Pointers? A few things in bold that we should always consider.
Now The Word of The LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai (when?), saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.” A dream?
But Jonah rose (was he asleep?) up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, “Where can I go from Your Spirit, O LORD my God? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into Heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there; if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to You, God of Light, Amen; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You (Psalm 139:7-12).
Jonah attempted to flee from the Presence of God, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of The LORD (an impossibility.)
God: Everywhere at Once! Omnipresence
The Bible teaches that God is everywhere present—omnipresent. In every place in the universe God is present. He is not limited by space. The psalmist wrote:
Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there; if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you (Psalm 139:7-12).
David said that God’s presence couldn’t be eluded through space (verse 8), speed (verse 9), or darkness verse 12). In other words, nothing in the universe can hide a person from God.
God’s Form Is Not Spread Out, Amen
This is not to say that God’s form is spread out so that parts of Him exist in every location. God is spirit; He has no physical form. He is present everywhere in that everything is immediately in His presence. At the same time He is present everywhere in the universe. No one can hide from Him and nothing escapes His notice.
Nobody Can Hide From God
The prophet Amos records God as saying that no one can hide from Him:
Though they dig into hell, from there my hand shall take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down; and though they hide themselves on top of Carmel, from there I will search and take them; though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, from there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them (Amos 9:2,3).
In the Book of Jeremiah God says:
‘Am I a God near at hand,’ says The Lord, ‘and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ . . . ‘do I not fill Heaven and Earth?’ says The Lord? (Jeremiah 23:23,24).
The Bible is clear that there is no place in the universe that is away from God’s Presence. His Presence is everywhere, Amen.
Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely The Lord is in this place, and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:15,16).
God Is Everywhere
Scripture testifies that God is present in both heaven and earth at the same time.
Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, he is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other (Deuteronomy 4:39).
In Jericho, Rahab the prostitute acknowledged.
When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above and on earth beneath (Joshua 2:11).
In Proverbs we read.
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3).
Thus says the Lord, “Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool. Where then is a house you could build for me? And where is a place that I may rest?” (Isaiah 66:1).
The People Recognized That God Always Saw Them
From earliest times, people recognized that God saw them wherever they went. Hagar said.
Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees;” for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing him?” (Genesis 16:13).
The idea that God is everywhere present is not the same as Pantheism – God is the same as the universe. Pantheism equates God and the universe. The doctrine of God’s omnipresence says that He is present everywhere in the universe – not that He is the universe.
This Is A Comforting Truth For The Believer.
The fact that God is everywhere present is a constant source of comfort for believers. Wherever the believer may go, they will find themselves in the protection of God’s Presence. There is no place where a believer can get away from God’s reach. His presence may be experienced at any time and at any place. God has promised the believer that He is with them always.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you (Isaiah 43:2).
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.
And the sailors said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots,
The Hebrew Bible contains several examples of the casting of lots as a means of determining God’s will: In the Book of Leviticus 16:8, God commanded Moses, “And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; onelot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.”
Casting lots was a method used by the Jews of the Old Testament and by the Christian disciples prior to Pentecost to determine the will of God. Lots could be sticks with markings, stones with symbols, etc., which were thrown into a small area and then the result was interpreted. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD,” (Prov. 16:33). There are many instances of casting lots in the Bible.
“In the Bible the practice was used in a variety of circumstances, including (1) the selection of the scapegoat (Lv 16:8–10); (2) the allocation of the tribal inheritance in the Promised Land (Nm 26:55, 56; Jos 14:2; Jgs 1:3; etc.); (3) the determination of the families who had to relocate to give a proper distribution of the populace or of those warriors who had to go to war where only a percentage was required (Jgs 20:9; Neh 11:1); (4) the order of the priests and their duties (1 Chr 24:5–19; Neh 10:34); (5) the determination of an offender (Jos 7:14–18; cf. Prv 18:18).”1
Scripture cites many instances of people casting lots, and it seems to be used when important decisions needed to be made, but there was not enough guidance that had already been provided through wisdom and/or Scripture. Also, God never condemned the casting of Lots in the Bible.
- Leviticus 16:8, “And Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat.”
- 1 Chronicles 25:8, “And they cast lots for their duties, all alike, the small as well as the great, the teacher as well as the pupil.”
- Psalm 22:18, “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”
- Matthew 27:35, “And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots.”
- Acts 1:26, “And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
In the New Testament, after Judas killed himself, the disciples cast lots to see who would be his replacement. The lot fell to Matthias, but this was before Pentecost. Since the New Testament does not have any instance of Christians casting lots to discern the will of God after Pentecost, we conclude that after the arrival of the Holy Spirit that we do not need to rely on that method but instead must rely on the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the further revelation found in the New Testament.
