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The Storm of Jonah

Lesson: 10
What happens when God's servants run from the will of the Lord? And what happens when they stopped running?
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

Jesus said the storm comes to the wise man and the storm comes to the fool. And what separates the wise man from the fool is the wise man hears the Word of God and does it.

The bible tells a story about a stubborn profit who heard the Word of God, but he was frightened and he didn’t want to do it and his name is Jonah. We started out with the words of Jesus talking about Noah.

Again, we’re going to start with the words of Jesus talking about Jonah. You can read a couple of places, one is in Luke 11:29, “And when the crowds were thickly gathered,” I think that’s the only place you find that term, “…thickly gathered together, He began to say, this is an evil generation. It seeks a sign and no sign will be given to it, except the sign of Jonah the Prophet for as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so the Son of Man will be to this generation.”

Remember we had a question during the Bible question time last night about Jonah and we quoted from Matthew 12:4 where Jesus says “As Jonah was in the belly of the great fish three days and three nights.” You notice Luke doesn’t even reference that. He says, “As Jonah was assign to the Ninevites.” Be that as it may, both in Matthew and in Luke, Jesus is saying Jonah is the only sign that will be given to this generation, speaking of his time, but Jonah is also a sign for our generation.

We’ll find out how as we go to that famous story. So go to that little book in the bible called the Book of Jonah and you’ll find that there among the Minor Prophets. Verse 1, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai,” Jonah is a real prophet in the bible. He not only appears in this book that is by his name, probably by his hand, but you also read about Jonah in 2 Kings 14:25 and other prophesies that he gave. He really lived. He’s a person of history.

If you’ve been watching the news, you saw that one of the things that Isis, the Islamic State, recently is they blew up the proposed tomb of Jonah over there in Iraq. How many of you remember hearing that? He’s an historical character that’s been accepted all over the Middle East, not only among Christian and Jews, but among Muslims.

I heard about an old that was riding the bus every day. She’d go take care of her grandchildren and babysit during the day. It was the same time when a man rode the same bus on his way to work and they frequently saw each other on the bus. He was atheist and she was a very devout Christian. He’d usually get up and give her his seat. He noticed that she always read the bible and she seemed so nice he thought it was such a shame that she was so diluted to believe this ancient book.

Finally he couldn’t contain himself one day and he said “Grandma, I see you on the bus everyday and I see you reading the bible.” “Yes, sir, Word of God.” He said, “Do you really believe it’s all true?” She said, “Absolutely, I believe it’s all true.” He said, “Including all the stories? You believe all those miracles and stories are true?” She said, “I believe it’s the Word of God, absolutely.”

He said, “You mean to tell me that you believe that God made the whole world starting out with just Adam and Eve?” “God’s Word said it, sir, I believe it.” And he said, “And you believe that the whole world was flooded in the days of Noah?” She said, “I have no problems believing in the Word of God. It says so in the bible.” And he said, “I suppose you believe that Jonah was in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights?” And she said, “Absolutely. God said he did it and I believe the Word of God.” He said, “But how in the world could a man survive inside a fish for three days and three nights?” She said, “Well, I’m not exactly sure. I suppose when I get to heaven I’ll have to ask him.” He said, “Well, but what if Jonah is not in heaven?” She said, “Well, then, of course you can ask him.”

But for me, some of the strongest evidence that Jonah is true is if you say I believe the bible, but you know that story of Jonah, well, you can’t believe any of the bible because Jesus says it’s true. And the fact that Jesus says that God made the world is six literal days and Jesus says Adam and Eve are true and Jesus says that the words of Moses are true, we have to believe the whole bible. Because Jesus treated the whole bible as though it was real and true and if you believe the words of Jesus, so.

The Word of the Lord comes to Jonah. The word Jonah means dove. And he says, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it for their wickedness has come up before Me.” Same terms you find in Genesis 18 when it says the wickedness of Sodom had come up before the Lord, meaning there is impending judgment. There is a limit to what God can take.

