Running from God – Message 1
January 17, 2021
I. Introduction: Beginning a new series, Running from God, a survey of Jonah.
- 2 Kings 14:25; Matthew 12:38-41; Luke 11:29-30,32
A. Today’s message is entitled, Rebellion.
- Theme verse: Jonah 1:3 (NLT)—…Jonah… went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD.
- All of us are familiar with the story of Jonah, though many think he was swallowed by a whale, but biblical references in the Old and New Testaments refer to a great fish, not a whale. (Jonah 1:17; Matthew 12:40)
- Some people consider the book of Jonah as an allegory or parable that teaches a principle, but is not literally true.
- However, 2 Kings 14:25, identifies Jonah as a real person, a Jewish prophet from Gath Hepner in Zebulun, a region in the Northern kingdom of Israel (near the Sea of Galilee), who served God during the reign of King Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.).
- Jesus considered Jonah a historic person and compared Jonah’s time in the fish’s belly to His own death, burial and resurrection. (Matthew 12:41: Luke 11:32)
- Israel prospered under the reign of Jeroboam II as the nation regained lost territories and expanded influence, but it was a time of moral decay and spiritual decline as the nation moved away from God into idolatry.
- Jonah had supported Jeroboam extending the nation’s power and influence.
- Something happened that revealed Jonah’s rebellion toward God and also ours.
II. Rebellion against God includes…
A. #1 - Receiving God’s message. (Jonah 1:1-2. C/R: Isaiah 30:21; Jeremiah 33:3; Amos 3:7; John 10:27)
- Jonah 1:1-2 (NLT)—1 The LORD gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.”
- Jonah was a prophet of God, specifically called and set apart uniquely for the purpose of hearing and communicating God’s word to His people to advance God’s kingdom.
- A prophet received God’s messages which conveyed His will and His assignments—directly from God.
- It was a great honor to be in a relationship with God so that He spoke directly to you and through you to the people, including, perhaps especially, to kings and rulers. (Hebrews 1:1)
- There were difficulties associated with representing God to the people however.
- Often the messages exposed the sins of God’s people and announced His judgment, which displeased and even frightened the people and their kings.
- Prophets had to be careful to hear God clearly and to convey His message accurately, because if a statement identified as a word from God did not come true, the prophet would be put to death (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
- This particular word to Jonah was shocking, because, up to that time, Hebrew prophets had only been sent to God’s people, never to Gentiles like these Ninevites.
- APP.: Would you have liked to be a prophet of God? Hearing from Him and speaking for Him to your culture, your community, or wherever He sends you?
- In fact, if you are born again, and have received the Spirit, you do receive the voice of God (John 10:27), which you are expected to obey and to communicate to others.
- APP.: Has God given you a message to communicate? Are you doing it?
Rebellion against God includes…
2. Rejecting God’s direction. (Jonah 1:3a. C/R: Luke 6:46; 9:23; Ephesians 2:10; Hebrews 3:15; 4:12-13)
- Jonah 1:3a (NLT)—But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. …
- Jonah received God’s message, and understood it completely, but he rejected God’s assignment, and instead, tried to escape the assignment and get away from [God].
- Why did Jonah refuse God’s direction, rebel and attempt to run away from God?
- Jonah’s destination, Nineveh was not only the home of despised Gentiles, it was the capital city of a cruel and violent enemy nation, the Assyrians.
- The city lay on the east bank of the Tigris River in a fertile plain; it is the site of present day Mosul, Iraq (220 miles N. of present-day Babylon, over 500 miles NE of Israel.)
- Nineveh was the center for the worship of Ishtar (Astarte), the fertility and war goddess.
- Assyria taxed and threatened the Jewish northern kingdom throughout Jonah’s life.
- In fact, in 722 B.C., Assyria invaded and destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and its capital, Samaria.
- Jonah did not want to preach to these Ninevites, so tried to run away from God.
