28 Jun Jonah #1 – A Fishy Tale About A Faithful God (Jonah 1:1-17)
– Howdy, pastor Mark Driscoll here. And I’m happy to report that we are now giving away the Jonah sermon series, “A Fishy Tale About a Faithful God.” We take four weeks and go through one of the most interesting, curious, peculiar, well known and hotly debated books of the Old Testament, looking at God’s reluctant prophet. We’re calling it “A Fishy Tale About a Faithful God.” It’s a four week study of the book of Jonah verse by verse. You can find it in audio and video format at markdriscoll.org. If you sign up for the leaders letter, you’ll also receive about a 12,000 word research brief and introduction, for those of you who want to go deeper into the book of Jonah and for those who are going to be preaching and teaching it as well. As always just very grateful for your support, a gift of any amount and a prayer of any kind are always appreciated. You can find everything at markdriscoll.org. The first time that the word of the Lord came to me, I was 19 years of age, I was a college freshman at a state university, and I was actually reading this Bible that was given to me, coincidentally, by a very cute girl that I was absolutely smitten with. And we now have been married 24 years. So, the moral of the story is, man, if a woman buys you a Bible, buy her ring, that’s a fair deal. You may wonder, “Is she the one the Lord has for me?” If she’s the one who bought you a Bible, she’s the one the Lord has for you. So nonetheless, I started reading the Scriptures that this young woman that I adored had given to me and I was kind of a moral religious boy, not necessarily a Christian. And as I was reading Romans 1:6, just out of curiosity, that section of Scripture just absolutely leapt off the pages. And it was like, God had a key that just fit my soul in Romans 1:6 and it unlocked an eternal change in my life and legacy and destiny and ministry. And it says there in, that you have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. And I’d never really considered that, that my life would belong to someone else. That my decisions should be run by someone else, that my life was overseen and governed by someone else. And suddenly this moment I realized, I now belong to Jesus Christ. I didn’t understand all that that meant, but I knew that something had radically changed because the word of the Lord had come to me. And let me simply say that we live in an age of lots of speculation and lots of opinion and lots of conjecture and lots of spin and lots of lies and lots of deception and lots of confusion. And we all need the word of the Lord. We need the God of the Bible to cut through and to speak to us with a clarity and a certainty so that we can move forward in our life and ministry. And so I started reading and studying the Bible because I wanted the word of the Lord. I wanted to hear from the Lord. My professors and classmates, they all had opinions, but I wanted not just human speculation, I wanted divine revelation. I wanted God to tell me who He was, and who I was, and what He had for me to do. It wasn’t too long, some months later, I was in a great church as a brand new Christian. And they said, “It’s time to sign up for the men’s retreat.” I didn’t know that men retreated, I thought we were supposed to advance. I didn’t understand exactly what we were talking about. So I said, “Well, I’m a man. I’ll sign up for the men’s retreat.” And so we got in our cars, we drove out to the woods somewhere between Idaho and Washington and guys were singing and hanging out and loving Jesus and learning how to be better husbands and fathers and friends. And I thought, “Well, this is great.” And then the pastor said, “It’s time for you all to go meet with the Lord.” I didn’t know we scheduled meetings with the Lord. I didn’t know what a meeting with the Lord look like. So I asked one of the older guys with a beard, looked like an adult. “What do we do in our meeting with the Lord?” He said, “Well, you just go out in the woods and just talk to the Lord and listen to the Lord.” Okay, so I’m out, there’s a great river flowing along and it’s a sunny day and there’s big trees and it’s sort of a crisp, cool sunny day. And I’m walking along the river. And I was like, “God, I’m here for my meeting. It’s me Mark, not that he didn’t know that, but just in case, I don’t know how these meetings work.” I’m kinda just rambling to God. And I finally just stopped and I said, “Okay, I belong to you now. So I just want you to tell me, what do you want me to do?” And God spoke to me. I had never had that happen before. So people ask, “What did it sound like?” Sounded like He was in charge, I’ll tell you that. He said, “Marry Grace.” I was like, “Yes!” “Preach the Bible.” Okay, better figure that out. “Train men and plant churches.” That was the word of the Lord to me. So I studied the scriptures and I realized, you know, these sounds like the kinds of things that God would say. So I brought it to my pastor ’cause I wanted to submit the word of the Lord to the leadership that God put over me. And he said, “That is God’s word to you. You need to obey it until you hear otherwise.” And now, I’m just happy to report that some 26 years later until I hear otherwise, that’s what I hope to do. To love one woman, to preach one book, to raise up men to be good husbands and fathers and brothers, and to plant churches. So welcome to our grand opening and first day, and this is the fulfillment of the Word of the Lord. Now that being said, what is God’s word to you? What is the word of the Lord to you? Like you guys over here, what is God said to