Jonah 1:4-9 - Consequences of Running From God

Steve Viars January 24, 1998 Jonah 1:4-9


- We’ve begun a new series on the life of Jonah.
- This is the great missionary story of the OT.
- we’re studying it at this time in the life of our church because we want to place a heavy
emphasis this year on all of us having the positive spiritual impact on those the Lord
has placed around us that He wants us to have.
- we’re talking about faithfully living for Jesus Christ in front of those who don't know
Him.
- we’re talking about looking for opportunities for sharing how a person can know for
sure that they’re on their way.....
- we’re talking about stimulating those who are already believers to love and good
works....
- having a positive spiritual impact on those the Lord has placed around us....we want to
grow at that this year...and since that’s the case.....this book of Jonah is a great one
to study.
- now for those who weren’t able to be with us last week....
- the story starts like this....
- God comes to one of the prophets of Israel named Jonah....
- and He says, Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their
wickedness has come up before Me.
- well, that plan sounds very reasonable until you realize that Ninevah is one of the principle
cities of Assyria.
- and the Assyrians were enemies of the Jews....
- They were hated by the Jews....
- they were known for being ruthless, wicked, and cruel.....
- But it wasn’t simply a matter of Jonah being afraid to go...that wasn’t the problem...
- Jonah is going to make it very clear later in this book, that his greatest fear was that these
unbelievers would repent, and that God, because he is a compassionate God, would turn
around and forgive them....
- and therefore stay His hand of judgment.
- see, God loved lost people....Jonah hated them.
- God wanted to see them repent....Jonah wanted to see them sin....
- God wanted to see them saved....Jonah wanted to see them judged.
- So God said to Jonah....Arise, go to Ninevah.....
- and Jonah went the other way....
- he went down to Joppa, found a ship headed for Tarshish, and paid the fare.
- he was RUNNING FROM GOD.
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- we’re saying that all of this raises some important questions for you and me today.....
- What is God telling you to do today that you may not want to do, or feel like doing....and
are you doing it?
- and of course we’re not talking about God audibly speaking out of the sky, or whispering
in your ear.....
- God speaks to us today through His Word.
- He tells us what He wants us to be like in His Word....
- He tells us how to live in His Word.....
- and some of what He tells us goes against our grain...just like His command to Jonah
went against His....
- but the question is -- are you doing it?
- when you think about what God wants you to be in 1998....
- when you think about what He wants you to do....
- when you think about what He wants you to change....
- what He wants you to work on....
- what He wants you to accomplish....
- what He wants you to produce....
- what He wants you to use....
- what He wants you to give.....
- when you think about all of that....the question before the house is....are you seeking to
do what He wants you to do or are you running from Him?
- are you seeking to be what He wants you to be or are you trying to hide from Him?
- Are you headed to Ninevah like He has commanded or are you headed to Tarshish?
- Friend, is there any sense.....in which you are seeking to run from His commands and
desires?
- Now, by asking that question....I’m not proposing that I think the average person here is.
- Whenever we study a character in the Bible who’s life was primarily negative, we have
to guard against the attitude.....”Here’s what wicked Jonah did, and you’re just like
him.”
- I want you to know that that’s certainly not the perspective from which I’m speaking.
- However, it would certainly be wise for all of us to come to this study with a question
something like....”Here’s what wicked Jonah did....Are there ANY WAYS that I could
be like him?”
- now, when we think about this matter of running from God....its also important for us to point
out....there certainly is another option.
- the way Jonah chose to live his life is certainly not the only way you and I can choose to live
ours.
- let me ask you to think about that for a minute....What is the opposite of running from God, or
hiding from God?
- and we could answer that in different ways.....
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- let me suggest six answers to that question quickly....
- would you please turn in your Bible to Joshua chapter 23.
- now for sake of time, I’m going to mention three of these answers and we’ll take time to look
three of them up in our Bibles.
- While you’re finding Joshua 23:8...let me remind you of a man in the Bible named Enoch.
- Do you remember how the Scripture describes this man’s life, and how that was the opposite
of what we’re seeing here in the life of Jonah.
1) The Bible says that Enoch “walked with God.”
- what a beautiful description of a person who sought to know God and do His will.
2) Another example in the OT is Abraham....
- Do you remember how the Scripture described him?
- The Bible says that he was a friend of God.
- it reminds you of what our Lord said to His disciples....I no longer call you servants,
but instead I call you friends.
- think about this man Jonah, and how he tried to run from God when he didn’t like what God
was asking him to do, and then think about men like Enoch, and Abraham....
- he walked with God.....he was a friend of God.
3) now, the verse that you turned to - Joshua 23:8 - READ
- you are to cling to the Lord or God.....
- the KJV translates that word as cleave.....you are to cleave to the Lord your God....
- when we hear that word, we think about marriage, don't we....the leave and cleave
principle....
- therefore shall a man leave father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two
shall be one flesh.
- that’s the same Hebrew word that’s used here in Joshua 23:8 --- cleaving to the Lord.
- Enoch walked with God....
- Abraham was a friend of God....
- as believers we are to cling to, to cleave to our God....
- you see that same emphasis in the NT.
- turn if you would to the book of Hebrews chapter 10.
- here’s a beautiful picture of the kind of personal relationship with God a person can have
if their sin has been cleansed by the blood of Christ....
4) Hebrews 10:24-26 - READ
- see, let us draw near to our God......
5) Another one we won’t take time to look at is found in I John 1:3 --- where John says that it is
possible for us to have “fellowship” with God....
- think of it....fellowship with the very God of heaven.....
6) One last NT passage -- just one book over to James 4:8....
- James said in the previous verse, resist the devil and he will flee from you....
- Look at James 4:8 --- READ (first half)
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- see, all of these phrases are describing the same kind of condition.....
- my point is --- we don’t have to be like Jonah....we don’t have to run, we don’t have to hide,
we don’t have to disobey, we don’t have to rebel.....
- instead....If we’ve trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, because of His shed blood on the
cross......we can now walk with God, we can be a friend of God, we can cleave to God, we
can draw near to God, we can have fellowship to God.....
- and as we draw near to Him, He will.....draw near to us.
[could add O. Palmer Robertson quote from p. 16]
- with that in mind, we need to go back to Jonah.
- do you remember how to find it?
- the 8th book from the end of the OT....
- feel free to look up its location in your table of contents at the front of your Bible.....
- Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah,
Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah.....
- this morning we want to study verses 4-9 of chapter 1 and find two consequences of trying to
run from God.
- READ 1:4-9
- This morning we’re looking for two consequences of trying to run from God.


