Jonah 1:19-17 - Right Confession but the Wrong Lif

Steve Viars January 31, 1998 Jonah 1:9-17

2/1/98
Jonah #3 - 1:19-17 - “Right Confession but the Wrong Lifestyle”
Saved as “Jonah3.doc” on sermons #13 disk and Viars’ hard drive

- Many years ago, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company came up with a very popular advertising campaign.
- this slogan was so popular that, even though I don’t think its been used for well over a decade, I imagine that if I started saying the jingle, many here today would still be able to remember the refrain....if not a good part of the jingle.

- I’d like to teach the world to sing.....in perfect harmony.......
- I’d like to buy the world a Coke....and keep it company.....

- and the refrain....its the real thing.

- that advertising campaign always intrigued me.
- I hate to minimize the importance of their product in world affairs, but what does Coke have to do with the world learning to sing in perfect harmony?
- and exactly how is it the real thing?......what’s the standard and what makes a soft drink “not real”?

- the point of all of this is--- we’re living in a culture that craves things that are real.

- Probably most of us have owned at least one pair of Levi’s jeans over the years....
- most of us have a couple of pair hanging in our closets right now.....

- and what is stamped on the leather tag of every pair of the jeans?
- the words....”the genuine article”

- not fakes, not copy-cats, not cheap imitations......
- “the genuine article”

- today we’ve even coined a phrase to describe this characteristic we’re talking about that flows out of our love for Mexican food.....
- we don’t just talk about the real thing...or the genuine article....we even talk about the “real enchilada”.....
- our culture craves things / people that are real.

- Do you know that the Bible is very concerned about this matter as well?
- Often God teaches us by way of opposites...and the opposite of what I’m describing to you right now is......hypocrisy.....
- giving the impression that you’re something on the inside that you’re really not.
- living one way in front of one group of people and when you’re around another group living in an entirely different way.

- hypocrisy......the Bible writers took that word right from the world of the Greek theater...
- an actor was said to be a hypocritos...if he could not identify himself with his role.....
- he was hiding behind a mask, or a disguise.....
- but there was no genuineness....he wasn’t fooling anyone.
- Hypocrisy....
- not the real thing.....
- not the genuine article.

- I’d like to ask a question this morning.....
- for every person who’s a member of our church....
- for every person who’s been attending for several weeks now.....
- and for every person, period.....

- are you the real thing?......are you the genuine article?
- now someone might respond to those questions with....”well, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God....”
- I’m glad that you do...that’s a good confession...but is saying that what makes a person “the real thing”?
- “well, I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross, and was resurrected from the dead....”
- I’m glad that’s part of your confession as well.....but again, is saying that what makes a person the “real thing”?

- this morning we’re going to study a man who had the right confession....he could mouth the right words.....he could give the right answers....he could talk a pretty good game.....
- but in the final analysis, that confession proved to be deficient.

- with those thoughts in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible to the book of Jonah.....
- we’ve begun a new series on this man’s life.

- Jonah is the 8th book from the end of the OT.....
- Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah.....

- we left Jonah last week in quite a pickle....
- He was a prophet of Israel...and God had told him “arise, and go to Ninevah, that great city, and cry against it, because their wickedness had come up before the Lord.”

- well, Jonah didn’t like that idea because Ninevah was in Assyria....and the Assyrians were enemies of Israel.
- Jonah didn’t want the Assyrians to hear God’s message...because he knew these unbelievers might repent.....
- and Jonah knew the character of God enough to know that if even the wicked Assyrians repented, God would forgive them and stay his hand of judgment.....
- God might even choose to bless the Assyrians......

- and since Israel was not pleasing God at that point in their history...God might even turn around and use the Assyrians as an instrument of judgment on Israel.....

- so Jonah didn’t like God’s plan at all.....so he started running.
- the Bible says that he went down to Joppa....found a ship headed for Tarshish, and paid the fare.
- that plan worked great until verse 4 tells us that the Lord hurled a great wind on the sea.

- and we learned last week....that when a person tries to run from God......God will run after them.
- and even if judgment is required to help one of His children change....God is the kind of loving heavenly Father who will go to whatever lengths necessary to help that person repent...to help that person do right.

- of course its always best to obey in the first place...but for those who would rather run....the message of the Bible is.....God chastens those He loves.....

- a complicating factor is that often that chastening affects not just you, but the people who are in your boat....which makes it all the more important to obey God and avoid His loving hand of chastisement.

- now, by time we get to verse 9, the “jig is up”
- the unbelieving seamen had cast lots to find out who’s fault the storm was and the lot fell on Jonah.
- so they asked him a rapid fire series of questions in verse 8:
- What is your occupation?
- Where do you come from?
- What is your country?
- From what people are you?
- Tell us now, on whose account has this calamity struck us?

