I'm excited about the new sermon series at Royal Palm. Dr. Joe and I are preaching systematically from the book of Jonah.
Jonah...the only autobiographical book of the Bible wherein the author admits to his sin (disobedience, in Jonah's case), redemption, and outcome. Such a relevant book!
Before listening to this message, ask yourself, "Am I an optimist, pessimist or a realist?" When it comes to the "storms" of life, the optimist says, "God will keep me from the storm." But everyone goes through trials, either self-imposed or not. The pessimist says, "I'm in the Calm before the Storm," just waiting for the next trial to come. But the realist says, "When the storm arises, God will lead me to the calm."
I hope this message will give you a Realist's perspective. Even when the "storm" is self-imposed by our sin or poor choice, God can lead us into the Calm. Listen for the Lord's voice and Holy Spirit will speak.
God bless, Kirk McCormick
“The Storm before the Calm”
** After boarding a ship going to Tarshish (the opposite direction), we read -
4Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.
Point: God reminds Jonah through this storm, “I am in charge.”
5a All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
Point: This story clearly proves… In a storm, false gods offer no relief.
5b But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fellinto a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.”
Point: How can Jonah ask God for help when he is running away from God?
7 Then the sailors said to each other [since praying wasn’t working], “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
Point: Spend more time finding solutions than laying blame.
9 He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship (Hebrew = yare = “Fear”) the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” 10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
Note: What he said about his God would have got the sailors attention:
1. They were all polytheists… one god controlled one aspect of creation…but no god in their pantheon controlled it all…
2. …but Jonah said his God is:
a. the “God of Heaven”
b. but also the God of the Sea and the Land
…this is the God Jonah worships!
Point: Jonah’s story is proving: Obedience is the best way to profess faith.
11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” 12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
Point: You have to appreciate Jonah’s willingness to own his sin.
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.
14 Then they cried to the Lord, “O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. [They assumed they knew the outcome of throwing Jonah into the sea… and, if left to natural ways, they would be right]
Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.
Side Note: The storm brought conversion to the sailors. They:
1. “Feared” (i.e.: worshipped)
2. Offered sacrifice
3. Made vows
…and this “conversion” was the result/fruit of Jonah’s obedience, in a way.
** What is the point of this passage?
Point 1: On a practical note… life is not always calm (in fact, rarely is)…
… In fact, with Jonah we see how life is often more about the Storm before the calm – not the other way around.
Point 2: It took a sacrifice to bring calm.
** Jesus is our sacrifice…he was the one “thrown overboard” for our disobedience…
…but unlike Jonah or you and me, Jesus didn’t deserve it.
“A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:4)