When God’s Grace Prevails Over Man’s Sin (John 1:1-4:11)

Jonah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  52:07
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7 keys principles on how God’s grace prevails over man’s sin so that we rightly respond to His grace when we sin!

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Please open your Bibles to the Book of Jonah.
While you are turning to Jonah, let me provide you with a little historical background. The events of Jonah take place approximately between 800-750 BC. In secular history, some speculate Homer may have been writing or had just completed the Iliad and Odyssey. The first Greek Olympics were established and Rome was founded and ruled by the legendary Romulus.
In Biblical History, Jonah is the first prophet to arrive approximately 50-100 years after Elisha and Elijah. He is alive during the ministries of Amos and Hosea and dies shortly before Isaiah arrives on the scene. He appears to be a successful prophet. Did you know he is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25 (NASB95) — 25 He (Jeraboam II) restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher.
Now when I said “Book of Jonah”, what is the first image that appears in your mind? The Whale, some kind of really big fish? Jonah and the whale is one of the most memorable scenes in the Bible. Yet, this big fish is not the most important character in the story. So who is?
Now, some of you may be thinking, Jonah is the most important character. And if so, you are getting warmer. One sermon was titled about Jonah how: “He can run, but he can’t hide”.
By the way, did you know where that expression can from “He can run, but He can’t hide”. That quote came from the famous boxer, Joe Louis. One of greatest boxers of all time! It was 1941, and he was facing Billy Conn who was lighter and faster and was planning a “hit and run” strategy to defeat Joe Louis. And that’s when the Joe Louis said before the fight “He can run, but he can’t Hide”. Then in the 13th round, behind in points, Joe Louis, nicknamed the “Brown Bomber” knocked Billy Conn out to win the match.
Now Our Jonah is not in a boxing ring but he is running way. But He is not running away from an opponent. He is running away from the most important person of this story. This person is not His enemy, but loves Him infinitely. He has called Him to be a prophet, and has an immeasurably, important mission and lesson for him to learn.


Along with Jonah, we will learn 7 keys principles on how God’s grace prevails over man’s sin so that we rightly respond to His grace when we sin! [REPEAT]


So who is the most important person in Jonah? Read with me Jonah 1:1-3
The most important person in the story of Jonah is not the whale, nor is it Jonah, but God. Do you see the phrase the “Word of the Lord came”. At first blush this may seem to be an “audio only” experience…but did you see the phrase repeated two times in verse 3, “from the presence of the Lord”.
We not only have audio, but video!
God has shown up in person. God is talking face to face with Jonah! Theologians calls this a theophany. Now the question before us is, who is the Word of the Lord?
i. Could it be the God the Holy Spirit? No…He never takes the form of a person in the Bible, he is described as fire, dove, comforter, but He has never taken the form of a person.
ii. Could it be God the Father? No… John 1:18 (NASB95) — 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He(Jesus) has explained Him.
iii. Therefore, it must be the God the Son, Jesus Christ. Now you may be thinking, John, I need more proof! One verse is not enough to convince me. And the Berean in you is right to think so! The key verse and why this must be Jesus is
a. John 1:1 (NASB95) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. – The apostle John uses this term “The WORD” because it’s how the Old Testament refers to Christ. Let me give you two more examples of the “Word of the Lord” personally appearing.
Genesis 15:4–6 (NASB95) — 4 Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him (Abraham), saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He(the Word) took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He (the word) said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he (Abraham) believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
- Abraham met and believed in the Word, the Pre-incarnate Jesus!
A second example,
1 Samuel 3:7 (NASB95) — 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him…. Verse 10 Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Wow! The boy Samuel meets the Lord Jesus!
I further believe that on the road to Emmaus, Jesus pointed out several of these very passages regarding Himself as the “Word of the Lord”. This is an amazing study, and if you stop and think for a moment, how was it possible that Israel did not recognize Jesus? When Jesus is the very one who spoke in person to Adam, to Moses, to Abraham, David, and to each of the prophets about Himself!
Let us return to the text, so here is the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus, and he has a mission for Jonah, three commands: Arise, Go, Cry/Proclaim
Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
So what do you know about God’s Grace Prevailing Over Man’s Sin”. First, we learn that God’s grace prevails in spite of the fact that.

