III. Salvation Belongs to the Lord (Jonah 1-4)

Robert Browning then preached the entire book of Jonah. I have never heard Jonah, or any other Old Testament text, explained so well. His message followed the previous two quite nicely. In fact, I would consider it an illustration of both Blake’s message and my own. All of us rejoiced to see how the Holy Spirit orchestrated the entire weekend to communicate so clearly God’s heart for evangelism. Not only did the messages fit together well, but Blake noted that we had a message from an Old Testament book, a Gospel, and an epistle, all three together testifying of what God’s word as a whole demands of his people.

Robert laid out his message according to four different scenes in Jonah (1:1-16; 1:17-2:10; 3:1-10; 4:1-11), and then gave an application for each. He believes that the main theme in the entire book is revealed in 2:9, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” Thus, Robert also repeatedly taught us how each scene relates to this main theme. You will notice this in the following summary.

The first scene pictures Jonah fleeing from the presence of the Lord, heading in the opposite direction which God commanded him to go. Amazingly, everything in the story is responding to the Lord (e.g. the wind, the sea, the boat, the sailors) except his own prophet. Jonah even has to be told to pray by a pagan. Soon afterwards, everything in the story now points out that the fierce storm has come upon them because of  Jonah’s disobedience. He is then hurled into the sea, and the Lord calms the terrible waters. Robert then made the application that because salvation belongs to the Lord, we must go where and when God says. Jonah did not do this, and therefore he was only worthy of death and to be hurled into the sea. We are not allowed to rationalize or make excuses for not sharing Christ with others.

The second scene shows the Lord having mercy upon Jonah by sending a great fish to swallow him. According to Jonah’s prayer, the sea was where he was to die, but inside the belly of the great fish he finds the Lord’s salvation. Robert concluded, that because salvation belongs to the Lord our mouths should praise the Lord for his mercy. Even inside the fish, Jonah praises the Lord with vows and plans to make sacrifices to him. God’s appointing of the fish has brought him deliverance.

The third scene shows God commanding Jonah a second time to preach to Nineveh, and this time he obeys. He does exactly what the Lord told him to do, and cries out against the Ninevites. In response, Nineveh repents and the people humble themselves before the Lord. Because of this, the Lord does not destroy them. The point of application in this scene is, because salvation belongs to the Lord we are to speak his message and trust him for the results. Faithfully, Jonah preached God’s message. The results were left to the Lord, and indeed, he saved Nineveh. Whether people respond to our message or not, we must be faithful to preach it.

The fourth scene is interesting. You would think one would be rejoicing over such a positive response. Jonah, on the other hand, is very bitter. The reason why he did not go in the first place was because he knew God would be merciful to them. Angry that God did not destroy them, he went out from the city and waited to see what would happen to them. God then mercifully provides a plant to shade him, then appoints a wormto destroy it. The scorching heat causes Jonah to become exceedingly angry, and it is obvious from God’s question that he has no right to be angry about something given to him that he did not deserve to begin with. What is revealed, then, is that Jonah is more concerned about the plant than he is about the salvation of 120,000 Ninevites. Robert applied this scene by saying that because salvation belongs to the Lord, we are to rejoice over God’s mercy granted to outsiders. Anytime Jonah rejoiced, he did so over the mercy showed only toward himself. Never does he rejoice over others being saved.

With tears, Robert then wrapped up his message making it very clear that this is not just a story about Jonah; this is a story about each one of us. We relate to Jonah well in our own efforts in evangelism. In many ways, we too could care less for the people in this world who do not know the Lord. Our very actions (or lack thereof) testify of this. If this is the case, that we do not care about obey God’s command to share Christ with a lost world, then maybe it is the case that we ourselves are simply not saved, and should cry out to God to have mercy on us.

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One Response to “III. Salvation Belongs to the Lord (Jonah 1-4)”

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