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You Can't Keep a Good Man Down
Jonah 1:17-2:10

 

"Above anything else," Jackie Robinson said, "I hate to lose." 

On April 15, 1947, Robinson made it to the "show." He became the first black man to wear a Major League uniform, destroying the color barrier in professional sports.

In his first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he hit .297, sent 12 over the fence, and lead the league with 29 steals. He was also the National League Rookie of the year. Two years later they named him the National League's Most Valuable Player and he won the batting title with a .342 average. 1949 was his first of six appearances in the All-Star game.

During his ten years with the Dodgers, he helped them reach the World Series six times. Robinson had a career batting average of .311 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, his first year of eligibility.

Did you also know that Jackie Robinson was court-martialed from the Army and that he dropped out of college?(From Fresh Illustrations) Failure doesn't have to be fatal, a lesson Jonah learned while he was surrounded by a fish's digestive juices.

Last week as we left Jonah, he was a dismal failure. He tried to out run God and conspired with his shipmates to try to out-row Him too. Neither worked. Finally, those on board the ship tossed Him overboard into the storm-tossed sea. It appears that it is over for Jonah, but its not. Let's continue the story by rejoining our text, Jonah 1:17-2:10.

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights. [2:1] 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; Thou didst hear my voice. [3] "For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Thy breakers and billows passed over me. [4] "So I said, 'I have been expelled from Thy sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Thy 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 Thou hast 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 Thee, Into Thy holy temple. [8] "Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness, [9] But I will sacrifice to Thee With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord." [10] Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. 

Even in his darkest moment, God was still there.

  • "And the Lord appointed. . ."
Jonah 1:17 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 probably didn't view the fish as God's grace, but it was. The fish was not punishment, it was a biological submarine prepared by God to sustain Jonah's life.

In the beginning, I'm sure Jonah was resentful, like the poet who had the dream where he noticed only one footprint in the sand during difficult times and later discovered "'The times when only ONE set of footprints were made, My child, were the times I CARRIED you!'" Jonah came to understand that God is a gracious God.

  • "Then Jonah prayed. . ." 
Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the stomach of the fish, He blames God for his troubles in verses 3-4. He complained about his trials in verses 5-6a. It couldn't be much worse for Jonah. He was at the "roots of the mountains" a poetic way of referring to the bottom of the ocean. But notice the dramatic turn-around in Jonah's attitude in verses 6b-7. Jonah 6b-7But Thou hast 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 Thee, Into Thy holy temple. Verse 8 is proof that you can't keep a preacher quiet. Jonah 2:8 "Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness," A miniature sermon at the end of his prayer, then in verse 9, we seek a rededication of sorts. Jonah 2:9"But I will sacrifice to Thee With the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord. " 

God miraculously cared for Jonah. Even when he tried to outrun God and conspired with others to try to out-row God, he remained in the palm of God's hand. And while he was in the belly of the fish, Jonah rested in the palm of God's hand.

When I was a little boy, I would hold my father's hand as we walked together. I was always amazed at how his large hand swallowed mine. How big and strong is our heavenly Father's hand?

Scientists estimate that there are around a hundred billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Yet Isaiah 45:12 says they were made with His hand and Psalm 147:4 says that God knows exactly how many of them there are and that he calls them by name.

The oceans have a total volume of 322,280,000 cubic miles of water, yet Isaiah 40:12 says, that God measures the waters of the earth in His hand. 

The earth is almost 8,000 miles around, with a total surface space of 196,950,000 square miles, yet in Psalm 95:4 we learn that God holds it in the palm of His hand.

Just a few seconds of meditating on these amazing facts gives me a new appreciation for God's ability to accomplish what his grace motivates Him to do.

  • "Then the Lord commanded. . ."
Jonah 2:10 Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land. 

The God that "hurled the wind" and "appointed the fish," commanded the fish to vomit him on the shore-and it did. Jonah stood on the dry land, cleaned himself up and began walking to Nineveh, where God told him to go in the first place.

Next week, we will rejoin Jonah on his journey, but before we dismiss this morning, I want to remind you that as it was with Jonah, it has been with others, and so it can be with you. Whatever difficulty you're facing, just remember, You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

LINCOLN was defeated for the state legislature in Illinois in 1832. He was defeated for Congress in 1843. He was defeated for Congress again in 1848. In 1855 he ran for the Senate and was defeated. He was on the vice presidential ticket in 1856 and lost again. He ran for the Senate in 1858 and was once more defeated. He became president in 1860 and lives on in history as one of the greatest presidents of the United States. (Jonah: Meeting the God of the Second Chance, p. 65.) You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress from Prison. You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

Job lost all that he had, was near death yet said: "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him." Job 13:15 God restored to him more than he had before. You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

King Jehoshaphat was out matched in a battle, he had no hope, instead of fleeing he trusted God. "and he said, "Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the Lord to you, 'Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God's." (II Chronicles 20:15) You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

Jesus knew he was born to die. He said: "for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40) He submitted himself to the will of God. Yes, he died, but he arose. "And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him." (Mark 16:6) You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

You may feel like you are drowning in your problems. You may be down, but you are not out. As He did with Jonah, God is caring for you. By God's grace: You Can't Keep a Good Man Down.

 

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