I. If You’re Running From God, It Will Bring His Judgment.


- did you notice the way the writer worded the first part of verse 4?
- And the Lord hurled a great wind on the sea....
- have you ever been in a storm on a lake in a boat......
- a couple of summers ago, our family was vacationing down on Lake Cumberland in
Kentucky.....
- if you’ve ever been down there, you know that its a beautiful lake, but its also a very large
lake.....
- one day, we decided to rent a pontoon boat, and just spend some time together as a
family on the lake.....
- the forecast said that it might rain a little bit....but we thought it was worth the
chance...after all, what’s a little rain in the middle of summer.....
- well, sure enough, we got out to the middle of the lake....and it started raining......
- but then the sky got darker and darker...and started storming.......
- and we’re trying to make it back to the shoreline.....but the wind is blowing harder and
harder.....
- then it started hailing.......
- and these hail-stones are smacking the boat.......
- we’re shivering, all wet, huddled up......
- we finally make it to a little cove where we’re going to wait out the storm....and Kris
says....”Steve.....[which is generally a bad sign.....}
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- and I looked over to where she was pointing in the water...and there were these
water snakes sort of circling the boat......”
- to say the least.....you don’t want to be out on the water in a boat during a storm.
- as sad as my little story is, I don't think that would hold a candle to what its like when the God
of heaven and earth specifically hurls a great wind on the sea in judgment.
- can you imagine what this scene must have been like?
- now we need to pause at this point and ask some questions.....why did God do this?
- was He being mean, and vindictive, and cruel to one of His children?
- what’s the answer to that?
- the answer is --- No, He was being loving.
- He was doing exactly what you’d expect a loving heavenly father to do.
- Why?
- because it wasn’t in Jonah’s best interest to continue to go that way.
- it wasn’t in His best interest to continue to disobey.....
- so as hard as Jonah was running, God was faithfully pursuing.
- that’s why Spurgeon referred to God as “the hound of heaven....”
- the one who faithfully goes after His children.....seeking to put them in a position where
they will love Him and obey Him.
1) God was judging Jonah, because God loved Jonah....and He didn’t want to see Him
continue to sin.
- another answer you could give to this question is....
2) God judged Jonah because God practices cause and effect.
- would you please turn back in your Bible to Deut. chapter 30.
- here’s a clear picture of how God chooses to work with His children.
- He blesses us for obedience and He chastens us for disobedience......cause and effect.
- READ Deut. 30:15-20.
- now someone might say, but PV, this is the OT......God doesn’t operate this way with
believers in the NT.....
- Would that be right?
- Or does God still operate in some ways using cause and effect even with NT believers?
- Is there blessing for obedience and chastening for disobedience even in the NT?
- sure there is.....Gal. 6:7 - Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a
man sows, this he will also reap.
- now someone else might say....wait a minute PV, what about Romans 8?
- what about what we’ve been studying on Wednesday evenings about how there is no
condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus?
- that’s a great question --- let’s think about that......
- let me pose two true/false questions to you----are you ready?
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1) Nothing about my relationship with God is affected by the way I live today.....
- True or false?........False
2) Everything about my relationship with God is affected by the way I live today.....
- True or false?......That’s false too.
- How could they both be false?
- here’s how......
- if you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.....you cannot lose your salvation.
- thetas one of the great benefits of knowing Christ.....you have been sealed by the Holy
Spirit until the day of redemption according to Eph. 1:13 and 4:30
.....you are located in the hand of Jesus Christ and the hand of the Father according to
John 10:28-29.
- so if you know Jesus Christ as savior and Lord, you’ve been justified....declared
righteous....your stand before God is complete and unalterable....
- God sees you today clothed in the righteousness of His Son....which is an
important part of salvation by the way....its not just a matter of having your
sins forgiven, its also a matter of having the righteousness of Christ