- that brings us to Jonah’s answer....his confession in verse 9 --- READ 9-17.
- This morning we’re looking for three principles from a man who had the right confession but the wrong lifestyle.

I. There’s a Difference Between Appearing Orthodox and Being Genuine.

- now let’s define a couple of those words carefully.
- “orthodox” means “having the right doctrine” or “having the right set of beliefs about God.”

- we’re using the phrase “appearing orthodox” because I don't think in the final analysis that Jonah was orthodox.
- his confession in verse 9 was a good confession....
- but if he truly believed what he was saying....he wouldn’t be acting the way he was acting.....

- so the point stands --- There’s a Difference Between Appearing Orthodox and Being Genuine.

- another way we could state this is.....there’s a difference between saying the right thing....and doing the right thing.....
- or between saying the right thing...and being the right thing.

- here’s a man who had the “right confession” but the “wrong lifestyle”.
- let me repeat the question I asked you before.....
- are you the real thing?
- are you the genuine article?

- now, what we’re talking about right now is one of the primary reasons our church hosts the missionary training conference.
- you might say -- well, what do you mean?
- let me answer that question with a question.....
- what’s more important to God....that we have right doctrine, or that we have a right lifestyle?

- do you know the answer to that question?
- the answer to that question is...that’s not a very good question!
- the truth is....both are important to God......and each is necessary to truly have the other.
- they feed off of one another....and an absence of one results in a deficiency in the other.

- now you might say...OK, I’ll buy that, but what’s that got to do with the missionary conference?

- the answer to that is, our church, with its counseling training programs....is trying to prevent Jonah like behavior....and sailor like behavior.
- see, in churches across our country...and churches around the world.....both extremes are very evident today......
- Jonah like behavior, and Sailor like behavior......

- let me tell you what I mean.....
- let’s take these sailors first .....
- what were they trying to do?

- answer is -- they were trying to live properly...without the proper doctrine.
- they were trying to handle the trial that was raging around them by resorting to their idolatry and paganism.
- handling the problems of life without proper doctrine.

- and listen...many churches and Christians are doing the same thing......
- many believers have disregarded biblical truth and deserted biblical truth in exchange for the latest psychological fad of the day.

- I could illustrate that for as long as we wanted to sit around here and talk about it.
- for example, this week, I was driving somewhere and one of the “Dr. so and so’s” was discussing children who don't do well in school.
- and he was saying that some of these children are just born this way......
- you can’t expect them to study.....
- you can’t expect them to pay attention.....
- you can’t expect them to care......
- you’ll just frustrate them and frustrate yourself if you try to change them.

- you say -- what do you think about that?
- the answer -- that is false doctrine.
- that is failing to think about parenting biblically.....
- that is failing to think about life theologically.....that is living just like these sailors were living.
- I’m not saying that every child is going to do as well as everyone else in school....
- but I am saying this...whatever part of that child’s inner and outer man is unlike Jesus Christ....God would call that....sin.
- God would want that young person to repent.....
- God would want that parent to carefully teach their child, and lovingly discipline them....

- that doesn’t mean that child will automatically get straight “A’s” but it does mean that the child will recognize his / her responsibility to change and grow to be more like Jesus Christ...using the skills, gifts, and abilities that a sovereign God has given them.

I’m listening to all of this saying....where is the God of heaven and earth in this discussion....
- where is the sufficient Scripture?
- where’s the hope of change?
- where’s the power of the blood of Christ?

- and what’s especially galling about all of this is that often these “Dr. so and so’s” will start their discussion with a statement like....
- well, I’m no theologian.....
- do you know what word is going to come next in that sentence?  (BUT)
- and what comes after that?
- a proposed answer to a problem of daily living.....(could develop --- I typically say 2 things)

- Pastor Goode used to say all the time.....every counseling problem is a theological problem.
- in other words----you cannot divorce the problems of living from sound theology.

- so we have these counseling training programs, and these missionary training conferences.....to bring pastors and missionaries together to herald the message....
- let the Bible be the Bible....
- let it be the sufficient guide to living that God says that it is....
- the church doesn’t need something more, we need more of the something....
- let us return to a careful connection of the problems of life to sound theology.
- let us not live like these pitiful sailors.....let us avoid “sailor like” living

- but what’s the other side of this?
- let us also avoid “Jonah like” living.....
- paying lip service to right doctrine but not letting it affect ones life.

- often doctrine is taught in a dry dusty fashion that has absolutely nothing to do with the problems of life that believers face today.
- and often doctrine is received toady...without a careful consideration of how this truth ought to practically affect ones life today.