Following is a listing of verses dealing with casting lots as cited from the New Nave’s Topical Bible by Swanson, James, and Orville Nave, 1994.
Lev. 16:8; Num. 34:13; 36:2; Josh. 17:14; 18:6, 8, 10; 21:8; 1 Chr. 6:65; 24:31; 25:8; 26:13, 14; Neh. 10:34; 11:1; Esth. 3:7; 9:24; Psa. 22:18; Prov. 1:14; 16:33; Isa. 34:17; Ezek. 24:6; Joel 3:3; Obad. 1:11; Jonah 1:7; Mic. 2:5; Nah. 3:10; Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:24; Luke 23:34; John 19:24; Acts 1:17, 26; 1 Pet. 5:3
They on the ship in the tempest cast lots that they would know for whose cause this evil was upon them. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.
Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou?
And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear The LORD, The God of Heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land.
Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto Jonah. “Why hast thou done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the Presence of The LORD, because he had told them.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And Jonah 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.”
Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto The LORD, and said, We beseech Thee, O LORD, we beseech Thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for Thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased Thee.
So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared The LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto The LORD, and made vows.
Now The LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. (Our way and paths are Known.) Omniscient is The LORD God, Amen.
Amazing that Jonah’s paths were known before he decided to flee from the presence of The LORD.
Be wary! Our thoughts and ways are clear before The Lord. A thought precedes an action; a complex web…
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Nigh unto death! No food, belly acid, no room to move! Jonah prayed to be allowed to pass away. Jonah Chapter One.
Jonah’s prayer from the belly of the fish:
“I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of Thy sight; yet I will look again toward Thy holy temple.” Jonah in his anguish decreed. Pleading for life and faith’ing The Essence of God to bestow him another chance.
The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the Earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast Thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. Jonah in faith declared, as we in difficulty must do.
LORD, if it be Your Will, I plead that You cause it to be, Amen.
When my soul fainted within me I remembered The LORD: and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
But I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of The LORD.
An earnest prayer laying at death’s gate, an unintentional fast from any comfort! God be praised! In all our trials and tribulations, Amen
As I have reflected over the events of the past few years I am drawn to the first chapter of James. In the first 13 verses we are given some understanding of the purpose of trials that come our way.
- The good that has come from trials.
- The comfort we can have in trials.
So this passage speaks to us to help us in our time of trial when we need understanding and comfort. And yet in a real way I have also thought that the life of our friend and loved one actually are a living example of this passage:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trialbecause, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who Love him.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.
Listening and Doing
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speakand slow to become angry, because human angerdoes not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
So for a few minutes, think with me as we look into God’s Word. (Read verses 2-4) The Lord would first of all have us know that there is. . .
Purpose in Trials
1. When difficult times come into our lives and we find ourselves unable to comprehend/to understand; the enemy is quick to throw doubts/questions into our minds.
2. We find ourselves questioning God’s goodness/God’s wisdom in allowing these things to happen.
3. We may even be bitter and angry with God for allowing this to happen to us and wonder if He really understands.
4. But God’s word confidently reminds us that God does understand . . .
- Things do not just happen haphazardly to the Christian.
- With no meaning/no purpose.
5. God is in control and as Paul reminds us no one or nothing can separate us from God’s love. Rom. 8–even the most difficult of circumstances.
6. James reminds us that God wants us to trust Him in the trials of life.
- For as we trust Him in the trials God can use the difficult trial to mold us:
- To mature us.
- So that we will be more like Jesus Christ our Savior.
7. Isaiah the prophet said in trying to comprehend God’s ways: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9)
8. God would have us trust Him in the difficult trials:
- For even though we cannot understand He loves us and He is in control.
- He will use this trial to help us grow spiritually and to help us mature and become more like Jesus Christ.
9. Trust Him! Keep your eyes on Him! And God will use even this trial for His glory.
10. But James goes on to tell us that not only does God have purpose in trials–but also that God gives wisdom in trials.
Wisdom in Trials
(Read verses 5 and 6)
1. James recognizes that we may not always be able to see the purpose in trials or see the good that can come from trials.
2. When we find ourselves unable to see the good and the purpose in trials we are to:
- Keep on asking Him for wisdom.
- In faith.
- And our God who loves to give will respond so that we can see the good and the purpose in trials.
3. Then James illustrates and says:
- That even a poor man has much good in his trial of poverty if he knows God–the owner of the universe.
