Jonah is saying, “I am a Hebrew” yet he did not act like a Hebrew. He said, “I fear Jehovah.” And yet he is fleeing in rebellion against Jehovah. Many say they fear God but live their lives as if they do not believe he exists. He professes that he believes God has created both land and sea, yet he is running from God.
Three things compound his sin and should cause you and I to take a good look at ourselves.
I. Jonah’s Confession:
1. Who He Sinned Against:
This I believe is the most important. Too often men confess sins they consider to be against father, mother, wife or children. Evangelists will sometimes play on the emotions of young people reminding them of how they had broken their mothers heart. We all have probably caused our mothers and fathers grief but what we need to be convicted of is how we have sinned against the most high God.
David wept and cried, “Against thee and thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight.” (Ps. 51:4) the prodigal son said, “I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight.”
Sin is directed against the glory of God, against the God of glory. Consider with me, Jonah acknowledged God to be the creator of the land and the sea. He is saying I believe in Gen.1:1.. Then is it not an insult to God to say I believe you are all of this, yet I will not obey you. I will flee from your sight; I will have my own way.
Can you, Jonah defeat the will and the purpose of God? Can you overthrow the Divine Deity, and sit thou upon his throne power and declare yourself to be the Lord? Jonah would answer, Of course not! Yet is this not what the action of his flight says?
Can you Jonah believe that He who created all things cannot find you wherever you go? Did you really believe God might overlook you in this boat?
David said, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.” Ps 139:7-13
Oh that we might understand this omnipresent, omnipotent, and holy God. There is nowhere we can go to flee from his presence.
God’s children especially need to understand this; we abide under his all Seeing Eye. We do nothing that he does not see. How this should change the way we live our lives, when we start to gossip, the Lord is beside us, when we tell a little lie God hears us. When we become angry with our brother, we’d better be right, God knows our heart. The understanding of this principal is the beginning of repentance.
2. He Sinned Against God’s Grace:
When he declared, “I am a Hebrew,” it was like you and I saying, “I am a Christian.” He was declaring himself to be God’s child. Our salvation is by grace and always has been, we have no right being disobedient to God. I am his because he created me, and died for me on Calvary. He purchased me, redeemed me and forgave me.
For any man to say, “I believe in God,” and then not obey him is foolish. But for a child of God, saved by grace, redeemed by the blood of the lamb, to go about in disobedience to God is even more so. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Obedience shows our love for God and disobedience the opposite.
To disobey God the creator is terrible but to disobey the God of our Salvation, who lives within our heart.
The greatest revelation of God is not in the heavens, although he is revealed there. It is not in the earth, though he is revealed in every flower and animal, not even in the creation of man. But the greatest revelation of God is in the heart of a saint.
3. He Professed To Fear God:
It is easy to say, “I fear the Lord.” I’ve heard people say, “If I believed in eternal security, I’d do whatever I wanted to.” They indicate that they fear God too much to sin against him. Watch their lives it doesn’t matter if we believe in eternal security or not, do they live their lives as if they fear God?
Does this not compound the sin? To say, “I fear God,” and yet to live as if you did not. God’s word says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
Moses told Israel they were to fear the Lord. The Jews were afraid to speak the name of Jehovah lightly and never without reason. They feared taking his name in vain.
To deliberately disobey God, there was no sacrifice or offering for such. All they could do was to grab the horns of the altar and cry out for mercy.
Jonah recognized anew in his repentance he feared God. Seeing himself to be a sinner. Paul had said, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”
Peter had cried, “Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man.” The demons of darkness fear the Lord of Light, how can man stand in his pride refuse to acknowledge the holiness of God.
II. The Results Of Jonah’s Confession:
1. The Men Were Exceedingly Afraid:
The fear of the storm was by now somewhat secondary, there was no doubt in their minds, that the hand of God was moved against them.
One might ask, but don’t you think the message of God’s love would have gotten better results? Jonah could have announced to them don’t worry God loves you. it would have made as much sense as to have placed a banner on the back of Noah’s Ark with the message, “Smile God loves you.”
A man needs to know that he is lost and the wrath of God burns about him before he can appreciate the message of God’s love and salvation.
Most men come to salvation realizing that the wrath of God burns hotly after them. Unless man sees himself perishing under God’s wrath, the love of God will not matter to him.
This was one of the effects God purposed to produce. And I know someone will say, “But it was Jonah’s confession that caused them to fear God. I don’t think so, if Jonah had boarded the ship and announced to all, “I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.” The sailors would have yawned and ignored him.
God chose the way, and brought Jonah to confess his sins, at the right moment to bring these sailors to fear God. it was in the judgment of God on the sins of Jonah that these men saw the holiness of God and began to fear him.
All are not moved by the same thing look at
Matt 11:21-23, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”
2. These Men Rebuked Jonah: Why hast thou done this?
It was as if to ask, “Has your God provoked you to flee from him?” Was he unkind to you? Were you tired of your God? Did you find that your God was not worthy of your praise?
Or maybe, “Have you completed your duty to your God?” Was the mission he sent you on so difficult that your God could not protect you? Is your God such a hard taskmaster that you needed to run?
Why have you done this? Have you found a better friend, one more worthy of your love and loyalty? Why have you done this? Has your God been unfaithful to his promises, it looks as if you have become discouraged with your God?
These are questions we should ask ourselves when we sin against God. Why have you done this? Is the world better to you than God is? Has the world been more stedfast, more satisfying, more true to you than your God?
God’s children know that the world has nothing to offer them, yet when they sin they seem to say to the world, I find more pleasure in the world than I do in God. You have turned back to embrace it’s beggarly elements. The things of God that are unseen and eternal have they lost there hold on your life?
Lost men love the world it is their god they serve it, but why hast thou done this? You, that say you are a child of the King and say that you fear God?
3. God Was Unmoved By Jonah’s Confession:
Man does not move God to change his plans by man’s action. It is not man’s confession, nor even his repentance that appeases the anger of God. Nor is it his confession before men.
There is nothing that you can say or do, to satisfy the justice of God, nor pacify his anger. God does not forgive men on that basis. It is true that God will not forgive you except you repent, yet that is not the grounds on which your forgiveness rests.
God grants to you and I repentance he brings it about, he convicts us, he brings the storms of his displeasure upon our sins. He doesn’t always remove the storm the instant that we confess.
God’s full purpose had not been achieved, he had a people in Nineveh, and his purpose was to make his prophet willing to preach to them.
It is not only the matter of God’s sovereignty, but of God’s holiness. This storm will not cease untill Jonah goes overboard. Here he is a type of our Lord, he must die that the sailors to live.
The thing that offends God’s divine holiness is still aboard the ship. As Israel could have no victory until Achan was stoned. The love and mercy of God will not bring peace to the souls of men as long as they hold onto their idols.
What about your own life? Do you have the joy of your salvation as you once did? Are you blessed with zealousness for the service of God? Look around you do you harbor idols in your life? Are you sure you have no Jonah aboard your ship? No Achan in your camp? No sin that has brought the displeasure of the Divine Deity upon you? Has God turned away his face because of your iniquity?
“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.”