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Great Things In Jonah

Message #2

A Great Rebellion

Text: Jonah 1:3


The Bible is a book that shows some submitting to God while others are seen as rebelling against God. The word "rebel" has the idea of "resisting or rising up against authority." It is used some 62 times in the Old Testament to describe the attitude and the actions of men.

Jonah falls into the "rebel" category. God undoubtably had authority over Jonah, but the prophet failed to recognize it or knew it and still decided he would run from the Lord. He did not want to preach to the Ninevites, because he was afraid that some of them would repent and escape the judgment of God. Jonah felt they should be judged, not forgiven. God had just the opposite in mind.

There was rebellion among God’s creations, before man and earth were created. Isa. 14 and Ezek. 28 tells of the rebellion of Satan in eternity past. He rose up against the throne of God, not being content to serve as the anointed cherub that covered. The cheribim was a special class of angels that had something to do with special attendance to deity. Satan rebelled against the authority of God and caused 1/3 of the holy angels to fall with him.

In Numbers 20, Israel rebelled against the Lord . Moses rebelled against God and was not allowed to go over into the land of promise because he smote the rock in the wilderness, rather than speaking to the rock.

Over and over in the Old Testament, Israel was charged with and accused of rebelling against the Lord. It was not laid to Israel’s charge just a few times, but rather many times.

At the heart of rebellion is the heart. It is not the pumping organ that rebels against God, but the heart as the innermost part of man that often does so. The "heart" of man speaks of a combination of man’s emotions, his intellect, and his will.

Note: We live in a day of heart transplants. But let me tell you this, if they take a pumping organ from someone else and put it into your body, it will not necessarily change your personality. The heart that Jesus spoke of goes beyond an organ that pumps blood throughout your body. Every time that little pump in your chest beats, it discharges about four ounces of blood. That amounts to 3,000 gallons a day or 650,000 gallons per year. That is enough blood to fill more than 81 tank cars of 8,000 gallons each. But the "heart" that Jesus referred to so many times involves the way we think, our desires, and our emotions. The heart is the seat of love and hatred. It is the center of thought and conception. The heart knows, understands, and can reflect. It is the center of our feelings, our joys, our sorrows, and also our anxiety and fears.

The heart of the problem for Jonah was the human heart. When your heart is wrong, then nothing else is actually right. The people in a local church that cannot find anything right about the church and the pastor, simply have a serious heart problem. Rest assured that the constant critic of the work of God has a rebellion problem with God and is not right with the Lord. If that person were surrendered to God, you would not hear negative words spewing out of his or her mouth. A few years ago that kind of person would be brought before the church and the church would be voting on whether to keep his or her name on the roll of the church. No one should be allowed by a church to go out and constantly run down the work of God and the man of God. They should have to forfeit any membership rights in the local church if they will not repent. They have a serious heart problem; they simply try to shift the blame over to someone else to cover up their own problem. You do not love what you will belittle and degrade in public.

Jonah was not always a rebel in regard to the will of God. He is the same prophet, who in 2 Kings 14:25, predicted the remarkable expansion of Israel’s territory during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.). He is a sad and tragic character in the book that is named after him. The flow of the book is proof of its inspiration. When the Spirit of God mentions these valiant heroes of the Bible, He also shows how petty and silly they could act under the right circumstances. The Holy Ghost often points out their weaknesses and their flaws, in order that we might understand they were human beings and have problems just like you and I do.

We know nothing of Jonah after he went back to Israel from his preaching adventure in the city of the Assyrians called Nineveh. The last time we see him in Jonah, God is having to rebuke him because of his love for the gourd and his lack of love toward men.

Rebellion against the law in our society must be dealt with in some fashion. If you disregard the speed limit signs, as though the law has no authority over you, sooner or later you will have to pay for that rebellion. A state trooper may have to pull you over, give you a ticket, and cause your auto insurance to rise, just because you wanted to act as though the law had no authority over you. You may have to pay for breaking the law in some other way but sooner or later you will have to pay.

Jonah could not rebel against God and get by with it. God cared so much for Jonah, so as a result of that He sought to patiently work with Jonah, making the prophet what the Lord wanted him to be.

