A Failed Attempt to Flee, Jonah 1:4-17

A Bible Exposition of Jonah 1:4-17

Angelo Dundee was born on August 30, 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a young man, he observed great trainers at Stillman’s Gym in New York. There he learned the art and science of boxing.

Dundee eventually opened a gym of his own in Miami, Florida, where he became a world-class trainer. In 1960 he was contracted to train Muhammad Ali, and the partnership lasted 21 years. He was about the development of the fighter beginning with his mind and then moving into the skill that he needed with his fists.

He taught strategy, technique, and character. In fact, as one writer comments…

The whole process of creating a champ always thrilled Angelo Dundee—all the phases of that process: finding the right fighter and helping him develop his skills etc. Most of his fighters started as young talented boys that turned into mature, powerful champions under his guidance.[1]

Dundee approached training a boxer as an individual. He would assess the fighter’s reflexes, height, proclivities. He didn’t use a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather trained each boxer as an individual to best use his strengths.

At times he would exercise fatherly compassion. Other times he would get in someone’s face as he did at one point in Ali’s career when he wanted to quit the sport and Dundee talked him in to continuing.

Ali was one of many greats trained by Dundee, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Jimmy Ellis, and George Foreman. And this wasn’t a coincidence. By the time his career was over, Dundee had trained 15 world champion boxers.[2]

All of these men may have had significant natural ability, but they were cultivated under the very specific plan and direction of a man named Angelo Dundee.

Behind these great fighters was a trainer who was calling the shots.

And yet this is on the level of humans influencing humans. What we are going to see today is God training his servant Jonah.

He is the master trainer. He has a plan that he is executing, and Jonah, at this point, can’t see any of what’s ahead.

A few weeks ago Rick opened our service by reading Hebrews 12:2, where Jesus is called the author and finisher of our faith. As author, he is the source and the initiator of faith. That means that it comes from outside of us as a work that He begins.

And the finisher, he is the completer. He is the end. He will see it through. Today we are going to be reminded about how God’s fingerprints are all over every inch of your life. And if you are in Christ, He is working together every detail.

There is nothing that you are going through today that isn’t coming through his hands, with a specific purpose that He has in His wisdom.

You don’t know what tomorrow brings. But you have the promise that God finishes what he starts (Philippians 1:6). He is making you like Christ. He is bringing you to glory. He is preserving your soul until the end.

Last week we were introduced to the beginning of this epic narrative.

  • We met Jonah, a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel during a time of economic prosperity and spiritual corruption who possessed a prejudice against Gentiles, and specifically the enemies of Israel.
  • We met the Ninevites, Assyrians who were notorious for their violence, whose sin rose up to the Lord.
  • We met a loving God who was going to judge the Ninevites, but in his kindness grants them the opportunity to repent.

And so Jonah rebelled as we saw because he was afraid that the Ninevites would hear his message and actually repent and be saved. And so Jonah ran away.

So we see a bit about how God relates to his people here.

God could have stopped Jonah immediately in his tracks. He could have made it impossible for him to find a ship in port that would take him to Tarshish. He could have afflicted him with an illness to prevent him from being able to get aboard.\

But in his wisdom, God is letting out the rope and giving Jonah enough to hang himself, so to speak. He is letting him have what he thinks he wants. He knows that Jonah needs to be sufficiently humbled before he will respond. Sometimes God allows us to experience chastisement for going astray.

One of the things that becomes so apparent as we study this text is the difference in perspectives. Jonah had a plan, and a perspective on how things were going to go down.

But Jonah has a human point of view. And the Lord has a perspective and a plan. Jonah thinks he might just get away with his plan, but that’s not going to be the case. Jonah belongs to the Lord, and the Lord is going to preserve his prodigal prophet.

5 Steps the Lord Takes in Pursuing His Prodigal Prophet

1.     He cooks up a sudden hurricane (4)

2.     He cranks up the pressure (5-6)

3.     He causes a complete exposure (7-9)

4.     He clears His own reputation (10-16)

5.     He cares for His servant (17)

Jonah 1:4–17—4 The LORD hurled a great wind on the sea and there was a great storm on the sea so that the ship was about to break up. 5 Then the sailors became afraid and every man cried to his god, and they threw the cargo which was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone below into the hold of the ship, lain down and fallen sound asleep. 6 So the captain approached him and said, “How is it that you are sleeping? Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish.” 7 Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” 9 He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.” 13 However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them. 14 Then they called on the LORD and said, “We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O LORD, have done as You have pleased.” 15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows. 17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.

[1] http://www.fightingmaster.com/trainers/dundee/ accessed September 11, 2016.

[2] http://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/7530790/muhammad-ali-legendary-trainer-angelo-dundee-dies-90