- So is it good that a man would say -- I believe that God is omnipresent----he is everywhere present?.....Is that good?
- sure it is....but what’s better?
- for a man to say...because I believe that God is everywhere present....I will be faithful to my wife this week, even when no one else who knows me is around.....but I believe in the depth of my heart that the omnipresent God of heaven and earth knows.
- Is it good for a young person to say --- I believe that Jesus Christ is the Lord...Is that good?
- sure it is --- but what’s better?
- for a young person to say...because Jesus Christ is my Lord, I will not compromise my testimony to Him....
- regardless of the price I might have to pay....because I don’t want to just say that Jesus Christ is my Lord.....I genuinely want to act like Jesus Christ is my Lord.

- so, you could summarize this with the simple statement....
- God wants people who believe right...and He wants people who act right.
- or to turn it around and say it negatively....
- God does not want you to depreciate the importance of right doctrine....
- but nor does He want you to depreciate the importance of right living.

[Could quote Ii Timothy 3:16-17....]

- now, the key question then becomes....well, how can I tell?
- how can I tell if I’m the real thing?

- this text answers that question very clearly.....our second principle this morning is.....


II. Your Genuineness Will Be Demonstrated By An Outstanding Lifestyle

 

- now what do we mean by “outstanding?”
- outstanding in the sense that your life is markedly different than those who don't know the Lord.

- see, there’s a clear inter-play in these verses before what the supposed believer was doing...and what the obvious unbelievers were doing.
- and the sad thing was.....Jonah’s life was no better than those who had never met the Lord.

- in fact....its even worse than that, isn’t it?
- because at several key places....the pagans were behaving more nobly than the prophet.

- why do we say that?
1) Look at the issue of the fear of God.....
- the pagans were fearing....the prophet was indifferent.

- these sailors didn’t know who this God was....but they surely knew He wasn’t someone to mess with.
- did you see that in verse 5 --- “the sailors became afraid, and every man cried unto His God.”
- when they found out that Jonah actually knew JEHOVAH, the God who made heaven and earth.....their reaction in verse 10 is utter amazement.....

- what?.....How could you do this?....you know Jehovah, and you’re trying to run from His presence?
- one writer said it this way....
- “They were astonished that anyone who claimed to know the Creator God would have the audacity to defy Him.”

- and the contrast its not just a matter of fearing the Lord, its also a matter of searching for truth.....
2) the pagans are searching....the prophets asleep.

- do you see these sailors scurrying around all through this passage.....
- what should we do?
- why is this happening?
- how can we get right with whoever’s making this happen?

- contrast that to Jonah.....
- a prophet of Israel.....
- they had been entrusted with God’s law.....
- they had been entrusted with God’s Word....
- they had been entrusted with God’s promises......

- you don't see him searching......
- not one time does he pray in chapter 1.....
- not one time does he ask a question....

3) Another contrast is --- the pagans were kind...the prophet was mean.

- one of the most surprising parts of this story is that the men didn’t throw Jonah overboard as soon as they heard that would still the storm.
- because remember, the storms getting worse.....
- did you see that at the end of verse 11.....”the sea was getting increasingly stormy”....
- you see that again at the end of verse 13 --- “the sea was becoming even stormier against them...”

- but even then...they didn’t throw Jonah overboard as soon as he suggested it.

- man, I would have.
- Jonah, its been very nice knowing you...but if throwing you overboard will stop this storm...give me your leg.....I’ll be glad to help.....
- and I understand that there are many reasons why they might not have done that...but all of them are more noble than the way the prophet was behaving.

- the point is --- Jonah’s confession in verse 9 was lame.....he wasn’t the real thing.....he wasn’t the genuine article.....
- and you could prove that by the fact that his life was not measurably better than that of those who didn’t have the privilege of knowing His God.

O.P. Robertson said.....”Do you get the irony of the picture?  These heathen men show compassion toward Jonah!  He, the believer, closes his heart toward the massive metropolis of Ninevah.  Although his people had experienced the grace of God for generations, he closes his heart to another people.  But in dramatic contrast these course sailors do everything they can to spare the life of Jonah, even after he had caused the loss of all their cargo, and now may even cause their loss of life.  Isn’t it disgraceful?  Don’t you often find more kindness and considerateness among unbelievers than among Christians?  Believers bite and devour one another!  What a shame and disgrace.”

- see, how can you tell if you’re the real thing?
- answer is --- is there a measurable difference between the way you live....and the way those around you who don't know the Lord live?
- not because you’re better....but because your God is better?

