition that Jonah was "going down."
Jonah is using his mind, will, body to run away from God, but he is obviously going
downhill! How low can one man go? We'll find out! Notice: Jonah's paying the price!
Does vs. 3 tell us why Jonah ran? No. For now, the why doesn't matter. Because Jonah
is you, me. We've all run away from God. What's your VGR for disobeying God? Disobeying
God involves the whole person, mind, will, and body. Disobeying God takes everything
you are, you have. But, according to Jon. 1:3, if you're running away from God,
you're going downhill, and you will pay the price! (Read Romans 6:23.)
Application : This is the biggest challenge to our church fulfilling its
mission: It's us. Our addiction to sin, avoidance of God. Sin makes the human heart
the hardest substance known to man...is the deadliest disease that has afflicted
humanity...is the slavery we eagerly submit to. We convince ourselves that disobeying
God is necessary, good; that God's commands are too unreasonable, harsh. But we
disobey God not because God is unfair, but because we are stubborn. (Read Romans 8:7) Ways "the world" runs from God? Ways "church
people" run from God? Whichever camp, only two responses to God's Word:
sense of annoyance, irritation at being called a sinner, deserving of God's anger?
That's sin in your heart; common strategy to resist God's message by blaming the
messenger! Beware! Sin's hold on you is stronger than you ever suspected!
sense of your own sinfulness, and its awfulness? That's the convicting work of the
Holy Spirit in your heart. Tempted to run and hide. Instead, let that awful feeling
drive you to God. (Read Psalm 25:11.) Receive God's grace and mercy through faith
in Jesus Christ. Pray that the Holy Spirit's power will begin to destroy sin's stranglehold
on your heart!
Next Week: As we prepare to celebrate our nation's birthday, we will ask,
and answer, some hard questions: Is America experiencing God's judgment? Does the
Christian church hold any responsibility for the moral decline of our country?