Let’s consider the great rebellion in three different ways:

The Reasons for His Rebellion

The Results of His Rebellion

The Reversal of His Rebellion


I The Reasons For His Rebellion

What caused Jonah to rebel against the Lord in the first place? There was more than one factor that led Jonah to try to do things his own way rather than God’s way. Since we can see something of what led to Jonah’s rebellion, we would be wise to learn from Jonah’s experience. We should want to avoid those things that contributed to Jonah’s defiant attitude.

A. Lack of Fear

Jonah at this point in his life seem to lack something that the Bible recommends for every child of God. It is called the "fear of the Lord". Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is an attitude of awe and great respect toward a holy God, which causes us to depart from all forms of evil. If we were awestruck enough when it comes to our consideration of the Lord, we would run from sin in every form, whether it be a sin of deed or attitude.

The "fear of the Lord" is not trembling in our boots every time we hear the name of God mentioned, having a slavish kind of fear. Instead, it is having so much respect of God and such a recognition of His divine authority in our lives, that we had rather do anything than disobey our Heavenly Father.

Jonah did not fear God as he should have. If he had, then he would not have run from his responsibility to do God’s will; that being, to preach to the Ninevites. He would have immediately done what the Lord had told him to do. He would not have caught a ship going in another direction if he had the fear of God dominating his life.


There is a large sign outside of a city in South Dakota which has a very humorous but revealing announcement which says, "30,000 friendly people and a few sore-heads." I believe every Baptist church could put a sign up similar to that in the vestibule of the church and be precisely accurate. The sore heads and the sour spirits just do not fear God; that is the problem of a handful in every church.

If I were attacking God’s church or God’s men, if I knew that I were saved, I would be afraid that God would sorely chastise me. We need to know God will not put up with wrong but that He will chastise or scourge His children when rebellion swells up in them (Heb.12).

Don’t be a sour head- have a sweet spirit about you. It is those that fear God that have their lives seasoned with kindness and holiness.


Tarshish means "a gem" while Joppa means "beautiful."The devil always tries to make sin beautiful but once you are involved in it, it is not attractive as the devil promised it would be.

B.  A Lack of Faith

Faith leaves everything in the hands of God when we understand or do not understand. The Assyrians (represented by the Ninevites), had been so cruel to Israel. They were one of Israel’s most bitter enemies. Jonah did not think they deserved the opportunity to repent of their cruelties and atrocities.

Jonah tried to rationalize and reason out everything instead of trusting God to do what was right. Faith says, "God will do what is right, whether I understand it or not."

In faith, we commit ourselves to God, trusting His knowledge is greater than our knowledge, and His ways higher than our ways (Isa.55:9).

Faith is expressed in the New Testament by the word "commit." It is used in John 2:24- "But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men." Jesus did not give Himself over to them because He knew of the evil intents of the hearts of those who were standing before Him. True faith simply commits and surrenders to God’s will and way.


Abraham left the Ur of the Chaldees under the orders of God, not knowing where he was going (Heb.11:8). He simply went when God said to go. He could have rebelled but he chose to obey. God blessed him greatly because of his unwavering obedience.

C.  A Lack of Forgiveness

Jonah was not willing to forgive the Ninevites for the terrible things they had done in regard to the nation of Israel. The Assyrians made Nineveh their capitol for several centuries. They had the reputation of being a cruel and barbaric people. The seed of Abraham was sorely mistreated by the Assyrian people.

I believe that Jonah felt they did not deserve the opportunity to repent and be spared. His philosophy was this: since they had sinned--they needed to be judged, not forgiven.

Some folks become your enemy for life if you cross them one time. If a person is like that in attitude, it does not say much about the right kind of character. Those who think like that are so much unlike God. When you read what the Bible says about God, you will discover He longs to forgive those who trespass against Him.


What a contrast is manifested in the Spirit that Moses possessed when he said to God, "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written" (Ex.32:32). Israel had rebelled against the Lord. Moses was so concerned about them being right with God that he was willing to have his name blotted out of God’s record books in heaven if Israel could be spared from judgment from the Lord. What a contrast to the spirit of Jonah!

Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." You cannot get much plainer than that when it comes to forgiveness.


A little boy was once asked what forgiveness is. His reply was, "It is the odor that flowers breathe when they are trampled upon." Take a rose, step on it, pick it up, then smell the fragrance.