Principle #1 - God Knows Every Detail About Your Sin

“The Ninevites’ wickedness, their sin, all the specifics details, has come up before throne God”. This idea that God is all knowing is expressed all over the Bible. One of the best examples is right before the flood:
Genesis 6:5 (NASB95) — 5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
God knows the sins of Nineveh and He has chosen Jonah to deliver a message. This is how God works. He uses people to confront sin. This is one of the reasons you and I have each other…so that we don’t remain in our sin!
Now Jesus comes to Jonah with this assignment. There should only be one response to such authority and power…obedience! But what does Jonah do in verse 3? He runs away! He flees to Tarshish, that’s over 2000 miles away!
Now before you throw Jonah under the proverbial bus or chariot of his day, all of us do this. We all have a knowledge of God like Jonah and even more so! Yet, when God calls us to obey, do we disobey? Do we run in the exact opposite direction to His Word, His Will, and His Ways?
Are you running right now from God! If so, then consider this question…


Can you really run from God? The answer is yes [PAUSE]…for a little while, but not for long before serious consequences catch up with you!
This brings us to another insight regarding how God’s grace prevails over Man’s sin.

Principle #2 - God pursues Sinners

We read in verse 4…
Jonah 1:4 (NASB95) — 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.
This is no ordinary storm. It’s of divine origin. This is one serious consequence. Read with me verses 5-11
Jonah 1:5–11 (NASB95) — 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.
Now Jonah was a prophet of God, He knew God’s Word and as soon as he saw the lots, he certainly recalled Solomon’s proverb:
Proverbs 16:33 (NASB95) — 33 The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.
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?”
The fearful crew was not ready for Jonah’s bold answer:
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.
If we were taking an evangelism class, lesson 1 would begin here: This is NOT how you and I witness. May our disobedience, and God’s chastening NEVER be the reason for people to ask about our faith! But God never wastes opportunity to save a sinner. Ironically, these sailors have more fear of God than Jonah. This is to Jonah’s shame, but to God’s glory. Jonah’s heart is hard right now. He is not thinking of witnessing but only running from God. Let this be a warning to all of us: God is so sovereign, that He can use your obedience or disobedience to accomplish His will. I don’t know about you, but I prefer that He uses my obedience!
So let’s return to the boat:
Jonah 1:11–17 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.
The crew did not want to kill a man let alone a prophet of God. Watch now how they turn from their false idols to the true God, verse 14.
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.
Although Jonah remains in sin, this crew repents, they have turned from their false idols who failed to rescue them earlier and now they are worshipping the true God. God pursued these sinners. And God’s grace has prevailed over man’s sin! And in the wake of Jonah’s sin, God redeems the sailors! AMEN!
But God has not finished his redemptive work. God is still pursuing Jonah and the Ninevites. Let’s return to verse 17….
Verse 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.


This brings us to our third principle: God’s grace Prevails over man’s sin, because

Principle #3 - God’s reach is Limitless

God’s is all powerful. Omnipotent. Amen. We need an all-powerful God with an unlimited reach because our sin takes us down into some deep and dark places. Look how Jonah’s sin took him down. Jonah goes down to Tarshish. Jonah goes down into the boat. Jonah goes down into the water. Jonah goes down to near death. Jonah goes down into the whale.
Sin will take you down.
This portion of Jonah’s story reminds me of Psalm 139:7-12
Psalm 139:7–12 (NASB95) — 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.
Psalm 139 is intended to be a comfort for us when we are obeying, but it’s a stern warning to us should we disobey like Jonah.
Now let us turn our attention to Jonah chapter 2. These 10 verses have caused an enormous amount of controversy. The two biggest controversies are whether the Jonah story is true and whether Jonah died in the fish. Jonah’s ride in the whale is amazing. Now I know you believe God’s word, but sooner or later someone will mock this portion of Scripture? So how do we respond?
First, remember that Jesus personally confirmed the truthfulness of the story of Jonah in two ways. First, by referring to the length of time of His time in the grave to the length of time Jonah was in the belly of the sea monster – three days, Jesus affirmed the time in the whale was true. And second, Jesus mentioned Jonah’s preaching of repentance to Nineveh (Luke 11:29-32). Jesus affirms Jonah, the Ninevites, the whale. Therefore, the whole book is true.
Now in regards to the second issue, did Jonah die and was he resurrected? I believe that he did not die for the following reasons:
(1) Jonah comes close to the death, but no passage states he died
(2) Jonah prays a prayer out of distress, not death
(3) Resurrections are clearly stated in the Bible. There are only 3 OT examples of a death and resurrection in the OT: Elijah Raises widow’s son (1 Kings 17:22). Elisha Raises the Shulamite's Son (2 Kgs 4:18–37), and the dead man tossed in the cave touches Elisha bones and is raised from the dead (2 Kings 13:21). In the Gospels we have 3 resurrections as well. We have Lazarus from the cave, the daughter of the synagogue official (Matthew 9:23-25), and a man in a coffin in the city of Nain (Luke 7:12-17). All three of these New Testament Resurrections were performed by Jesus. In Acts, the Apostle Paul brought back a man to life who fell out of a 3rd floor window after falling asleep during Paul’s preaching (Acts 20:9-10). I know it’s late, but I hope none of you are that tired! And for your safety, all the windows have been sealed. And fortunately, we are on the first floor : )
Mind you, I certainly have no powers to raise any of you from the dead.
(4) And the fourth and final reason. The whole comparison breaks down because Jonah enters the great fish in disobedience, but Christ enters the grave in obedience.
So Jonah does not die, there is no resurrection in this passage, but Jonah nearly drowns!
Now let’s look at Jonah chapter 2 briefly
Jonah 2 (NASB95) — 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.”


