It is good to be with you. I have two complaints. The first is this ain't swimmin weather. Oh, wow. And the second is that I got introduced as an old head. Well, it is wonderful what we've just song I was sitting there thinking, I ought to just get up and rather than preaching say, just live what we just sang, and you'll be fine. But I'm going to preach.
I want to get you to think about three of the most important words ever written. These three words have the power to change Everything about you and everything about your life. These three words are the sole hope you have in this life and the life to come. These three words will mess up your life will rock your world will divert your plans. But the three most glorious words you could ever consider. I want you to turn in your Bibles to the book of Jonah or your iPhone or your iPad, or whatever weird said off brand you're carrying. Sorry.
If you're still carrying one of those old Samsung Note sevens, please leave the room you're about to explode. Now you have to ask yourself why Jonah is in the Bible. It's listed among the Minor Prophets. But there's almost no prophecy in Jonah. And it's only 48 verses in this weird story about this man and a fish What in the world? Why in the world is Jonah in the Bible? Yeah, it's an interesting story. But why would I want to propose to you that all of the core elements of the redemptive story, all of the core elements of a biblical worldview are in Jonah in a podcast. It's incredible. And Jonah, we're presented with a God of awesome incalculable glory, the glory of God that's in the pages of Jonah, if it doesn't blow your mind, you are seriously comatose and Jonah were presented with the reality that you in eyes were created to live for something vastly bigger than ourselves. The selfishness of sin causes us to shrink the world down to the claustrophobic confines of our wants our needs our feelings. It's deeply immoral it's profoundly perverse, because I was never meant to be in the middle of my story. God is and I was meant to live for glory greater than the glory of whatever is exciting me on a particular day.
Everyone in this room is a girl glory thief. Every one of us. Third thing is the deep dark reality of a sin broken world. A world that doesn't function the way God intended for function and and and Jonah we see sin both individually and court We see the tragedy of sin and what sin does to us the way it messes up the way that we think and the way we desire and the way that we act. It's a broken, broken, broken world. How can you not notice the brokenness inside of you and the brokenness around you? It's everywhere, all of the suffering and all of the pain and all the disappointment, all of that is connected to the fact that sin is in our world. It is the tragedy of history.
But there's a fourth theme. It's the presence of unrelenting rescuing forgiving, empowering, transforming and delivering grace. You could argue that if the book of Jonah is anything, it's a it's a treatise on the power of God's rescuing and transforming grace, every element of the redemptive story. Every major theme of a Christian worldview is there in Jonah in 48 verses. It's magnificent writing, I'm a writer, Jonah makes me want to put down my computer and not write anymore. Because how could all of this be packed into this one little narrative? That's why Jonah is in your Bible. Now look with me at the first three verses of Jonah. Yes, it is true. I'm going to preach the whole book. Call your bosses. You won't be there tomorrow.
Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of amortise saying arising go to Nineveh, that great city and call out against it, for their evil has come before me. But Jonah rose to fleet a tortious from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarsus. So he paid the fare and went down into it to go with him to Tarsus away from the presence of the Lord. God calls Jonah to proclaim His message. In the great city of Nineveh. Nineveh was probably one of the largest cities of its generation. Jonah was a country boy, small town boy called to a big city. What God was calling Jonah to and Jonah's view was unthinkable. How could God care about these awful evil people there is definitely ethnic animosity inside of Jonah. And so he runs and goes in the opposite direction.
Don't be too hard on Jonah. Because everyone in this room has moments. When you run from God hears this. It's so easy to start and Jonah and to say to yourself, if I had been Jonah, I wouldn't have run from God. Listen, running is seldom a matter of location. If you're a husband and you've been called to love your wife as Christ loved the church, and you're now yelling at your wife, because she's gotten the way of something that you want, you are running from God.