you? What is His word to you? What has He spoken to you? Either from the Scriptures or what has He revealed to you? And for you all, what is the word of the Lord to you? What is He spoken to you? What is He revealed to you? What has He commanded of you? What is He requested of you and for you all? What has God spoken to you? What does He have for you? What things has He pointed out in your life that He wants to change in ways He wants to use you? I believe God is always speaking. I believe oftentimes we’re simply not listening. And when the word of the Lord comes to us, particularly through the Word of the Lord, we have to make a decision. How will I respond? And so today we begin the great book of Jonah and it’s a case study and someone receiving the word of the Lord and how they responded. You ready to jump in with me? Doesn’t matter, I’m gonna do it either way. Jonah chapter one, starting in verse one. I love you, here we go. Jonah 1:1-3, God speaks, Jonah runs. “Now the word of the Lord.” Everything begins with the word of the Lord. Your business needs to start with the word of the Lord. Your family needs to begin with a word of the Lord. Your relationships need to begin with the word of the Lord. Your finances need to begin with a word of the Lord. Your parenting needs to begin with the word of the Lord. Your day needs to begin with the word of the Lord. Your decisions need to begin with the word of the Lord. You need a word from God before you can make any decisions, have any confidence or move forward with any clarity. So the book begins, where all things begin with God speaking. “And the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai saying, ‘Arise, get up, go to Nineveh, that great city and call out against it for their evil.'” These are evil people, just so you know, there are evil people. “Evil has come before me.” But what’s amazing to me, the Bible opens up Genesis one and two. God said, and it was so. God said, and it was so. So the sun, the moon, the stars, the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, when God speaks, all obey. and then God speaks to us and here’s what we read, but that’s that’s us, all right. God speaks to us and we don’t hear and listen and obey. We rebel and run in any and every way. “But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” You’re gonna hear this phrase twice. He’s fleeing from the presence of the Lord. Just so you know, the Lord is omnipresent. That means He’s everywhere present, which means you can’t run from His presence. When we sin, we get a little goofy, we don’t think very clearly. My brother, when he was little, when he would do something really bad, he would close his eyes and stand really still thinking that he was invisible. So my parents would walk in, after something crashed to the ground and broke, they’d be like, “What have you done? He’d be like, he thought, if he couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see him. When we sin, sometimes we get silly. What are you doing Jonah? “I’m running from the everywhere present God.” That seems impossible. But how many of us try to run the presence of God? “He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it to go with them, to Tarshish away from-” It, says it again, “The presence of the Lord.” Let me say this about God, God speaks and sometimes he tells us to do hard things, things that we don’t want to do, things that we don’t like to do. How many of you have a script for your life, you gave it to God, he rewrote it and you’re still having an argument about that? Okay, “Read the lines, man. I had this figured out.” God’s like, “I was thinking the same thing. I got a different script.” God has the right and God often asks his people to do very hard things. Here He calls Jonah to go to a city called Nineveh. Let me tell you a little bit about Nineveh. Nobody from Israel wanted to go to Nineveh. Nineveh was founded by a guy named Nimrod, okay? It’s a guy in the Bible. If you’re like, “I wanted to name my son Flipping through the back and I saw some list of names and Nimrod, that’s a good…” Don’t call him that. That’s a horrible name and it’s a horrible person. And the city of Nineveh descended from Nimrod. And these were warriors, they were violent, they would overtake other nations. They would conquer them, they would enslave them, they would crush them. They worshiped a bad demon god, they thought that their political ruler represented God. So you don’t have the separation of church and state. You’ve got the equivalent of kind of like, Sharia law, meaning you worship that god and you participate in this political system or we absolutely crushed you and punish you and destroy you and enslave you and impoverish you. They had tried three times, at least historically to wipe God’s people off the face of the earth. Their city was surrounded with massive walls that were fortified to secure them. The historian say that they were so wide, that three chariots could run simultaneously around the circumference of the city. These are bad guys. This is the equivalent today. God shows up, speaks to you and says, “Okay, I have something for you to do, go to Iraq.” Because do you know where Nineveh is today? It’s outside of Mazal, Iraq. These are the great, great, great grandfathers of ISIS and the Taliban. So we could look at it, we go, “Oh, that’s just…” If we could sit in our Sunday school class where we’re sipping decaf and feeling religious to say, “Well, he should have obeyed the Lord.” Okay, the Lord comes to you, hypothetically says, “Hey, get out that old tour T-shirt, born in the USA from Bruce Springsteen, the one