The Perils of a Polluted Heart

waves.jpgJonah 1:1-10 Jonah was given a clear command in Jonah 1:1-2, but he refused to listen to the LORD.  Jonah was told to go to Nineveh and preach to the people because of their open wickedness.  Jonah did not like the Assyrians because of their attacks upon Israel in years past.  The city of Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian people, and they were very wicked.  Jonah disobeyed the clear command and in verses 1-10 of the first chapter, we see the perils of a polluted heart.  What can we learn from an ancient story that is often the subject of ridicule and skepticism?  The skeptics and critics claim that this is not a historical book about a man swallowed by a fish – but a tale with a moral twist used for teaching purposes.  Others call it midrsah, allegory, and a variety of other literary types.  In fact, the point is clear from other portions of Holy Scripture – Jonah was a real person (2 Kings 14:25) and this book is not about a man, a fish, or a city – but about God and His sovereign rule over His creation along with His love and mercy for other nations besides Israel.God is Omnipresent (3)In verse three, Jonah disobeyed the clear command of the LORD.  In fact, Jonah went down and found a boat that was about to set sail to Tarshish (the most western point of the known world).  Why was Jonah interested in taking a one year journey to a distant place?  The verse tells us that he was seeking to escape the presence of the LORD.   Jonah being a prophet should have known better, but he would soon learn the truth of the great doctrine of God’s omnipresence.Psalm 139:7-10Psa. 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?Psa. 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.Psa. 139:9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;Psa. 139:10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.We should always remember that our LORD is always present and there is nowhere we can go to escape Him.  When we allow this great truth sink into our hearts, it will change the way we live our lives as Christians.  It will also change the way we make choices related to sin.  Often we think we can choose to sin so long as we will not get caught, but as we see in this text, God is always there and He sees everything.God Chastens His Children (4)As Jonah was on the boat, God sent a mighty storm to correct the disobedient prophet.  The storm was no accident, and there would be no way to escape the storm on the sea.  The storm was a divine storm of God’s correcting hand.  The purpose of this large and mighty storm was to bring Jonah to a point of repentance of his sin.Hebrews 12:6 says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Therefore, as Christians, we must always remember that God will chasten us if we are living in a state of disobedience and open rebellion.  The mark of a child of God is the chastening and correcting hand of God upon His sin.  John Phillips says, “There are no free rides in the devil’s fairgrounds (The John Phillips Commentary Series – Minor Prophets p.141).”  Charles Spurgeon once said, “God never allows His children to sin successfully.”  When we consider the correcting and powerful hand of our God – it should cause us to refrain from a life of open sin.Sin Affects Others (5-6)Jonah got on the boat to set sail to a far away city.  Jonah was going in the exact opposite direction of Nineveh.  God sent the great storm on the waters, and the Mariners were afraid for their lives.  They were at the point of throwing things over the side of the boat in order to save the boat and save their own lives.  The captain of the boat finds Jonah down in the bottom of the boat sleeping.  He woke Jonah up and asked him to pray to his God.  Then, they went and cast lots to find out who on the boat was responsible for this storm.  As the providence of God would have it, the lot fell upon Jonah.In our Christian lives, we often fail to understand that our sin always affects others.  It may do so directly or indirectly, but in some way the sin of our lives will affect other people.  In the case of Jonah, it was clear – the storm of God’s correcting hand was upon the ship – and Jonah was not the owner of the vessel.  Jonah was simply riding with these men to a far distant city, but his sin brought a storm that affected others in the process.  Living in disobedience to God and open sin is selfish.  Our sin will hurt our families, friends, co-workers, and others who have contact with us.  If we could recall the situation with Jonah before we flirt with sin, it may spare others around us from experiencing heart ache due to the effects of our sinful choices.As we consider the perils of Jonah’s polluted heart, may we seek to obey God and live in accordance with His commands for His glory.  If we seek to bring glory to God in all areas of our lives, we will be spared from the mighty storms of God’s correcting hand, God will gain the glory in our obedience, and others around us will not be affected by our disobedience.Rev. Josh Buice