What an amazing prayer! Jonah’s prayer reveals our fourth point. God grace prevails over man’s sin, because

Principle #4 - God is Merciful

Jonah cries out as he is about to drown and die, but God is willing to hear his voice – God is merciful
Jonah’s prayer shows us that God is merciful because he answers rebellious Jonah in distress (Jonah 2:2)
God rescues Jonah before he drowns - God is merciful
Jonah knows he disobeyed and deserved death, but he is spared - God is merciful
God accepts the confession of sin and repentance of Jonah - God is merciful
Application: This text is so bittersweet. On the one hand, God is so merciful toward Jonah’s open and direct sin and rebellion, and on the other hand, God’s chastening is so severe and Jonah nearly drowns. God allows the sanctification process to continue for Jonah. God is realigning the hardened heart of Jonah back to the will of God!
Now If you find yourself or are right now desperately treading the waters of sin or are beginning to drown in the consequences of your sin, cry out to God, throw yourself onto the mercies of God! Repent and receive mercy and experience God’s grace prevail over your sin!
Let’s return to the text, the end Jonah chapter 2
10 Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land.
Jonah 3:1 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.
It should be noted that prior to Jonah’s arrival, there were two plagues (765 and 759 B.C.) and a solar eclipse (763 B.C). God was preparing the Ninevites well before Jonah arrived on the scene! Some scholars believe the Ninevites may have worshiped the Fish God, Dagon. So for Jonah to be delivered by a fish, shows you how God works all things together for good! That even Jonah’s disobedience can be used to accomplish God’s will.


And this brings us to

Principle #5 - God is Patient

· First, God is patient with Jonah’s failures and recommissions Jonah a 2nd time to preach to the sinners of Nineveh. We all need second chances!
· Next, it would take Jonah some time to travel from the beach to Nineveh. Some 400+ miles. This would take at least 3 weeks to a month. God is so patient. Notice there is still effort required in our obedience.
· Third, God’s message allowed for 40 days before judgment, it not immediate judgment.
For God’s grace to Prevail over Man’s Sin, God remains patient! It is his timetable, not ours. Now Jonah finally arrives in Nineveh, look at verse 4:
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.”
Now this revival in Nineveh is extra, extraordinary. From King down to creature. A decree to fast from food and water. The whole nation repents! They confess their sin. They admit their violence. They turn from wicked ways! And note in verse 9, they are not even confident God will relent. They must wait in faith the 40 days to be sure! The fact that God cares about these wicked gentiles is a sneak preview to our salvation!
So what happened next…verse 10:
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.