with the big flag, put on your make America great hat, post on social media that you’re gonna be going to Mazal, Iraq. When you get there, make sure to bring the Taliban and ISIS together, furrow your brow, point, your finger and say, ‘Knock it off.'” And just see if you wanna do that, right? Jonah’s like, “I’m out, that’s it, I’m out. I am a former prophet, thank you very much.” Drop the mic, retire, game over, right? God sometimes asks us to do very hard things, things we don’t want to do. It’s like, “God, I didn’t wanna do this.” He’s like, “that’s why I had to talk to you about it ’cause you weren’t talking to me about it.” “But God, I don’t wanna do it.” “That’s why I command and I don’t offer suggestions. And my word is not in pencil, you need to go do that.” God will speak to you, God has authority over you. God has the right to ask you and call you and command you, including me, to do hard things. How many of you truthfully, you wouldn’t go? You wouldn’t go. Some of you wouldn’t even go to the bad places in Glendale. and we’re an open carry state, right? What does he do? He runs, he runs in the completely opposite direction. This is like God telling you geographically, “Go over to the Texas border with all those crazy relentless, horrific pagans and preach.” And you don’t go to the Texas border. You run as fast as you can to San Diego and jump on a boat and start to sail away. But here’s the thing, you can run from God, but God runs for you. That’s the great theme of the Bible and the great theme of Jonah. Sinner’s run from God and God pursues them. You cannot outrun God. Some of you have been running from God and you have not created any distance between yourself and Him, because He is absolutely on your heels. He is committed to tracking you down and finding you and loving you and seeking you and saving you. And what Jonah is essentially saying in fleeing from the presence of the Lord, what he is saying is, “God, there are parts of my life that you are welcome to, there are parts of my life you are not welcome to. There are things you are welcome to talk to me about, there are other things that I just don’t want to hear about. There are things that I welcome you to change. there are other things that you are unwelcome to change.” And we all have these aspects and dimensions in our life. “God feel free to bless my finances, but my girlfriend, we’re not talking about it. God, there are parts of my life that you’re not welcomed to. You’re not invited into, you’re not supposed to rule over, have authority over, speak over.” And God is ever and always present. And God is ruling and reigning over everyone in everything. And there’s nothing in your life that is not under his sovereign rule. And there’s nowhere that you can run to hide from this God, who is ultimately an altogether good. So let me say this as well. If you want to run from God, there is always a ship waiting to take you. Don’t think that just because something is available, it was provided for the Lord. “Oh, I wanted to commit adultery and oh look, here’s somebody.” That is not the Lord ship, right? That’s Satan ship wreck, that’s what that is. “Oh, I’m very lonely and I’m gonna date a non believer. Oh look, there’s a non believer.” That’s not the Lord ship, that’s a shipwreck. “Oh, I want to steal from my employer ’cause my finances are tied and they don’t pay me enough.” Oh, and lo and behold, there is a way for thievery. That is not the Lord ship, that is Satan shipwreck. Jonah doesn’t get to the edge of the sea and find a boat that was provided for the Lord. Let me tell you this, if you’re running from the Lord, there’s always a boat waiting for you. But don’t be a foolish Christian who says, “Well it must be God’s will he provided it.” No, Satan provides as well. Satan provides as well. So let me ask you this question, If I may. Do you believe that God has the right to speak into your whole life? Any in every area of your life. Do you believe that the Lord has the right to move you? Jonah didn’t wanna leave Israel, it was good. And go to Nineveh, as the only believer who’s probably gonna be murdered? How many of you have moved to Phoenix from somewhere else? Everybody. We moved here a year ago. People are like, “Is it, do you find it hot?” Yes, and water is wet and yeah, I’m alive. So I find it hot, it’s very hot. It’s very hot here. Nobody lived here until they invented those box air conditioning units so you could put in your window, because otherwise you would just stay up all night and sweat and try to figure out how to move, right? Once they created air conditioning, people started moving to the greater Valley. So everybody’s new, this is a pretty much brand new city. It’s the sixth largest, soon to be the fourth largest city in America, quarter million people are moving here. How many of you are Christians that have been moved into the Valley? You were sent here by God for a mission. You may say, “I came here to golf.” And be a missionary. “I came here to retire.” There is no retirement, dear missionary. “I came here to swim in the pool.” Me too, I love the pool. While you’re in the pool, remember, that you’re taking a break from your mission work. God has the right to move you for mission. And I believe that God has moved a large number of people to Phoenix and He is bringing a quarter million more. And God’s people who are here, are here on divine assignment. And you may say, “This is a harder life, this is not where I want to be. This is not what I was thinking would happen to me.” And the story of the city of Phoenix, the name comes, that there is life out of the ashes and a