Summary: The trip away from Nineveh, toward Tarshish "can be" a spiritual journey that many of us take when we are trying to escape our responsibility to do God’s will.
“Flight 313 Now Boarding for Tarshish”
(Read Jonah 1:1-17, 2:10)
This is the story of Jonah.
But isn’t it also the story of many Christians today?
Perhaps it is YOUR story, because it is a story about running from the Lord.
Verse 2 tells us that the Lord told Jonah to go to Ninevah and proclaim that the Lord was about to destroy that city because of its evil.
Verse 3 tells us that Jonah “ran away from the Lord.”
He didn’t want to go to Nineveh!
So, he headed for Tarshish.
"Tarshish" -- Tarshish was somewhere in the western Mediterranean. And its exact geographic location is not known. But where ever it was geographically, for Jonah it meant being as far from God as possible. Tarshish is not so much a geographic location for us this morning as it is a spiritual condition. Being in or heading for Tarshish describes the Christians who says “NO” to God’s will for their life.
Transition: Well, there are some important lessons to be learned from this book of Jonah and I want us to focus on just a few of them this morning.
I. The Journey away from God will always leads to a life of distress.
A. Verse 4 describes a violent storm that threatened to sink the ship.
1. It is also a description of the Christian who tries to run from God.
a. The storms of life become so violent that our lives are threatened with destruction.
b. At any moment we could be torn apart by the violence of the world.
2. The New Testament story of the Prodigal son is an
example of this spiritual truth.
B. In verse 7, the sailors describe what has happened to them as a “calamity.”
1. “calamity” means “distress” or “misery.”
2. No person is more miserable than the Child of God
who has decided not to do God’s will for their life.
C. Have you ever tried to run from God’s will?
Then you know the misery that can be experienced.
Are you running from God’s will right now?
Then you are headed for misery.
Because the Journey away from God will ALWAYS lead to a life of distress.
II. The Further you get from God, the Worse your life will become.
A. Verse 11 - the further he got.
B. Verse 13 - the harder they tried.
C. 1 Samuel records the life of Saul, king of Israel.
- Chapter 8, Israel asks for a king.
- Chapter 9, God appoints Saul, who is described in verse 2 as an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites.
- Chapter 15, Saul turns away from God. Verse 10 says, “I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions (HIS WILL).
- God then rejects Saul as king.
- Chapter 16, God chooses David to replace Saul.
- Chapter 18, Saul is jealous of David.
- Chapter 19, Saul tries to kill David.
- Chapter 28, Saul turns from the prophets and turns to witches.
- Chapter 31, Saul kills himself.
Because Saul got further and further from God, his life got worse and worse. And that’s the way it is in the Christian life.
The further you get from God, the worse your life will become.
III. The Predicaments that we get into as we run from the Lord are our fault.
A. Verse 12
B. Many times we blame God for our circumstances when in reality it is our own disobedience and rebellion that led us into the middle of the storm.
Don’t blame God because the predicaments that we get ourselves into running from the Lord are our own fault.
IV. No matter how fare you get from God there is always a way back . . . . . BUT the way back may not be a beautiful, emotional experience.
A. When we think of a person who returns to the Lord we generally think of the “Prodigal Son” who is given a beautiful banquet upon his return that is filled with tears and gladness.
1. When a Christian brother walks the aisle and rededicates his life to the Lord, there are tears of happiness and nothing is more beautiful to our eyes.
2. But according to the book of Jonah, the way back is not always a beautiful, emotional experience.
B. Jonah set out for Tarshish on a ship.
But did he return to the Lord’s service on a ship? No! Rather, he spent three days and nights in the digestive system of a whale! Then he was vomited up on the seashore.
Now I don’t know about you but I can’t think of a more disgusting picture. But at least he was now where he needed to be.