When we talk about God most people talk about His love, His Grace and His mercy while leaving out other attributes of God that are just as important. Theology is the study of God and as we read and study scripture we are shown every attribute of God. One attribute that we do not particularly like is the characteristic of God having wrath because we either do not want to see God that way or we have been taught wrongly that God does not have any wrath because He is love. Is God love? Yes. Does God show Mercy? Yes but does God also show wrath? Yes.
If I held up a quarter and I asked you what is more important the front or the back you would think I was crazy because both the front and the back make up the same quarter. You may like the front of the quarter more than the back but the back of the quarter is just as important and vital to it being a quarter as the front. God is all the attributes the Bible tells us about Him and to remove one attribute is to destroy who God really is.
Jonah disobeyed God and just walked away in complete rebellion to God and God is going to discipline Jonah with His wrath. When people think that God displays His wrath that it means that He does not love but the opposite is actually true. Every parent knows that a parent that disciplines their child does so because of love. God’s wrath cannot be separated from God’s love because God cannot be separated. So as you read today’s story make sure you do not take one part of God and set it aside and leave His attributes of Love and mercy out.
Read Jonah 1:4-8
Storms caused by your own disobedience
“Hurled a great wind” The word hurled is the same word that is used for throwing a spear (1 Samuel 18:11) and this was an intentional act of God aimed at Jonah to teach Jonah that he could not just walk away from the Lord. Great wind is said to show the intensity of the storm and a storm that the sailors would know was not natural but super natural.
“So that the ship threatened to break apart” The way the author wrote the story was to show the intensity of the storm and to do so he made it seem that the ship came alive and was telling how bad the storm was from its point of view. Most ships were named and some believed they had spirits but we cannot make too much of this although we understand giving our car a name or at least talking to it at various times as if it is human. The main point is the severity of the situation that others sailors who would listen to the story would have understood.
Jonah walked away from God without saying a word and God’s wrath has begun with no warning to Jonah. Too many times we think God does not care about our rebellion but one thing we are taught in scripture is God will not allow His children to continue down the wrong path without punishment. A loving parent will punish their child for their wrong behavior because wrong behavior leads to a destructive life. (Romans 6:23 Wages of sin is death)
Hebrews 12:7-11 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
God’s punishment is always for a purpose and that is coarse correction for the sake of His children and for the sake of the world who is watching His children to see if He is real. It does the world no good for us to worship and raise our hands on Sunday and then go and sin just like the world Monday –Saturday so God will punish His children even to the point of removing them from the earth if they continue to rebel. You do not have to read very long in the book of Acts to see that God would not tolerate the sin of a couple who were grieving the Holy Spirit of God. (see Acts 5)
1 Corinthians 11:30-32 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[h] 31 But if we judged[i] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined[j] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
Although Christians will escape the ultimate punishment of total separation from God we must realize that God does not take sin lightly. God was serious enough about sin to come to us in the flesh (Jesus) and die for it. You may ask, then why is God not disciplining a certain person? Hebrews 12:8 says that if they are not receiving discipline then they may not be a child of God or God is giving them time to repent. We do not know how long Jonah was running till God said enough. Also if you are a parent you know what it is like for some of your other children to want you to discipline the other child. We are best to allow God to discipline His own children and we are only to lovingly confront them if we see they are living a sinful lifestyle. (Matthew 18; 2 Thessalonians3:14-15; 1 Corinthians 5 )
People tend to go to one extreme or the other with God and they either focus on His Grace, Love and Mercy or His wrath and judgment. All of the attributes of God that are revealed to us in His word are to be taken together because you cannot separate God into parts just like you cannot separate yourself into parts. I am a father, a son, a husband, a pastor, a neighbor and so forth and all of those things make me what I am. With God every part of Him matters and we cannot focus on one attribute and make it more important than all the rest. (See Also Isaiah 28:2; 1 Peter 1:17; 4:17)
Read Jonah 1:5 -6
Storms caused by others disobedience
“Then the Mariners were afraid” Jonah’s rebelliousness not only affected himself and the people of Nineveh but these sailors feared for their lives because of Jonah’s sin. These sailors were caught between God and a rebelling prophet and they were suffering the consequences of it. Everything negative that happens to you is not God punishing you. Some pastors believe the only reason you have storms in your life is because of your own sin. Every storm, every car accident, every loss is not a punishment from God so we have to be careful as we judge the situations in our own lives and we really need to be careful to NOT judge the situations in other people’s lives as well. No one lives in a bubble and your sins always have a way of hurting other people even if it was not our intention to do so. Our country is suffering because of the sins of others; our families suffer because the sins of others, our churches suffer because of the sins of others because we are all affected by sin. The cargo the mariners were hauling would never be regained and whoever was waiting on the cargo life was impacted because of someone who sinned against God. Our sins will do more harm than we will ever know so the thought I am not hurting anyone but myself is a lie.
