God works powerfully in His servants as they yield to His will. Jonah is the perfect example of how God works through submission. God commanded Jonah to “rise up and go to Ninevah” (1:3). However, “Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (1:4). While running from God at sea, God sent a storm and the captain of the ship said to Jonah “Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish” (1:6). Jonah was thrown into the sea, the storm was calmed, and Jonah was swallowed by the infamous sea creature. After three days in the belly of the fish, Jonah was vomited onto dry land and the Lord said to him a second time: “Arise, go to Nineveh that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you. So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord” (3:2-3). Although he was reluctant, Jonah preached God’s word and the people of the great and wicked city repented. We can submit to God and see His power, or we can rebel against God and be swallowed up in problems.
Acts 8:26-40 records a story of two men who were willing to yield to God and were witness to the great things God can do when His people submit to His will. From these events we are encouraged to yield to God’s will so that we may see His will be done.
THOSE WHO SAY “THY WILL BE DONE”
Philip is confronted by an angel of the Lord who commands him to “arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is desert” (8:26). This was 50 mile road paved by the Romans which Philip began his journey. Philip knows the command and he thinks he is aware of the destination, but the only reason he has for going is his willingness to obey the Lord’s command (John 2:5; Hebrews 5:9, Hebrews 11:8).
While on the road, Philip met the Ethiopian Eunuch “who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet” (8:27-28). All eunuchs were forbidden from coming into the assembly of the Lord (Deuteronomy 23:1), but this good hearted man was doing as much as was allowed him in God’s service. He accepted the wall of partition between himself and God and the same wall between himself and God’s people.
Still yet there was an eagerness in the Eunuch’s heart which led him to read the Scriptures and desire their meaning. When he was finally given the opportunity to learn, he accepted it willingly (8:30-31). His submissive attitude allowed him to be a good learner (8:31; cf. Acts 10:31-33). How unlike the Israelites whom God described as they who “keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive” (Isaiah 6:9).
SILENCE WE CAN’T BE SILENT ABOUT
The Eunuch was reading a passage perfect for his situation–Isaiah 53:7-8. The verses mentioned focus upon our Savior’s willingness to surrender to suffering. Just as the Ethiopian has already demonstrated his willingness to yield to God’s will and Philip has shown us his desire to obey the Lord’s command, the very Son of God had became the ultimate picture of perfect submissive obedience. Even though he was suffering, “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth.” His submissiveness is exemplified in His silence. That silence led to our Lord’s crucifixion.
That silence of the Messiah who yielded to God’s will also led to the salvation which we cannot be silent about. Jesus “opened not his mouth”, Isaiah asked “who shall declare his generation”, and the Eunuch asked “of whom did the prophet speak?” While they were silent, Philip was not. Philip “opened his mouth and beginning at the same Scripture preached to him Jesus.
The Eunuch was reading a most appropriate Scripture for the situation–Isaiah 53. The verses which Philip heard him reading were 53:7-8. Perhaps the next words provided the text for Philip’s sermon: “stricken for the transgression of my people.” Continuing on through the passage, Philip preached how Jesus’ suffering appeased the wrath of God and provided an entrance to God for all people (Ephesians 2:11-22 & Isaiah 56:4-5).
LIFE THAT YIELDS IN OBEDIENCE
Upon hearing the message of Christ, the Eunuch wanted nothing other than to be a part of the Christian family. As they were approaching water the Eunuch asked, “what hinders me from being baptized?” Having confessed his faith in Christ, both Philip and the Eunuch went down into the water and the Eunuch was baptized. We learn that baptism/immersion is an urgent matter (1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38; Titus 3:4-6). It is a matter of obedience, and therefore it is a matter of salvation (Mark 16:16). It is a way in which we obey the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8; Romans 6:1-17). It is the time at which we are adopted into the family of God (Matthew 3:16-17; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-12).
In like manner, we should seek every opportunity to obey all of our God’s commands. James said, “So, whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). In view of this verse we understand that we can never earn our salvation, we can only be servants. We understand that we are going to judged by the things that we do in this life. Why would we not obey God’s commands? Why would we not be baptized? Why would we not continue to live faithfully?
WILL WE YIELD OURSELVES TO GOD?
We can’t help but remember how much good came about when Jonah obeyed God. Still yet Jonah’s heart wasn’t really in the right place. Even though the reluctant prophet preached one of the most successful sermon, he regretted the fact that the people of Nineveh repented. The moral of the story of Jonah isn’t about Jonah. The moral of the story is that God’s compassionate grace is extended to all people if they will live by his will. The book of Jonah concludes with the question, “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” Even though those people had been living wicked lives and were enemies of God’s own people, God still cared for them. God still wanted to bless them. God still wanted to display his mercy to them. However, God’s nature also demanded they live according to his will.
The question for us is, “will we yield to God or be cast away?” The Bible tells us that “every knee will bow and every tongue confess.” The only questions are when and how? Will we be shoved to the ground to confess Christ that we denied on earth? Will we fall to our knees as welcome and confess that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God?