- our Lord said it this way in Matthew 5:14 -"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden...."Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

- now, in order to make an appropriate application of all of this to us....we first need to be sure we understand how it would have applied to OT Israel...at the time Jonah was living.
- What impact was God trying to have on the people of that day by allowing these things to happen to Jonah?

- well, we have to go back to geography.
- do you remember the map we made the auditorium a couple of weeks ago?

- let’s redo it.
- the three bodies of water.....
- the Dead Sea......the Sea of Galilee.....the Jordan River......
- the big body of water over there?.....the Mediterranean.....

- Jonah ministered in the late 700’s B.C.
- God’s chosen nation was actually divided at the time.....

- the southern kingdom -- Judah with its capital at Jerusalem.....
- the northern kingdom -- Israel, with its capital at Samaria.

- so here’s God’s chosen nation....divided from one another, fighting with one another.....
- the northern kingdom where Jonah was prophesying had even established a rival center of worship and system of worship.....

- what’s wrong with this picture?
- Why had God given these people His Law?
- Why had He given them His Word?
- Why had He given them His Promises?
- Why had He made it possible for them to have a relationship with Him like no one else on earth?

- the answer is -- so they could be a light to the nations.
- So their lifestyle would be clearly different than anyone else on the face of the earth....

- and that’s exactly what they weren’t doing.
- what Jonah was doing on the boat.....Israel was doing as a nation......

- they weren’t the real thing......they weren’t the genuine article......
- whatever they said they believed about God was just “lip-service”.....it was shallow.....
- the people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.....

- and that lack of genuineness was proven by their life.
- now let me ask you this?
- were their any exceptions to this?

- were there any people in Israel’s history who honestly were the real thing.....and therefore their life was exemplary to those who didn’t know God?

1) How about Joseph?

- God took him to what country?....Egypt.....
- He was far away from anyone who knew God......
- he had gotten a raw deal from his brothers.....
- he could have been bitter and just decided to sin like crazy.....

- but he didn’t do that....even in prison...he worked hard because he knew God.....
- and when he had an opportunity to interpret some dreams...he didn’t take the credit...he gave glory to God......

- and then the greatest test of all came.....in the house of a man named Potiphar....
- and this man’s wife propositioned Joseph day after day after day.......

- no one would ever know.....
- he was far away from anyone who knew God.....
- but at the moment of incredible temptation....Joseph said.....”How could I do this great evil...and sin against my God?

- do you see it?.....the real thing......the genuine article.....
- a life that was clearly different......

2) What about later in history?

- Jonah was worried that Ninevah would repent...and that God would use Assyria as an instrument of judgment on disobedient Israel....
- which is exactly what happened....in 722 BC

- then Assyria dwindled and a new world power was established.......
- do you know who that was....Babylon.....
- and soon Babylon conquered the southern kingdom.....
- in 586 BC.....
- and they had already begun deporting many of the key citizens and the sharp young people to Babylon......

- among them a young man......
- far away from home......
- far away from parental control.....
- probably just a teenager...facing all sorts of pressure to compromise and blend in......

- Do you know his name?.....Daniel.
- Did Daniel give in?
- Did he get bitter about his circumstances?
- what did Daniel do?
- He purposed in his heart that He would not eat the king’s meat......
- He kept living for God....and even when faced with death in the lion’s den he wouldn’t give in....
- and God used the genuineness of his faith....and the purity of his life.....
- to bring great glory to the true God of heaven.

- the question before the house is.....Is your genuineness proven by your outstanding lifestyle?
- What opportunities is God giving you to show the difference, the uniqueness of a person who really knows Him......
- what opportunities did God give you this week......
- and did you take them?

- there is one last point I’d like to mention, because it ties all of those together.....


III. God Stands Ready to Rescue Those Who have Lacked this Genuineness in the Past

- there’s a lot of rescuing going on at the end of this chapter.
- the men throw Jonah overboard.....and the sea immediately becomes still.

- can you imagine it?
- As soon as Jonah hit the water, the sky is clear, the sea is calm.....and there’s boatload of sailors with their mouths hanging open.

- but don’t you love verse 16?
Then the men feared the LORD (Jehovah) greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

- but the rescue doesn’t stop there, does it?

- its time for Jonah to take a smelly submarine ride!

- there’s even forgiveness available for him.

- God didn’t want Jonah to die......He wanted Jonah to obey.
- He didn’t want him to go to the bottom of the sea.....He wants him to go preach to Ninevah.

- please don’t think of the fish as an instrument of judgment.....
- really, the opposite of true....

- the great fish was an instrument of salvation.......
- that ought to give each one of us here this morning great hope....

(develop -- evangelistically -- for any sailors...etc)

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video