Jonah – Lessons from the Runaway Preacher
102: Hide and Seek
-> I love a good game of hide and seek… especially with my boys… it truly is a highlight
-> It starts with me usually finding some obscure place to hide. Usually somewhere in the basement. And then I listen…. The conversation between them is usually more entertaining than the hiding part… EX) “Dad would never hide in that spot… he is too ‘big’ “. What is great is when they walk right by me, cant find me, and leave the basement all together.
-> Then I sit just inside the closed basement door, in the dark stairway, and wait. When they cant find me anywhere else, they decide to give the basement one more check, and I am waiting.
-> As soon as they open the door, I let out a yell, they jump off the floor, shriek, slam the door, run away, laugh, and come back for more. I could do that all day.
-> Hide and seek is a fun game. Do we ever play hide and seek with life though? How many of us have ever had one of those days, or weeks, or years where we just want to hide because the difficulty of our lives is too much?
-> Tension is this: It seems easier to hide than face what we don’t want to deal with.
-> Do we do the same in how we respond to God? God loves you very much. He pursues you in relationship. He wants to show His love to you and through you to others. In order to experience the fullness of His love, and to see His love in action through you to others, He is going to ask you to do what He asks you to do. At times, we will struggle because of ourselves and what we think and want. Maybe God is asking you to do something that is not on your top ten list of what you want to do. Maybe not even on bottom of list… Maybe it makes no sense, is uncomfortable, is getting in the way of you having the life that you want, or maybe it just makes you mad. And that rather than obey God, it is easier to hide. But, can we hide from God?
God sees you where you are
-> Whatever our reason, we may try to hide, but God. In His love always knows where we are.
-> Get you to flip to Jonah 1:3… As you are turning there, quick recap of last week for those who were away. Introduced to Jonah, a prophet of God who lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the 8th C BC during the rule of Jeroboam II.
-> Lived during time of Assyrians who were known for their wickedness, cruelty, and brutal oppression of the people in Israel. The capital city of the empire was Ninevah, and it was especially wicked, enough so that it “reached the ears of God”.
-> God, because of their evil, acts… calls on Jonah as a prophet to deliver a message of judgement on them, of destruction (with the hope that they would repent).
-> There are a couple key themes / questions that work their way through the book of Jonah:
a) Jonah is about the grace of God on people who don’t deserve it.
b) Did Jonah need saving as much as Nineveh did?
Read Jonah 1:3-4
1) God sees us and interrupts our hiding
-> Looked at this a bit last week, so I don’t want to spend too much time on it. Ninevah was wicked, and in Jonah’s world view, didn’t need to hear the message of destruction from God because if they heard it, God’s mercy and love for a wicked people would get in the way and they might get spared of the destruction Jonah felt they deserved (Jonah 4). Jonah would be the vehicle of repentance and relationship.
-> Remember the map from last week? Rather than going to the far east part of the known world (Ninevah – Mosul Iraq), Jonah runs to Tarshish (Spain) instead on the far west corner of the known world. Gets as far physically away from where God was calling, walked as far away from his calling and job as a prophet, and tried to hide from God.
-> Jonah is in the boat, and what happens? God brings a violent storm to interrupt the journey to Tarshish. I don’t think it was meant as a punishment to Jonah, but as a wake up call. “Hey, I love you, and them. I have a plan for you that is also for them. Because of love, I need you.”
-> Crazy question… did God have to send out the Jerusalem coast guard to search the waters? Did he have to scramble the Holy Hebrew Air Squadron to do an aerial search? Did he have to put an app on Jonah’s cell phone so that a GPS could pinpoint for God where Jonah was? NO – other than the fact that these things weren’t around then… why? Because He is God and knows all things at all times. None of this was a surprise to God.
-> Jonah bought into crazy lie and deception that He could hide from God… that essentially he could be his own god and do whatever he wanted in this case. Really, as a prophet of God, Jonah knew better… but in his frustration, ignored all wisdom and did something really futile and useless.. tried to hide from God.
-> One question: If this verse is true, can anyone ever hide from God’s presence?
-> Because God loves us very much, we are never out of His sights.
-> Jonah tried, and God had to remind him that no amount of running would do the trick. He sent a storm to remind Jonah that He was still watching Jonah, that He loved Jonah, and had a plan for his life. Jonah needed to return and embrace God’s love and plan.
-> How about you? If you are hiding from God this morning, why? What is it going to accomplish? God, in His love, sees you now. Do you think that you can hide from God’s love and plan for you?
Read Jonah 1:5-16
2) God breaks through our hiding as an opportunity for grace.