If you're a parent, and you're yanking your child down to down the hallway and an act of parents of violence, yeah, you heard what I said act a parent of violence because that's not biblical correction. That's not filled with grace. You are running from God. If you're up on your computer, and you're going to websites that you have no business going to, you are running from God. If you're spinning your set into debt, unwilling, unable to contribute to the work of the kingdom of God because you love your material stuff you are running from God. If you're willing to fight with your neighbor over six inches of property, forgetting that they have a soul and you're meant to display the gospel to them, you are running from God. If you're in your office, gossiping about your boss, you're running from God.
And Jonas says this to himself, he says, I can escape the presence of God. Listen, if in any moment you think that anything in your life can escape the presence of God, you are now in a moment of spiritual insanity because no way ever you'll escape God's presence. Jonah goes as far as he can. In his view of geography Tarshish is the other end of the world and yet he cannot escape the presence of God you cannot escape the presence of God. I would ask you this morning in this holy moment that we have be honest, where this week where you running from God?
Where did you claim your life as if it belongs to you, and you have the right to do whatever you want to do. This is one of the principal lies of sin is the lie of autonomy. My life belongs to me and I can do with my life what I want to do you see that in, in young children.
Listen, when your child is fighting you because they don't want to eat the piece that you have prepared for them. Don't think that's about diet. This child hasn't read a Diet book and said, You know, I want to follow the keto diet. This child doesn't know anything about diet. This is autonomy. This job is saying this, this life belongs to me and you will not tell me what to do. Parents fight those battles, because they're not about food. They're vital the lie from the pit of hell that your child is believing running from God. Now I have a confession to make.
If I had been on the choice, joystick in control of this narrative, it would have ended in three verses. Jonah, you run from me, you're done. I got plenty of profits. But that's not our Lord. And what follows is those three words, "but the Lord."
But the Lord there would have been no promise of redemption in Genesis three, but the Lord there would have been no covenant to Abraham, but the Lord there would have been no given of the law. But the Lord the wind been no repeated Ministry of the prophets, but the Lord there would have been no incarnation, but the Lord there would have been no righteous life of Christ, but the Lord's or would have been no cross but the Lord that would have been no resurrection, but the Lord there would have been no ascension, but the Lord there have been no creation of the church, but the Lord there would be no Bible in our hands, but the Lord you wouldn't be in this Pew, but the Lord but the Lord but the Lord the story turns not because Jonah got his act together. Don't ever tell anybody to get their act together.
That's what we're depending on. We're damned. This man wasn't seeking God. He wasn't wanting God. He was Running from God, there is no morality in this man. But the Lord. But the Lord.
God sends a storm, the guys the boat are terrified. They find Jonah in the bottom of the boat sleeping in they decided to cast lots to see if they can figure out why this is happening. It's these guys are just scared to death. They don't have a worldview that helps them to understand what's going on here. They're way beyond anything that they understand. And they come to to Jonah and they say this. Tell us on whose account is evil has come upon us. What is your occupation Where do you come from? What is your country? And what people are you? And he said to them, I am a Hebrew, I fear the LORD, the God of heaven. Now think about this. These guys ask the obvious question, okay. Where are you from? And tell us about yourself and Jonah says this, I am a Hebrew. Now listen. And he says, These words, I fear the LORD, the God of heaven. Does that sound weird to you? Then ought to be like fingernail scratch on a blackboard to you. I fear the God of heaven. There doesn't seem to be any fear of God in this man. Listen here what I'm about to say this will help you. There can often be a broad and deep separation. dichotomy between our confessional theology and our actual theology. Listen, what you actually believe is what you live. And and I want to say something to you that may surprise you. But the enemy of your soul is willing to give you your formal theology if he can control your heart. Maybe the one of the ways he deceives us is by letting us be comfortable with this formal theology that doesn't impact our lives.
How big of a gap is there between what you say you believe, believe and how you actually live. It's possible as a parent, to celebrate the grace of God and in the car on the way home from the service be be a parent of unbrace it's possible to celebrate the Forgiving love of God and carry grudges and holding bitterness in my everyday life. How much separation is there in your world between your confession of theology and actually the belief that is your true belief that you live every day in your life? Lord, help us. Help us. Help us not to be satisfied with that gap. Help us to cry out for the grace to enable us to live every shred of the formal confession that defines what we believe.
