For Exposition of Jonah Part 1 click HERE
Establishing the need: Are you running away from God or opportunities from God to be obedient in sharing the gospel?
We can see symptoms in our lives of disobedience or running away from the LORD when we are not praying, not honoring and not having our lives filed with the things of God.
There is an irony in Jonah chapter one, in that Jonah is suppose to be a prophet who speaks the Word of God and point out other’s sin, yet here those who did not know the God of the Bible speaks more than the prophet did and point out the prophet’s own sin.
Purpose: This morning we will see three questions that nonbelievers asks of Jonah when he ran away from God, so that it will also challenge us as believers to be obedient and not runaway from the command to share the gospel.
How can you not pray to God when He is pursuing you (v.4-6)?
How can you not honor Him when He is a part of your identity (v.7-9)?
How can you not turn back to God when your disobedience affects others (v.10-15)?
I. How can you not pray to God when He is pursuing you (v.4-6)?
- Point: God is in control of all things, and He is more than capable of bringing about events to make you realize your need for Him. If you realize God is pursuing you, will you turn to God in prayer?
- Passage: “4 The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to [a]break up. 5 Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the [b]cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it [c]for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. 6 So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”
i. Verse 2 and 3 have already established that Jonah was running away from God on a ship to Tarshish. Jonah did not want to preach to those in Nineveh.
ii. Now verse 4 indicates that there was a great storm.
iii. Who caused the Storm?—“The Lord hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea” (v.4a)
The Hebrew form for “hurled:”
In the Hebrew, the form communicates a causative idea, with the LORD as the one who causes the hurling of the great wind.
It calls to mind the throwing of a spear such as in 1 Samuel 18:11, 20:33 (Youngblood, Location 1015).
This is the first of four times the verb “hurl” or “throw” is mentioned in this passage.
The effect of the great wind is a great storm.
iv. How bad was the storm? Four descriptions (v.4b-5a):
1. “so that the ship was about to [a]break up” (v.4b)
“…the ship was about to break up” literally is “…the ship thought to break up.”
“Thought” here is the only instance in the Hebrew of using it with an inanimate subject, to personify the ship thinking itself will break and thus showing how dramatic the storm is (Limburg, 48-49).
2. “Then the sailors became afraid (v.5a)
Traveling to Tarshish from Israel would have been a long journey, and these sailors would have no doubt been experienced, yet they were afraid.
First time fear is mentioned in this passage but won’t be the only time.
In the beginning of this passage, we see that the sailors were only afraid of the situation. But their fear is only going to intensify.
3. “and every man cried to his god,(v.5a)
The sailors’ ethnicity were likely Phoenicians, and they would have pleaded to Baal or Melqart, their god of rain and thunder (Kohlenberger, 33).
Down to a man, they prayed to their own god in vain.
4. “and they threw the [b]cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it [c]for them.” (v.5a)
Second time the word “throw” or “hurl” appears.
The throwing was an attempt to save the ship.
Those on the ship was really afraid, since ships of the Mediterranean would have carried precious cargoes such as metals, ivory, animals and other products (Limburg, 49).
v. Jonah’s response (v.5b)
- More appropriately, is his lack of response.
- It is rather surprising for us as readers to find where Jonah was.
- In contrast to the rest of the shipmates, “But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship,”
- In contrast to the rest of the shipmates’ desperation, Jonah “lain down and fallen sound asleep.”
- The rest of those on bard are struggling to stay alive, Jonah resign himself to death (Youngblood, Location 1210).
vi. The Captain’s question and rebuke
Question: “ So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping?” (v.6)
Command: “Get up, call on your god.”
Irony that someone who is not a follower of the true living God is exhorting a true believer to pray (Kohlenberger, 34).
Jonah must have heard echoes of God’s original command since the captain’s first command “Get up,” was originally the first command God had for Jonah in 1:2 (Kohlenberger, 34).
Reason: “Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.”
i. Let the questions that the captain asks also be questions that’s asked to us:
1. “ So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping?” (v.6)
There is incredible irony that Christians who know best what is going on in the world, can act like we are asleep while the world tremble in ignorance but know enough to realize there is a problem in the world.
2. “Get up, call on your god.””
In one word: Pray!
ii. If nonbelievers ask you to pray for them, pray for them and pray that God will use those circumstances to draw them to Himself.
II. How can you not honor Him when He is a part of your identity (v.7-9)?
- Point: The Bible teaches that when God has saved you and given you eternal life, your whole identity has changed: You are a new creation! Your desire has also changed: In light of this, how can you not want to honor Him when He is a part of your identity?
- Passage: “7 Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may [d]learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “ Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” 9 He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”
i. The shipmates wonders about the cause of the storm (v.7)
1. Jonah’s silence and disobedience?
a. Since Jonah was a prophet, one would have expected that Jonah would have prayed or preached to the sailors after the captain’s command in verse 6, but this is not what we find. Instead the sailors were speaking.
b. Perhaps Jonah first disobedience to preach to Nineveh also led him to have a callous heart not to preach
2. READ Jonah 1:7.
ii. The shipmates’ volley of five questions (v.8)
1. “On whose account has this calamity struck us?””
a. This is their main question since “calamity” is repeated from verse 7 with the reasons why they cast lot in the first place.
b. Yet the most important question is one that Jonah will not immediately answer (Kohlenberger, 35)!
2. “What is your occupation?”
Jonah does not tell them he is a prophet, which is his very identity!
3. “And where do you come from?”
4. “What is your country?”
5. ‘From what people are you?”
iii. Jonah’s answer focuses on his identity (v.9)
- Jonah the prophet finally speaks for the first time in this book!
- Turning point of the chapter!