We talked about the days of Noah last night and compared it with our age in which we live where violence and wickedness and evil is rife in the land and you just marvel at the patience of God when that was going on. God’s spirit bore with them 120 years.

Seventh Day Adventist Christians are sometimes mocked because we talk about the imminence of God’s coming and people say, oh, you’ve been saying that for 150 years, who are you kidding? Oh, but of this they are willingly ignorant that the Lord is long suffering with us, we are not willing that any should perish. And when that day does come, people will think it came too soon, not too late. It’s going to come.

Even though God bore long with them in the days of Noah, He bore long with the Ninevites in the time of Jonah. God is very patient, but there is a limit where the judgment just comes up before Him, says, I have to do something. I think we’re at that point with our world right now, but God is patient. But God’s word says arise and go and preach. Jesus said for us to go and tell the world, but Jonah didn’t want to. You can understand that.

The feelings were not very affectionate between the people of Assyria in Nineveh and the Israelites back then. They were constantly at war. That would be something like asking an Israelite to go into Central Gaza and tell them all how wicked they are. How long would you last? Or if you were to send a Jew up into Syria today and tell them all to repent of their sins, how long would you last?

The idea that their judgment was looming and God was about to destroy them, but God wanted Jonah to go preach and warn them, Jonah thought if I don’t warn them, they will be destroyed, that will be a good thing. So Jonah had a lot of reasons to not want to go to Nineveh. And so the bible says but Jonah arose and he ended up running as far as he could in the diametric opposite direction.

The Word of the Lord said arise and go east. Jonah went west. God told him, go by land. He went by sea. When you go towards the Word of God, you get closer to God’s presence, but he was fleeing from the presence of God. But can you really flee from the presence of God?

The bible tells us in Psalms, where can I go from your spirit, where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the farthest parts of the sea, you’re there. And it says, “He went down to Joppa and he found a ship going to Tarshish and he paid the fare and he went down into it to with them to Tarshnish from the presence of the Lord.” How foolish, even for a prophet, to think you can hide from God.

If you don’t want to do something and you make up your mind you don’t want to do God’s will, you can convince yourself that anything is okay. Well, for one thing, his launching point to run from God’s presence because he did not want to preach to the gentiles was Joppa.

Isn’t it interesting that 800 years later, the Word of the Lord came to Peter and said arise and go and talk to the gentiles. And Peter said, I don’t want to go, they’re unclean. God gave Peter a vision of that sheet with all these unclean animals. He said do not call unclean what I have cleansed. Peter said, okay, Lord, I’ll go. So from Joppa, 800 years later, Peter goes and preaches the gospel to the gentiles. God asked Jonah to go and preach to the gentiles, he didn’t want to go. Same town. It just goes to show you, God does what He sets out to do. So Jonah, he is running from the will of God.

By the way, you’re going to hear about a storm before the story is over. Some storms just come because of what’s happening around you, you have no control. Some storms happen because of decisions you make. Jonah is example of someone who is bringing his own trials on himself and he brings his trials on those around him as well.

If we are not doing God’s will for our life, it will not only impact us, it will certainly impact those around us. So if we think, well, if I don’t want to serve God, that’s just between me and God, no, you’re wrong. No man is an island. Your decision to serve the Lord will influence other people towards God or away from God. All of us create drag behind us that brings other people in our direction.

By your example, you will pull people to the Kingdom of God or to the Lake of Fire. So people who think, well, I’m not really interested in church, but I’m going to encourage my wife to get up the kids and take them to Sabbath School, they’re going to follow your example as much as anything.

Jonah thought, well, I’ll just keep this all to myself and I’m just going to run from God. I’m going to take a little cruise and maybe God will forget about this. And as Jonah is talking to himself, maybe he throws out of a fleece, if he’s like some of us.

Jonah, on his way down to Joppa, he said, Lord, if there is a ship that’s heading toward Tarshish, Tarshish was the furthest destination that they knew of in the then-marine world. Tarshish was one of the sons of Japheth. He settled the region they believe around Spain. It was the furthest most port that the Phoenicians would sail to because after you left the Gates of Hercules, that’s where it was, you know, the Straits of Gibraltar, which is where Tarshish was, and after you left there, you went off into the Atlantic and as far as they knew you dropped off the end of the world. It was out in what they called dragon country.

