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Jonah 4 Pastor David Fairchild February 29, 2004 INTRODUCTION This morning we will be concluding the book of Jonah. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying and preaching through this book. It has taught me much about myself, much about our church, and much about God‟s sovereignty in pouring out His gracious love upon those that are not seeking it and certainly do not deserve it from a human perspective. God is indeed portrayed as the hero in this book, not Jonah. This book shows us the theme of the entire bible, sin and grace. Sin is typified as running from God, grace is shown to us as God‟s pursuit of the one rebelling until He overtakes Jonah and doesn‟t let him get away. Chapter one God‟s word comes to Jonah and it instructs him to go to Nineveh, which is modern day Iraq, and to cry out against them because their sin has come up before the LORD. This like you or I sitting at home and minding our business when God comes to tell us to go to Iraq and tell Saddam that his sin has angered God and they need to stop or God is going completely destroy Baghdad. It is a horrible, dangerous, wicked place that no one wants to go to unless they are just as wicked. It‟s like Detroit! Jonah hears the word of the Lord, knows what God wants him to do and rises up. Instead of heading east Nineveh, he takes off to Joppa to jump on a ship and head as far away as money and modern transportation could take him...to Tarshish, which would be the southern coast of Spain. God then sends a great storm which stirs up the sea into a tumult. The sailors on the ship are afraid of what is happening, they realize they are in grave danger and they begin to cry out to their own god‟s but nothing happens, there is only silence. They then cast lots, which is like rolling dice, to see whose is at fault for their danger and the lots indicated that it‟s Jonah. God not only controls the wind, but also controls the dice. The sailors then head down into the ship to find Jonah sleeping like a baby in his sin and rebellion to God. They ask Jonah what he does for a living, what country he is from, and what race he is. Jonah tells them he is a Hebrew that fears the Lord and that the storm is his fault. He even tells them to throw him in the sea and the storm will calm down. They try to row a bit, realize they are fighting against God and pray to God, ask forgiveness, and chuck Jonah overboard, the sea immediately calms down, and they fear God exceedingly and offer a sacrifice and make vows to follow Him the rest of their days. In chapter two Jonah is swallowed by a great fish, taken to the deeps of the sea for three days, and from the deep in his darkest moment he prays to God and admits that God is sovereign in salvation, and if God wants to save wicked, godless, violent, and barbaric people like the Ninevites, He can do whatever He wants because “salvation is from the Lord.” God has the great fish puke Jonah on the beach and out comes this eye squinting, frail, feeble, stinky, prophet that smells worse than an outhouse at a carnival. In chapter three God gives Jonah tells Jonah again to go to Nineveh and instead of preaching against the Ninevites, he is to preach to them. Jonah decides wisely this time to listen, he again rises and this time heads in the right direction to preach to a people that are so barbaric they are infamous for their sexual exploits and their torturous ways they kill their enemies. The stinky prophet strolls into the city and it takes him three days to preach to the entire city, over 60 miles and to 600,000 people. He tells them “forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” In the Hebrew this is only 5 words. Essentially it is this; God is coming in 40 days to flip your city over! No grace, no mercy, no Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan, no altar call, no filling out comment cards…nothing. Just a message of total doom. 40 Days and you are toast. This is like me heading to Detroit and telling them „God is ticked, you are His enemy, He hates you and is coming in a few days to destroy you,‟ and then I leave. You are in jacked, you are in deep trouble with God, and I‟m outta here. But something strange happens in chapter three doesn‟t it? Instead of the people string him up by his toes and playing piñata with him, the people repent, they king of Nineveh dethrones himself, takes off his robe and issues a decree telling everyone in the city to turn from their wicked ways and to cry out to God. The king even says “perhaps He will turn from His fierce anger, so that we don‟t perish.” Jonah preaches, from a human perspective, perhaps the worst evangelistic message ever. „God is coming to turn you upside down and shake you like a snow globe,‟ and 600,000 people are saved over three days time! This is the greatest mass conversion of a people group in all of human history. 