Sovereignty

Stopping the Slide Into Self Atonement

A Bible Exposition Of Galatians 2:11-21

Paul Shares 2 Reflections on His Confrontation with Peter

  1. Paul shares the circumstance of his confrontation with Peter (11-14a)
    • Establishes the setting (11a)
    • Encapsulates the situation (11b)
    • Explains the scenario (12-14a)
  1. Paul shares the content of his confrontation with Peter (14b-21)
    • Highlights the inconsistency (14b)
    • Reviews the facts (15-16)
    • Defends his position (17-21)

Galatians 2:11–21—11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? 15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

Establishing the Context

Paul has just been on the topic of defending his apostolic authority. False teachers had come into Galatia and spread lies about him. They claimed that he wasn’t really an apostle, his Gospel of grace was false, and the Galatians needed to add human achievement to their profession of faith in Christ.

And so Paul is makes it abundantly clear that he isn’t the origin of the Gospel that he preached to the Galatians. Rather, he received it directly from the Lord.

In Chapter 2 Paul begins comparing himself to Peter. Peter was called to Jews (i.e. staying home in Jerusalem with James) meanwhile I was called to Gentiles (i.e. the foreign mission field), look at v. 7.

7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised

Why does he bring this up now? To show that him and Peter are on an equal playing field.

8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles),

Peter is an apostle and I am an apostle. We are both commissioned by the Holy Spirit. And then he goes on to explain that this perspective was actually affirmed by others church leaders. Paul isn’t only a self-proclaimed apostle:

9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.

Paul wasn’t called to ministry by men. He was commissioned by Christ, but he is affirmed here by James (the leading elder in Jerusalem), Cephas (Peter) and John.

He says I was affirmed by all these guys. And so Paul sets out for Jerusalem, urged to remember the poor believers there (which he does and will take up multiple offerings from the other churches in their behalf).

10 They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.

And now Paul transitions in v. 11 to an interesting topic. He recalls an uncomfortable situation. This is something he probably didn’t enjoy reliving. Peter certainly would have winced to hear it again.

But under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Paul brings up this rough patch for two reasons:

  • It demonstrates his apostolic authority (he was willing to rebuke the leading apostle.
  • It parallels the doctrinal concerns he has for the Galatians right now.

Mercy Wilts Pride & Prejudice

A Bible Exposition of Jonah 4:1-11

So far in the book we have watched a showdown unfold. And it has presented a contrast between the mercy of God and the pride of man.

The Lord calls his prophet to carry out a task that is unpalatable. Namely, to go proclaim a message that could bring salvation to an enemy.

The prophet goes rogue, and leaves his post in an attempt to run from the Lord. The majority of the narrative so far has really encompassed this time period from Jonah’s rebellion, and God humbling him and bringing him back to Himself.

It has been a marvelous display of God’s sovereignty over even the smallest details.

And in the progression of the narrative this is all heading toward a crescendo that we will encounter next week in Chapter 4. The climax of the book is Jonah’s heart getting exposed before God and a showdown that takes place outside of Nineveh.

But in the meantime along the journey, we are going to witness today God’s salvation reaching the most unlikely places. In fact, there is no partiality with God. No favoritism. No prejudice.

This is a lesson that Israel has not yet learned. Who does the Lord regard?

Isaiah 66:2—“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

What we will see today is a people who would have seemed too far gone. In high school when everyone votes on the most or least likely, they would have been voted least likely to ever get saved.

They were a hardened people in Assyria. They loved iniquity and false gods. They were famous for their wickedness.

And yet when the Word of God came to them, they responded in humble fear.

Nineveh stands even today as a timeless testimony to God’s mercy to save even the most unlikely and least deserving sinners. And it also stands as a testimony of what it looks like to respond to God in a way that He desires.

Nineveh had an Isaiah 66:2 response. And as a result, God granted this wicked people, salvation.

It is possible for you to be a part of a church that stands for expository preaching, and not tremble at God’s Word.

You might have a rich family pedigree of those who fear God and tremble at His Word, but your family heritage doesn’t accomplish anything before God.

Perhaps you have a distant memory of a time when you trembled at God’s Word. It’s your go-to example of something that happened a long time ago, but there isn’t anything coming to mind freshly.

Nineveh stands a testimony for all time of the people to whom God looks.

4 Developments in God Reconciling Nineveh to Himself

  1. A repeated assignment (1-2)
  2. A reluctant preacher (3-4)
  3. A shocking response (5-9)
  4. A profound pardon (10)

 

With that said, here is our text for today:

Jonah 4:1–11—1 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” 4 The LORD said, “Do you have good reason to be angry?” 5 Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. 6 So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. 7 But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8 When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.” 9 Then God said to Jonah, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death.” 10 Then the LORD said, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?”

Repentence Reaches Improbable Places

A Bible Expositon of Jonah 3:1-10

So far in the book we have watched a showdown unfold. And it has presented a contrast between the mercy of God and the pride of man.

The Lord calls his prophet to carry out a task that is unpalatable. Namely, to go proclaim a message that could bring salvation to an enemy.

