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JONAH – FLEEING FROM GOD!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 29, 2016

“But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3).


The theme of this passage is contained in those words, “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3). Jonah did not want to obey God. He did not want to go and evangelize the godless city of Nineveh. He ran away from the Lord’s purpose for his life. He was not consecrated to God. Personally, I don’t believe he was saved yet. God spoke to his heart many times, telling Jonah to go and evangelize the city of Nineveh. But Jonah said “no” to God. He wanted to stay where it was safe in Israel. So he fled from the Lord on a ship to Tarshish, far from the place God wanted him.

Some of you are like that this morning. There are some “church kids” here who are running away from God. You stay in our church because your parents are here. But in your heart you would like to be “free.” You think, “I don’t want to be stuck here in this boring life forever. I’m young! I want to do something else with my life. The church is like a jail to me! Let me out!” You don’t say that out loud, but it’s in your heart. You would really like to be “free” of all the preaching and prayers. You wish you could be like Jonah!

“Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3).

Read verse three out loud (they read).

But there is no happiness or joy in running away from God. You’ll never find peace that way. Jonah didn’t and neither will you. The only way to have peace in your heart is to repent of your sin, and make this chorus the theme of your heart,

I am coming, Lord!
Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.  
   (“I Am Coming, Lord” by Lewis Hartsough, 1828-1919).

I. That is the first point – you cannot be content in your heart when you are running away from God.

But God was still calling Jonah. Read verse three aloud again,

“But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3).

Like Jonah, some of you are fleeing from God already. You are preparing already in your heart for the time when you can leave the presence of the Lord and go out into the world to find fulfillment. But God will not let you go easy. Read verse 4 aloud.

“But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken” (Jonah 1:4).

God sent a great wind out on the sea, and the ship was nearly broken to pieces. What was God telling Jonah? God was saying, “Come back, come back to me. Do what I said or you will never have peace.” Sing that chorus again,

I am coming, Lord!
Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.  

If you don’t trust Christ and live for Him you will never feel truly satisfied in your soul. I am thinking of some young people right now who thought we were wrong. They ran off to have an affair. They thought that would make them happy. Like Jonah, they ran away from the presence of the Lord. But they are miserable and unhappy this morning! They thought they could get away from God, but God has sent out a mighty wind into their lives and the roaring sea of sin has nearly broken their lives already. I fear that their lives will be smashed completely in the storms of life before long! Before very long! Oh, how I wish their hearts had been broken by God’s Spirit! How I wish they had broken down and wept under conviction of sin! How I wish they had turned their lives fully over to Christ! How I wish they had sung with great fervor and truth our chorus. Stand and sing it again.

I am coming, Lord!
Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.  

Everyone pray out loud that God will not let anyone else run away like those people did (prayer). Everyone pray that they will yet be converted, before it is forever too late (prayer). That is the first point. You cannot be content in your heart when you are thinking about running away from God and the church. Oh, sing that chorus; mean it when you sing! Do what it says, or you will never have peace in your heart.

I am coming, Lord!
Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the blood
That flowed on Calvary.  

II. The second point is this – when you are running away from the will of God, the Devil will put you to sleep!

Listen to verse 5.

“Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep” (Jonah 1:5).

“But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship [into a compartment] and was fast asleep.” How could he sleep while the ship was about to break up? It was not a natural sleep. Surely the Devil himself put Jonah to sleep. Look how the Devil put Samson to sleep! He was a strong young man, but the Devil put him to sleep, and Delilah cut off his hair – and the Philistines took him and put out his eyes.

Look out! After the Devil puts you to sleep – he could put out your spiritual “eyes” for ever. That’s exactly what happened to Samson! Jonah rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord, and the Devil put him to sleep! Listen to verse six,

“So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not” (Jonah 1:6).

The shipmaster said, “Wake up from your sleep! Pray to God!” There is someone here this morning who needs to wake up and call upon God! Pray that they will wake up and seek Christ for salvation! (prayer)

Jonah was running from God. He was asleep in the bottom of the ship. How could he be happy that way? There is only one way to be a satisfied Christian.

You have longed for sweet peace,
   And for faith to increase,
And have earnestly, fervently prayed;
   But you cannot have rest or be perfectly blest,
Until all on the altar is laid.
   Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart does the Spirit control?
   You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield Him your body and soul.
   (“Is Your All on the Altar?” by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).

Sing the chorus!

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
   Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
   As you yield Him your body and soul.

III. The third point is this – your sin will be uncovered.

Listen to verse 7.

“And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah” (Jonah 1:7).

