Perhaps some of you have heard about a book called 'The God Chasers'. As a matter of fact, there is a complete ministry built around the book. It is based upon one of David's statements found in Psalm 63:8a, "My soul followeth hard after thee…" Now, I cannot endorse the book or the ministry, but the idea of seeking after God is certainly a worthy goal. Unfortunately, I find that most of the time it is just the other way around. God is seeking after His own, and aren't you thankful of that this evening? When I was lost, I didn't seek God at all. He came seeking after me, and He found me! "I once was lost but now I'm found!" It is also greatly encouraging to me that He continues to seek me. We are prone to wander and drift away from God, but God doesn't give up on us. He continues to pursue us. We have a wonderful illustration of God's pursuit in the life of Jonah the prophet. Jonah was not just a Bible story character, nor was his life simply a parable. According to 2 Kings 14:25, he was a real man, a prophet of God to Israel under the reign of Jeroboam II around 800 years before Christ.
A. An Overview
1. God calls Jonah to carry His message to the city of Ninevah.
2. Jonah rebels against God, and runs away to Joppa and gets on a ship headed for Tarshish.
3. God comes after him with a storm.
4. The sailors throw Jonah overboard, and God is there with a fish to protect him.
5. Jonah gets right with God and the fish spits him out on the shore.
6. Jonah obeys God, but then becomes depressed.
7. God in His mercy goes to him again to reach out to him and encourage him.
B. The Theme of the Book.
1. The book of Jonah is not about the great fish.
2. It isn't about the wicked city of Ninevah.
3. It isn't even about Jonah… it is about God!
4. We learn from this little book that our God is a God who cares about us.
5. He doesn't turn His back upon us when we rebel, but rather He comes after us in our rebellion.
6. He is a God who pursues us when we get off track and seeks to bring us back to where we need to be.
C. A word about rebellion.
1. It is not ignorance: ignorance is when we don't know what God wants us to do.
2. It is not discouragement: we know what God wants us to do, but we just need some encouragement to get it done.
3. Rebellion is when we know what God wants us to do, but we refuse to do it.
a. God has revealed His will for us in His Word.
b. When we know what He says we are to do, but we refuse to do it…we are in rebellion.
c. No matter what area of our lives that may be impacted (our family, our marriage, our job, our church, etc)
4. The longer our rebellion lasts, the harder it is to get back.
5. But God will pursue us!
II. God Calls…Jonah Rebels
A. The call of God. v1-2
1. Ninevah was the capital city of the Assyrian empire.
2. Archaeologists have estimated that the city was 30-60 miles across and the population was well over a million people.
3. It was a wicked city that was so wicked it had come to the attention of God.
4. Similar perhaps to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
5. God was contemplating judgment upon them, but chose to send them His prophet Jonah to warn them.
6. God's command to Jonah was to 'cry against it'… he was to be God's voice.
7. Arise…Go…Cry (hard to understand?)
8. God has called us to speak for Him.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Matt. 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.
B. The Rebellion of Jonah. v3
1. Jonah arose, but he rose up to flee.
2. Notice the repetition of the phrase, "from the presence of the Lord".
3. No matter what the excuse, rebellion is the refusal to do what we know God wants us to do.
4. Jonah wanted to get as far away as he could from doing what God called Him to do.
5. When he got to Joppa, he then got on a ship to take him farther away.
6. Ninevah was about 700 miles east of Israel, and Tarshish was around 2000 miles west of Israel.
7. When we rebel against God, we make a conscious choice to disobey.
a. Jonah rose up to flee
b. He went down to Joppa
c. He found a ship going to Tarshish (which means he was looking)
d. He paid the fare
e. He boarded the ship and went down into it
8. If we do not do what God calls us to do, we can always find another way to go.
9. But no one can flee from the presence of the Lord.
Psa. 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? … If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea,the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
III. God Pursues Jonah v4-17
A. God pursues His disobedient children.
1. I have observed parents with little children in public.
2. Sometimes those children run away from Mom and Dad.
3. They always run after them…why?
4. Because they love them and do not want them to go in a way that will place them in danger.
5. God's love for us surpasses our love for our children.
6. Is it any wonder then that His pursuit of us will be just a great as His love?
B. God sent a storm. v4-16
1. The storm was directed Jonah's way.
2. It must have been an amazing storm.
a. The ship was about to break apart.
b. The sailors were afraid.
c. They were throwing their cargo overboard…this was their livelihood!
d. They were so afraid they were all praying to their gods for help…all except Jonah!
e. He was sleeping through it all!
Note: People who rebel against God are totally self-absorbed. They do not care about how their rebellion will impact those around them.
3. The sailors were in a panic to discover who or what was causing God to be so angry. (They understood that this wasn't just storm…this was a supernatural act of God)
a. The shipmaster awoke Jonah and called on him to pray to his God (like the rest of them had been doing).
b. The others cast lots only to discover that it was Jonah who was the cause of this evil.
c. They questioned him at length…and Jonah finally told them why all of this was happening.
d. Jonah told them to throw him overboard.
e. Finally after doing all they could to avoid this, the sailors gave in an threw Jonah in the sea while praying for God's forgiveness.
C. God sent a fish. v17
1. Consider the preparation of God in Jonah's life.
a. God had prepared a place for Jonah to preach…Ninevah.
b. God had prepared the message Jonah was to deliver.
c. God prepared a storm to chase Jonah down as he ran away.
d. God prepared a fish to deliver Jonah from certain death. (Note: the great fish wasn't God's judgment, but it was God's mercy!)
2. Consider the preparation of God for our lives tonight.
a. He prepared a means whereby we could be saved.
b. He prepared our hearts to receive Christ when presented with the Gospel.
c. He prepared a place (local church) for us to worship Him.
d. He prepared a place (local church) for us to serve Him.
e. He is preparing a place for us to spend all eternity with Him.
Rebellion is the refusal to do what God tells us to do. Did you notice that Jonah was willing to die rather than repent? Why didn't he heed the words of the shipmaster to call upon his God? The longer we stay in rebellion toward God, the harder it is to get back to where we need to be. We are all guilty to one extent or another. It may be that some of us would rather go to our grave rather than to go to our knees. But we don't have to! God is a merciful and loving God who desires that we turn to Him in repentance and obedience. Are you running from God tonight? Have you refused to obey His Word? Come to the Lord right now!