“3 But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. 4 But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart. 5 Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. 6 So the captain went down after him. “How can you sleep at a time like this?” he shouted. “Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives.”
Last time we looked at Jonah’s decision of disobedience, his refusal to obey God and go to Nineveh. We saw the first steps in his deliberately disobedience and how he board a boat bound for Tarshish. We saw the direct result of disobedience; it causes us to run from the presence of God, resulting in us trading peace for problems. It is in verses 4-16 that we see the rest of the results of a rebellious heart, the cost and the consequences of disobedience. For there will always be a cost to sin. The first principle we see is that:
- God loves you too much to let you live lawlessly
“But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart.” When Jonah chose the path of disobedience, God would have been within his rights to write Jonah off. God could have said, “Jonah, you have disobeyed me, and I am done”, God could have dismissed Jonah because of his disobedience but He didn’t. The goodness and the grace of God is seen in that despite your disobedience you can’t outrun God’s love, as the Psalmist declared in Psalm 139:7-10, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? (8) If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. (9) If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, (10) Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me.” What a contrast between the first words of verse three, “But Jonah” and the first words of verse four, “But the Lord”. Our rebellion and running from God is not the last word, it is God’s response to our rebellion and running from Him. It is here that we see the contrast between our puny rebellion and God’s powerful love. God’s love pursues this disobedient prophet, because God loves us too much to let us live in rebellion and broken relationship. So God calls together His nature, the wind and the water, and stops Jonah with a storm. Notice that nature immediately obeys the call of its Creator unlike His child! Now this is not a typical storm it’s a typhoon, so great that even the veteran sailors surrounding Jonah are afraid. As Christians we often focus on a God who can calm the troubled waters of our lives, but do we stop to consider that this same God cares enough to stir them up and stop us? How seriously does God take His call on our lives, how seriously did God take this call on Jonah’s life? God took it seriously enough to sink the ship on which the disobedient prophet was sailing rather than let him continue in rebellion. Sometimes what seems mean may actually be mercy. In Psalm 119:67 David wrote, “I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.” And in Psalm 119:71 he says, “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees”. God loves you too much to let you live a lawless life. God cares so much that His mercy pursues this mad and pouting prophet. God loves His disciples so much that He is willing to deal with our disobedience using discipline. We may not like it or even interpret it as love, but let me ask you would a loving parent discarded or would they discipline a disobedience child? God loves His children too much to leave they adrift aimlessly and alone on the open sea of rebellion. Yet many believers today seem to think that they can continue in rebellious and unrepentant sin without any serious repercussions. That a loving God will let them continue to live in disobedience and that there will be no correction or consequences. But let me ask you, what does the Word of God teach? Hebrews 12:9-11, clearly teaches us that God cares enough to correct, “9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Because God cared he corrected Jonah’s disobedience with disciplined, in fact chastisement from God is an indication that we are a child of God. For Jonah God revealed His care through the correction of a storm, yet when storms break out in our lives because of disobedience we tend to blame God instead of seeing them as a blessing. In the middle of the mess we want to rant and rave rather than take responsibility for our rebellion. We are more sad over the storm that sorrowful over our sin. Do we even connected and contributed the presence of the storms to our disobedience? We cry out for God to calm the storm but do we cry out for Him to clean the heart that is causing the storm? How often is it my disobedience that has actually led me directly into the middle of the storm of discipline? What about you, are you in a storm designed to stop you from running further into rebellion? How are you responding, are you going to run back to your relationship with God or continue in rebellion an run further into ruin? Second we see that our:
- Disobedience is not disconnected from others it involves and includes them.
Verse 5 says “Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship” as a result of Jonah’s sin others suffered. Is your sin surrounding others with suffering, is it putting others into painful situations? We never sin in seclusion, instead like second-hand smoke our disobedience harms the people around us. One of the repercussions of rebellion is that we make everyone around us miserable. One of the side effects of sin is that others unwillingly inhale its harmful smoke and get sick. The tragedy of a disciple’s disobedience is seen in the damage that is done when their disobedience pushes the lost away from the Lord. The tragedy is that Jonah’s rebellion hid his testimony from these sailors. It is a sad day when a saint of God has to be exposed before an unbelieving world. Jonah had to be found out as a follower, because he had concealed his identity as a child of God. What about us are we hiding the holiness of God, are we living lives as light and salt or is our sin shadowing our relationship with the Savior? How about you have you worked in the same place for years but no one knows you are a Christian? Does your lifestyle reveal Christ to the world or cover up the cause of Christ?