Running From God – Gospel in Life

Running From God

Tim Keller |  September 9, 2001

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  • Identity
  • Sin
Jonah 1:1-10
RS 139-1


The book of Jonah is really one of the best possible places to get an overview of what the Christian message is about. This passage is about sin. But it doesn’t actually ever use the word sin. And yet, not only does it profoundly map out the real nature of sin, it gives us an understanding of sin that goes deeper than what you’d think the definition of sin is.

It’s one thing to believe in sin. It’s another thing to understand it and understand your own heart. We’re going to take a look at four features in the narrative, and each one is going to tell us something about sin. The four features we see are in verse 1. We see the coming word. “The word of the LORD came …” In verse 3, we see the running man. In verse 5, we see the deathly sleep. And lastly, we see the stormy hope.

Jonah 1:1–10

The tale of Jonah in the Bible gives us a fresh look at sin. It shows us that sin isn’t just about doing wrong things. Instead, it uncovers how sin can help us understand ourselves better, like Jonah’s own hidden sin that made his life fall apart. This story highlights four important points about sin through concepts of the coming word, the running man, the deathly sleep, and the stormy hope.

1. The coming word

When the Bible says, “The word of the LORD came…”, it means God is calling someone to be His prophet. Jonah, in refusing to follow God’s call, essentially rejects who he is meant to be according to God’s plan. This is the core of sin – trying to be someone without God in our lives. When we don’t let God define who we are, we can’t find stability or satisfaction because our real identity comes from God’s word.

2. The running man

Sin isn’t just about breaking rules; it’s about trying to be someone without God. Jonah is the one in the wrong, not the sailors or the people of Nineveh. He’s running away from his relationship with God, not just physically running away. When we don’t let God define who we are, we can become trapped by whatever else we think is important. This shows that sin is about loving the wrong things more than we love God.

3. The deathly sleep

When we try to find our identity in anything other than God, it can lead to disaster. Jonah’s fear and despair about Nineveh’s repentance come from him focusing too much on success rather than on God. Sin, like a fatal disease, can cause us to lose ourselves when we look for approval in the wrong places. That’s why it’s crucial to be aware of what could distract our hearts from God and to understand that we can still sin even when we live morally. This highlights the need to be self-aware and not to try to save ourselves.

4. The stormy hope

Jonah’s change isn’t just about becoming a better person; it’s about truly understanding God’s love and grace, which is more than just being good. This change starts when God sends a storm to make Jonah face his problems and misplaced love, helping him find true love beneath God’s wrath. The only way to truly change and find a cure for our spiritual troubles is by accepting how deep God’s love is, as shown by Jesus’ sacrifice.



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