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A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Mr. John Samuel Cagan
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, June 4, 2017

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

The passage is contained in these 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 to evangelize the godless city of Nineveh. He ran away from the Lord. He was not consecrated to God. He was not saved. God called to him many times, speaking to his heart, pleading with Jonah to go and evangelize the lost 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. You want to get away from the church as soon as possible. You don’t tell anyone, but you want to get out of church as soon as you can. You want to go and do your own thing. In your heart, you think, “I can’t get away from this church fast enough. I don’t want to be stuck here in this boring life forever. I want out of here! The church is like a jail! Let me out!”

You don’t say that out loud, but it’s in your heart. You are just like Jonah. Like you,

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

But there is no happiness or joy in running away from the church, or 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 rebellion and make Christ the center of your life.

I’ll live for Him who died for me,
How satisfied my life shall be!
I’ll live for Him who died for me,
My Saviour and my God!
   (“I’ll Live For Him” by Ralph E. Hudson, 1843-1901;
      altered by the Pastor).

I. First – you cannot be content in your heart when you are running away from God.

But God was still calling Jonah,

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

Like Jonah, 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 in the church and go out into the world to find fun and fulfillment. But God will not let you go easy.

“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 into the sea, and the ship was nearly broken to pieces. What was God telling Jonah? God was saying, “Come back, and return to me. Do what I say or you will never have peace.” If you don’t live for Christ you will never feel happiness in your soul.

There have been people who thought we were wrong. They ran off to have an affair. They ran off to get a job. They ran off to have a “good life.” They thought that would make them happy. Like Jonah, they ran away from the presence of the Lord. But they are miserable and unhappy. They thought they could get away from God, but God sent out a mighty wind into their lives. The roaring sea of sin has nearly broken their lives already. That could happen to your life as well. Lives can be smashed completely in the storms of life! It does not take very long! Your heart must be broken down by God’s Spirit! You must be broken down under conviction of sin! You must turn your life completely over to Christ by faith. You must trust Jesus before your life is smashed by the seas of sin. You cannot be content in your heart when you are running away, or planning to run away from God and the church.

II. Second – when you are running away from the will of God, the Devil will put you to sleep!

The Bible says,

“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! The Devil put him to sleep and Delilah cut off his hair – and the Philistines took him and put out his eyes.

After the Devil puts you to sleep – he could put out your eyes for good. 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!

The Bible says,

“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!” You must wake up and pray to God for salvation before you sleep through your life and suddenly die.

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 satisfied. In order to be satisfied in your soul, you must be saved by Jesus. There are many ways to live life in a sleepy fog of sin. It feels so normal and comfortable to continue to live, to sleep as you are. Jonah must have felt comfortable and safe as he was sleeping in the boat. He was so comfortable in his sleep that he could not realize how much danger he was actually in. He would have kept on sleeping, but he heard the shipmaster call to him. The shipmaster woke him up to the terrible danger that he was in.

You are living your life that way. If you continue living that way, you will never be saved. If Jonah did not wake up, the ship would have sunk into the sea. Jonah was told to wake up, or else he would die. The preaching calls you to wake up. But you continue to sleep. The preaching calls for you again and again, but now you have learned to tune it out. Now you almost cannot be woken up. You cannot sense that the ship of your life is going down, because you are asleep. You must wake up, and call upon God. Call upon God for salvation. Call upon God before it is too late.

III. Third – your sin will be uncovered.

The Bible says,

“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!

The Bible says,

“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. A woman resisted God so long her mind snapped. She drank a bottle of poison and died. Many people who don’t kill themselves “snap.” They lose control of their own life. The sin they delighted in comes up against them. When the Devil gets through with you, when sin finds you out, you will snap! There are many ways to snap!

The Bible says,

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

“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 sinner. He realizes that he has made a terrible choice in life. He waited too long! Now he 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!” You must not wait too long, or your sins will destroy you. Your sins will plunge you into hell. Your sins will find you out.

IV. Fourth – your lost friends cannot help you!

The Bible says,

“Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it 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.

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).

Lost friends cannot help you! They will not be there to defend you at the Last Judgment. You will stand before God, all alone.

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

There is only one friend who can help you. There is only one person who can intervene in the destiny of destruction you have crafted in your life. There is only one person who can save you. That is because there is only one person who died for your sins. Only Jesus died for your sins. Only Jesus went through the beatings, the scourging, and the nails in his hands and feet as a sacrifice for your sin. Only Jesus could die for your sin, because only Jesus was perfect and sinless.

Jesus came down from Heaven. Jesus is the Son of God. He could have done anything He wanted. But He loved you so much, that He left Heaven to come and die for your sins. Jesus died, but did not stay dead. Jesus rose from the dead. He ascended into Heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God. Jesus offers salvation, safety, forgiveness, righteousness, and Heaven, if you come to Him. Jesus will save you. But you must come to Jesus.

You must wake up from the sleepy fog of sin. You must stop running away from God. You must turn to Jesus. Trust Jesus, and your sins will be washed clean in His Blood. Leave your friends, your sins, your plans behind, and come to Jesus as a helpless sinner. You will never be prepared for death without Christ. You will never have peace in life without Christ. You must have Jesus. Trust Jesus, and be saved.

Dr. Hymers, please come and close this service.

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
"I'd Rather Have Jesus" (words by Rhea F. Miller, 1922; music composed by George Beverly Shea, 1909-2013).



A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Mr. John Samuel Cagan

“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.