- But God had actually told Jonah to announce judgment against these wicked people (Jonah 1:2), which should have pleased Jonah, so why did he refuse?
- It appears Jonah, who knew God’s compassionate nature, suspected God would show mercy to these hated enemies (said at Jonah 4:1-2), so Jonah wanted no part of this plan.
- Perhaps Jonah did not want to provide these people an opportunity to be forgiven.
- It might have been that Jonah was concerned what his fellow Jews would say to and about him for communicating God’s Word to Gentiles, since they claimed Him as belonging exclusively to them!
- APP.: How many of us have people we dislike, even consider adversaries, that we do not want God to forgive or bless, especially if that person is blessed beyond you?
- Jonah had his own desires, plans, and ambitions to fulfill; he possessed his own opinions of how things should be, how he should serve God and how God should act!
- APP.: How many of us know what God’s Word says about an attitude or action of ours, but we reject it because it doesn’t agree with what we want?
- APP.: Do we disobey God’s direction because we want to be popular with friends?
- Jonah knew God, he knew it was impossible to escape God’s Presence, but still he ran!
- He knew the words of David, the Psalmist at Psalm 139:7 (NLT)—I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your presence!
- Jonah knew that he couldn’t escape God’s awareness of him, so he fled his awareness of God: he rejected God’s Word, refused to go to Nineveh, he certainly stopped praying and worshiping, and likely asked, “Haven’t I done enough for You? Don’t I have the right to quit serving when I want to, when I don’t want to do this distasteful task?”
- APP.: Are you living with only memories of obedience or sacrifice in your life?
- APP.: Are you substituting past spiritual experiences for present submission to God’s will?
- God’s message exposed Jonah’s selfishness and stubbornness—and it exposes ours as well; it reveals the limits of our willingness to obey and exposes the point at which we will reject God’s commands—which means rejecting Him!
- Hebrews 4:12–13 (NLT)—12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.
- APP.: Is God’s Word exposing mistrust and disobedience in your life?
- Luke 6:46 (NLT)—“So why do you keep calling Me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?”
Rebellion against God includes…
C. #3 – Reassurance from circumstances. (Jonah 1:3b. C/R: Psalm 33:11; 139:7-12; Acts 20:24; Romans 11:29)
- Jonah 1:3b (NLT)—…He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish….
- Joppa (today, Jaffa) was a town on the SW coast of Israel (Tel Aviv on outskirts, 1909.)
- Jonah 1:3c (NLT)—…He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish. [specific location unknown, likely western Mediterranean]
- Tarshish lay on the outermost western rim of the world known to Israelites of the time.
- When running from God, Jonah was likely excited that he found a ship bound for far away—and this circumstance probably confirmed that his flight was right for him!
- Jonah bought a ticket, which means he had the funds to take a trip away from God and this troubling assignment—another validation that this was the right thing to do!
- Jonah had a wrong attitude toward circumstances; he thought they were working for him when they were really working against him.
- It’s possible to be out of the will of God and still have circumstances appear to be working on your behalf. (ILL.: This person is my soulmate—and a strong believer!)
- You can be rebelling against God and still have a false sense of security that smooth sailing is ahead—when in fact, what lies ahead will be a shipwreck!
- ILL.: A lie might further your plan, a dishonest business practice may be profitable, but it will separate you from God and might lead to rejection, to running away, from God.
- Jonah concluded that because he didn’t agree with God’s command, he could reject it.
- He doubted the goodness, wisdom, and justice of God, as well as God’s right to do what He wanted in Jonah’s life and in this world. (Psalm 115:3; 135:6; Daniel 4:35)
- When we encounter in God’s Word something we don’t want to obey, something we don’t like, or disagree with, we must decide whether God knows what’s best, or do we?
- APP.: Will you obey God’s Word when it is not what you want to do?
Care volunteers will be at the stage front and in Care Connection room.
Memory: Luke 9:23 (NLT)—Then He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.”