rebirth of a second chance. And many of you are here because your business died. You’re here because you’re on your second marriage. You’re here because you’re hoping for a better future for your children. You’re here because your life has been difficult and you’re hoping that God would have you here, and God has you here, either to meet Him or if you’ve met Him, to be on mission with Him. None of it was a great city, Phoenix is a great city. Scottsdale is a great city. Gilbert is a great city. Chandler is a great city. Tempe is a great city. Apache Junction is a city, but, I’m just kidding, kind of. Nonetheless, you may not be where you wanted to be, but the question is, are you where God wants you to be? And it is not that we should live our lives in the place that we want to be. We should live our lives in the will of God. And if God’s will is for us to be here, it must be because He wants to do a work in us and He wants to do a work through us so that the great city would hear about the great God. The story continues in Jonah 1:4-10. But the Lord, I love it. God spoke, but Jonah, God’s like “But the Lord.” You may get a word in, God always gets the last word. “But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea.” God just sends a massive storm. “And there was a mighty tempest storm on the sea so that the ship threatened to break up.” The ship can barely handle this storm. If the storm does not subside, then the ship will be torn apart and every one upon it will die. This is a crisis. “Then the Mariners-“, those are the sailors, “Were afraid.” You know, it’s a bad storm when the guys who live on boats are afraid. “And each cried out to his god and they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten over them.” You know, it’s a bad storm when you’re taking all your profits and throwing them away. “But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship down below and had lain down and was fast asleep.” The story continues. “So the captain came and said to him, ‘What do you mean? You sleeper arise, call out to your God. We thought you were the man of God, please pray. You’re no help at all.'” Let me say this Christian, that all Christians are always watching. Your sin involves them and they expect you to pray for them. Jonah just doesn’t have a personal relationship with the Lord. The sailors are feeling like they’re sort of involved, amen? You sinned, the storm came and now we’re in it with you. You need to pray. Dear Christian, your sin involves other people and people who are in hard times in crisis, they expect you to pray for them. So we say, “Well, I don’t feel comfortable praying.” Well, they feel comfortable with you praying. So you need to get to the place of spiritual maturity that they are, amen? They want Jonah to pray to his god because they need help. People who don’t know God, they encounter people who do know God and they asked the people, they long for the people, they desire for the people who do know God, to pray to their god. I have seen a lot of people that don’t wanna talk to me about God, but rarely have I seen a suffering person who says, “Please don’t pray for me.” They are suffering and they’re asking Jonah to be praying. So then it goes on. “They said to one another, come let us cast lots. Let us roll the dice that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us. So they cast lots, they rolled the dice and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, ‘Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation?'” Hey, what do you do for a job? He says, “And where do you come from? What is your country, of what people are you? He said to them, ‘I’m a Hebrew God’s people.'” And then he says, “I fear the Lord.” True or false, that’s not entirely accurate. He probably should take that off his resume, amen? “I’m a God fearing, well, sort of God fearing, well, I used to be a God fearing.” He’s not being obedient. But what he says is, “I fear the Lord.” Which is not altogether true. “The God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.” The God that he’s running away from, who made everything and rules over everything. Here’s what happens, when we sin sometimes we get silly and it makes sense to us, but it doesn’t make any sense to anyone else. The story continues. “The men were exceedingly afraid-” These are the sailors and said to him, “What is this you have done? For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord because he had told them.” Now, let me talk to you here about the sea and sickness and also spirituality. First of all, some of you would just wonder, “Pastor Mark, can you pause for a moment and just explain something from this section of Scripture, there was a word, a phrase, I’m not entirely sure what it means. I think it’s important to the story. Could you please clarify?” Happy to do so for everybody that lives in the Valley. When it uses the word, “Sea” it means a lot of water, okay? I know you’re like “But that’s like a unicorn. I heard of ’em but I didn’t know what was real.” Okay, a sea is… Let me say this, a sea is, imagine this, but way bigger. Okay, that’s a sea, way bigger. So, they’re out in the sea and this massive storm hits the sea and what’s Jonah doing as the storm rages? He is sleeping down in the bow of the boat. Now, it doesn’t exactly tell us why, but let me give you my guess. I think he’s sick. Any of you been seasick? How many of have lived on land your whole life, Well, he’s from Israel, he’s like us. He’s used to living in basically a desert and then he’s on a ship and it’s a massive storm. And as a result, it looks like they’re all going to die. And