Well, you know the story they end up throwing Jonah in those troubled waters. And it seems like it's the end. And then it says this. I love these words so much. I love the specificity of the words of the Bible, and the Lord. What's the next word? Appointed.
This is verse 17. A great fish to swallow up, Jonah. The Lord. What's the word? Here is how deep and how full the sovereignty of God is. That God is in such absolute, unshakable, unstoppable control of every shred of his universe, every situation, every location, every physical thing that still has breath, that he can actually command a single fish in the ocean of billions of fish and that fish will do his bidding. If you don't believe that you do not believe what the Bible says about the lord of Lord and the King of kings. He is just that sovereign. You cannot enter a situation you cannot enter a circumstance you cannot enter. Enter a location that isn't first ruled by King Christ.
Now why is that important? I want to give you a principle here because the reliability of God's promise This is directly connected to the extent of his sovereignty. Let me say that again. the reliability of God's promises to you those promises that you hang on those promises you built your life on the reliability of God's promises is connected to the extent of his sovereignty. Listen, you can only deliver promises in situations over what you have control. I can make promises in my home, because I have control there. But I can't fulfill those promises my neighbor's home because I have no control there. If you struggle with the sovereignty of God, you need to remember that that sovereignty is your guarantee of the delivery of the promises you don't actually struggle with. Because if he's not completely sovereign, then there is a possibility I can step outside of the extent of his sovereignty and I will have no guarantee that his promises will be delivered.
We should stop and take in in this moment, the glory of those words, and the Lord appointed a fish. There is glory so deep, you will never reach the bottom of it in those words. And then in verse in chapter two, we get to eavesdrop on what happens inside of the belly of that fish it's amazing again I the patience of the Lord with this man and what you what's wonderful as you're listening to the This prayer is you see the power of God to turn the heart of this man. I love that we get to eavesdrop on this conversation because the prayer of Jonah starts rather euphemistically. It starts sort of self excusing Lee.
I called out to the Lord in my distress. There's a very cosmic cosmetic way of talking about what's going on. It's it's like the kind of thing you talk about when there's a heavy snow storm or a hurricane or a tornado. What is the reason for the trouble that Jonah was going through? It's not just situational distress.
What's the reason disobedience to the Lord. This Trouble is trouble. That's the exact result of the fact this man run ran from the call of the Lord.
This is a man whose heart is not yet turning. He's praying, but he's playing. This is the fairest seek in Luke 18 in the temple saying, God I thank you that I'm not like other people. Look at I do for you. You know what, what the first is the same as God, this is me. I just want to remind you again, I don't actually need you. I don't actually need Your Grace. I don't need your mercy. I don't need your love. You and I have a way of describing the difficulty in we're in that doesn't include us.
Well, it was a busy day. I wasn't feeling well. If you only knew who I was married to. It's my children. We have nothing left we kick the dog. I wouldn't suggest that you do that.
But we're, it's so counter intuitive for us to make heartfelt confession. Here's what confession is. confession is owning personal responsibility for my words and my behavior without excuse or shifting the blame. And here's this truth, you cannot confess what you haven't first grieved. And you can't repent of what you haven't confessed. Listen. The soil in which true confession always grows is the soil of personal grief over sin.
And it's counterintuitive. What's intuitive to us is too expensive. ourselves, to explain away attitudes and actions that are outside of God's will, that it takes grace to confess your need for grace. It takes grace. Because everything in me wants to point the finger this way and say it was this it was that it was you it was him it was something else. It couldn't have been me. And it takes the grace of a power of God to grab a hold of the heart of Jonah and turning from a man who is making excuses to a man who is now confessing to idolatry. That's what's in this prayer. It's me, Lord, it's me.
Listen, the hard news of the gospel is this my greatest problem and all of life is me. The greatest day Angels in my life exists inside of me not outside of me. And listen unless you're willing to, to accept that bad news, you are not ready to receive, seek and celebrate the good news, the gospel. Listen, it's always the bad news that makes you hunger for the good news of the gospel.