transferred to your account.
- which is why Paul would say in Romans 8 that there is no condemnation to
those who are in Christ Jesus.
- that’s the part of your relationship with God that is not going to be affected by your behavior
today, at least in the sense that you would stand to lose that position.
- however, that’s not all there is to it.....
- there’s also your day by day relationship with God.....
- your walk with Him....
- your fellowship with Him......
- that, most definitely if affected by the way you choose to live.....
- and that’s the part of your relationship with God that is governed by cause and effect.
- and if you and I choose to disobey God, and run from Him, we can expect Him to
chasten us...because He loves us.
- The Westminster Confession of Faith explains the relationship between these ideas
this way.....
God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although
they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall
under God’s fatherly displeasure, and may not have the light of His countenance
restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg
pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
- Another passage from the Bible that helps us understand this is Hebrews chapter 12.
- here’s a passage of Scripture that lays out very clearly what we’re talking about this
morning.
- read Hebrews 12:4-13.
- now when we wrap all of this together, what do we get?
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- the book of Jonah, along with many other places in the Bible, makes it clear that when you or
I choose to run away from the commands of God, he will judge us.....like any good Father
would do.
- now, there’s something else we need to add to this discussion.
- its possible to be running when you’re feet aren’t moving.
- you say, what do you mean?
- let me illustrate. [in the chair]
- let’s say I’m sitting in this chair....
- and I’m not doing anything......
- I’m not saying anything.....
- and let’s just say for argument [though its not possible] that I’m not even thinking
anything.....
- Is it possible for me to be sitting here not doing anything, not saying anything, not thinking
anything....and still be sinning?
- Yes.....How?
- but not doing what God wants me to be doing.
- see, in the Bible.....sin is more than just commission...doing what God doesn’t want me to
do.
- the Bible also recognizes sin of omission....failing to do what God does want me to do.
- and it is possible that you could be here this morning and that’s the way you’re running from
God....
- not because you’re actively doing something he doesn’t want you to do.....
- but because you’re passively NOT DOING what He does want you to do.
1) for example, if you’re here and you don't know Christ.....
- God wants you to be saved.....
- he wants you to repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.....
- friend, if you’ve not yet made that decision....you’re running from God.
- and the terrifying thing is....the eventual judgment we’re talking about is not just a storm....
- its not even being swallowed by a fish.....
- its not even physical death.....
- we’re talking about what the Bible calls the second death....final and eternal
separation from God forever.
- Friend, would you stop running and turn to God in repentance and faith today.
2) someone else may here who’s already saved.....but you’re running....
- you’ve got an area of your life that needs work....and you’ve tried a few times....but it
hasn’t changed....
- and you know you need to get some help from someone else.....
- call it counseling...call it discipleship....call it whatever you want.....but you need some
help and you haven’t gotten it......
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- perhaps out of pride....perhaps for some other reason.....
- friend, will you stop running.....
- whether we’re talking about sins of commission or sins of omission, will you stop
running?
3) Some have drawn a line in their sand when it comes to an area of their growth.....
- God can’t have access to that area of my life.....
- if that’s the case my friend, I hope you have an umbrella.
- the storm is coming.......
- God won’t let His children live that way....its not in their best interest.
4) Some have refused to take a ministry opportunity or a witnessing opportunity......
- God want you to go to Ninevah but you like the weather in Tarshish this time of year.
- the principle that comes crying out of this text is..... If You’re Running From God, It Will
Bring His Judgment.
- now, I wish I could say that that was the end of the story...but it actually gets worse.
- the second principle we see in this passage is:


