You started a diet. You are losing weight and beginning to feel better. You have removed all the tempting sweets from your house. Then you come to work on Monday and a co-worker brought 3 dozen donuts to the office and set them next to the coffee maker! It never fails.
If you attended Bible classes in your youth or if you watched Veggie Tales, you know about a man named Jonah. Jonah was a prophet of God who declined God’s directive to go to Nineveh. His fear, prejudice, and embarrassment for the unrepentant people of his own nation kept Jonah from wanting to do what God commanded. Jonah would board a ship bound for Tarshish (most likely an area in what we know as Spain). While on board, he goes below and sleeps. A storm threatens to wreck the ship and the crew begins to panic. They wake Jonah to ask him to pray to his God, just as they are praying to their gods – you know, cover all the bases. Jonah reveals his situation and tells them to toss him over for their safety. Eventually they do and Jonah is swallowed by a big fish. He spends three days in the fish, praying. Not even fish like a whining, belly-aching preacher, and the fish vomits Jonah out on dry land. He makes his way to Nineveh and begrudgingly does God’s bidding.
Usually in the story of Jonah we talk about the miracles, patience, and forgiveness that God supplies: a miraculous storm, a miraculous fish, Jonah miraculously surviving three days in the stomach of a fish, God’s patience with Jonah, and His forgiveness of the Ninevites. But as I was reading the story recently, I noticed some things that Satan provided.
“But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.” Jon 1:3-5
Looking at these verses I see at least three things that the Adversary provides:
- Satan provides a ship to Tarshish. A place about as far away from Israel and as far as you could go on the Mediterranean Sea.
- Satan provides fare for passage. The ship seems to be a cargo vessel not a passenger ship. Jonah does not seem to barter passage by offering to work, but has a bunk to sleep in. What did he pay? How much? Where did he get the funds?
- Satan provided rest in the storm. I don’t know if you have every been in a storm at sea. I have been deep sea fishing in decent size boats when we met a squall line and rough seas. I think most people would find it difficult to sleep in a storm at sea.
Satan is the adversary of God and of us. He desires our downfall. He wants to bring God’s masterpiece to destruction. God made hell for the devil and his angels not for you. You were made for heaven and not for hell. Satan knows his destiny is eternal misery in hell. Misery loves company and he wants you there with him. So Satan still provides for us to go against God. Satan provides:
- An excuse for us to sin. He will provide us an excuse to do what we should not do and he will provide excuses to not do what we should do.
- Opportunity to sin. He will put just the right person, object, or idea right in front of us. He knows our weaknesses and tendencies and he provides the opportunity.
- What we need to sin. For Jonah it was a boat, the fare, and rest. For us it may be a person, a chemical to help us relax at the end of the day, time, money, privacy, or any number of things.
Satan provides for our downfall and destruction, but just as in the story of Jonah, God provides what we really need. Yes, the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:23).
God provides for our eternal blessing. God provides a way for us to be with Him. That way is Christ.