Bad news, it's me. I don't have anybody else to blame. I don't have any fingers to point. It's me. The problem is my heart. And I can run from a situation I can run from location. I can run from a circumstance but I can't run from me. I found whenever I try to run from me, I show up with me at the end of the run. Impossible.
Well, that takes us to the end of chapter two. And said and the Lord spoke to the fish, I love this. Your Lord talks to the animals. Just thought I'd say that spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah up on the dry land. Now I want to say this this is probably the first time you have heard this. You probably will never hear another preacher say this. But I want to say this because you need to hear sometimes grace looks like vomit.
I think that we have a way to small way to truncated understanding of grace. God's grace is not always a cool drink. It's not always a soft pillow. It's not always an encouraging hug. God's grace comes to us in often in hard, difficult, stinky, uncomfortable forms. I hear people all the time crying out for the grace of God and they're getting it. But it's not the grace of relief. And it's not the grace of release. It's the grace of restoration, because that's the grace they actually need. Yes, we get released. Yes, we get relief, but largely those are to come because right now God is intent on transforming us.
Here's this principle. God will take you where you haven't planned on going in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own. God will take you where you haven't intended to Go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own God will take you and you and you and you what you had no intention to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own. You know what the Bible calls that grace. We better become committed to teaching and preaching and encouraging one another with a theology of uncomfortable grace because largely between the already and the not yet God's grace comes to you and uncomfortable forms. Given you've never heard anyone ever say I had the easiest year ever, and it changed me so much.
Never heard that. Listen. What is your response? In hardship? Do you visit God's goodness again? Do you bring your Lord into the court of your judgment? And question his goodness, his faithfulness and love. Do the give yourself to panic and fear? Listen, hardship is your saviors work room of redemption. He knows exactly where you're living. He knows exactly what's going on there. And he employs those things to continue the work he's doing, and you I adore the words at the beginning of chapter three says and the word of the Lord came to Jonah Don't you love this Second time we proclaim a message of fresh starts and new beginnings.
You see that powerful in the life of David. See that powerful in life of Peter. See that powerfully in the life of Paul. You see that powerfully when you look in the mirror again and again and again. your Savior says, Get up. Confess. Come receive my mercy. Now you go, get up. Confess. Come receive my mercy. You go get up. Confess. Come and see. Receive My Mercy you go get up.
Confess comments. See, receive my mercy. And now you go. Get up. Get up. Get up. Get up. Come, come, come and go again.
Yeah, you blew it. Yeah, you sinned against my name. Yeah, you denied me. Yeah, you were selfish again, but you come. You confess, you receive my mercy and you get up and go again. You can't send yourself beyond the power of grace.
You can't grace is bigger. It's got no borders. It's got no bottom. It's got no top Your enemy would would speak in here, you're cooked, you're done. It's over. It's never over for God's children. Because this thing extends into an eternity that has no end. You come, you confess, you receive my mercy and you go again. I don't know about you that gets me up in the morning gives me reason to continue familiar with with a story, you know what happens next Jonah does go and he preaches this message of judgment. All throughout Nineveh. Now I'm going to say something This we have a negative response to warnings of judgment, don't we? We do. If I, if I would call you up on a Friday night, and I would say I want to come over to your house tomorrow morning and rebuke you, you would probably not be very excited.
Because you must understand what what that's about. Listen. A message of judgment is always a message of grace. You know why? Because if all God wanted to do was judge you he wouldn't warn you first. He'd judge you.
Warning is always grace, because what is warning allow warning allows you to hear to consider to turn what Jonah didn't understand was he was called to give a message of the grace is the gospel. I come to rebuke you because I love you. And I want to warn you that you're going on a pathway that could be your destruction. I'm not judging you at that moment, I'm gracing you.