the sailors are throwing the cargo over the side of the ship. This is a massive storm. How many of you have been on a boat and you got really sick? I can’t even ride the teacup at the fair with my kids without getting a little, okay? I got a sensitive stomach and I’ll tell you what, I was seasick once and it was on this cruise ship. I got to teach on this cruise ship, going to The Bahamas and on the way back, a massive, massive, massive storm hit. And they’re like, “Nobody on the decks, everybody downstairs, go in your room, shut the windows.” I was like, “Okay.” And this ship was literally just surging all day and night. And I felt so sick, every second felt like a month. I mean, I felt so sick. So I was just, I was like, “I just gotta lay down and try to go to sleep and just hopefully live through this.” Have you ever had that experience? So I laid down, I felt so sick. I got off the boat. And how many of you have gotten off a boat and you’re like, “Whoa, what the?” I lost my balance and equilibrium. I thought, “Well, it’ll get better.” And it didn’t get better. It actually continued. I was, I knew there was a problem. I was a place called a video store. How many of you remember the video stores, okay? You young people are like, “What?” Well, okay, before the internet. Okay, before the internet, we used to ride our dinosaurs to the video store. And at the video store, you could rent these plastic discs that had movies. And they had a limited number. And so sometimes he would go in your movie wasn’t there, which is what the Bible means by the word, suffering and perseverance. And so, we would ride our dinosaurs to the video store and we would rent these plastic discs that would show us a movie that would skip. And and so I was at the video store and I was looking for a movie and there was a movie down like second or third row, so I tilted my head and I literally, I literally went down. I’m laying in the… No alcohol, middle of the afternoon, nothing I’m laying in the isle of the video store. This young gal comes up. She’s like, “Are you okay?” I was like, “Obviously not.” I am having a problem with my equilibrium. There’s a serious problem. I can’t tilt my head and stay upright. So I go to my doctor. Doctor’s like, “You’re very dizzy.” “Oh yes.” I agreed and I don’t even have a medical degree, but I think that diagnosis is spot on. “What do we do?” He’s like, “We gotta do tests, put you in a tube, do all these tests, try it out.” Then they called me and they’re like, “We have the diagnosis.” “It’s all good, what do I have?” They looked at me very seriously and said, “You have Mel de Debarquement Syndrome.” I was like, “I have what?” “You’re dizzy.” “Oh, I know, I know, I know.” I said, “Is it curable?” He said, “Just give it time, it’ll get better. But your body got so sick on the boat. It’s gonna take a long time to readjust.” I was like, “Is this right?” He said, “But we’ve read all the medical journals and you’re the only case we can find that’s not a middle aged menopausal woman. “Surely that’s a misdiagnosis. I feel like there’s so much testosterone in one man that I’m dizzy because this much man can’t be contained, no?” No, me and all the menopausal women on cruise ships, we’re all feeling a little dizzy, not good. So here’s what I think. I think that Jonah, I think he’s very, very sick. And what happens to the sailors? They get very, very scared. Let me say this, sometimes when you’re living out of God’s, will it affects you physically and the consequences are not just spiritual and that is Jonah’s experience. And then on this boat as well, who’s there the sailors, what do they feel? Scared, and they get religious and spiritual. They all cry out to their god. like, “You get Allah, you get Jesus, you get mother earth, you just throw up that attaboy, the big guy upstairs. Okay, One, two, three, just everybody throw their prayers up. Any god that can stop the storm, we’re in.” What happens when crisis comes, spiritual people get very devout, briefly, amen? How many of you were like, “God, if you will blank, I promise to never blank again.” Fill in the blank. “God, I’m so serious. I will get baptized 17 times, I will tithe 10, make that 11%, I will do it. I will come forward for the… I will do the sign of the cross. Whoop, I’ll do it while I’m kneeling, whatever it takes, I will do, I will be a pastor, I’ll go to seminar, I’ll be a missionary.” We just start dealing with God bargaining because we’re scared, we’re terrified. We’re filled with fear and dread. But as soon as the crisis passes, so does the religious zeal. You’re like, “Hey, I thought you said you’re gonna like-” “No, it’s over, I’m done.” You know, what ever. And that’s what happens to… How many of you you’ve been in the midst of a crisis and all of a sudden you become very religious, very spiritual, but it’s only as long as there is a crisis. And once the crisis has passed, so has the spirituality, that’s these guys. They don’t understand the love of God, they only understand fear. And the Bible tells us that fear has to do with punishment and that perfect love, casts out fear. That ultimately the story of the Bible is, not that we worship God so that He will not hurt us, but we worship God because He loves us. The story continues, surrendering in the great storms, we read. “Then they said to him-” Jonah, starting in chapter one verse 11. “What shall we do to you?” You’ve created a problem, you’ve involved us in it. “What do we do with you that the sea may quiet down for us? For the sea, grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, ‘Pick me up and hurl me into the sea.'” Can you