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God In My Chaos II

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Turn to Jonah 2
As we continue to make our way through Jonah, I want to remind you to read Jonah with the Great Commission in mind. And I hope that the picture is becoming more clear, that each Christian has a responsibility, given by Jesus in Matt. 28 to GO and make disciples of all nations.
Now, the word “nations” comes from the Greek word ethnos. Sound familiar? It’s where we get our word ethnic and it meant Gentile or non-Jew. So we could translate Matt. 28 to read, “Go and make disciples of all ethnic groups.”
Remember that to the Jewish mind there were only two ethnic groups – Jew and Gentile. It didn’t matter if you were Asian, Egyptian or Martian – if you were not a Jew then were a Gentile. Now Jesus abolished that separation and told his disciples to go to all ethnic groups. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people with no bearing on skin color, religion or nationality. Doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or where you are from, everyone needs the gospel.
Even though Jesus said go to all ethnic groups, we still find ourselves on occasion running or disengaging from the ethnos, from “those people.” The very people we are to love with compassion and grace are the ones we have the propensity to disregard or criticize or have contempt toward.
Romans 8 tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
If Rom. 8:38-39 is true, then nothing should separate “those people” from our love.
Are we allowing politics, personal experience, even the letter of the law to hinder our love for people, which consequently hinders the good news of Jesus Christ?
God will chisel away at our prejudices and animosities and contempt for the very people He died to save. And, as we saw last week God will sometimes cause a little chaos in our lives to redirect and correct.
And that is precisely where Jonah found himself – in this “God-caused chaos” – all because of his hatred for “those Assyrians” and his refusal to obey God’s command to GO. And at some point, while in the fish, Jonah found the stomach to pray. As we look at Jonah’s prayer this morning, there are two things we must understand about his prayer:

Jonah’s Prayer

1 – It is not a prayer of repentance.
Through this entire ordeal, Jonah never confessed his disobedience or repented of his attitude toward “those people.” Perhaps he did later, we don’t know. But understand that Jonah is not an ideal model for repentance. However, the story is not about Jonah as much as it is about God – about a God of great mercy and compassion for who – for all people!
Jonah was disobedient to God – totally out of God’s will. Jonah did not deserve to be rescued, yet, God saved his bacon repeatedly. That’s mercy! That is love! I’m not condoning sin at all, and God never condones sin and disobedience - but here we see the unfathomable mercy and incredible patience of God an unrepentant child. Not only does God show this incredible mercy toward Jonah, but keep in mind that through this whole ordeal, God is withholding judgment from Nineveh. That’s a lot of mercy from a God who is supposedly always angry in the OT!
So, Jonah is in this fish and that could have been the end, but it wasn’t. God could have raised up another prophet, one who would have gone willingly to Nineveh, or one with greater oratory skills, or one who was voted “most likely to prophecy,” but God didn’t. God could have given up on Jonah but He didn’t. God could have called someone better, but He didn’t.
Why? God called Jonah to be the prophet to Nineveh and that’s who God wanted! So God extended an enormous amount of mercy and patience toward this unrepentant prophet. But also,
It’s not about who can do the job, but who God calls to do the job – period!
Is there a “Nineveh” that you’re running from? Is the Holy Spirit asking you to do something and you’re thinking, “No way. I can’t do that,” or even, “I won’t do that.” It’s not about what you can and can’t do – it’s about what God can do through you - which we’ll see in greater detail chapter three. But me remind you -
Zechariah 4:6 NIV
So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
Philippians 4:13 NIV
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Doesn’t say I can do anything, but it does say I can do anything God calls me to do.
If God is calling you to do something, you better do it, and you can do it. There might be an entire city with your name on it waiting for you to arrive!
All that to say Jonah’s prayer is not a prayer of repentance. So, what is it?
2 – It is a prayer of a Hebrew.
Meaning, if we’re going to learn from Jonah’s prayer, we need read it as a Hebrew. For starters, Jonah’s prayer is in typical poetic Hebrew fashion –parallelism, metaphors, etc.
Secondly, it’s written from an ancient Hebrew worldview of the universe. Let me explain - (See Chart). Our concern this morning is only on the lower half – that which is below the surface of the earth. There are several items that are significant to Jonah’s prayer: the sea, the great deep, the foundations of the earth and Sheol.
Let’s break apart this prayer and see how all the pieces fit and then ask, why is this significant to us.
Jonah 2:1–3 NIV
From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me.
Let’s talk about Sheol for a moment. Sheol was the realm of the dead; also called the pit. See that black hollow space underneath the earth? That is where the dead were gathered and it was a one-way ticket – no one ever returned from Sheol and that’s where Jonah thought he was – probably metaphorically.
If you recall, according to Jewish belief, when a person died they possibly could revive after one day. Two days, it was still possible but highly unlikely – give them 1 to 2% chance. After three days – absolutely impossible, they were dead and gone forever! That’s why Jesus waited four days before raising Lazarus to life in John 11.
Jonah, at some point believed he was beyond the point of no return. He was in the belly of the fish for how long? 3 days – you don’t come back after 3 days. Furthermore, he believed he had entered what? Sheol. Not just Sheol, but the text says deep within Sheol. Jonah believed he was beyond rescue. He believed he was too far gone for God to even hear him. Yet, what does the text say? I called to Yahweh, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead (Sheol) I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
So what is this rebellious unrepentant prophet trying to tell us?
1) That No matter where you are, God can hear you!
Even if you are deep in the realm of the dead, God can hear you. (Psa. 69). It was over for Jonah! Yet, God heard his cry and rescued Jonah and He can rescue you!
But, how did God did rescue? It wasn’t pleasant. Imagine being swallowed by a fish – this isn’t Pinocchio - the intense anxiety and fear, the suffocating heat, the nauseating smell, and having no idea what was going on or how long ….
God heard Jonah’s cry and God can hear your cry – the rescue operation may not be what you expect and it may be unpleasant, but He listens and He answers.
Back to the chart - look below Sheol and you’ll see the foundations of the earth. Those are the pillars that held up the ground. Jonah refers to them as the “root of the mountains.” Below that you’ll notice the Great Deep. Now let’s continue with Jonah’s prayer.
Jonah 2:4–6 NIV
I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit.
Do you hear Jonah’s emotion? Either he is super melodramatic, the drama king of the deep or he was literally and emotionally at rock bottom, at the end of his rope. Life was over.
The word banished is the same word used when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden. He believed he was so far gone, so far down that God could no longer see him. He was trapped by the foundations of the earth; hidden from God’s sight.
So what is this rebellious unrepentant prophet trying to tell us?
2) That No matter where you are, God can see you!
You are never banished from His sight!
Psalm 33:13–15 NIV
From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
Proverbs 15:11 NIV
Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD— how much more do human hearts!
Isaiah 59:1 NIV
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
Psalm 23:4 NIV
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
No matter where you are, no matter what you’re going through – Almighty God sees you. His eye is upon you! To some that may be unnerving, but to me it’s comforting.
So Jonah said I’ve been banished, I’m drowning, sinking to the bottom forever lost beneath the earth … look at the rest of verse 6.
Jonah 2:6–9 NIV
To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’ ”
But You, Yahweh! I was dying, but you, Yahweh! I was in the Pit, I was going through Hell, but you, Yahweh! I was at the end, utterly hopeless, but you, Yahweh brought my life up, or perhaps we could say this, “You brought me back from the deep place of the dead and caused me to live again!”
So what is this rebellious unrepentant prophet trying to tell us?
3) That No matter how dead you are, God can revive you!
It doesn’t matter what your “realm of the dead” is, it doesn’t matter how addicted you are, how hopeless you are, how sinful you are – God is the God who raises dead people. And that is the true essence of salvation in Christ – that dead people are given new life, not later in Heaven, but now on earth!
If God can hear you, see you and revive you, what about “those people?” How many of “those people” are asking “Is there is a God? If so, does He hear me? Does He see me? Can He rescue and revive me?”
The victim of sex trafficking (orphan in China, single mother working 2 jobs, the _____) is asking, does God see me. Our neighbors are asking, Does God see me.
What did God send to rescue Jonah when he was wayward? A storm and a fish.
Who did God send to rescue Nineveh? He sent a prophet, a man of God.
Who does God send today to rescue “those people?” His disciples – men and women who follow Jesus Christ.
Romans 8
Matthew 28:19-29
God search my heart …
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