Psalm 119:136 My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.
The reason we are taught to forgive others is because at some point you will be hurt by them. David was hurt by a king and one of his sons but he also hurt others with his disobedience. Joseph was hurt by his brothers and Jesus was betrayed by a disciple and abandoned by the others.
“What do you mean you sleeper?” They were panicked and Jonah was sleeping. The one who caused the mess was not doing anything to help remedy it and was not aware that his sin was causing so much stress in other people’s lives. The Disobedient rarely see their disobedience as a problem and we all live with consequences because of other people’s sin.
They were going below deck to get the cargo to hurl off the ship to lighten the load in hopes of not perishing at sea. As they were finding the cargo they found Jonah because God was not going to allow His rebellious prophet die peacefully while the others died in a panic.
You may be walking through a storm because of the sins of others and God knows what you are going through and He will use it to change you and shape you into what He wants you to be. God always uses circumstances for good more than we can see at the moment.
Read Jonah 1:7-8
Storms reveal disobedience
Ephesians 5:11-14 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
“Wake up and call on God ““Awake, sleeper “describes the sinner who is asleep in the darkness of sin and unaware of his lost condition or tragic destiny.” John MacArthur Commentary on Ephesians pg. 213)
Christians in a fellowship of believers are called to expose sin because sin will lead to death. (Romans 6:23) We are to call out the disobedient to repent from their behavior so that their lives will reflect Jesus Christ. Jonah was asleep in the darkness of the ship after trying to escape the presence of God not knowing he was getting ready to die and a pagan sea captain is pleading with a Hebrew Prophet to talk to God. Think of the irony of a man who did not have an intimate relationship with God begging a man who was supposed to have that relationship to turn back to God in prayer. The Captain knew this was an act of a divine god but Jonah was oblivious to the situation or in his rebellious state he had hardened his heart so he could not see. There is no evidence that Jonah prayed at this point but he did go up on deck with the rest of the Sailors. (see also 1 Thessalonians 5:6)
“They cast lots and it fell on Jonah “Lot casting was done in determining the sin of Achan (Joshua 7:14-18) and selecting Saul as King (1 Samuel 10:20-22). These pagan sailors used a Hebrew method of finding out what was going on and everything began pointing toward Jonah.
Numbers 32:23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out.
After the lots fell on Jonah they began to ask him why all of this is taking place because they wanted to know what Jonah did that made God so upset. Storms reveal more about us than the times of peace. God will allow storms into our lives in order to show us areas in our lives that we are lacking faith. Again, these storms may not even be your fault but the storms, even the ones caused by others sin, will reveal where we are placing our trust and if we truly have faith in God.
Mark 4:35-41 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
We all face storms in our lives and sometimes it is because of the sin in our own lives, sometimes the sins of others, but God uses the storms to reveal sin and to grow our faith. The Bible tells us how we should go through these storms in the book of James.
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Have you praised God for the difficulty in your life? (Did that question bother you as much as it bothers me?) Have you thanked God that He uses the storm for the good? God will make things right at the end of time and He may show justice on earth but until then we can rejoice that nothing we are going through is not used by Him for His glory, for our good and for the reaching of others for Christ.