imagine that? How many of guys do this with your little brother against his will, when he was a kid. You’re at the side of the pool, “One, two, three, good luck.” “Throw me into the sea, then the sea will quiet down for you. For I notice because of me, that this great tempest has come upon you.” The story continues. “Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the Lord.” And this is the real God now. “Oh Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life and lay not on us innocent blood for you oh Lord, have done as it pleased you.” The story continues. “So they picked up Jonah and they hurled him into the sea and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and they made vows.” Some of you have wrongly been taught or have wrongly believed that easy things come from God and hard things come from Satan. Sometimes hard things come from God. Sometimes hard things come from God and the storm has come upon them and what we see is that as the storm rages, nothing changes until those in it, this is crucial, surrender. Your life has had, does have, or will have a crisis. A storm that is thoroughly beyond your ability to manage, to control. You are getting a divorce. It is cancer. You did lose your job. It is infertility. Your friend did betray you. Your company ain’t gonna make it. Your children walked away from the Lord. Your grandchildren walked away from the Lord. You don’t have the money to pay your bills. When a storm comes, it becomes a great storm for those who surrender to the Lord in the midst of the storm. I’m not saying that every storm comes from God, but I’m saying that God is over every storm. It says this in Romans 8:28, that God works out all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. There’s a case study with a man named Joseph in Genesis 50:20, his brothers betrayed him. They denied him, they abandoned him. They left him in a pit, separated from his father and his family. He was ultimately taken as a slave, he was falsely accused, he was wrongly imprisoned and eventually he rose to power. And then this great reconciliation seen in Genesis 50:20. He comes face to face with his brothers. And what he says is this, “What you intended for evil, God used for good and the saving of many lives.” A storm is not a great storm until you surrender to the Lord in the midst of the storm. What the sailors initially try and do, is row against it. That’s what it says. Some of you have been rowing against the word of the Lord in your life. You have sought to literally take the oars of your life and to be in control, to chart your course and destiny. You have a script that you anticipate that God should read and obey. There is a way that you believe that everything should be and work. And what you were rowing against is exhausting. It’s overwhelming, it is crushing because you rowing against God. And the way that the storm becomes a great storm is when we surrender to the will of the Lord in the middle of the storm. This is exactly what Jonah does, and this is what the sailors do. When Jonah says, “Throw me into the sea.” What he is literally saying is, “I surrender to God’s will for my life.” If He wants me to live, I’ll live, if He wants me to die I’ll die.” “I will now-” Jonah is declaring, “Surrender to God’s will for my life.” For the sailors, it says that they cry out to the Lord. They make a vowel, they make a sacrifice. Many commentators would say, this is where they were born again. This is where they met God. This is where they were saved. And for them, they stopped rowing against God and they started surrendering to God. When the word of the Lord comes to you, you can either seek to run from God as Jonah did or row against God as the sailors did. In either event, all you will have is an ever growing increasingly more difficult and overwhelming storm. And in the middle of it, God wants you to reach a place of surrendering to the word of the Lord and the will of the Lord in your life. And it is scary. It had to be terrifying for Jonah to be thrown into a raging sea, knowing that God was angry because of his disobedience. It had to be a frightening moment for the sailors to commit themselves to the God who had brought the storm that nearly destroyed them and they surrendered. And what happens when you surrender in the midst of a storm, it becomes a great storm. And you stop asking this question, “Why God, why God?” You start asking, “Who God do you want me to become in the midst of this storm? Where God do you want me to go as a result of this storm? How God can I love and serve others with the testimony that you will give me because of the storm?” My family and I are here because of a storm. We had a season of great storm and a dear pastor friend that we hold in the highest regard, one of our pastors called and I asked him, I said, “What do I do?” He said, “I don’t know, you need a word from the Lord.” So grace and I prayed,” Lord, what do you want in the middle of this storm?” We were in separate rooms at the house and God spoke to us simultaneously. And we surrendered ourselves, we surrendered our ministry, we surrendered our family, we surrendered our future. We surrendered everything and just said, “Lord, whatever your will is for us, we’re willing to live in your will. And I’m not going to spend the rest of my life running from you or rowing against you.” And God was gloriously good to us. He loved us, He encouraged us, He blessed us. He brought wise people into our life. He encouraged us, He refreshed us, He united us. He did a work in us and He moved us. Just like He’s gonna do a work in Jonah and move him to Nineveh. And