Summary: This message urges the believer to refrain from running from God and accept his will for your life.
Come with me on a journey. Today we meet the man they call Jonah.
Jonah was one of God's prophets during the period of the Divided Kingdom.
He was God's instrument to carry out God's Will on earth.
He had the great privilege to have been chosen to be God's servant, in bringing God's message of salvation both to his nation of Israel and also to Nineveh.
Jonah was a popular preacher in a prosperous time, yet when he was put to the test of being called to carry out a difficult and unpopular task,
the true spiritual state of his heart was revealed.
God told Jonah to go and warn the wicked and hated city of Nineveh to repent or God would bring judgment and destroy the city.
Jonah was to be a messenger of God's mercy in affording Nineveh the opportunity to turn from their sin unto God.
After receiving God's call to go and preach to Nineveh, he tried to run from his calling and from God.
The true spiritual condition of Jonah's heart is revealed in the actions he took.
Anyone who truly understands who God is and has a proper respect for Him, knows you can not run from God and that obedience to God is always the best course for us.
You would think a prophet of the Lord would know that.
Jonah, probably knew deep in his heart the truth,
but the sin of rebellion makes one irrational.
One might suppose Jonah thought that God might just over look his rebellion.
He would shortly learn the hard way that God cannot be ignored and he cannot be avoided.
Jonah found that he had the necessary money for a fare and a ship ready to take him away.
But it was a waste of money!
He would never get to Tarshish. Those who try to run from God will always find their efforts to be in vain.
Many spend a lifetime, buying passage to the "Tarhishes" of this world, but just like Jonah they will find in time it to be a futile effort.
Although Jonah slept peacefully after the ship had set sail, God was at work sending a great storm which threaten to destroy the vessel.
The magnitude of the storm was so great that all the sailors began to cry out to their gods to help them.
But they cried in vain,
for their gods were only figments of their imaginations.
As sincere as they were, the 1 true God did not hear them.
They simply were not praying to Him.
It would appear that the captain of the ship was a little put off with Jonah in that he was sleeping while the rest of the ship's company were all praying for help.
The sailor's prayers were not being answered,
so in desperation the ship master rudely awakens Jonah and rebukes him for not praying to his God for deliverance.
Side Note:It is always a sharp awakening to be out of your relationship with God and have someone call on us for spiritual help.
The storm was so fierce they perceived that it must be from God.
Seeing that their prayers were not helping, the sailors cast lots to try to determine who it was that had made God so angry.
So they mixed a number of small stones together, as was the custom, and when they cast the lots it fell on Jonah.
They must not have known who Jonah was,
for when the lot fell on him they excitedly inquired of him,
Why this was happening?
What was his occupation?
Where he had come from?
and What was his nationality?
Jonah knew God had caught up with him!
So Jonah fessed up and revealed that he was a Hebrew and a prophet of the true God who made the heavens, sea and land.
He further explained he was running from God.
The sailors then ask a very sensible question, "Why hast thou done this?"
Even they saw it was a most foolish thing to do.
He was being very open with them so they asked him the next logical question,
"What shall we do?"
Up to this point Jonah had acted cowardly, but when confronted by the storm sent by God, and the sailors, he honestly admitted his misdeed and instructed the sailors to throw him over the side of the boat.
God had stopped him dead in his tracks.
Jonah, was the prophet of the Lord, and he did know God.
He had backslid and was out of fellowship, and still God pursued Him.
God was not willing for him to be a castaway.
God was chastening His child that he might be brought to repentance and back to a place of fellowship and service.