Here’s my sermon notes from Jonah 1 “The Unexpected Mercy of God” preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship on 1/15/23. The audio can be found here.
Jonah 1 “The Unexpected Mercy of God” (1/15/23)
Intro: I’m not sure what you think of when you hear about the book of Jonah. Most likely you think of a WHALE.
-Jonah is much more than this: it is an inspired book from God that teaches us about God, and particularly God’s mercy!
-The book of Jonah focuses on God’s relationship w/Jonah, and his mercy & other IN SPITE of Jonah!
–Main theme in Jonah is God’s mercy for His people and all who call on him.
CONTEXT: Jonah was a prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 750 B.C.
-Jeroboam II was king, and it was time of physical prosperity, but spiritual decline.
-2 King 14:23-29 refers to a prophecy Jonah made about borders expanding, and it happened.
-In this context, we see all the events of the book come to pass.
TODAY=Ch 1: Jonah’s calling, his disobedience, and God’s pursuit of Jonah even in his disobedience.
-What we see though is God’s mercy coming about in unexpected ways!
-God’s mercy comes to Jonah even in his disobedience; it comes to sailors in the midst of terrifying storm
*M.S. God’s mercy often comes to us in unexpected ways!
-Jonah’s Call (READ 1-2):
–“Word of Lord came to Jonah…” Jonah was a prophet and God spoke his message through him.
-This particular message and mission was new for Jonah: go to Nineveh and proclaim God’s message.
-Nineveh was a great city in the pagan nation Assyria (Israel’s enemies)
-Assyria was known for extreme cruelty and violence.
-“Their evil has come up before” God.
-All sin, in every nation, is ultimately against God—the one true God, who is the God of Israel.
-God wants Jonah to go and preach his message there!
*THE CHALLENGE OF THIS for Jonah…
-The Assyrians were Israel’s enemies! (equivalent of Ukrainian Christian going to be missionary in Russia).
-Jonah had a successful ministry in Israel
-This would have been a very difficult calling for Jonah.
-Jonah’s Response to God’s Call (READ 3)
-How did Jonah respond to God’s call? Disobedience. He ‘fled away from presence of the LORD’
-Tarshish is the opposite direction of Nineveh, and far away from it.
-Sinclair Ferguson: ‘Jonah is in a state of spiritual decline.’
-Disobedience, not pursuing God’s presence and obeying Him, but fleeing from obedience to God.
-Jonah knew that God was omnipresent, but He was fleeing his land the task set before him.
*QUESTION: Are you in a state of spiritual decline? Are you intentionally disobeying God?
-Are there areas of sin in your life that you are refusing to let go of?
-God Mercifully Frustrates Jonah’s Sinful Plan to Disobey (READ 4)
-God mercifully frustrates Jonah’s attempt to flee by sending a storm
-Consider God’s great power: power over weather and sea
–NOTE: God’s words are not optional. He is God and king & his law is authoritative!
*ABSURDITY and FOOLISHNESS of Disobeying and going against God
*OBSERVATION: How often are we just like Jonah! (Marriage, parenting, singleness, etc).
An Unexpected Mercy is experienced by the sailors (5-17)
v5 -Mariners (sailors) recognized they needed a higher power 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god.
–NOTE: Crying out to their own gods, not the LORD.
-They also tried to fix situation (hurled the cargo that was in the ship)
-Jonah did not do his part to help or evangelize: (But Jonah had gone down… and had lain down and was fast asleep.)
-We see his disobedience to God now leading to selfishness.
(One sin always leads to another!)
v6 -Pagan Captain Rebukes the Prophet Jonah (So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper?)
-Calls Jonah to pray! (Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.)
-The pagan captain is acting more godly than Jonah!
v7 -Sailors cast lots to find out why this situation has come upon them.
-They understood that we live in a supernatural world
-They recognized they were under some kind of divine judgment
-Lot fell on Jonah.
