Summary: In chapter one of the book of Jonah, we learn some important lessons about rebellion against God.
The story of Jonah and the whale is one with which most of us have been familiar since we were children. But it should not be thought of as a story only for children. This little book contains some very
important lessons for adults as well. Each chapter teaches an important lesson. In chapter one, we read a story of rebellion, in chapter two, a story of repentance, in chapter three, a story of revival, and in chapter four, a story of resentment. Today we will begin with chapter one.
From chapter one, we learn some important lessons about what happens when a believer rebels against God.
1. The True Nature of Rebellion - verses 1-3
The true nature of rebellion is seen in what is said about Jonah in verse three, "But Jonah ran away from the Lord . . . to flee from the Lord."
Any way you look at it, whenever you or I choose to disobey God, we are choosing to go the opposite direction that God is going. We are saying, in effect, "God, I do not want to go your way, I want to go the opposite way." But we need to understand that by so doing, we are choosing to go the way of Satan, which is the way of rebellion. Jesus said, "He who is not with me is against me" - Matthew 12:30 (NIV).
As an old sailor once said, "Aboard this ship, there are only two things: duty or mutiny." Indeed, the same is true of the Christian life, there is only duty or mutiny.
Sometimes rebellion is obvious and open, as was Jonah’s. Other times it may be subtle and private, but it is still rebellion! And the true nature of rebellion is that we are choosing Satan’s way, rather than God’s way. We are choosing the way of trouble, rather than blessing; the way of sorrow, rather than joy; the way of death, rather than life! Whether it’s through doing the wrong thing or not doing the right thing, we have chosen, like Jonah, to run away from Him.
2. The Terrible Consequences of Rebellion - verses 4-10
A. Loss of Fellowship - verses 5 - 6
Jonah’s relationship with God had reached such a low level, that even though his life was in danger, he still had no desire to pray! His rebellion had broken his fellowship with God, for you see, rebellion is sin, and sin always breaks our fellowship with God!
An incident is told of a certain college which was without any supply of water one morning. The plumber was called, but could find nothing wrong. Yet, there was no water. Next, the city water department was called, and they sent men to investigate the trouble. After searching, they finally found the cause. A mile away from the college, where the small pipeline which supplied the college was connected with the large line going into the city, they found a huge toad which had been sucked partly into the small line and had literally shut off all the water. It had probably been there as a tadpole but had fed upon the water until it had grown big enough to plug up the water line.
That’s the way it is with our rebellion against God. It may even begin as a small thing, but eventually it grows to the point where it will totally cut off our fellowship with God; and we, like Jonah, will find ourselves unable to even pray to God when we are in time of need!
B. Loss of Testimony - verses 7-10
Notice verses 9 and 10. When Jonah claimed to be a worshipper of "the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land," the sailors found it hard to understand how he could rebel. Like many
today, who are puzzled by the rebelliousness of those who say they’ve found the Way, the Truth, and the Life, they couldn’t help but notice that his practice didn’t match his profession! Jonah had made a
terrible mess of his testimony!
Even so, when we choose to rebel against God’s will for our lives, we will lose our testimony for Jesus. Jesus not only said, "He who is not with me is against me," but he also said, "he who does not gather with me scatters."
When we rebel against God, we will not draw others to Jesus, but we will turn others away from Jesus; and sadly, we don’t have to wander too far from God to do damage to our testimony!
While I attended seminary, my wife, Donna, worked at a K-Mart store in the automotive department as the accessory manager. One day, the department manager introduced her to a new employee who had transferred from another store.