The reason some folks cannot get anywhere with God is that they have an unforgiving spirit. A lack of forgiveness led to Jonah’s rebellion.

D. Lack of Faithfulness

Jonah should have been faithful to God in spite of how he felt personally. It is not what we think that matters the most anyhow, but the will of God that matters. God help us to be faithful to Him.


A lady once asked John Wesley, the famous, fiery Methodist preacher, if he knew he would die at 12 midnight on the next day, what he would do. How would he spend his time?

Wesley said to her, "Madam, I would spend it just as I intend to now. I would preach this evening and at five A.M. in the morning, I would ride to another city and preach in the afternoon, meeting the societies in the evening. Then I would go to Mr. Martin’s house, who is going to entertain me and pray with the family as usual. Afterwards, I would retire to my room at 10 o’clock, commend myself to my Heavenly Father, lie down to rest, and wake up in Glory."

Wesley was simply telling the woman, it will be life as usual and normal, a life of seeking to be faithful to God. Being faithful to our Lord should be a part of the "normal" Christian life. It should not be abnormal to obey God but the usual.

The rebellion of Jonah stemmed from a lack of fear, a lack of faith, a lack of forgiveness, and a lack of fruitfulness.


II The Results of His Rebellion

There are undesirable results that always follow an act or an attitude of rebellion. I am going to share with you three results of Jonah’s fighting against divine authority.


A. It Affected The Summoned

Who is the summoned? It is Jonah of course. God gave him orders in Jonah 1:1-2, but the prophet of God did not heed what God said to him.

The Bible uses the phrase twice in v.3, which says, "From the presence of the Lord." It was not so much that he thought he could get away from the presence of an omnipresent God; it was more likely that he ran from the responsibility that God, through His Word, had given to him.

God summoned Jonah to: "Arise–go–preach." Jonah knew exactly what the Lord expected of him.

His disobedience brought much trouble in his life. Because of it he was caught in a storm, thrown overboard into the sea, swallowed by a great fish and lived inside of it for three days. That doesn’t quite sound like a vacation on a resort island in the Bahamas or a weekend in Gatlinburg.

We bring trouble into our lives when we disobey God. Trouble is not always an evidence of disobedience, but it certainly can be in some situations.

B. It Affected the Sailors

Jonah chapter 1 speaks to us of a ship rolling and tossing in the midst of a storm, with fear among the sailors that the ship may go down into the depths of the sea. They began praying to their false gods, took all the goods and tossed them over the side of the ship to make it lighter. They felt that would help keep the ship afloat.

They finally decided to cast lots to find out who it was that was causing the problem. When they cast lots, Jonah was the one upon which it fell. They wanted to know why this calamity was coming upon them.

Jonah had already told them he was running from what God had called him to do (Jonah 1:10).

The sailors did not want to cast Jonah overboard, so they attempted to row to bring the ship to land (Jonah 1:13). That did not work so they took Jonah and cast him into the sea. When they cast the "rebellious one" over the side, there was calm. I believe it was "immediate" calm. If you read Jonah 1:5, you get the idea that casting Jonah overboard was the right thing to do, because miraculously and instantly the sea was calm when Jonah’s body left the ship.

Those sailors were put through intense pressure, fear, loss of goods and near death, all because Jonah sinned against the Lord in his spirit of rebellion and defiance.


Often people think they can sin and get by with it. That is a delusion from the devil. Sin always has its payday and always affects others in some way.


I think of how many times innocent children have suffered because of a drunken dad.

I think of how families are torn apart over an adulterous relationship of a mom or dad.

I think of how many people have passed on diseases to their loved ones because of sinful living and the failure to recognize the sanctity of the human body.


The effect of Achan’s sin is a prime example of what I am telling you. Because he hid the wedge of gold, the silver and the special garment in his tent, the anger of the Lord was kindled against all of Israel (Joshua 7:1). What he did caused adverse problems for an entire nation. No man or woman is an island unto himself or herself!

C.  It Affected the Savior

It grieves the heart of God when His children do not obey His commands for their lives. Our sin affects the Savior.

The Bible says in Eph. 4:30, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God." The word "grieve" means to cause sorrow or sadness. God obviously is a Person with emotions. We should strive to make God glad, not cause Him sorrow.