So it’s like today, if you’ve heard the expression “He went all the way to Timbuktu.” Do you know where that comes from? It used to be the furthest most place a US Marine could be stationed in the 1800s. We actually had a base in Timbuktu in Northern African. And so the Marines would say, where are you going, and they’d say, I’m going to Timbuktu. That meant as far as you could go. It was the ends of the earth.

And so the very fact that Jonah fled to Tarshish, you may as well put in the word Timbuktu, because that’s what it meant for the readers back then. He wanted to into a far country. Where did the Prodigal Son go? As far as he could from his father, trying to get away from that nagging conscience of his father. Maybe if I got to Timbuktu in Tarshish I won’t hear that voice bothering my conscience anymore. So he thought if there was a ship and it’s going that way, I’ll take it as a sign that God is going to relief me of my obligation to go to Nineveh.

He gets to Joppa sure enough, there’s a ship and it’s going to Tarshish. And he thought, maybe I need another sign. Maybe there’s no room on the ship. If there’s room on the ship, I’ll take that as a sign. He talks to one of the sailors there when they’re loading up and he says, sure enough, it looks like we’ve got berth for one more passenger. Praise the Lord. And then, I need one more sign, Lord. I need to have enough money. So how much does it cost, he tells him the amount, he checks his pocket and has just right amount. Praise the Lord. God is letting me off the hook. God is going to bless my journey. And then he says, just one more thing, we’ll need good weather. Beautiful, gentle sailing weather.

And Jonah has so convinced himself that God is going to relieve him of his command to go and preach to the Ninevites, he says, look, what providential openings, He has arranged the cruise, they have room for me, I just happened to find the last cabin and I have just enough money, God is going to let me go.

You know why I say that? I meet people all the time. They know what the Word of God says, but they try to talk themselves into thinking somehow they are exempt. It’s almost people witching for water. They just look and grasp around for any kind of evidence they can find that God is going to let them do what they want to do.

I have met people, Christians raised in the church, a man or a woman, who will come to me and say, Pastor Doug, I realize I’m married to John or Betty or whatever the case may be, but we’ve had such a difficult marriage. We’re just unhappy, it was a mistake, and I’ve met this other person. And I know what the bible says, but I see such providential openings. God is blessing, God is leading and I just sense that this is will. It’s like the bible says don’t commit adultery, but they found a way to convince themselves that He really has another plan because they don’t want to stay with this character anymore. They have their sights set on something else.

That’s one of many examples. You’ve seen it before. When a person decides they don’t want to do what the bible says, the Word of the Lord says do such and such and they say, I don’t want to do that. I’ve gone to churches before where I preached the Sabbath truth and I’ll talk to individuals afterwards. I’ll say, subject make sense? Made sense. You believe it’s biblical? Yes, it’s biblical. But the spirit is telling me that God really wants me to just stay where I’m at right now because He has a mission project for me there. I say, you don’t think He wants you to keep the Sabbath day? But these things started happening.

Can the devil change your providence and circumstances? You know, sometimes the devil can give you prosperity and calm sailing to deceive you. So he went down into the ship. You notice how many times the Word of the Lord comes and says arise. When he runs from God, it says he goes down to Joppa and he goes down to the ship and he goes down in the ship. He’s going down, down, down and he’s getting ready to go down one more time. From the presence of the Lord. What does the Lord say? Arise, you run from God down.

But the Lord, the boat leaves, they untie, they hoist the sails, gentle breeze, gentle rocking. Jonah finally says, ah, free at last. He goes down into the lowest parts of the ship and he goes to sleep on some bedding or baggage down there. And he begins to snore and sleep the sleep of the lost. Are there people sleeping on their way to destruction? Could Peter sleep in prison on death row when he was about to be executed? Are their people in the world out there that seem perfectly content on their way to destruction? And here you have Jonah. Funny thing is he’s the only one on the boat that knows Jehovah and he’s sleeping.

