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Sovereign When Opposed (Jonah 1)

Series: Jonah (Sovereign & Merciful God)

The book of Jonah is literally the most unique writing among the minor prophets. Most literature in the minor prophets contains one verse describing the prophet and the rest of the literature is devoted to the message he spoke. Jonah devotes one verse to Jonah’s message and the rest of the four chapters on the prophet’s story. But the purpose of this book is not to tell us about Jonah. This compact narrative only focuses on Jonah as much as it serves the purpose of teaching us about Jonah’s God. This too is our purpose in studying this prophet’s story. Our goal is to learn about a God whose will is sovereign, whose hand is powerful to save, and whose heart has deep compassion for sinners.


The first three verses of Jonah tell us the two important details we need to know to dive into the rest of the story. First, the Lord’s will is declared clearly to Jonah in verse 2. The Lord wants to warn and save Nineveh from their wickedness by Jonah’s mouth. Second, Jonah rejects the Lord’s will. We will see in chapter 4 how it is because Jonah does not want God to show mercy to Nineveh. So Jonah flees the presence of the Lord by hopping on a boat headed to a city far away - Tarshish. The Lord’s will is “Go,” and Jonah’s will is, “Nope. Not doing it.” So, what happens when the Lord tells a man to warn people of their sins and he has the audacity to flee? The narrative that follows carries an implicit warning to us. When we are tempted to ignore and oppose the Lord’s will, Jonah teaches us what the Lord does in response to such prideful actions.

  • When opposed, the Lord in his sovereignty proves idols powerless and us hopeless (1:4-6)
    • The captain ironically asked Jonah the God he fled and the only God who could save them.
    • When tempted to flee a sovereign God, fight temptation by remembering we are fleeing the only one with power to save.
  • When opposed, the Lord in his sovereignty causes even pagans to fear him through judgment (1:7-16)
    • When Jonah rejected God’s command to correct a city filled with pagans, he fled on a ship filled with pagans whom God caused to fear him.
    • God will be glorified through all mankind - with or without our cooperation. Don’t be the fool who forces God to glorify himself by judging us.
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