God is generous with His grace, but He's also thorough with His discipline. Jonah did not need to be saved from the fish; the fish was prepared by God to save him. God sends storms in our lives - never to pay us back, but always to get us back. Distress is the force that overpowers intellect, theology, rationale or resistance, to drive us back to the person. Sometimes storms are the very thing that save us.
Jonah, Chapter 2. I really got into the Book of Jonah, and as it pertains particularly to Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement. It's the day that they realise that all of their sins are forgiven, and so it's the holiest day of the year; and yet on Yom Kippur, the Book of Jonah was the required reading. You can learn a lot about yourself in there. I landed on something this afternoon from there, which I'm going to share it tonight, and this draws from my series: Running From God.
I want you to turn to Jonah 2 - it's the story of Fish and Storms. Now let me just give you some quick introductory observations about the Book of Jonah in general. When we run from God, we run to the strangest places. We never run from God to something better. We never run from God to something good. We tend to run from God to very strange places. I ran from God, and I entered a life of drugs and alcohol, and it ended up ruining my life. Yeah, not good. I ran from God and I got into this that ruined my life. I ran from God and I ended up in jail. I ran from God and I did this. It's never good stories.
Typically it sounds something like this: I ran from God; and when I ran from God, I also ran from everyone in my life who was a source of wisdom and truth. I also ran from every place in my life that was a source of wisdom and truth, so we all run at times. A couple of things we learn in the Book of Jonah is this: God is patient, but He's also pragmatic.
Another lesson from the Book in general is that: God is generous with His grace, but He's also thorough with His discipline. The judgement and the discipline of God is a reality. The problem with it, is that we a lot of times miss the heart of it; that throughout the scriptures, the judgement and discipline of God was always meant to bring about fruitfulness. It was always meant to somehow save the soul at the end of the day. Even Paul in the New Testament - give him over to Satan. That sounds pretty bad. Give him over to Satan, so that his soul might be saved in the end. Sometimes God lets us feel the consequences of what we're doing fully, so that ultimately we come back to Him.
Ezekiel 14 - this is scary - if you approach God with an idol in your heart, He'll answer you according to the idol. Whoa! In other words, if you approach God already knowing what you want Him to say, and you're approaching Him in a manipulative sort of way, then He'll answer you according to the idol, so that you may experience what that idol brings, and ultimately be brought back to Him.
In the New Testament, the person in heaven, it says that his works were burned up. His soul was saved, but yet through fire, that God's judgement is always intended to bring. I could give you 25, 30 scriptures, that even with Sodom and Gomorrah, when you think of Sodom, I mean God never destroyed something so permanently as Sodom correct? I mean you talk about burning up, sulphur, fire and smoke rising. Yet in the Book of Ezekiel it says that God restored Sodom - so the judgement of God is never intended to be permanent. As a matter of fact, God says: My anger will not contend with man forever. Because why? Man couldn't handle that. Isaiah 57, He says: I saw the ways of man, I was enraged by his sinful greed, and I hid My face in anger from him - yet he kept on with his wilful ways.
In other words, I saw the ways of man, I hid My face from him in anger, yet man kept on with his wilful ways. Then it goes on; I have seen his ways, but I will heal him anyway. The discipline and the correction and judgement of God is always thorough. But the discipline, correction, judgement of God - it's always an attempt to get you back, without paying you back. God is generous with His grace, but He's thorough with His discipline. Now with that in mind let's read Jonah 2:1.