-God sovereignly allowed Jonah to be exposed and found out! (Prov 16:33)
v8 -Sailors interrogate Jonah (Then they said to him…)
v9 -Jonah reveals his identity (“I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”)
-“fear the LORD”= LORD=Yahweh, the God of Israel, the true God, Creator of the universe.
-“fear the LORD” an important phrase in Bible to speak of sincere commitment and devotion to God
-Reverential, affectionate submission. Treating God as God.
-So far Jonah has not displayed fear of the LORD, but expressed it in name
-“the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
-The unique person of the LORD, not a territorial god, but the God over all!
v10 -Sailors are terrified! (exceedingly afraid)
-Jonah informed them that he was fleeing from God (fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.) 2 THINGS: -We too ought to fear God. He is infinitely powerful and we utterly accountable to Him.
–One’s sinful actions impact others. Jonah’s sin made life difficult for the sailors.
v11 -Sailors ask Jonah what to do and recognize they need a divine solution (“What shall we do to you…)
-Situation was getting worse (For the sea grew more and more tempestuous.)
v12 -Jonah instructs them to throw him in the sea (Pick me up and hurl me into the sea;)
-Perhaps God has let him know this will bring about a solution (then the sea will quiet down for you)
-Jonah knows he is to blame (I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.”)
v13 -The sailors sacrificially try to save Jonah (the men rowed hard to get back to dry land,)
-But all human attempts could not save situation (but they could not)
v14 -The pagan sailors turn to the LORD! (Therefore they called out to the LORD,)
-NOTE: “LORD” is Yahweh!
–CONSIDER the PRAYER of the sailors:
-To the true God: O LORD
-Humble: “let us not perish for this man’s life.”
-Pleading for mercy “lay not on us innocent blood”
-Recognizing God’s sovereignty: “for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.”
v15 -In faith they acted (So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea,)
-They saw God respond (and the sea ceased from its raging.)
-We see storm really was God’s judging/disciplining of Jonah!
v16 -The Sailors express sincere devotion and fruit of conversion
–“fear the LORD exceedingly” Jonah claimed to fear the LORD, but these sailors really did
-“offered a sacrifice to the LORD”: Sailor’s worship to God
-“made vows”: Sailors’ commitment to follow the LORD
SUMMARY: The Sailors Experienced God’s mercy in an unexpected way! God’s mercy often comes in unexpected ways!
-It was unplanned on their part (they did not go to sea to be converted!)
-It came about in part due to the sin of Jonah (prophet’s disobedience), and not due to Jonah’s evangelism
-Sailors experience God’s mercy in salvation, in spite of Jonah, as they called to God in faith!
*IMPLICATION: God really is the one who brings about salvation, not us.
-Not excuse to do evangelism poorly… (Don’t be like Jonah!)
-BUT gives us hope that God will save those around us, not us. (God saves others in spite of us!)
-JONAH Also experienced God’s Unexpected Mercy (READ v17)
-Jonah cast into the sea, but God appointed great fish to rescue him form certain death
-We’ll consider this more next week along with chapter 2.
-CONSIDER THE Unexpected MERCY OF GOD FRUSTRATING JONAH’S PLANS
-Jonah was disobeying God, but God did not give up on Jonah (God powerfully frustrated Jonah’s plans)
-God often brings pain, frustration, and difficulty to His people who disobey and sin against Him. -Even sickness and death can be this (1 Cor 11:29-30).
-God will finish the good work He began in us (Phil 1:7)
*IMPLICATION: If you are a Christian, God will mercifully peruse even after you disobey him.
NOTE: This does mean you can presume on God’s grace, and just sin away. (Rom 6àwe’ve been united to Christ!)
-BUT, it gives us hope as we remember our own failures to obey. God is still merciful to us, even as he disciples us!
God’s mercy often comes in unexpected ways to His people!
*CONCLUSION: GOSPEL shows us God’s UNEXPECTED MERCY:
-God’s people expected a conquering Messiah, but instead had a servant.
-Jesus saved his people by dying for them.
-If we place our faith in him, we experience God’s mercy.
PRAISE GOD FOR HIS UNEXPECTED MERCY!