- And a rich man through he lose everything can rejoice in the good of having learned not to place his faith in riches which quickly pass away.
4. God has been very good to us in allowing us to see the good even in this difficult trial.
- For so much good has already come from this trial:
- As a church family we are growing spiritually and united together.
- As individuals we have seen faith in action and we have learned lessons we shall never forget.
- As we have seen at least three people come to Jesus Christ through faith. (As NAME shared her vital faith with Jesus Christ with others)
5. Yet in the days to come we will continue to need wisdom to see the purpose and the good in this trial.
- James exhorts us to keep on asking God in faith for wisdom.
- And our generous loving God will give us the wisdom needed.
(But finally James reminds us that not only does God have a purpose in trials; and gives wisdom in trials but thirdly there is comfort in trials.)
Comfort in Trials
1. James here reminds us that this life is not all there is to life.
- That right will be commended.
- That due reward will be give for faithfulness.
2. We often live as if we are the living on the way to the dying.
3. But God’s word makes it very clear that we are the dying on the way to the living.
4. What is in store then for one who knows Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and passes from this life?
- Phil. l tells us that when a Christian departs he is with Christ.
- II Cor. 5 tells that when we are absent from the body we are present with the Lord
- And I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4 tells us that someday that body which for the present sleeps in the grave will be resurrected and united with our soul/spirit and in this glorified state we will be with the Lord forever.
- And there rewards will be given for endurance through trials and for faithfulness to God in difficult times.
5. So today we sorrow – but we sorrow not as others who have no hope.
- We have the assurance of the word of God that (name) is with Christ.
- (Name) had trusted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior from sin.
6. But I cannot help but think that perhaps some of you are not prepared to face death and you are not prepared to meet Jesus Christ face to face. Nor are you ready to face a trial like (Name) has faced with peace in your heart.
- The strength that enabled this dear one to face her trial with confidence and assurance was not her own.
- It came as she allowed the life of her Savior to live His life through her. It came from a confidence that she was ready to meet her Savior.
- She had made her peace with God through faith in Christ and desired above all else to glorify Him with her life.
7. I invite you right where you are sitting to invite Christ into your life as your Savior from sin.
- Jesus Christ died as your substitute paying the penalty for your sin.
- But He asks you ;by an act of your will to trust Him as your personal Savior from sin.
- If you do this, on the authority of God’s word you are a new creature/born again and prepared to meet your Savior.
James (The Holy Spirit of God) in the quietness of this hour reminds us that . . .
l. There is purpose in trials:
- God is still in control
- He has not forsaken us but wants us to trust Him so we can mature.
2. God has and will give us wisdom to see the purpose and the good in this trial–As we ask in faith.
3. And there is comfort in knowing that this life is not all there is–that absent from the body means present with the Lord.
4. These truths were demonstrated before us in the life of (Name). (Name) faith in Christ enabled her to face her trial with the peace that passes understanding. Phil. 4:7
5. And I trust that now as her family as her family and friends we may lay hold of the same Savior and the same truths from God’s word to enable us to bear this trial together.
And The LORD Spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land near to Nineveh. Jonah 2
ALL things work together for good in the lives of those who Love The LORD and are called according to His purpose.
But, we see what happens after the citizens of Nineveh came to serve and worship The LORD and repent with a proclaimed fast of Man and beast.
For word of Jonah came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not.
Jonah’s ways were Known before he recieved instruction from The LORD. It is utmostly possible that if he arrived in Nineveh not having been swallowed and partially digested by the whale, his testimony would be different. We are known! Amen.
We see that Jonah’s punishment had not started. His testimony unknowingly shared with the folks on the boat gave honor and sacrificed to The LORD, Amen. God knew what his actions would be and Jonah was able to win many people over to The LORD.
Amazingly, Jonah stayed in a shelter he built to see what would become of the city of Nineveh. The amazing thing is that he preached and shared The Word of God and left without ‘seeing’ what effect his sharing The Word of God had caused the inhabitants of the city; numbered at 120,000 of God’s Creations. Each one is precious in God’s site, Amen.
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to The Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in Love, a God Who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then The Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
But The Lord said, “you have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
We are touched by The Love of The LORD, Amen.
Judge not that you may want not, Amen.
LORD, Heavenly Father I come before Your Throne of grace and mercy. As the people of Nineveh, I have wandered astray. LORD, forgive me for I am nothing. Your mercy is eternal, Your grace covers all, my wrongs are cast into the depths of the sea and I am made whole in Jesus’ mighty name, Amen
You will again have compassion on me; you will tread my sins underfoot and hurl all my iniquities into the depths of the sea, Amen