600,000 people that hate God cry out to Him in repentance and God hears their prayers and instead of destroying them He gives them grace. God saves over half a million people through the preaching of one bitter man that is a racist and self-righteous jerk. Did it please Jonah that God was gracious and merciful and loving to the Ninevites? Did it please Jonah that instead of God deciding to smoke the whole city He forgives them and instead shows them His favor? STUDY Chapter 4 The beauty of this chapter is that it gives us insight and perspective from Jonah about how he feels about God and the decisions God is making without his consent or approval. Let me also say this before we read; as you study the Scriptures and as you work through and systematic theology, often you will hear of God‟s attributes- His omnipotence (He is all powerful), His omnipresence (He is everywhere), and His Omniscience (He knows everything). What you will not hear when you study systematic theology is about God‟s humor and sarcasm. You won‟t learn about a God that is purposefully ironic, often chiding, and blatantly mocking and humorous in His dealings with His creation. This chapter shows us a glimpse of His humor and of His sarcasm to a silly little stinky freaky prophet that doesn‟t think any of this is funny. My favorite example of this in Scripture is in Psalm 2- 1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3 "Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us." 4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh (this word means to laugh in pleasure as you make fun of someone); The Lord shall hold them in derision (this means to mock someone by copying their language while you stutter). Jonah blew it in chapter one, looked a little better in chapter two, doesn‟t look that great in chapter three, let‟s see how he does in this chapter. Jonah, are you happy about the salvation of the Ninevites? Verse 1 1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. Jonah is hot. The word angry literally means “glowing” like glowing red. He is so mad. He is like Irishman that was woken up from his nap only to learn he‟s been robbed of all his dark ale. Jonah is not happy with God right now. He is incensed and throwing a fit. His veins are popping out of his forehead, he‟s probably talking like some of the sailors he was sailing with, and he is fit to be tied because God messed everything up. Some of you are familiar with Jonah‟s rage. God is not listening to you, He keeps thinking He has His own free will, and it keeps interfering with yours. He won‟t do what He‟s told, He wont listen, and when you finally throw Him a bone and do what He says, He takes advantage of it and does exactly what you were hoping He wouldn‟t. What is He thinking and where did He get this idea that He could do whatever He wanted? It is so frustrating isn‟t it? He never seems to realize that He‟s like our janitor, and that we sit on the throne, and when we pray and tell Him what to do, He should do it! Verse 2 2 So he prayed to the LORD, and said, "Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Jonah says „remember when I was minding my own business? Remember when my life was great and I was kicking back and enjoying my day before you came and ruined me with your call to go to Tarshish? Don‟t you remember? Do you want to know why I fled to Tarshish? Because I knew that you were gracious and merciful, and that you would show your love and not kill them. That‟s why. I hate them, their terrible people and I knew that if I went you would love them. I knew if I went you would forgive them. I knew if I went you would show them mercy instead of making them a little grease spot after you squash them. I knew it! I knew you wouldn‟t do what I said, I knew you would listen to me, I knew you would do what you wanted to and now I‟m really upset.‟ Jonah is mad at God for showing grace to people that don‟t deserve it. Jonah is mad at God for not leaving him back home and finding someone else to do the job. Jonah is mad at God because God won‟t hate the same people that Jonah hates. God they‟re terrible. They all love 4x4‟s, each of them listens to Kid rock, their house are on wheels and their cars are on blocks, they all where white tank tips with pizza stains on the front, they‟re Raiders fans and all have mullets! God you can‟t love them! I think you made a mistake, they‟re not loveable like me and if I have to see them in heaven every day it‟s going to be like hell! I knew if I went to Nineveh you would love them, I don‟t. I knew you would show them mercy, I won‟t. I knew you would adopt them into your family, and I don‟t want them. I‟ll preach for them, but I want to preach their funeral! Ah, Lord! You have me thrown overboard, you have me swallowed by a fish, you puke me up on a beach, and you send me to my enemies! What do you want from me? I‟m a victim in all of this! You know what Lord, I have a better idea…how about you just kill me!! Verse 3 3 "Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!" Now he‟s really steamed. Just kill me LORD, please. Take me know. I‟ll slip the noose around my neck, you kick the stool out. How