On Sunday we began a series in our church through the book of Jonah. We are teaching the series a little differently in that we are taking a “thematic” approach to the study. As I stated in an earlier post there are several themes that can be traced through the book, but I believe one of the key themes (if not “the” key theme) is the sovereignty of God.
We see the sovereignty of God clearly displayed in God’s control over nature and creation (1:4, 1:17, 2:3, 2:10, 4:6-8), over people (Jonah, sailors, Ninevites), and repentance (specifically in the Ninevites).
But I think one of the most important questions we can ask is not “Do I believe that God is sovereign?” rather “How do I reject or even rebel against God’s sovereignty?” Or maybe another way to ask the question is, “How am I like Jonah?”
We, like Jonah, can reject God’s sovereignty in one of two ways. First of all we can reject God’s sovereignty by allowing someone/something other than “God” to become our “god”. This perfectly describes Jonah. Jonah’s identity was wrapped up in the fact that he was a Hebrew. He felt superior to the Ninevites and didn’t want God to extend His grace and mercy to them. Simply stated Jonah was a racist. We also must ask ourselves, “Where do I find my identity?” For me personally it is easy to find my identity in ministry (successes or failures), my marriage, or the successes or failures of my children. How about you? If our identity rests in anything other than God it is sin and we must confess, repent, and turn to the cross!
Secondly, we can reject God’s sovereignty when we try to control God with our goodness. What I mean by this is that it is very easy to allow our motivation for good deeds to be so God will do something for us rather than being motivated by what God has done for us through Christ. It is a mindset that says somehow God is indebted to us based upon our “works of righteousness.” When we try to control God with our righteousness we are saying that His righteousness is not enough. Again we must confess, repent, and turn to the cross.
In the Gospel we see most clearly God’s ultimate authority…His sovereignty. He has defeated Satan and conquered both sin and death. May we cling to Jesus and rejoice in His sovereignty rather than rejecting it!