The prophet goes rogue, and leaves his post in an attempt to run from the Lord. The majority of the narrative so far has really encompassed this time period from Jonah’s rebellion, and God humbling him and bringing him back to Himself.

It has been a marvelous display of God’s sovereignty over even the smallest details.

And in the progression of the narrative this is all heading toward a crescendo that we will encounter next week in Chapter 4. The climax of the book is Jonah’s heart getting exposed before God and a showdown that takes place outside of Nineveh.

But in the meantime along the journey, we are going to witness today God’s salvation reaching the most unlikely places. In fact, there is no partiality with God. No favoritism. No prejudice.

This is a lesson that Israel has not yet learned. Who does the Lord regard?

Isaiah 66:2—“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

What we will see today is a people who would have seemed too far gone. In high school when everyone votes on the most or least likely, they would have been voted least likely to ever get saved.

They were a hardened people in Assyria. They loved iniquity and false gods. They were famous for their wickedness.

And yet when the Word of God came to them, they responded in humble fear.

Nineveh stands even today as a timeless testimony to God’s mercy to save even the most unlikely and least deserving sinners. And it also stands as a testimony of what it looks like to respond to God in a way that He desires.

Nineveh had an Isaiah 66:2 response. And as a result, God granted this wicked people, salvation.

It is possible for you to be a part of a church that stands for expository preaching, and not tremble at God’s Word.

You might have a rich family pedigree of those who fear God and tremble at His Word, but your family heritage doesn’t accomplish anything before God.

Perhaps you have a distant memory of a time when you trembled at God’s Word. It’s your go-to example of something that happened a long time ago, but there isn’t anything coming to mind freshly.

Nineveh stands a testimony for all time of the people to whom God looks.

4 Developments in God Reconciling Nineveh to Himself

  1. A repeated assignment (1-2)
  2. A reluctant preacher (3-4)
  3. A shocking response (5-9)
  4. A profound pardon (10)

Jonah 3:1–10—1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three days’ walk. 4 Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. 6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. 7 He issued a proclamation and it said, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8 “But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. 9 “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.” 10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.

 

The Master Tinker Molds His Instrument, Jonah 1:17-2:10

A Bible Exposition of Jonah 1:17-2:10

In February 1891 off the Falkland Islands a whale-ship, the Star of the East was in pursuit of a large sperm whale. As the ship drew near to kill the whale two men were thrown overboard. The first man drowned and the second, a man by the name of James Bartley disappeared and was presumed dead.

Eventually the whale was captured, killed, and butchered. As the sailors were cutting through chunks of the dead carcass, making their way to the stomach, they were startled when they encountered signs of life from within.

Cutting further into the flesh of the giant mammal they found the sailor, James Bartley, curled up unconscious.

After removing Bartley from the whale he was revived by splashing cold seawater on him. For several weeks after the incident he was not himself. In fact, he was so terrified and out of his mind, that he struggled to adjust to normal life afterward.

Bartley recounted the experience of being inside the whale as hot, slimy and dark. From the experience, Bartley’s skin became ghostly white due to contact with the gastric juices from the whale’s stomach.

In the later details of the incident Bartley stated that he could have survived inside the whale until he starved for he passed out as a result of sheer terror rather than a lack of oxygen.

Though this story gained wide recognition it is most likely an urban legend. There is a little fact to prove the validity of the account and there is more data proving the contrary.

Although it is physically possible for a sperm whale, or a whale shark, or possibly a great white to swallow a person whole, there is almost no oxygen in the stomach caverns. About the only thing someone could breather would be methane gas, which does a person no good—what we need is oxygen.

This morning in our study Jonah we have reached the point in the prophetic narrative where Jonah has taken God to the wall, and God pins Jonah down. He makes his prayer to his God. The account tells us that it takes place from the belly of a great fish.

Whether James Bartley did or didn’t get swallowed by a sperm whale an live should make little difference to you. Sometimes we can fall into the trap of wanting something that will make it easier to prove the biblical account, or will be more convincing.

But my hope and yours rests not in finding some additional story to corroborate the book of Jonah and bolster our faith in the validity of the account. Our faith rests in the Creator and Sustainer of all things who is able to do whatever pleases Him.

This was supernatural. There is simply no way for this to happen according to natural laws that God has put in place.

Please turn in your Bibles to the book of Jonah. We are going to pick up where we left off last week in v. 17 of chapter 1. This marks a turn in plot. Jonah has been running for the past two weeks, and now we will see him returning to the Lord.

Context

Before we jump into Jonah’s repentance allow me to set the stage for you. As you remember if you have been with us before, Jonah was a prophet of the Lord who served during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.). Jeroboam was king over the Northern tribes of Israel.

To align ourselves in the timeline of Israel, the nation will get dominated and captured by Assyria in 722 B.C. so our story takes place just thirty to seventy years prior to this.

In relation to King Solomon, the height of the monarchy, Jonah is living 150 to 200 years after Solomon’s death. During that time period the Northern kingdom had many years of wicked kings ruling.

To put this in perspective, the distance from Jonah to Solomon is the same distance we are from James Madison or John Quincy Adams as American presidents. A lot can happen and a lot has changed since Solomon.

