by Mike Ratliff
19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; 22 for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
23 When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said,
‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
And the peoples devise futile things?
26 ‘The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
27 For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. Acts 4:19-28 (NASB)
When we make statements like, “God is sovereign.” we sometimes include a qualifier in that statement like this, “God is sovereign over ‘something.” That is a fallacious statement though meant well. God is sovereign. There is no need to add any qualifier to that statement. I have heard many well meaning people say, “God is sovereign over salvation.” Well, He is, but He is also sovereign over all of creation. There is nothing over which He is not sovereign.
I have always enjoyed the book of Jonah. Not only does it contain a very evangelical message, it is full of examples of the sovereignty of God used through His prophet Jonah in the saving of a generation of people in Nineveh despite the fact that Jonah hated them and preached only four words to them from a rebellious and prideful heart.
There were ten “miracles” in the book of Jonah. The 1st one is found in 1:4.
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. Jonah 1:4 (NASB)
The storm that caused the sailors to despair of life and eventually cast Jonah into the sea was “hurled” by God onto that ship. It was not a freak natural event. The sailors recognized that the storm was of a “divine” nature. Also, Jonah told them that they were suffering because of his sin of running from God’s command to go preach to the people of Nineveh.
The 2nd miracle is found in 1:7.
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. Jonah 1:7 (NASB)
The lot falling on Jonah was God’s intervention into these events to accomplish His will.
The 3rd miracle is found in 1:15.
15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging. Jonah 1:15 (NASB)
The sea ceased from raging as Jonah was thrown overboard. This had to cause the sailors to know that Jonah’s God was the real god not Baal, whom they worshipped. We see this in 1:16.
the 4th and 5th miracles are found in 1:17.
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. Jonah 1:17 (NASB)
God appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah alive. This actually saved Jonah from drowning. Also, Jonah remained alive in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. This would be impossible normally, but God did these things and He is sovereign. His will is done, His way in His timing.
The 6th miracle is found in 2:10.
10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. Jonah 2:10 (NASB)
Again, God does things His way. His ways are not our ways. He thoughts are not our thoughts. The fish was completely obedient to God. Jonah repented in the belly of the fish. This is found in his prayer in chapter 2. The last verse of this prayer is amazing.
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.” Jonah 2:9 (NASB)
Salvation is from the LORD! This is true. No one comes to God unless God acts first to draw them to Himself. The whole process of our salvation is in His hands. He must declare us righteous according to Christ’s righteousness. We cannot do that. We cannot do one thing to save ourselves. God must do it. Jonah recognized that then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
The 7th miracle is found in 3:10.
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. Jonah 3:10 (NASB)
Actually, the entire 3rd chapter is a miracle. Jonah’s one sentence sermon contained only four Hebrew words. Jonah may have repented and obeyed God, but he still hated the Ninevites and did not think they deserved salvation. He did not understand grace. To him, salvation was for the Jews alone. Despite a very mediocre sermon from a non-God-focused heart, God used those four Hebrew words to pierce the hearts of the Ninevites from top to bottom. God saw their repentance and relented from judgement. If that isn’t a picture of our own desperate need for salvation I don’t know what is. Each of us are born with God’s wrath hanging over our heads. Only by God saving us can we avoid that wrath. Praise be to God that He is merciful and has provided a way for us to be saved!
The 8th miracle is found in 4:6.
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. Jonah 4:6 (NASB)
God appointed a plant to provide shade for Jonah who had departed the city to await its destruction. Again, all of God’s creation is subject to His sovereignty.
The 9th miracle is found in 4:7.
7 But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. Jonah 4:7 (NASB)
God gave Jonah the plant, God took away the plant. Why? Don’t we all ask those questions when disaster comes upon us (at least we think it is) for “no reason.” Friends, we deserve nothing but wrath. The fact that all in Christ will never experience God’s wrath is wonderful! However, even we will suffer. God uses suffering to perfect us unto Christlikeness. In Jonah’s case, God used the the plant, the worm and the last miracle in this book, the hot East wind, to show Jonah that He is God and Jonah is not. He does this with us all the time doesn’t He? He shows us that we actually deserve nothing and all good things in our lives are by His grace.
The 10th miracle is found in 4:8.
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.” Jonah 4:8 (NASB)
I have told God to kill me several times. Go ahead and end this God! But, He has not done so and He is still working on me. Jonah needed to see the Ninevites the way God did, but he refused and God saved them anyway. Praise be to God!
Soli Deo Gloria!