we find ourselves in Phoenix. And the good news is, we love it here and we love you. And I’m glad I didn’t have to take a fish to get here. But my question to you, dear friend, is this, have you surrendered to the Lord in the midst of your storm? Have you surrendered to God’s will? Somebody asked me recently, he said, “How are you doing?” I was like, “I have no idea. He said, “How’s it going?” I said, “I have no idea.” They said, “What do you think will happen when you launch the church?” “Again I have no idea.” But I do know this, I’m living in the will of God. And so I sleep pretty good. And I’m excited to see what happens. For those of you that fear the will of God, don’t run from the will of God. Don’t row against the will of God, in the midst of the storm, trust the will of God, surrender to the will of God. And you will find that that storm becomes a great storm because of the goodness of God. I promise you, I promise you, I promise you that this is not just what happened, this is what happens to everyone who surrenders to the Lord. The transition verse appears next chapter one, verse 17. And I want you to know that Jesus is the greater Jonah. Jonah 1:17, “And the Lord, the Lord appointed a great fish.” There’s the sovereign fish, don’t you love it? There’s the boat, there’s the fish. Some of you you’ve been running from God. You haven’t created any distance, He’s really fast. You turn around you’re like, “You’re still here?” I mean, give up, right? You can run, but you can’t outrun the love of God. “The Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” We see this theme in the Bible that sin is running from God. And the grace of God, is God pursuing the sinner. You need to know that, that’s how this works. You’re not seeking God, God seeking you. You’re not running toward God, God’s running toward you. You’re not pursuing God, God’s pursuing you. And so as Jonah runs God pursues in the form of a fish. And then the question that many of you I’m sure are having, is this… How many of you, let’s just be honest, can we be honest? How many of you wondered “Like, did this really happen? Like, I went to community college, these things aren’t supposed to happen. I know back in the olden days, when they married their sister and they didn’t read ’cause they didn’t book learning. You know, they thought that a fish was a good way to travel. But you know, now today that I’ve been to community college and I’m educated, and I don’t think that that problem…” How many of you really, you struggled to believe that this happened? Or you’re like, “I’m not sure it happened.” Or “Maybe it’s an allegory for the storms of life.” And you know, did this really happen? Did this really happen? Now I will give you this, If it did, it’s unusual. I will give you that. That’s why we call it a miracle instead of a Tuesday. It’s unusual, amen? So what we wanna do now is we want to ask the question, “Did this really happen?” To answer that question, we need the word of the Lord. We need God to tell us whether or not this really happened. So we’re gonna hear from the highest authority in all of human history, the man of whom more books have been written, more songs have been song, more paintings have been painted and more lives have been surrendered than anyone who has lived in the history of the world. He is so significant that history is divided into two parts, BC and AD, before Christ and Anno Domini, The year of Our Lord. He is literally the hinge on which all of human history swings. He has affected more people. Billions, call him Lord, God, savior, King to this very day. And He is the only major religious leader in the history of the world to say that He was God. So we’re gonna hear the word of the Lord. And these are the words of the Lord, Jesus Christ. And since faith comes by hearing the word of God, I want you to just open your ears so that God can open your heart, to hear the words of Jesus. Matthew 12:38-41, some of the scribes and Pharisees, just you know, those are religious people. Some of you here, your non-Christian, you wouldn’t wonder, “Are they trying to make me religious.” No, don’t become religious. The religious people murdered God, that’s not our team. “The scribes and the Pharisees answered Jesus saying, ‘Teacher wish to see a sign from you, prove it, do something, show us who you are.’ but he answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no signs shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.'” Jesus believes in Jonah, that he really lived. For just as, just as, just as Jesus says, “Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish. So the son of man,-” speaking of himself, “Be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, the men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it for they repented at the preaching of Jonah and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” Jesus says that Jonah lived. Jesus says that Jonah spent three days and nights in the fish. Jesus says, that as Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights, that he would be in the grave three days and three nights. And Jesus says that he is the greater Jonah. Welcome to the Trinity church, I love my job. I get to tell you this great truth. This is the book that God wrote. This is the only perfect thing on the earth. This is the word of the Lord. And it’s not a bunch of stories, it’s one story. It doesn’t have a bunch of heroes, it has one hero. The entire Scripture is about the person and the work of the King of kings, the Lord of lords, our great God and savior, Jesus Christ. And Jesus comes and he tells us and he teaches us and