And all of Nineveh turns, it is the most amazing thing. It's the power of God. God uses this recalcitrant country boy, to walk this streets of Nineveh to preach a message that no one wants to hear and the whole city turns. Now, you would expect that chapter four would be celebration. And Jonah would be so excited at what God had done through him. But it says this chapter four verse one, but it displeased Jonah exceedingly was angry and he praised to the Lord and said, O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarsus for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful slow to anger and a bounty and steadfast love and remember linting from disaster therefore, now Oh, Lord, please take my life. What? I just knew it. You are full of grace that makes me so mad. I can't believe it. You have so much mercy. It makes me angry that you turn from your anger. Okay, can we get real for a moment here? Don't think that you're always excited with God give delivering grace to people around you. Sometimes you wish your husband would just get his. Sometimes husband's you have thoughts for your wife and they aren't about mercy. Sometimes you scream at the bottom of the steps to your children, don't make me come up there one more time, it will be on the news. Sometimes in traffic, you're not thankful for that person in front of you. And you are saying things that you wouldn't be embarrassed for your friends and loved ones to hear. You're not Tony, you're just saying, oh, Lord, extend mercy to this person in front of me who just cut me off. Let's listen. For everyone in this room. There are moments vengeance is more attracted to us in mercy. Not everybody in your life is on your mercy list.
It's important to confess that. Oh, that I would have the heart of the Lord. This is what Jonah's problem is. He doesn't have God's heart. Well, God does a illustration for Jonah. He gives him this big plan to sit under and find some shade as he's out there outside of the city pouty and then this is another picture of the awesome sovereignty of God. God appoints a worm to eat the plan. God appoints a worm. He says worm 5,473,227,954. You go.
That worm knows his number, and he says, yes sir. And he says, I thought I was full but I'll eat the plant. And Jonah's rippin mad that the plant dies. And the Lord says to Jonah, this is the end of Jonah. And the Lord God said, you pity the plant for which you did not labor, nor did you make girl, which came into being in a night and perished in the night, and should not iping in a Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who don't know the right hand from the left, and also much cattle.
I love this. That the book of Jonah has no end. The Book of Jonah ends with The question there's no ball wrapped at the end of Jonah because God's grace is unending. And even though Jonah is still resisting him after the miracle of redemption in Nineveh gotta say a nice I have placed my love on you and I will not let you go. I am still counseling. I'm still prodding I am still working. I will not stop until my work is complete.
I love that Jonah has no end. Because God's grace doesn't either. It is on relenting grace. You can't run so far that you out run the zeal of God's grace.
I want to say this final thing. I love Jonah. Because it's a mirror. And I would like not to have to confess this. But I look into the mirror of Jonah and I see me. I see how self oriented I can be. I see how resistant I can be. I can see those moments where I'm far from sharing the heart of God.
And so Jonah points me to a second Jonah who was in the ground, like Jonah was in the belly of the whale. But this Jonah wasn't there because he had disobeyed. Because he obeyed. He knew that there would be no hope for all of us Jonas in the room. So he had to come. He had to live the life that we could never have lived, die the death that we should have died and rose again conquering sin and death. So there would be hope for us.
That Jonah sits at the right hand of the Father now. And He intercedes for us, every moment of our existence. And his grace is lavished down on us and it will not quit until the work is completed.
Maybe you have never surrendered your heart, to the Jonah, Jesus Christ. Maybe this morning is a time where you need to do that you need to, you need to say I've been running from God my whole life. I want to run no longer. God says, You come you confess You receive my mercy. Maybe you're running God's children. And this morning you've identified places where you've resisted. You don't need to wallow and guilt and shame. Because the most painful moment in the life of the second Jonah was on the cross and it wasn't physical pain. It was relational pain was that moment when the father turned his back on the sun, and he cried a Eli Eli Lama Sebastiani? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? brothers and sisters in Christ who this truth. Jesus took every ounce of your rejection so that in your weakness and sin and failure, you would never again see the back of God's head. Come to him. He shines on you a face of grace. say I've run from you. I've run from you, but I want to run no longer. You come. You confess. You receive mercy. And then you go again and serve your Lord. Praise God for the book of Jonah. Praise God for its message of grace. Let's pray.
Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of this story. preserved for us by your mercy, so that we would be confronted with the depth of our need and the glory of Your Grace. May we come? May we confess, may we receive your mercy? And then may we go again, to serve you. In Jesus name, amen.