“And the lot fell upon Jonah.” That’s what happened at the Last Supper. Jesus said, “One of you shall betray me” (Matthew 26:21). Each one of the Disciples said, “Is it I?” Finally, the “lot fell upon” Judas. He said, “Master, is it I?’ Jesus looked at him “and when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas…And after the sop Satan entered into him” (John 13:26-27).

“The lot fell upon Jonah.” The lot fell on Judas. Satan entered into him. He went out into the night, restless, roving, unsatisfied, demon possessed! Sing it!

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
   Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
   As you yield Him your body and soul.

Listen to verse 12.

“And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you” (Jonah 1:12).

He told them to kill him. Judas killed himself. Jonah tells the sailors to throw him in the sea and kill him. When the Devil gets through with you, you will not feel that life is worth living. They found the singer Prince a few days ago. The newspaper said he died from taking a drug. A woman I knew resisted God so long her mind snapped. She drank a bottle of poison and died. Many people who don’t kill themselves “snap.” They “snap” some other way.

When the Devil gets through with you, when sin finds you out, you will snap! There are many ways to snap!

“For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

The Bible says,

“Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Jonah says, “Cast me forth into the sea” (Jonah 1:12). His sin strikes his heart. He senses that he is worthless – a no-good sinner. Oh, I wish he had felt that before he was out there on the waves! I wish he had repented sooner – before he ran away from God. But he waited too long! Now Jonah says, “Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea” (Jonah 1:12). When you come to the Last Judgment, you will not make a single excuse. When God reads all your sins out of His record-book, you will be without excuse. No lost sinner will make a single excuse. They will admit their guilt. “Cast me forth into the sea” – “I am guilty!” “Cast me forth into Hell! I deserve it!” Oh God! We have to pray that you will repent now! It will be too late in Hell! We are praying for you to repent now! Confess your sins now – or you will pay for them in Hell! Confess your sins now, or you will confess them with weeping, and wailing and gnashing of teeth in Hell! Sing it!

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
   Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
   As you yield Him your body and soul.

IV. The fourth point is this – your lost friends cannot help you!

Listen to verse 13.

“Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring [the ship] to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them” (Jonah 1:13).

“Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land.” These sailors were “friends” of Jonah. They tried to save him. They tried their best to keep Jonah from judgment. They worked with all their might to keep him from falling into the hands of God.

I have to say to you – your lost friends cannot save you! They cannot help you! Let them go, or you will be sucked under!

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…And [I] will be a Father unto you” (II Corinthians 6:17-18).

One new-evangelical commentator said this is not a call to salvation! What does he know? He sits all the time in his study. He never spends time listening to sinners in an inquiry room. It is all a theory to him. But if you are with the people, listening to them – then you know how real conversions happen!

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord…And [I] will be a Father unto you” (II Corinthians 6:17-18).

Lost friends cannot help you! The Bible says,

“Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Pray for someone to give up their lost friends before they are sucked under. (prayer).

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
   Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
   As you yield Him your body and soul.

You have to confess your sins, or you will be sucked under like Jonah was! You either confess your sins – or you are sucked under by the judgment of God! Which will it be for you? The Blood of Christ is available. But His Blood will not cleanse sin that is unconfessed.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

Acknowledge your sins. Get them out! Confess them before God! Lay your sins out on the altar of sacrifice!

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
   Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
   As you yield Him your body and soul.

Repent and trust Jesus! Only then will He cleanse you from all sin by the Blood He shed on the Cross for you! Sing that chorus again!

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
   Your heart does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
   As you yield Him your body and soul.

If you are ready to confess your sins and trust Christ, leave your chair and follow Dr. Cagan, John Cagan, and Noah Song to the back of the auditorium now. They will take you to a quiet room where we can talk and pray.

If this sermon blessed you Dr. Hymers would like to hear from you. WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Jonah 1:1-15.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Is Your All on the Altar?” (by Elisha A. Hoffman, 1839-1929).


THE OUTLINE OF

JONAH – FLEEING FROM GOD!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3).

I.   First, you cannot be content in your heart when you are
running away from God, Jonah 1:4.

II.  Second, when you are running away from the will of God,
the Devil will put you to sleep, Jonah 1:5, 6.

III. Third, your sin will be uncovered, Jonah 1:7; Matthew 26:21;
John 13:26-27; Jonah 1:12; Romans 6:23; Numbers 32:23.

IV. Fourth, your lost friends cannot help you, Jonah 1:13;
II Corinthians 6:17-18; James 4:4; I John 1:9.