So the Lord, in his mercy, he sent out great wind on the sea and there was a mighty -- notice that word great, you might circle that. -- and there was a might tempest on the sea that ship was about to be broken up and the mariners were afraid. These sailors, who had a lot of experience sailing and they threw -- every man cried out to his God, notice his god, all these various gods, all these pagan gods, and they threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten the load. They were afraid they were going to perish.

The purpose of this trip was to make money. But they’re saying to themselves, what profit is it if you gain the whole world and lose your soul and they had sense to unload in order to be saved. Now, that’s something that you might make a note of. A man’s life, Jesus said, does not consist in the abundance of things that he possesses.

And we just so happen to be living in the generation that possesses more things than any other generation. The average person today has infinitely more than the average person 100 years ago. Just walk around Wal-Mart. Look how many things you could buy. It used to be when you went to the supermarket, there was only about 50 things you could buy in the supermarket and that was super back then. Now look at all you can buy. The reason they have a supermarket is they had difference sizes. But there weren’t that many different things to buy.

I remember when I was Russian, right around the fall of the iron curtain, someone said, we’re going to take you to the supermarket. I couldn’t believe it. They took us to a market where they had about six things and everyone was lined up. I call that a super market. What’s your garage look like? How are the closets? There’s a law in life; whatever space you have will fill, unless you’re very disciplined.

I see they’re kind of having a fad going around right now. People are downsizing. We’re going to talk about downsizing. People are moving into houses that are ridiculously small. As a matter of fact, there’s a joke and you can take it too far both ways. But let’s face it, we have so much junk. I know, because I do, too.

When I travel from country to country, I have to fit the basics I’m going to need to survive in one or two suitcases, depending on if it’s a very long trip. Just one coming here. And I’m very happy. I remember when I lived in a cave and everything I had I fit in my backpack. I hitchhiked around the country and I was very happy with everything I needed in the backpack.

A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses. You can become a slave to your possessions. Some of you say you can’t go to church because you’re afraid burglars will come buy and rob my junk, so you’re at home guarding your stuff and you can’t worship God. Our weekends we should spend with our families, but we have to spend them repairing and watering and oiling and changing and modifying and buying more stuff.

The sailors realized when they got near the end, the boat is going to go down if we don’t unload so they began to throw everything overboard. They’re praying, doing what they can, and they’re praying. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship. Running from God will land you in the lowest parts. He’s down there with the bilge and he’s lying down and was fast asleep. There he was snoring with all the foul bilge sloshing around in that storm.

The captain came to him. No doubt the captain has his lamp, he’s down there in the lowest parts of the ship and he’s looking for other junk he can throw overboard and what’s he find, a wayward prophet. And indignant and amazed, the captain says to him, what meanest thou, what do you mean, oh sleeper, arise. He didn’t even know his name. Who are you? There’s a person sleeping in this storm and we’re about to go down. Arise, call on your God that He might consider us that we may not perish.

Before I go any farther, Jesus said no sign will be given but he sign of Jonah. Right away, you ought to notice something. Tonight in our storm presentation, we will talk about two experiences of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee in a boat and one of those experiences it says Jesus was in the lowest part of the boat, the stern, which is the lowest part if you know anything about boats, asleep during a storm.

The disciples woke up Jesus and they said, Master, care us thou not that we are perishing. What did the captain do? He comes to Jonah, who is asleep in a storm, and he says, wake up, do you not care that we are perishing? Same words.

The only person on that boat in the days of Jonah that had the answer that could save those sailors was Jonah. And the only person that could help the apostles in that storm was Jesus. And the only person that can help you in your storms is Christ. But sometimes, He must be aroused by prayer so to speak. You need to wake him up. Not that Jesus is sleeping, but we need to pray.

Isn’t it something you would ask a question like that of the Lord? Care us thou not that we are perishing. Does Jesus care? Beautiful song, Does Jesus Care.