- National identity: “I am a Hebrew,”
- This answers the last three questions the sailors had.
- It also helped narrow down which God Jonah has offended.
- Believer of the God of the Bible: “and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.””
- Some of your version might say “I worship the LORD,” but literally in the Hebrew is “I fear the LORD.”
- His identity is tied in with fearing the true living God, which of course at that moment he was disobedient towards.
- Fear is an important theme throughout this chapter!
4. Picture: Evangelism is something I don’t always feel comfortable doing either, especially when others might be hostile to what I have to say. I remember working one time, and I overheard some Christians trying to witness and defend the Bible is true. They beckoned me to join them and I finally can’t help it but I had to join in the conversation because so much of who I am is defined by my relationship and identity in God and Christ Jesus. I have to share the Word of God because it’s in my identity.
i. We need to have the questions asked to Jonah be asked of us:
- “And where do you come from?”
- “What is your country?”
- ‘From what people are you?”
When you answer these questions, does your relationship with God enter into the picture of your identity?
ii. Our identity in Christ and God is important when we share the gospel: We don’t evangelize to become a Christian or to get saved, but rather we are saved and going to heaven and therefore knowing the goodness of God in our lives that define who we are, we evangelize.
III. How can you not turn back to God when your disobedience affects others (v.10-15)?
1. Point: You need to realize that when you are disobedient to God, the consequences of it affect others. This should discourage us from being disobedient to God and make us consider more carefully when we choose the route of disobedience.
2. Passage: “10 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “[e]How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm [f]for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm [g]for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” 13 However, the men [h]rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. 14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.” 15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.
i. After realizing what Jonah said, the sailors fear increased: “Then the men became extremely frightened” (v.10a)
Literally in the Hebrew, “the men feared a great fear” to emphasize the intensity of their fear. It is greater than the fear first mentioned in verse 5 of the storm.
Now their fear is not in ignorance: “For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them” (v.10b)
The sea is frightening, the storm is too, but there is nothing like fearing the God behind the storm and sea—God Himself!
ii. The people’s two questions to Jonah (v.10-11)
A question expressing amazement: “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them” (v.10)
Be reminded these are people who did not believe in the God of the Bible, who have more sense than Jonah, and asked him pointedly how can he runaway from God.
A question seeking for rescue: “11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm [f]for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy.” (v.11)
iii. Jonah’s proposed solution (v.12)
- Jonah’s radical proposal: ““Pick me up and throw me into the sea.”
- For the third time, the verb “throw” is stated.
- It’s ironic to note how the whole time, the crew and Jonah think that the solution to escape what God is doing is to throw something down!
- Reason why: “Then the sea will become calm [g]for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.”
iv. Unlike Jonah, the people’s wanted to do what is right (v.13-15)
- At first they did not listen at first to Jonah’s advice: “13 However, the men [h]rowed desperately to return to land …” (v.13a)
- But they were unsuccessful: “but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them” (v.13b)
- Finally they did as Jonah wanted (v.14-15)
a. The men’s prayer: “14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”
i. It’s a prayer of fear and desperation of being trapped because they happened to be with disobedient Jonah.
ii. Yet incredible irony:
- Unlike before, they did not pray to their own gods but to the true living God!
- Unlike Jonah, they did pray to God.
- Unlike Jonah, they wanted to do what is right: “and do not put innocent blood on us;”
b. The men’s action (v.15)
i. Word for word fulfillment here with Jonah’s command in verse 12: “So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea,”
ii. Result: “and the sea stopped its raging.”
4. Picture: If you really understand that not evangelizing will affect people’s eternity, how can you not be obedient to return to God and share your faith? Hear the words of an atheist comedian, Penn Jillette who as a non-Christian say these telling words:
I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? “I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.” (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/11/17/how-much-do-you-have-to-hate-somebody-to-not-proselytize/)
i. Before the Lord, are the questions Jonah asked relevant to you: “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them” (v.10)
ii. Study the doctrine of sin, hell and grace—the more you know the effect of sins, the more you would want to evangelize.
iii. If you struggle with a cold heart that does not evangelize, try sitting down at a Chinese supermarket, sit down in the curb and watch people coming and going; try eating at midnight at a Yoshinoya or a restaurant in the middle of the week, and see what kind of people who are older and probably have no wife and kids that would eat alone after a long night of work; before you know it, your heart will melt, your ability to have tears just flow and you say, to yourself, how can you not evangelize?
There is a structure in Hebrew call Chiasm, which is a literary device to show what is important; in Jonah 1, the climax of the chapter is in verse 9: “and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”
Notice what happen when Jonah or you talk about the fear of God:
16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
Ironically, Jonah the one who did not want to preach, say this one important climatic line, and God does the rest to bring them to a true faith.
We are to preach the truth to all people no matter where you are at and what circumstances.
There was a man name John Harper who was suppose to come over from Britain to pastor the famous Moody Bible Church. The ship he was on, was the Titanic:
When the Titanic was struck by the iceberg that drove in her sides and sent the ship to the bottom, John Harper was leaning against the railing, pleading with a young man to come to Christ. Four years after the Titanic went down, a young Scotsman rose in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada, and said, ‘I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a piece of wood that awful night, the tide brought Mr. John Harper of Glasgow on a piece of wreckage near me. He said to me, ‘Man, are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’m not.’ He replied, ‘Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you’ll be saved.’ And the waves bore him away, but strange to say, brought him back a little later, and again he said, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I can’t honestly say that I am.’ He said again, ‘Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.’ And shortly after, he went down beneath the water. And there alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed, and I am John Harper’s last convert.’”
NEXT: Exposition of Jonah Part 3
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