14 Jan God who is in control
In the book of Jonah, we see a prophet named Jonah who tried to live his life in his own way, by his own strength, for his own benefit.
There could be some of you here who are living your life just like Jonah.
I want to see that God is always gracious and always in control.
1st Grace – the great call
God wanted him to preach to the evil people of Nineveh, instead he ran away, sailed in the opposite direction as far as he can.
- Why? Because he believed that the people of Nineveh do not deserve God’s forgiveness. Jonah believes that he is better than the Ninevites.
- Many Christians are guilty of this, we think we are better than the those who don’t believe in Jesus.
God knew this would happen, God is in control, but why did he still call Jonah to this mission? Because, at the end of the day, God loves and wants to save Jonah just as much as He loves and wants to save the people of Nineveh.
- When God calls you to his mission, his first mission is you. You need to experience his grace first before you can extend God’s grace to others.
The fact that God would call and use imperfect people for his mission, that’s grace.
2nd Grace – the great storm
Along the way, God sent a great storm threatening the ship of breaking up.
- Often, the storms in our lives are actually God’s way of reminding us that He loves us and longs to have a relationship with us. He sent the storm because we were so busy with our own agenda and without realising that we have completely blocked off our ears and hearts from God’s voice.
- Your storm may not necessarily be a physical storm in the sea, but your storm may come in many ways. Sickness, cancer, depression, betrayal, disappointment, finance, a wayward child, and so on.
- Are you in the midst of the storm? Could it be that maybe you’ve been blocking off your ears and hearts from God? The storm is not a punishment, it is God’s grace. He is calling you and bringing you back to himself. He loves you too much to see you do it on your own, in your own ways, by your own strengths.
3rd Grace – the great fish
When Jonah’s first plan to escape his calling failed, he thought of another plan. If he cannot escape the call by sailing in the opposite direction, maybe his death would bring the end of the call. It makes sense. If Jonah is dead, then he can’t go to Nineveh and preached to them. So, he asked the sailors to throw him overboard.
- Even the sailors tried to save themselves in their own way. They throw their cargo overboard. That made things worse. They tried to sail back to the dry land, that also failed. So, with no other options, they finally throw Jonah overboard.
- Jonah might have thought that he has succeeded from escaping the call of God upon his life, but God in his great mercy sent a great fish to rescue Jonah. Is it comfortable? No. The belly of the fish is no 5-star hotel. But it is God’s grace nonetheless. Sometimes we look for 5-star rescue from God, but He is sending a rather uncomfortable means to save us. If you and I are still breathing today, that is the grace of God, even when we are not living in a 5-star lifestyle.
4th Grace – the great forgiveness
Jonah finally obeyed and preached to the Ninevites. To everyone’s great surprise, the people of Nineveh repented. And an even greater surprise was God’s forgiveness for the Ninevites. How could God forgives them just like that?
Well, if you think so, you’re not alone. Jonah wasn’t entirely happy with the gracious God and his decision to forgive. But that’s grace. The people of Nineveh don’t deserve to be forgiven, yet God did.
5th Grace – the great plant
Jonah was mad. Yet God sent a plant to grow over Jonah to comfort him.
Another grace extended to a disgruntled prophet. God did not just give up on Jonah, that’s grace. Even in our rebellions, God continued to bless us. That’s grace!
6th Grace – the worm & the scorching east wind
Jonah was given an opportunity when God blessed Jonah with a plant, but Jonah did not do so. Yet God did not give up, this time he sent a worm to kill the plant, and the scorching east wind. This time God’s grace comes to Jonah in a not-so-comfortable means. That’s the grace of God, he didn’t say to Jonah, what an ungrateful prophet you are, I have had it with you. Even when Jonah was so unhappy that he wanted to die, again!
7th Grace – the great patience of God
What did God do to Jonah? Let him die? No, God extended his great patience with the ungrateful and unrepentant prophet.
“But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labour, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
(Jonah 4:9–11 ESV)
While all humans’ efforts failed, God’s plan succeeded.
- Jonah wanted to sail away. God sent the storm.
- The sailors wanted to save themselves, by throwing the cargo off the ship. God sent a bigger storm.
- The sailors tried to sail back to dry land, they failed miserably because God sent even a bigger storm.
- Jonah wanted to kill himself, thinking he would drown. God sent a great fish.
Do you see what is happening here?
The storm obeys.
The fish obeys. Twice.
The plant obeys.
The scorching east wind obeys.
The pagan sailors repent.
The evil people of Nineveh repent.
How about Jonah? How about you?
This morning, do not harden your hearts.
Don’t be deceived to think that you can do it in your own ways, by your own strengths. Maybe you can for a while, but not forever.
Not only that God is in control, but he loves you too much to let you go.
In fact, God loves us so much that he gave us his only begotten Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for us. So that instead of us who received the wrath of God because of our stubbornness, our rebellions, he sent Jesus who is perfect in every way as our substitute. Jesus was punished for our rebellions even though He is always in perfect obedience.
If you’ve been running away from God, look to Jesus this morning. If you’ve been running and have grown weary, look to Jesus this morning. Even if you’ve been walking in obedience, look to Jesus this morning, because we are not perfect in our obedience, but He is.