And they said to one another, come, let us cast lots that we might know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us. So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. Were lots being cast at the foot of the cross in the story of Jesus? Do you know what casting lots is? It took me a little study to find this out years ago. We talk about casting lots, but what does that mean.

As near as they can tell, in bible times, we call it drawing straws or something. It was just a method to try and single someone out that was fair and unbiased and they had a clay jar with a narrow mouth. They’ve recovered some of these that still had stones in them. They would get however many people you’re casting lots among, suppose you had 20 people and you wanted to pick one for something.

They would get 19 white stones and they would get one black stone, all about the same size, just big enough to go in the mouth of the jar. They closed the lid of the jar, kind of like they have a lottery. That’s where the word comes from. And they shake it up and then they would tumble out one stone at the feet of each of the individuals from which they were choosing, whether they were choosing apostles in Acts 1 or whatever they were doing.

And so when they got up there on the rolling deck of the ship, they shook the bottle, all the sailors gathered. They realized this is a supernatural storm. The Gods they thought are angry at somebody on this boat. We’ve never seen a storm like this before. It came out of nowhere. The wind is shrieking. They just sense that this is a spiritual storm. So they had the perception, right.

They cast lots and as they drop out all the white stones at the feet of the different mariners and wouldn’t you know that Jonah comes last and out comes that black stone. And he didn’t look at all surprised, did he? They looked at him and said, tell us, what’s up, what can you tell us that might help us know how to cover from this storm.

Verse 8, they said, “Please let us for whose cause is this trouble upon us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? What people are you of?” Now, don’t miss this. The only person on that boat that understands the storm is Jonah. They’re all about to perish. They didn’t pay much attention to Jonah until the storm. Now Jonah has 100 percent of their attention. These are pagan sailors that do not know Jehovah. But through the storm, God is going to use Jonah in spite of his disobedience to answer the big questions for them.

Do you have neighbors that think you’re a kook? We have some neighbors to think that way, too, and I have more reason than you. Or sometimes they think your religion is strange. Or they think even being a Christian is strange in our culture. But you know what happens in a storm? They’re going to want to know who can I go to that might have answers.

I have a neighbor who is an atheist and we’ve knocked on the door before and invited them to meetings and they’ve actually said, Brother Doug, we appreciate that you don’t preach to us and they’re saying that while I’m trying to preach to them. We known them for years, we have good neighbors. Things like they locked themselves out of the house one time and I broke in for them because I know how to do that. So we’ve done nice neighborly things for each other before. So they like us. Need a ride, sometimes we’ll give each other a ride to the airport or pick up their repaired car. And so we’re good friends, good neighbors, kids play together, but don’t preach to us because they’re atheist.

She was over one day for picking up the mail or something for us or whatever and she said, you know, our son is really having struggles and he’s actually been thinking of suicide. We don’t know what to do. I said, well, one thing is prayer and she kind of was being dismissive. And I said, well, you realize I used to be an atheist and I used to think about suicide. You were an atheist? I said you didn’t know that because you never gave me a chance to talk to you. I said when I was a teenager, I was an atheist. And she said, what made the difference. I said God, the bible. I said, I’ll tell you what, I have a book that will tell you the whole story. You have a book? I said let me give you one of these books.

I have another neighbor and they don’t want to hear about your religion, but then someone in the family gets a terminal disease and then you say do you mind if I pray with you? Would you please? We have another neighbor, someone dies and they’re going through a storm. And you say, you know, the bible tells what happens when a person dies. All of a sudden they have questions. While you were totally ignored, all sleeping by yourself as far as they’re concerned, when the storm comes, they have 100 questions for you.

They’re asking Jonah, you notice that, “Who’s cause, what is your occupation, where do you come from, what is your country, what are your people, why have you done this, for they heard that Jonah ran from God and they heard the blush. And then they said, what shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us. But the sea continued to grow more tempestuous. And he said to them, pick me up and throw me into the sea and the sea will become calm for you, for I know that this great tempest is because of me.

