The Book of Jonah: A mini-series
A Disobedient Missionary Meets a Sovereign God
27 September 2015
How foolish it is of believers to turn against the will of a sovereign and benevolent God - and yet, so often, that is exactly what we do. This sermon examines Jonah’s first flight from God, and the Lord’s total sovereignty over nature, events, and salvation.
Jonah had run from his call to preach to the Ninevites, part of the enemy nation of Assyria. He did not wish the Ninevites to hear the message and repent; so he boarded a ship going the opposite way. For Jonah to run from God was to show his hardened heart, and a foundational misunderstanding of the sovereignty of God.
God is sovereign over nature (v. 4-6)
Although Jonah had run from his call, God was merciful in not allowing him to stray too far. After Jonah had boarded, “Yahweh sent out a great wind on the sea... so that the ship was likely to break up” (v.4). Quickly, the pagan sailors each “cried to his god”. 5) - but Jonah was asleep. The sailors’ efforts having failed, they went to Jonah, and told him to pray also. In raising the storm, God caused the pagan sailors to confront Jonah’s disobedience.
God is sovereign over circumstances (v. 7-12)
After the sailors confronted Jonah, “They all said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know who is responsible for this evil that is on us”” (v. 7) - and God caused the lot to fall on Jonah. Pressing him for answers, Jonah soon told the pagans about his God - the exact thing he wanted to avoid all along! God will always accomplish His will - how much better to work with Him, and find joy in doing His will.
The Lord is sovereign over the salvation of sinners (v. 13-16)
As the storm kept raging, the sailors tried to keep going - but the storm worsened. Soon, the sailors turned to pray to God, and then threw Jonah “into the sea; and the sea ceased its raging. Then the men feared Yahweh exceedingly” (v. 16). In spite of, and even using Jonah’s disobedience, God caused the hearts of pagans to turn to Him.
God is sovereign over all things, and man cannot stop His plans. When believers turn against the will of God, God will discipline them in order to turn them around. How much better though, for us to be working alongside this sovereign, benevolent God of ours.