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Running and Chasing



Fixed points are the only things that we can really use to find our bearings. In this message from Ben Stuart, we are kicking off a new series looking at the journey of Jonah. In the story of Jonah, we can find two fixed realities to help us know the direction God is wanting us to head, and we must, for the storms are coming and without the proper directions we will not make it through.

Key Takeaway

Everybody runs. The best thing you can do is figure out how you run. And then turn and face God again, acknowledge who you are, confess, and surrender yourself back to Him. He will chase you down, but it's because of His grace.

There is a tendency in us to resist the leadership of God. To run from Him. It doesn't make sense for us to do it, but we do it anyway. It's called sin.

There is a tendency in God to chase us. He interrupts our self-destructive behavior. It's called grace.

Jonah 1:1-2. God calls Jonah, a prophet, to go to Nineveh. That city was massive, but it was also the most violent city of that day. Nineveh as a whole is an intimidating foe. The Israelites and the Ninevites both hated each other. Overall, the mission sounded crazy and Jonah wanted nothing to do with it.

Jonah 1:3. Jonah runs. The book of Jonah is filled with humor and wordplay. The first example is that God said "Arise and go", Jonah arose and fled going in the exact opposite direction from where God directed him. Jonah did what he wanted to do. Three times in one paragraph he flees from the presence of the Lord. We all do this. It started in Genesis 1-3, Adam and Eve did what they wanted. We do what we want. The best self-knowledge you can have is to know how you do things your own way. Paul's was coveting. Elijah's was his mouth. Augustine's was lust. We are made for God, but we run after vain things.

How does God respond? Verse 4.

He chases Jonah. Proverbs 3:12 says the Lord disciplines those He loves. Sometimes to get you to see the problem, God will introduce pain. He doesn't do it to hurt you but rather to help you. It usually happens in one of two ways.

1) He will not give you what you want.

2) He will give you everything you want and you'll find that it's not enough.

Jonah goes down in the boat and goes to sleep. There's a repetition of the word "down". Down to Joppa, down to the ship, down to the hold, down to sleep. It's making the point that as you run from God, your life starts to spiral down. This is also our world right now. As Christians make mistakes and try to do things their own way, they start going down, feeling sorry for themselves. Meanwhile. the world is spinning and needs the Christians to arise and call on God. See verse 6.

What do you do when you realize everybody runs and so have you?

1) Face God. Just stop running, turn, and face Him.

2) Acknowledge who you are. Be honest about it. See verse 9. The other sailors didn't care when Jonah told them that he was running for God. However, they really cared when he told them that his God was the God who created the sea. That scared them because it made no sense. Why are you running from the God who created the sea in the sea that He created!? It makes the same amount of sense when we do it: none. We can't outrun God. He knows exactly where we are.

3) Confess. Jonah confesses what he's done and owns all of it. Verses 10-12.

4) Surrender to God. In his giving himself over, the sailors turn to God as well. When we finally get honest and surrender, it causes others to take God more seriously. Jonah knows God is God over the sea, so he tells them to throw him over to Him. He didn't know how it would all work out, but it was part of his surrender and his trusting God.

Jonah 1:17. The fish that swallowed Jonah is not punishment, it's a rescue. God appointed the fish. Why? So we would know that God did it, that He is the means of rescue, the means of grace.

Traditionally, on the Day of Atonement, every year the people would read the book of Jonah. Collectively they would say, "I am Jonah", they would recognize that they have run from God and sinned, but God chased them. Jesus loves this story and talks about it often. He too says he is like Jonah. Was he a sinner and had run from His Father? No, but he would get thrown into the storm of God's wrath for us. He would be buried for 3 days for us, and rise to save us. He will be the one to calm the wind and the waves. He will set us back on track and rescue us.


"The best self-knowledge you can have is to know how you run (do things your own way"

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Jonah 1
  • Genesis 1
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.