We all have things we fear in this life whether it be terrorism, our house being broken into, a bad Dr. Report, a bad economy and sometimes we fear the unknown of the future or even death.
Fear: To be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening:
When we talk about fear most people do not think that we should fear God because we have been taught that God is only love. As we have seen in previous blog God is causing a deadly storm to come upon Jonah and the sailors because Jonah is rebelling against God. God’s wrath was being poured out on Jonah for his disobedience which was causing fear in the sailors.
We pick up our story and the storm has increased to the point that these veteran sailors began casting lots hoping that a god would answer them why they were going through this storm. When the lots fell on Jonah they began screaming at him asking who he was and why they were being punished for his wrong doing.
Read Jonah 1:9
If Fear is going to lead to Faith then you must have the Correct View of God
“I Fear the Lord the God of Heaven” Fearing God is not something we talk about much in our churches but every follower of Jesus should be known as a God Fearing Person” Of course the fear of God has usually been taught as an Old Testament teaching but the New Testament has it as well.
Colossians 3:22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters,[a] not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body[a] and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
There are 150 references to the fear of God in the Bible and so we need to understand what it means to fear God if we are going to better understand who He is. There are two types of fear in the Bible; Servile fear, which is where we get our word servant and filial fear, which is where we get our word son. We do not fear God as if He is an unpleasable task master as in the story of the talents when the last servant accused Him of being a hard man to please (Matthew 25), but we serve God as His children knowing we are fully loved and accepted. When we do not understand the Love, Grace and Mercy of God we tend to fall into a servant type of fear of God. When we get God wrong our relationship with Him suffers because we have the wrong view of how He operates.
Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for help in time of need.
As believers we have a filial fear which is the same as a child toward a father because we approach God with confidence not based on our works as a servant, but based on our relationship as a child of God. Serving God as a slave when you are a child is a miserable way to live because you are not sure if God is pleased with you and the effort you have put in. Serving God as a child, who knows they are fully loved, brings Joy because you know the father is pleased with you no matter what level of success you have. A friend of mine when he watches his son play baseball has a tendency to see all the mistakes he makes but his wife sees all the times he did something good or is just proud of him for trying. My friend says his wife sees through Mom Goggles which distorts her view of how the child is really playing. Our works in and of themselves are not what God is happy with it is because we are His children that makes our works worthy to be looked at.
Galatians 4:4-7 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
Godly Fear:” Mixture of reverence, fear, pleasure, joy and awe which fills our hearts when we realize who God is” Sinclair Ferguson
Jonah is forced to share his faith with these sailors revealing that he was a Hebrew and when he said he feared God it meant he worshiped the God of Israel. The problem with Jonah is his life was not showing that he worshiped the true God. To Worship is to fear (reverential awe) God and it cannot be done in compartments of your lives because worship is to be a lifestyle. (Romans 12:1) Jonah let them know that the God he worshiped (feared) was the Creator of everything and that no matter where he fled God was there. So Jonah knew mentally that he could not escape God but physically that is exactly what he was trying to do.
Properly fearing God is more than just a feeling or attitude- it’s a feeling or attitude that changes our lives.” (The Joy of Fearing God, Jerry Bridges, Pg 31)
- Other Verses on the Fear of God: Acts 9:31; 1 Peter 2:17
Read Jonah 1:10
“What have you done?” The sailors were morally outraged because Jonah’s sin was not going to just destroy him but they were pointing out that his actions had cost them their lives as well. We always suffer when others sin and the sailors knew that they were going to die because God was mad at Jonah. Jonah had shared more information than what is written in our Bibles because the sailors knew more than what was being told to us. The Sailors who worshiped various gods learned that there was a personal God who cares about the actions of His children and will not allow them to just do whatever they want.