This brings us to principle #6, God Grace Prevails Over man’s sin, because

Principle #6 - God Responds to Genuine Faith and Repentance

Now some have called God capricious and even some a liar for going back on His Word, changing his mind. Some claim God’s threat was not sincere…but these individuals do not know God nor understand His word.
This message of a “40-day delay” implies there is an opportunity over the 40 days to repent and avoid judgment. So God is being consistent, if they don’t change, there is certain doom. But If they do change, judgment will pass over them. This idea is further expanded on in
Jeremiah 18:6–8 (NASB95) — 6 “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. 7 “At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.
God still delays final judgment today. Each of us knows that we should be in hell for our sin, but God in His perfect timing saved us. We have passed from death to life. Thank God he gives us time, thank God He responds to genuine faith and repentance. But do not presume you have time. Today is the day of salvation. Be like the Ninevites, who respond to God’s call to repentance immediately in faith.
Now if you or I were writing the story, we would end it here! Big revival, everyone gets saved, it is the perfect ending. But we can’t forget about Jonah.
Jonah 4:1–4 (NASB95) — 1 But it greatly displeased (THINK EVIL) Jonah and he became angry (HOT). 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?”
Although Jonah praised God for His deliverance, Jonah still harbors a great hatred toward the Ninevites. We can now see Jonah’s reason for preferring death over obeying God. Jonah hates the Ninevites and would rather die than see his enemies, the Ninevites get saved. How can a prophet of God hate like this? Do you harbor anger like this?
Now to understand Jonah’s hatred, you need to know why the Ninveites/Assyrians were enemies of Israel. Archeologist have records that the Assyrians: skinned alive their prisoners of war, burned children to death, and stacked pyramids of human skulls just to intimidate their enemies. Furthermore, Israel, while in the land fought the Ninevite/Assyrians for decades. Jonah probably would have known families who lost loved ones to the Assyrians invaders. So for Jonah, it would not only be “politically incorrect” to be used to save the Ninevites, but he would be humiliated and hated by His own people. Just look at how the Pharisees treated Jesus for His outreach to sinners. So Jonah would rather die than live with that stigma. But this is not how God loves His enemies, nor should it be how God’s ambassadors loves their enemies. Let’s wrap up the book of Jonah, Verse 5…
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?”
Now if we are not careful, this miracle plant, this miracle storm, and Jonah’s emotional roller coaster ride changing from happy to angry to arguing with God again and pleading to die again, would distract us from seeing the most profound truth of God in the book of Jonah: God is a compassionate savior. To understand this truth, let me read to you this excerpt/section from “Jonah and the Worm” by Donald Baker.
“Let’s analyze your anger Jonah. You are angry over the death of your beloved plant—but what did it really mean to you? Your attachment to it couldn’t be very deep, for it was literally here one day and gone the next. Your cared only because it gave you shade and relief, your concern was self-centered, this is not genuine love. You never had the devotion of a gardener. If you feel as bad as you do, what would you expect a gardener to feel like, who tended a plant and watched it grow only to see it wither and die? This is how I feel about Nineveh, only much more so. All those people, all those animals—I made them; I have cherished them all these years. Nineveh has cost Me no end of effort, and it means the world to Me. Your pain is nothing compared to Mine when I contemplate their destruction” (“Jonah and the Worm,” His. October 1983, p. 12).
My father, who did not know the Lord, said to shortly before he died. John, I am not a bad example, but a terrible warning.
Listen closely, Jonah would not let God’s grace prevail over His sin of hate, and he ran from God, and even preferred death over life. Jonah is not a bad example, but a terrible warning for each us.
May way we love each other and the lost selflessly and sacrificially.


This brings us to our last point, How can God’s grace, prevail over man’s sin?

Principle #7 - Because God is a Compassionate Savior

How compassionate is our savior and shepherd? It is the size of Nineveh, 3 days walk, hundreds of thousands of souls. How compassionate is our savior and shepherd? The size of this church, in every city, around the world. How compassionate is our Savior and Shepherd? He saved you, and millions more like you. This is our compassionate Savior and Shepherd. Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday and today. Jesus, do you know him? He is the great Savior, the patient Shepherd, the great Gardener, who from the beginning of time, has cultivated all of our circumstances to bring us salvation!
So when you think of Jonah, do not just remember the whale, do not just remember an angry prophet, remember Jesus Christ, whose grace prevailed over the Ninevite’s sin.
It is amazing that in spite of God Knowing Every Detail About Your Sin, He Pursued you, His reach to you is limitless. He is merciful, He is patient, He responds to genuine faith and repentance, He is our compassionate Savior. Praise be to God that His grace prevails over our sin!


Oh Lord we humbly adore you. We love you! I pray that we may we never become like Jonah! Angry and bitter. Desiring death rather a life of obedience. Don’t allow our hearts to be hardened to each other or even to our enemies. It’s hard to believe Father, that within 150 years of Jonah’s preaching, those saved Ninevites, their offspring that followed after several generations would reject You. They would become so wicked of a nation, they would be condemned and be destroyed by you through the nations of the Babylonians and Medes and Assyrian empire would ultimatily fall in 612 BC. Therefore, let us not neglect to be holy, loving, living, exhorting, and warning our children and grandchildren about Jesus Christ and His saving work. Keep us faithful until your son’s return. Help us to prevail over sin by your grace. Amen.
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