Commissioned by God to speak to Nineveh, a notoriously wicked and the largest city in the ancient near east, Jonah decides that he prefers for God to judge the wicked rather than show them grace and mercy. In hard-hearted rebellion he flees from his duty and jumped into a ship to sail away.

Yet the Lord causes a great storm to come upon the water, so great, in fact, that the Phoenician sailors accustomed to sea storms are terrified. As the sailors attempt to determine who among them has angered the gods and brought about this great storm they cast a lot and it providentially lands on Jonah.

With much reluctance the sailors eventually throw Jonah overboard and the storm subsides. The miracle of the hurricane instantly stopping marks a huge change for the sailors as they turn to YHWH in repentance.

They recognized the storm had a Divine origin, that this god (whose proper name in Hebrew was YHWH) was holding his prophet Jonah accountable and that this YHWH had the power to immediately calm the storm. The men feared God and offered a sacrifice to him and made vows.

The great mercy of God bestowed on these sailors is only a small part of a larger theme that we are going to see put on display in our short time together this morning. We will see that YHWH (the Lord) is sovereign, he is merciful and ultimately that salvation is something that belongs to God and God alone.

This morning we are going to listen in on the prayer Jonah made to God from the belly of the fish. There is little that you and Jonah have in common.

He was Jewish, called by God as a prophet, and lived in antiquity.

You are a Gentile, called by God as a Christian, and live in post-modernity.

Though this story happened to a rather obscure prophet nearly 3,000 years ago you and I have much to learn from Jonah. Jonah is (as a saved man) is rejecting God’s Word.

Jonah’s prayer is full of valuable theology… valuable teaching about who God is and what he does. And because God is unchangeable what we learn about Jonah’s God benefits us in our knowledge of the Holy One today.

You can be biblically informed, and yet rebellious to truth.

Jonah 1:17–2:10—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 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish, 2 and he said, “I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; You heard my voice. 3 “For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and billows passed over me. 4 “So I said, ‘I have been expelled from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.’ 5 “Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, Weeds were wrapped around my head. 6 “I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God. 7 “While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple. 8 “Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, 9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.” 10 Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.

Three steps the Lord takes in shaping Jonah:

  1. The Lord confines him (1:17)
  2. The Lord chastens him (2:1-9)
  3. The Lord commissions him (2:10)

A Sovereign God, A Stubborn Prophet

"A Sovereign God, A Stubborn Prophet" Jonah 1:1-3

 

Jonah 1:1-3

The Word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amattai saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me."

But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

 

Even people with little knowledge of the Bible know of the story of Jonah. It is short, but full of excitement to most readers, especially the story of the so-called whale. It reads like a “once upon a time…” type story.

It is the only prophetic book of its kind. It actually reads more like a biographical historical narrative. That means a story about someone’s life where real details are recorded.

Most prophetic writings are focused on the oracles or the messages from God. Consider Isaiah—very little is written about Isaiah’s life, his goings in or coming out… most of the book focuses on the message he proclaimed.

But just because Jonah is a historical record of what happened in Jonah’s life doesn’t mean we can’t learn a great deal from it.

Even though it is a narrative it is designed to be instructive. There is a specific arrangement of information… this can be clearly seen from the details given and left out. Some lengthy amounts of time are skipped over, and other times one conversation is given a great deal of attention.

We get to observe all of that together.

The opening scene is a faceoff between YHWH, the covenant name of God, and Jonah—they are the primary two characters of our story.

Others will come and go along the way, but these two are where the primary learning is going to come from. We hit the conflict right off the bat in Scene 1. This conflict is a showdown that highlights the distance between the character of God and the pride of the human heart.

We will see God’s unchanging mercy and compassion highlighted, His sovereign power, His ability to conquer the hearts of sinners, His power to save, the fact that you will not sin and get away with it.

The mission of Jonah was a fact of symbolical and typical importance, which was intended not only to enlighten Israel as to the position of the Gentile world in relation to the kingdom of God, but also to typify the future adoption of such of the heathen, as should observe the word of God, into the fellowship of the salvation prepared in Israel for all nations.[1]

This is the worst light a prophet is ever put in. But as we will see Jonah is intended to be an example of the nationalistic heart that reigns throughout Israel.

The author uses the art of representative roles in a straightforward manner. In this story of God’s loving concern for all people, Nineveh, the great menace to Israel, is representative of the Gentiles. Correspondingly, stubbornly reluctant Jonah represents Israel’s jealousy of her favored relationship with God and her unwillingness to share the Lord’s compassion with the nations. The book depicts the larger scope of God’s purpose for Israel: that she might rediscover the truth of his concern for the whole creation and that she might better understand her own role in carrying out that concern.[2]

3 Part Introduction to Jonah

  1. Jonah’s role (1)
  2. Jonah’s responsibility (2)
  3.  Jonah’s rebellion (3)

 

[1] C. F. Keil and Delitzsch F., Commentary on the Old Testament, Accordance electronic ed. 10 vols.; (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), paragraph 30862.

[2] Introduction from the NIV Study Bible, http://www.biblica.com/en-us/bible/online-bible/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-jonah/