Nevertheless, the men rode hard to bring the ship to land.” They didn’t want to do that. They tried to save themselves by rowing. In one of our stories we’ll study tonight of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee when Christ came to the disciples. They tried to save themselves by rowing. They didn’t want to do it. These sailors, you have to give them credit. You would think the pagans would care less, throw him overboard. But they had some spiritual discernment.

Jesus said many sheep I have that are not of this fold and they’re going to hear my voice and there’ll be one fold and one shepherd and God is going to help them hear His voice through you and me and it’s during the storm that they listened.

God’s people through history have always been the best witnesses, not when He saves us from trial, but through trial. How many of you would like to see a revival in the church? A revival is going to come in the response to prayer, but I have a theory we’re not going to see revival until we see persecution. I don’t think we’re going to see revival until we see some storms. It is when the storm happens that God’s people get shaken first of all and some people will be shaken out. A lot will be shaken out. Some people will be shaken in. And it’s during that time your faith is really tested in the fire and God is going to use us to be witnesses.

When did God get the best publicity from his people? It’s when three Hebrews were thrown in a fire in Babylon and Jesus went with him through the trial. When they came out of the fire unharmed, the King of Babylon made a declaration that went to the world about the God of the Israelites. Not when they were in the Promise Land drinking the milk and honey, but when they were in Babylon in captivity is when He made the most widely spread statement of who He was because three men stood up during the time of their captivity and their trial for God when everyone else bowed down. Isn’t that right? It was through the trial.

It was through the trial when Daniel said, I will not hide my prayers. Then he goes to the lions den and King Darius, when he sees the God of Israel through the trial that God’s people went through, makes a declaration for the whole world.

A lot of people say Seventh Day Adventists, who are they? There’ll be a trial and that’s when we’re going to be brought before kings and rulers and that’s when we’re going to witness and a lot of people, as I said, are going to be shaken during that storm. I hope that you cling to God at that time.

What shall we do? Throw me overboard. I used to think, oh Jonah, if you think that’s the answer, why don’t you just help them out? Why do they have to throw you overboard? Why don’t you just take a running leap? Why did Jonah say, you must be culpable. You must take me and offer me. Just like we must take responsibility for the Cross of Christ. They didn’t want to do it. There must be another way. There is no other way. So finally, they rode and rode, but they weren’t getting anywhere.

Verse 11, “The sea got more tempestuous. The men rode hard to bring the ship to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to get more tempestuous.” Doesn’t Jesus say there is a storm coming in Daniel 12? There’ll be a time of trouble such as there never has been since there was a nation even under that same time. That should make you shudder because you just think about some of the times of trouble that our world has seen. There’s been some bad times.

I reference the tsunami that happened in Indonesia and the one that happened in Japan and then you think about World War 1 and 2 and the genocide and different countries and the plagues that have happened. In 1918 there was a flu that killed more than World War 2. Did you know that?

You coalesce all these times of trouble that have come to the world and Jesus says in Matthew 24, “For then shall be great tribulations such as was not since men were upon the earth.” So terrible and so great. Christ tells us, read the book of Daniel, him that would read, let him understand. Yeah, there’s going to be a storm that’s coming, friends, and I don’t worry about what I will do then. I worry about what I’m doing now to prepare for then. If I’m grounding myself where I don’t have a living daily connection with Jesus, I won’t have to worry about what happens then. Some people are going to wait until then to get ready. It’s too late then.

What shall we do to you? Pick me up and throw me into the sea. They rode and they couldn’t and so they prayed a prayer. It’s interesting, they start out praying to their god, you notice in verse 13, Jonah 1, “We pray, Oh, Lord,” they’re not talking to Jonah’s God. You know why? Because Jonah had just them, I worship the God that made the heaven and sea.

By the way, that comes out of the Sabbath Command where in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth and the sea and the fountains of waters. Jonah is now referencing, I worship the God that made all those things. I workshop the creator who made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. And they realized there was no other opportunity.