If you are an earthly parent, you know what sorrow it brings to your heart when your children disobey. We have gladness when they obey, sorrow when they disobey. Remember, God is a "perfect" Heavenly Father. We feel sorrow and are imperfect, but what must God, a "perfect" being feel, when we do not listen to Him?

Live your life to please Him. If you live to please everyone around you, it will unsettle and disturb the peace of God in your heart. If something bothers God it should trouble you also.


III The Reversal Of The Prophet’s Rebellion

Jonah 3:1,4 informs us that the prophet finally arose and went to Nineveh, announcing that God was going to destroy the city in forty days.

It was somewhat of a change of action and attitude from what we see in the first few verses of Chapter 1. What brought about the change? Allow me to remind you that God knows what to bring into our lives to make us willing to put up the white flag of surrender and cause us to say "yes" to Him. I see three things that I believe led to a change of mind on the part of the prophet. What did God use to bring him to his senses?

A.  A Storm

This storm did not just happen to be. It was caused by the Creator of all matter- the Lord God Almighty. The Bible says in Jonah 1:4, "But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea and there was a mighty tempest in the sea." Why did God send the storm?

1.  To Correct His Servant

God sought to change the stubborn calloused will of His prophet Jonah. Correction is an evidence of love. The loving parent will correct his or her children. To not do so reveals a lack of love.

The Bible says in Proverbs 22:15, "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." Jonah was acting foolishly, so God sought to correct his behavior and thinking.

2.  To Confirm His Sovereignty

The Lord has power over everything. He has the authority and ability to do whatever He sees fit to do. That is not always true with human beings, but it is true of the Almighty God.

3.  To Create A Shadow

Jonah’s whale experience was to point to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Matthew 12:40 says, "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." The whale’s belly was likened unto Christ going down into "hades", into the heart of the earth, and there announcing his triumph and victory over sin and Satan.


It would be easier for someone to turn away from sin and rebellion than it would be to endure the fury of a corrective storm that God might send your way.

B.  A Stomach

The Bible says that Jonah found himself in the "whale’s belly"- (Matthew 12:40).

Can you imagine what it would be like to live in the belly of a whale for three days?

There are whales of the size that could have a man inside their stomach. One of them is the Rhinodon Typicus or the whale shark. They can go through the water at high speeds, catch their prey, strain out the water from their mouths, and swallow whatever is left. In 1933 one was found off of Cape Cod. His mouth was 10 or 12 feet wide; he was over 100 feet long; his mouth was so big he could have swallowed a horse. They have four to six compartments in their stomachs. A colony of men could find lodging there. They could have a choice of rooms, for in the head of this whale there is an air storage chamber, which is an enlargement of its nasal sinus, that can measure 7 feet high, 7 feet wide, and 14 feet long.


A dog was once found alive in a whale’s belly after being there for six days. He was alive and barking when found. Some whales have been found with other sea creatures in them as big as an ox.

Men have been found alive in whales. A man by the name of James Bartley, was thought to have been drowned at sea. Two days after he disappeared, some sailors made a catch of a whale. When they cut it up, they found the man alive but unconscious inside of the whale. He revived and had good health afterwards.


You may be swallowed by the whale of sickness, troubles or disease, but God is just trying to encourage you to live in fuller obedience to Him

I cannot pretend to know what it was like to be inside of a whale for several days, but it surely was not pleasant. It was not like the Ramada or Hilton Inn.

He obviously had seaweed wrapped around him (Jonah 2:5). He probably also had a good case of claustrophobia. The walls of the stomach closed in on Him but he did turn to God.

C.  A Submission

He finally agreed to be under God’s authority. Jonah 3:2 says, "He arose and went." When we are willing to do whatever God says, it is an evidence our rebellion has departed from us.


We have seen the reasons for his rebellion, the results of it, and the reversal of it.

How is your own heart? It is rebellious? Are you where Jonah was? God dealt with him as His servant. God will also deal with you if you are seeking to operate in your authority rather than in His.

Instead of rebelling, resign to His plan for your life.

Sermon From Dr. Tom Walker
100 Page Book- "Great Things In The Book Of Jonah"


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