he reveals to us that the whole purpose and the trajectory, the telios, the aim, the goal, the objective of Jonah was to point us to the coming of Jesus. And so let me tell you how Jonah is the greater Jesus. This is such a great job. I love you, I love this book, I love Jesus. I love preaching and teaching and I love telling you about Jesus. So thanks for coming. All right, here we go, Jesus is the greater Jonah. A word from God came to Jonah, but Jesus came as the word of God. Jonah ran from the Lord’s presence, but Jesus came to bring the Lord’s presence. Jonah was a sinner who ran from God, Jesus is the God who runs after sinners. Jonah rather came as a Hebrew sinner. Jesus came as a Hebrew savior. Jonah slept in a stormy boat because he was overwhelmed. Jesus slept in a stormy boat because he was at peace. Jonah could not command a storm to calm, but Jesus commanded a storm to calm. Jonah was thrown into the sea to appease the wrath of God, Jesus was thrown into the ground to appease the wrath of God. The pagan sought to save Jonah’s life, but the pagans sought to end Jesus’ life. Because of Jonah, some were saved from one nation because of Jesus, multitudes are saved from every nation. Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. But Jonah was in the grave. Jesus rather, was in the grave, three days and three nights. Jonah was thrown into the storm of God’s wrath for one time, Jesus was thrown into the storm of God’s wrath for all time. Jonah needed a savior and Jesus is Jonah’s savior. The word of the Lord to you today, is surrender to Jesus. If you are here and you are a Christian, we do that by partaking of communion. That Jesus is the greater Jonah, that He is God become a man. That He lived the life I have not lived. He died the death I should have died. He gives the gift I cannot earn. And when we partake, we remember His broken body and shed blood, and we surrender. We are saying, “Jesus, my life to you, my sin to you, my family, to you, my finances to you, my eternal destiny, my life and legacy to you, I surrender.” And as God’s people, all of you are Christian, you’re welcome to partake of communion. And that is your way of publicly showing your surrender to God. Secondly, we show our surrender through baptism. As Jesus was buried, and three days later brought forth, so Christians are to be buried in the waters of baptism, raised in newness of life with Christ as water cleanses us from filth, so Jesus cleanses us from sin. And if you’ve never surrendered in the waters of baptism, you need to do as Jonah did. And you need to throw yourself into the waters and surrender to the Lord. And we’ll do that through baptism today. So if you’re a Christian who’s never been baptized, we’d love to meet you in the back. Pray with you, answer questions, talk with you. Some of you say, “I didn’t bring shorts. I didn’t bring a T-shirt, I don’t have a towel.” We did, God told you, you need to be baptized and we’re all ready for you, we love you. If you have questions about Jesus, If right now is the day of your salvation, the moment that you surrender to Jesus, where you stop rebelling against God, running from God, rowing against God. We wanna talk to, we wanna pray for you, we love you. We wanna serve you, we want you to surrender, and like Jonah say, “Throw me in the water. My life belongs to the Lord and I surrender it all to Him.” Lastly, and then yes, you could celebrate as we do that. Lastly, we’re gonna worship Jesus. Who’s not dead, He’s alive. He’s ruling and reigning He’s high and exalted. He’s seated on a throne, He is saving sinners. He is seeking rebels, He is in every way, giving us a revelation of His great love, His deep affection and His tremendous power. And what we want to do today in worship, is not run from the Lord as Jonah did running from the presence of the Lord, we want to repent, turn around in worship. We want to run to the Lord. We run to the presence of the Lord in worship and worship is where we come into the presence of God. And that’s where surrendered people And what they do, is they raise their hands to show that He is worthy. He is the Lord over the storm, and that we have surrendered in the midst of the storm, trusting Him to make it a great storm. Lord Jesus, as we come to you in communion, as we come to you in baptism, as we come to you in worship, we thank you that you are the Lord. You are the Lord of the story of the life of Jonah. You are the Lord of the story of our life. Lord, I pray for my friends. I pray that they would know that I love them and I care for them and I sympathize with them and I empathize with them and I broken hearted with them. And I weep with them for the storms that they are in. Lord, I pray also that they would know that surrendering to you is the only way that the storm becomes a great storm. May they be able to trust you. Maybe they’d be able to know that you are good. God, for those who don’t know you, I pray that they would come to know you right now as the sailors did. For those that have been running from you, I pray that they would return to you as Jonah did. For those who are rowing against you, seeking to carve a path for their life that is not your will, I pray that they would drop their oars and that instead they would raise their hands in surrender and worship. Holy Spirit, please fill this place. Please fill us with your presence. Jonah ran from your presence, today we run to your presence. It is there we find the word of the Lord. It is there we find the forgiveness of the Lord. It is there we find the healing of the Lord. Lord Jesus, you are that Lord. We thank you, amen.