This storm is getting worse and worse and if you have been out there on that dark sea that night, you could hear the shrieking of the wind and the sails ripped to shreds and the boat is pitching and reeling and every time the boat goes up on the top of the way and that way passes, it feels like the ground went out from under and it just plunges down into the trough of the next wave and then they feel the G-forces and the whole boat begins to grown and then creek and splinter and water is coming in through the cracks and it pushes them back up again. The wind is stinging in their faces with the water and all this is going on. It’s getting worse and worse and they think that every time they diving off the crest of another wave, they’re just going to keep going down like a submarine, this is it.

And they realize look, the next wave is going to kill us, what have we got to lose? We hate to offer an innocent mane, but he’s telling us this it he only way. So reluctantly they said, “Do not let us parish for this man’s life. Do not charge us with incident blood.” What did Pontius Pilot at the cross at the trial of Christ? I will not be responsible for this man’s innocent blood. Let us know perish for this man is life.

And they go on and they say, “You oh Lord have done as it pleased you.” You know what it says in Isaiah 55 about the messiah? It has pleased you to bruise him for our sakes. These are all references to Christ. No sign will be given but the sign of the prophet Jonah. So they picked up Jonah and counted to three and they hurled. It doesn’t say that. I just figured they’d go one, two, three to make sure they get him all the way over.

“And they hurled him into the sea and the sea ceased from its raging.” Jonah calmed the stormy sea. Does Jesus calm the stormy sea? When they offered Jonah, they had peace. How will you have peace in your storm? Through Christ. It doesn’t matter what kind of storm you’re going through, but these men came to the point of complete surrender. You notice that?

They had come to the point of an absolute surrender. They had thrown everything overboard they could throw overboard. They’re praying to God. They finally get to the point where they are making the offering of a life realizing they’re about to die. They didn’t want to do that. And then they find peace when they offer Jonah and we find peace when we offer Jesus. What does the name Jonah mean? Dove, peace.

All of sudden it says there’s a great calm and these men realize that was a supernatural storm and they knew they did the right thing. The bible says, “The men feared the Lord exceedingly.” You know what happened after Jesus calmed the storm? The disciples feared exceedingly. It uses the same words. They were more afraid when Jesus calmed the storm than they were during the storm. Then they feared exceedingly and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord. Who are they worshiping? Because of Jonah, these gentiles have now turned to Jehovah.

Was it God’s plan for him to run from Nineveh? Can work together all things for good? And even though he took a detour that was not his plan, he went through a terrible trial he did not need to experience. You and I have no idea what Jonah went through and it’s only starting right here. He now has to go through the fish. He went through a great trial.

Can God work things together? Even some people who are running from God, could God witness through Israel in Babylon, even though He never wanted them to be carried off captive. And sometimes you’ve been running from God and God might use to reach someone else. It doesn’t mean you’re in the middle of God’s will. It does mean God wants to save people and He is going to use because there’s hardly anything left to use. God is using you and me because He has reached the bottom of the barrel and there’s all these reluctant believers out there and that’s all He has.

Jonah is the type of the Jewish nation. He gave them a message to reach the gentiles and they kept it to themselves and it was only through their trials they were finally able to witness. It was in captivity to the Egyptians and the Babylonians and the Assyrians and the Romans. They ended up being witnesses. That was never God’s plan. He wanted them to be a free nation of kings and priests and you and I run from God.

Verse 17, “Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. And he prays from the belly of the fish and God hears his prayer. That tells me it doesn’t matter how far you are from God. God can hear your prayer. Amen.

I want to rush ahead, but I’m going to get back to the fish in just a minute. After three days, the fish is inspired to burp Jonah out on dry land. The Word of the Lord comes to Jonah. Is it different now or is it identical? God’s Word doesn’t change. Same message, arise and go to Nineveh and preach. Does he go? It says Nineveh was an exceeding great city, a three-day’s journey.

Jonah enters the city a day’s journey. That means 12 hours because there were 24 hours in the day. Jesus said are there not 12 hours in the day. So you have three days and you have 12 hours, which is half a day. And then he preaches in 40 days they would be destroyed.