Read Jonah 1:11 -14
If Fear is going to lead to Faith then you have to Trust in God’s Way
God was angry and the sailors wanted to know what it would take to appease an angry God. The ultimate question we must all ask ourselves is, “What must be done to appease and angry God? “ Again, because we do not think God has wrath we do not think that there is anything to fear even though our lives go against His word. We believe God is like a grandpa in the sky who will overlook all our sins no matter how we live but the Bible teaches us that God’s wrath is still against anyone who does not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Most of the world religions teach that our lives are not that bad so we can make up any wrong we have done by doing more good. Christianity teaches that even one wrong thing we have done is such an offense to God that no amount of good work will make you right in God’s eyes again.
We are not given all the details of the story and so there is some debate as to why Jonah asked them to throw him in the ocean. Was Jonah trying to escape God’s command once and for all by ending his life? Was Jonah told by God to have the men throw him into the sea? Some details we will not know but Jonah, a prophet of God, told them what they needed to do to appease God’s wrath and they did not want to listen.
Jesus said that the sign for the religious leaders to look for was the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-39) and we know that Jesus death was the sacrifice so all might live(Romans 5:15) The parallels between Jonah and Jesus continue which Jesus said a sign would be he sign of Jonah. (Matthew 12:38-39) Jesus willingly gave Himself up but it was men who took hold of Him and nailed him to the cross and it was the sailors who would eventually throw Jonah into the sea.
“The Men Rowed hard to get back to dry land” The men decided to work harder to make it on their own back to land instead of throwing Jonah overboard to appease God’s anger. The more they tried to come up with their own solution the worse the storm became and they finally got to the point that they knew they could not appease God’s anger through their own works. God has provided the way of salvation for mankind but many in our world think that they can get to God on their own terms. All roads do not lead to God and if we try any other way then we are just storing up the wrath of God against us.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
We think that we have to earn our favor with God (servant) but the reality is we need to be adopted into His family as Children. Jesus died to appease God’s wrath for the sins we have committed and only through Christ can the wrath of God be removed from us. Someone has to die for sin because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and we can accept what Jesus Christ did for us or we can die ourselves for all eternity. When we accept Christ as our substitute for the sins we did then we get adopted as children into God’s family. (Romans 8:15)
Read Jonah 1:15-16
If Fear is going to lead to faith then you have to be obedient
“They called out to the Lord and hurled Jonah into the Sea. “These Sailors went from being worshipers of many gods to crying out to the true God.
Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The sailors realized there was only one true God who could save them and that all their other gods were worthless. The sailors realized all roads do not lead to Heaven. They went from fearing for their lives to fearing God (reverential awe) because as quick and supernatural as the storm came upon them, it just as quickly and supernaturally dissipated. When we cry out to God in faith our salvation is immediate and God’s wrath is removed. True faith always leads to different behavior and these Sailors did more than just cry out to God they changed their actions as well and got rid of all the idols in their life.
“They offered a sacrifice” There is some discussion as to what these men, who threw most if not all of their cargo overboard, could have sacrificed to God. Some believe they threw their idols over board, some believe they made vows to go and make sacrifices as soon as they returned to shore. If they threw their idols in the sea it would show that they no longer place their trust in other things but only in God. Although we do not know for sure it seems that these men changed who they followed and became believers in the one true God. They no longer trusted in other idols but began worshiping and trusting in the one true God. God used the storm in their lives to show them that He was the true God of Heaven and Earth and through fear for their lives they began to fear (reverential awe) 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 do not fear the things of this world because when we do we become a slave to those fears. We do Fear God (reverence) but by doing so we free ourselves because we trust in the one who controls the universe.
We said from the beginning of the book of Jonah that God is pursuing His creation to come to Him for salvation. Even in Jonah’s disobedience God used the storm to show that there is only one true God to the pagan sailors who were not to blame for Gods wrath.
What is your view of God? Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as the way of Salvation or are you trying to please God through you own works? Have you given up the idols in your life, the things you lean on to get through this life, and given your devotion and trust to God? The storms of life will show that our trust in our idols will fail us but God never will. Are you serving God as a slave or as a child of God?