II. If You’re Running from God, the Judgment May Spill Over On the People who are
Running with You.


- True or false --- Jonah’s sin only affected Jonah.
- False.
- Jonah’s sin affected Jonah and a everybody else around him.
- what a terrible thing was happening to these seamen who didn’t know the Lord.
- did you note the progression in the text?
1) verse 4 -- the ship is about to break up ---
- who’s ship?
- was it Jonah’s ship?
- was it just the part of the ship that Jonah was riding in?
- was it like those cartoons where a little rain cloud follows one person around while
everyone enjoys peace and sunshine?
2) verse 5 says that the sailors are afraid.....
- here’s these rough and seasoned sailors with their knees knocking and their teeth
chattering.
3) the verse on to say that they cried out to their pagan gods.....
- what a pitiful sight......
- they were crying out to idols without ears or hands that had no possible way of
providing the salvation they needed.
4) Then they start throwing the cargo overboard......
- and again, was it Jonah’s cargo.....no.
- please don’t miss the point......
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- If You’re Running from God, the Judgment May Spill Over On the People
who are Running with You.
- and that point is actually made twice in verse 7-8.
- do you see the wording....on who’s account has this calamity struck us?
- This brings up an entirely different set of reasons for maintaining a close, and growing, and
obedient relationship with God.
- not only because it will protect you from the chastening hand of God, but because it will
protect others from facing the fallout of that chastening.
- now someone might say, well, PV, I know that’s not happening in my life because if it were
happening, I’d feel guilty about it.
- really?
- How do we know that’s not true?
- where is Jonah while all of this is going on?
- he’s down in the bottom of the boat having a nice, sound sleep.....
- completely oblivious to how his sinful actions are affecting those around Him.
- O. Palmer Robertson said, “Beware of overplaying the significance of feelings. Ahab felt
exhilarated when he first claimed Naboth’s property, until he met Elijah. Saul felt great
as he offered the sacrifices before battle, until he met Samuel. Herod felt quite content
taking his brother’s wife until he met John the Baptist. Do not assume that pleasant
feelings determine whether or not you are doing the will of God.”
- does this principle have application to us today?
- everywhere you look.
1) How many kiddies are growing up in homes where there is constant financial pressure and
tension as a result of mom and/or dad disobeying biblical principles of finance.
- the kids didn’t buy that house.....
- the kids didn’t buy those cars......
- but they’re paying for them......
2) How many kids aren’t faithful in God’s house because their parents won’t bring them?
- if they had a car, they’d come hear the word a lot more often than they do.
- if they could drive...they’d come......
- but mom and/or dad won’t........
- so a missionary comes and gives a great report from the mission field that could have
changed that child’s life.....but the child wasn’t here because mom and dad are making
the choices they’re making.
- and the Sunday school and clubs teachers have lessons prepared that are potentially
life-changing.....but Johnny’s not there....and its not Johnny’s fault.
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3) How many spouses would love more than anything in the world to use their gifts in service
to God but their spouse is so selfish that he or she just howls anytime the subject is raised.
4) How many co-workers have people who are working around them who say they are
Christians but aren’t living for God?
- so that Christian has a poor work ethic....and the whole department suffers.....
- or that Christian gossips...and everyone has to live in an environment where things are
always stirred up.
- and worse.....that Christian doesn’t witness....and that person dies and spends eternity
separated from God in a place called hell.
- see, friend, what kind of position have you placed the people that are riding in your boat?
- are they more likely to know God?
- are they more likely to serve God?
- are they more likely to love God?
- are they more likely to benefit from the blessings God is showering on your obedience?
- If You’re Running from God, the Judgment May Spill Over On the People who are
Running with You.
- now, what’s the other side of all of this?
- let me conclude by asking you to think about a man the NT to as one who was greater than
Jonah.
- what was that man’s name?
- Jesus Christ.
- was He greater than Jonah?......
- in the way we’re discussing this morning?
- do you remember the kind of impact He had on people?
- Peter....who was a unpredictable, tempestuous man......to a rock...a person of stability....
- someone who was used greatly in the work of God.....
- Mary Magdalene....a woman of the streets......to a godly woman who worshipped her
Lord.
- the thief on the cross......cursing, blaspheming, mocking....to in a matter of
minutes.....believing.
- and every one of those persons went from being under the judgment of God, to enjoying
the blessing of God.....because of the impact of the obedient, submissive Savior......
- who looked at assignment given to Him by the Father and said....Not my will, but
thine be done.
- will you be like Jonah.....or will you be like Jesus?

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