Jesus said no sign would be given to His generation but the sign of Jonah. Think about this. Jesus was a type of Jonah, preaches for three and a half years to His people, from his baptism to His crucifixion and he says this generation, a generation is how long? Forty years. This generation will not pass away until these things be fulfilled. He said there will not be left one stone upon another that would be standing in the temple.

Jesus was a sign to the Jews just as Jonah was to the Ninevites. Except the Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah and the Jews did not repent to the preaching of Jesus. Three and a half years Jesus preached and in 40 years Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. That’s the big message there that Christ is giving us about how Jonah was assigned to that generation.

Back to the fish. How can a man survive in a fish three days and three nights? And can God hear a person’s prayer when they’re down there in that kind of darkness?

There was actually a man named James Bartley who in 1881 was on a whaling vessel off the Falkland Islands that was swallowed by a sperm whale and 24 hours later he was extracted when they carved up the whale and he was still alive. Unconscious, but alive. The whale had swallowed him.

Something interested happened this year back in March. There was a Nigerian tugboat 20 miles off the coast of Nigeria, big seas, pulling a tanker, got hit by a freak wave, capsized the boat, crew of 12. It went down in 100 feet of water. Eleven out of 12 of the sailors died almost instantly. They were drown.

But one of them, his name was Harrison O’Keene, he was there in the bottom of the boat sleeping at 2 in the morning when all of this happened. He was wearing his boxer shorts because it’s hot there on the coast of Nigeria. He wakes up and everything is tumbling around and water is coming in and he’s in his bunk and he had to retreat to the bottom of the boat because that was where the pocket of air was.

And as the boat settled on the bottom, he had managed before all the lights went out to grab a flashlight and he went up and he was stuck in this little pocket surrounded by water in the darkness and was hoping someone would come to rescue him. Water, warm on the surface. When you go down 100 feet, even in Nigerian, water is about 50 degrees. It was cold. And he sat there. The flashlight went out pretty soon. He didn’t know what was going to happen, scared, cold, darkness. He was down there for three days.

At that point, a Nigerian recovery company had made arrangements to send this special ship with deep diving equipment and video cameras to recover the bodies. It was a Norwegian company that was hired.

During this time, this three days, do you know what Harrison was doing? While he was a sailor, his wife on the coast would text him psalms, text him messages, things for him to pray about. She had texted him something from Psalms 54 and this is what it said, “Save me oh God by your name. Behold God is my helper. The Lord is with those who uphold my life.” For 72 hours, that was his prayer in the darkness. The only thing he found as he fumbled around was a can of coke. He had nothing else to drink for three days.

All of a sudden at the end of three days when he realized the air in his chamber was running out, he saw the light beginning to turn green. His head was getting light from the low oxygen in this pocket of air that he had been breathing and he thought he was hallucinating. Then he saw bubbles and the air was turning green. He was scared because he had heard the banging around of sea creatures that actually had been feeding on his shipmates and he didn’t know what was going on, so he’s scared.

Then he sees this helmet coming up in bubbles. The Norwegian diver had a video camera going with a line and air connected to the surface, so they were directing him to the ship, there were two of them down there, saying go through this room, turn left, roger, and he’s talking back and forth to them. Harrison sees the light and he sees this guy and it’s pretty creepy. I’m a diver and I’ve done some wreck diving and it’s already creepy. If you’re down there wreck diving and you know you’re looking for bodies, that’s really creepy.

All of a sudden a hand reaches out and grabs the diver. You can hear, they have it recorded, you can watch this whole thing on YouTube. You can hear the diver. He said we’ve got a survivor and they were able to pump air into Harrison’s chamber and it took a couple days to extract him and help him decompress, but God heard his prayer.

Does God know how to save us from our darkness? Sometimes it takes a storm to get our attention, but no one could be further away from God than Jonah and God heard his prayer and God heard his circumstances. God can save you from your circumstances. But it begins by making a complete surrender, which is what Jonah had to do and being willing to go wherever God sends you. Because Jonah went, the whole nation of Nineveh was saved. Greatest revival in the bible and God wants to use you to revive others, friends. Amen.



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