-> VS 4-5a, we already see how God personally caused this storm to come on the boat… one violent enough that the boat risked being destroyed. A storm that caused a lot of panic on the deck of the ship. Sailors were worried that they would die, and in desperation are calling out to their idols and gods to save them. They through cargo overboard… anything to help. Mass panic and chaos on the boat…. WHY? So that they would be interrupted in going to Tarshish, and God could, in His grace, get a hold of Jonah. As crazy as it was, the storm was an opportunity for grace.
-> VS 5a-6: Where is Jonah? Sleeping… in the inside of the ship… how heavy of a sleeper is he?? How could he sleep at this time? This makes an interesting comparison actually:
a) Jonah sleeping and ignoring the storm paralleled his heart sleeping to the promptings of grace.
-> Just like Jonah was sleeping and ignoring the storm, the grace of God was nudging him to go to Nineveh… yet he chose to let his heart sleep through that too.
-> When the grace of God has been received in your life, it always produces something… it always causes change… and it always causes action. The grace of God in you is what drives you to be and share God’s grace with others. Grace of God was given to Jonah, and was now trying to produce in Jonah’s life, but much like the storm, he ignored it and kept sleeping in his own sense of self righteousness.
-> Captain calls out to Jonah to wake up and start praying to his God, most likely in a panic, because at this point they are running out of options… Notice how God breaks though in this situation (beyond just the storm)…
-> In vs. 7-12 what does God do? He works through the casting of lots so that Jonah gets pointed out and Jonah has to come clean with His disobedience. Why? Because as long as we live in our disobedience, we get in the way of the message of grace.
-> Jonah comes clean that he serves the One True God, and somewhere in there it is implied that he told them he was running from God.
b) Will we embrace grace?
-> There are two polar opposite responses when given the chance to embrace grace.
-> Notice the salior’s response? Even though these guys don’t worship God, they grasp holy fear of Him. They no doubt have heard stories of the might and power of the God of Israel. They have, no doubt heard that this Almighty God can do what no other idol or created god can do. They know enough about God even as pagans to realize holy fear… and confront Jonah’s sin head on… The end up throwing Jonah overboard, and the storm calms. They are spared.
-> All these interruptions to the travel plans were no coincidence… the storm, the casting of lots, the throwing of Jonah overboard… all for God’s purpose. Yes, the one purpose was to give Jonah a reality check, but what about the sailors too? It sure seems that God orchestrated all of this for their benefit too.
-> Vs 16 – we see former idol worshipping pagan sailors, so overcome with holy respect and fear for God (after seeing first hand His amazing power) that they offer sacrifices to Him and make vows to Him. God broke through Jonah’s hiding, and used it as a chance to interrupt their lives to convince the sailors to come to Him and serve Him instead of their empty powerless idols who could not save them. He extended GRACE. They embraced GRACE.
-> What’s Jonah’s response? Throw me into the sea and things will be calm…. It is my fault. Yes, he is taking responsibility for his choices, but do you notice that his attitude hasn’t changed? What would have happened if Jonah repented to God and promised to go to Nineveh? When faced with the power and presence of the Almighty God, Jonah, in his stubbornness and sin, still refuses God’s grace offered to him, and the chance to share a message that could result in God’s grace to the people of Nineveh. He never repents! He refuses to go! He is still hiding from God!
3) Even when we continue to hide, God does not give up on us.
-> Jonah is thrown overboard. His hiding from God and continued hard heart towards God’s grace on the Ninevites has brought him to the end of his very life. The waves and stormy waters have overtaken him, and he is sinking to the depths of the sea. It would appear that God has finally given up on him…Or has He?
-> Even though Jonah continued to hide in his rebellion and hard heartedness, God did not give up on him, and still, in love pursued him, this time with a giant fish that swallowed him and kept him safe. But more about that next week.
-> All you need to see today is that God still did not give up on Jonah even though he continued to hide to the point of his very life almost ending.
God sees you where you are
-> Are you hiding from God today? Is there something that He is asking you to do, and rather than live in His love and grace, and obey, you are choosing to hide instead? Rather than obey, you are choosing to do your own thing apart from God? Maybe your choice to hide looks more appealing, more comfortable, better for you in the long term, easier, etc….
-> How is God interrupting your hiding right now? Is God speaking to you personally and showing you it is time for you to come out of hiding and return to obedience? Maybe He is using a person, situation, or even just wrestling with you inside… and you know it is time to obey – time to follow – time to do what God is asking you.
-> Are you like Jonah or like the sailors? Will you, like Jonah, continue in your rebellion and keep hiding? Will you continue to walk away God’s love and grace for you? Will you continue to walk away from God’s plan for you where you can be used to share His love and grace with others? Or will you, like the sailors, realize that on your own your ways are empty, are a dead end, and will lead you to disappointment and desperation – and instead embrace God’s love and grace for you today? Will you stop hiding and choose to be found by the God who already sees you?