June 28, 2015
“Salvation belongs to the Lord”
Pastor Kenny Lee
I’ve forgotten to send the over the title of the sermon, so I could change if I wanted to, if I wasn’t pleased with it. But anyways the sermon title will be called “Salvation belongs to the Lord. ” Salvation belongs to the Lord. Let me just recap for you for those who do not know this wonderful story. Just to start off, Jonah is not the… Jonah is very different; Jonah is not the usual prophet that you might think. Most prophets are like Noah in the flood, Noah is obedient, so he went into the ark and there was a flood. Abraham, father Abraham, the father of faith, Israel. David, a man after God’s own heart. Isn’t that a great title? You know what Jonah is known for? A fish. Being stuck in the belly of a fish, that is what he is known for. Even Samson, Samson he kind of not a good figure, but at least Samson “Grrrrrrr” destruction, takes the jawbone of a donkey, he starts hitting people, that’s pretty cool, you know? And its not like Jonah was fishing and caught a big old fish; he got eaten by a fish. In other words he was the bait, not a good look. But yet its funny the prophet I most associate with is happens to be this man, Jonah. Why? How many times does God tell me to go this way and I go that way. How many times does God say “Love.” “Oh Lord I just don’t like this person.” How many times do I disobey God? Anyways, Jonah is a person I can identify myself with right? There are some wonderful things about Jonah though, that we should see, that we should look into. Something that we need and there are so many people who came up to me and said “I’m so glad we’re doing the book of Jonah.” I wanted to kind of avoid the book of Jonah but as we’re going through Jonah you know, I mean I was like saying “Pastor Brendon, why don’t we do this, what do you think about Deuteronomy, what do you think about that?” I just didn’t want to do Jonah, but no Pastor Brendon is like “How about Jonah?” “How about no?” No. But anyways as we’re doing Jonah, I’m glad we’re doing Jonah. It’s a very hard, difficult book for me to swallow, you know?
IN SPITE OF OUR DISOBEDIENCE, GOD LISTENS
How does Jonah get to be where he is? Disobedience. What happens is that God tells a prophet, “Hey prophet, you know my Word. I want you to go to Nineveh and it’s a very sinful place. It’s a place that probably did you wrong. They probably treated your people in a very wrong way. I want you to go to those very people and I want you to preach the good news to them.” “No! Anything but that Lord, you could feed me to a pack of hungry hounds, you could do anything, you could even kill me, but the last thing that I will ever do is go into Nineveh and preach your good word. I wont do that. Never.” “No Jonah, go.” “No I will not.” And the text says he went to Tarshish, Tarshish, Tarshish. He went to a city that is opposite of Nineveh. As he’s on that ship he is rocking back and forth, the text says, “God hurled a wind, a mighty tempest grew” and in the end what happened was that Jonah says that storm is because of me and all you have to do is throw me overboard. In other words, Jonah says you know what, I’d rather die. Just throw me overboard and everything will be all set. So the mariners, the boat people reluctantly throw, hurl Jonah overboard. The storms die down and Jonah is in the middle of the sea about to die, when he gets eaten up or swallowed up by a big fish. Some people say that it’s a whale, a hump backed sperm whale or something like that, but the Bible says it’s a big fish. And do you know what I stick with? It’s a big fish. Okay? But here is what we can learn from Jonah.
A lot of scholars say that when Jonah is swallowed up by the fish, that represents death, that represents him just dying, or he’s at the point of death, or he thinks he’s at the point of death. So the question I have is what does a man who knows the almighty God, what does a man who knows God, what does he do when he’s at the point of death, when everything is said and done, when storms arise and after that he thinks that because of his running, because of all this turmoil in his life when things are going bad, what does a prophet do? What does a Christian do? What does a person who loves God, who has a relationship with God, what does he or she do? We know that Noah has a relationship with God, we know that why? Because he’s a prophet. Not to say that all pastors are Christian, not to say that all people who go to church are Christian, of course not. But we know that Jonah has a relationship with the Lord. And what does a person like that do? Well he prays. So what does that mean? One of the first things that happen is when he’s in distress he and he’s alone and he thinks he’s about to die, he depends on God. “2“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol”, out of the belly of death I cry out, out of the belly of grave I cry out and you hear my voice. We could learn a lot from that. Do you remember what Jonah was doing? Jonah was going in the opposite direction of what God told him to do. In other words, he was rebelling directly against God. He knew it, God knew it, every body knew it. Even the ship, those pagans, “Why is this?” “Because of me, because I’m running away from God.” Even they knew it. But one thing that Jonah knows is this. Even out of the belly of a fish, or what Jonah considers, out of the belly of the grave as it were that God hears my voice, that God hears my voice. Do you know that? Really do you know that?
You know a lot of times when people come into my office, they talk and things are not going bad they go “Oh yea, I have to praise God...yea. I have to go to God. I have to talk to God, yea, yea, yea.” And then things get worse “Yea I got to talk to God, yea I’ve got to praise God, yea. I’ve got to do that to God…God…God.” Things get a little worse than that. “Oh yea I’ve got to… yea I’m depending on God, I’m talking to God, and I’m doing this and that.” And things get worse and worse and it’s to the point of death. And do you know what I see? What I see is that they don’t go to God. They ultimately go to something that they depend on or something that they’re comfortable with. A lot of times people go to things that they go somewhere to forget, they drink, drugs, some people party it up, some people spend, some people want to have influence over other people, sex, or even a good thing like “I’m going to study” and they study. Some people want to…they don’t want to think about things so they concentrate on just being a good person, even things like that. Even those things are bad. Is that all you are? No. If at the end of the road, when everything is not going well, not going your way, or who do you, who or what do you turn to? Do you turn to things of creation? Which is this world, everything is created or do you go to the creator, the one who created everything? One wonderful thing that Jonah does, Jonah may have done a thousand, a thousand things wrong but one thing that makes him okay, more than okay, is that he goes to God. And he knows that God will hear, that’s wonderful news folks. That’s amazing news that should make you jump up for joy! You could do a thousand things wrong. You could sin after sin after sin; do you know that God will hear you? Do you know that God will forgive you? Do you know that God is waiting for you? The only way you know is if you have a relationship with him. That was, that was… if you walk away with that, if you walk away today with that, you’ve gotten your money’s worth I’m telling you.
GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOU AND YOUR SITUATIONS
You know you notice that if you look at the text, if you look at the scripture reading of Jonah 2, it is a little bit different from Jonah 1, 3, and 4. What so different about it? Well, this is almost like a poem, right? It’s a prayer, it’s a poem, it’s a wonderful, beautiful poem. It looks more like the book of Psalms than a historical prose narrative, right? Instead of like the regular Bible right? That’s because it’s a prayer, because it’s a poem, its poetry, its song-like. And this is what most scholars call a chiastic structure, a chiastic structure, a chiastic structure. What’s a chiastic structure? Well it’s a form of an x, x marks the spot right? So what it does it has similar themes on the opposite side and as it goes, as it goes closer to the x, to the point, that is the main point of this whole text, right? Don’t worry if you’re curious more about chiastic structure come to Bible study and we’ll learn more about it. Ding! Great. So this is in the form of chiastic structure, okay? And do you know what is at the center of the chiastic structure? What is the whole point of this, of this whole prayer? At the end we see verse 1, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress…out of the belly of” hell, of Sheol I cry out and you hear my voice and “you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas” and all that stuff and you know we look at that and in verse 4 it says “Then I said ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ “ That is the center of the chiastic structure, meaning the center of this whole thing is that I will look upon you, I will look upon your hole temple. Why is that the center? I will look upon your holy temple, why is that? What is the current day temple? Well the current day temple is the church, right? So I will look upon your holy temple back in these days, right, the temple was where the spirit of God reigned, where the spirit of God came down. The current day temple right now is the church. And I’m not merely just talking about CCC, what I’m talking about is the universal church. You, me, everyone who loves Jesus, you know all of that.
So what is Jonah saying that we can apply to ourselves right now? See Jonah was during the time when Israel was flourishing, the temple was being created; the temple was built during that time. And you know it’s a wonderful time and when the temple was being built to dedicate the temple, this is what it says in 2 Chronicles 7. This is what the writer of Chronicles says, “11Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king's house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,” and here’s a famous passage, okay? “14If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” See that? “14If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” And Jonah knows that and what Jonah does is Jonah says “I’m going to look again upon your holy temple, where your presence is, because that is the most important thing right now.”
What is the most important thing to you? And I’m going to go more into that holy temple. Do you know where that holy temple is right now? It is not in this place. You know who makes up the church? You and I, those who believe, see Jonah knows one thing, is that salvation belongs to the Lord. We see that at the end. “9But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” Don’t you know that salvation, your salvation is from the Lord, do you know that? It is not from anything else, it’s not from being how smart you are, how pretty you are, or anything like that. Salvation belongs to the Lord. Beloved CCC, what we need to do is we need to know the reality of things. Do you know that God has a plan for you? Even now do you realize that whatever situations that you are in, whether you are in a tempest, you are in a flood, whatever state that you’re in, do you know that God has a plan for you, God has a purpose for you, God has a design for you. Who do you look towards? What do you look towards? Do you have God at the center? Or do you have yourself; do you have this dream of being a successful person? Do you have this dream of being an extremely smart person? Do you have this dream of being an extremely pretty person? Or even good things like so you dream about being a good father or good mother or good son? Those are wonderful things, but if that’s your end all be all, its nothing. Who do you look to? Look Jesus, God has individually called us to him, don’t you know that, for those who are in Christ, so that you would make him the center of your life. God loves you so much; God loves us so much that he would literally send his one and only Son for you and I. And for those who believe and have a relationship with him, can have eternal life, that’s the gospel. And what God does is this. God puts people in your life, God puts, God sometimes allows hardship in your life. God doesn’t merely put things in your life. God allows things in your life to happen. It is because he loves you and wants you to come to him.
Do you think that Jonah was really, really mad because he was in the belly of a fish? No. How do I know that? In the end you know what he says? “9But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” So in his prayer, you know he was running away from God, he gets swallowed up by a fish, he is not a happy camper, he’s bitter, he’s angry, but towards the end of his prayer, him realizing everything. You know what he is? He’s thankful. He’s thankful. Are you thankful for your life? Are you thankful for the fact that you have a relationship with God? So all these whether you have a good mother, good father, bad mother, bad father, a bad situation, a bad school, bad friends, good friends, whatever situations that you are in that God has a design and a purpose for you and you’re here. And you have a relationship with the Almighty God and that makes all the difference in the world, do you know that? So that you can look back on your life and say thank you, thank you, thank you, because ultimately salvation belongs to you oh God. This is how I know you Lord Jesus, its through series of these things. Do you know why a lot of you come to church; do you know a lot of the reasons why? I know some of the reasons why you guys come to church, because your mom and dad forces you to come to church, okay great. But you’ve got to go beyond that, go beyond just “Uh. My mom tells me to go to church because of that I want to come to church.” No you cant do that anymore. You’ve got to think. You know why I come to church? I come to church because I love Jesus, and I want to follow him for the rest of my life. You cant do that anymore. Do you know that God has a design for you right now? God has a purpose for you right now. What he wants to do is meet you face to face and know you face to face. You know in the end it has to be thanksgiving.