many times have you been frustrated that God won‟t listen, God won‟t follow your instructions, and He keeps doing what He wants without your approval, and then makes you do it with Him? You have to get this picture in your head. Jonah is furious. He is boiling hot, he‟s freaking out, pacing back and forth, beet red, and mumbling to himself, and God is watching Jonah flip out as He calmly asks Him a few questions. Verse 4 4 Then the LORD said, "Is it right for you to be angry?" Jonah is livid and God asks him if he has any right to be angry. It‟s like God is winding him up and then sitting back and watching him spin like a top. If there is anything that will take my wife from 0-60 in less than 4 seconds, it‟s when she is clearly upset by something I have said or done and I ask her if she has a right to be mad. Honey…why are you mad? Is it me? Are you sure you should be mad at me? That‟s like dumping rocket fuel on a lit match. So how does Jonah respond to God‟s question? Next verse… Verse 5 5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. Jonah slams the door and takes off to his mother‟s house. He doesn‟t even answer the LORD. He just splits, heads out of the city to east side, makes himself a shelter to sit under so he doesn‟t fry like an egg in the sun. How would the Ninevites have treated Jonah if he stayed in the city? Like a hero! He would have had all he could feast on, the favor of the king, the people would have loved him. But he is so racist, and so angry at God‟s love for these people he hates that he has to leave! I don‟t get this. It‟s like the state of Arizona when they were fighting to not recognize Martin Luther King day as a holiday in their state. How racist do you have to be to not take a day off? C‟mon. He would rather fry outside of the city than stay and have to be around these people. They are going to call him brother, and he wants to call them something else. He is bent! And what does he do as he sits outside the city? He waits to see what is going to happen to the city! He‟s hoping God will change His mind and will go ahead with the destruction. He‟s going to sit there for 37 days and hope God smokes the whole city! He‟s hoping that Nineveh will be kindling for the fires of hell. We all have people that we don‟t like. We all have people that we don‟t want to witness to. We are like Jonah, sitting on a stool and waiting for God to crush them, because they‟re our enemies and should be crushed right? Everybody has someone that they don‟t like, and the ones that don‟t like us, well…they‟re imbalanced anyway, of course they should like us, we‟re so likable. This is Jonah‟s struggle; how can God love people I hate, how can He show grace to people I can‟t. How can He forgive people that I won‟t? Verse 6 It gets better… 6 And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. Through this story God has provided the wind, He‟s provided the fish, He‟s provided Son, and now He provides a plant for Jonah. Jonah‟s sitting outside, it‟s probably 100-115 degrees, he‟s upset at God, and not speaking to Him and God is nice enough to provide a plant to shade Jonah from the heat. For the first time in this story, Jonah is happy. He finally has something to rejoice over, a nice leafy plant to cover him from the heat. Ahhhh, finally I get some rest, finally God is nice to me. Jonah is no longer bitter and angry. He‟s glad. But God is just setting Him up. This is going to be good. Verses 7-8 7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. 8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah's head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live." God sovereignly prepares a worm that destroys the plant, and God sovereignly prepares a hot wind blasts Jonah like a hot blow dryer on a Summer day. It‟s 100 plus degrees outside and God sends a strong hot wind and the sun beats on Jonah‟s stubborn head so that he grows faint. God is continuing to bring Jonah to an end of himself. He continues to whittle away at Jonah‟s defiance and rebellion until he cries out to die and means it. He needs to die. He needs to die to his prejudice heart. He needs to die to his own agenda. He needs to die to his own felt needs. He needs to be pressed to a place of despair before he will cry out and surrender, and God is working on him and grinding him down to nothing so that he can be put together the right way, in trusting loving submission to the Fathers will. Jonah needs to die. God is toying with Jonah so Jonah will snap out of his narcissism. Verse 9 God asks Jonah another question after Jonah‟s drama. 9 Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!" Jonah, do you make vines? Do you cause them to grow? Do you know exactly where they come from or how they work? Jonah are you God? No? Then why are you angry? Do you even have a right to be angry about what I create? Jonah, did you make the Ninevites? Did you cause them to grow? Do you know exactly where they come from or how they work? Jonah are you God? No? Then why are you angry? Do you even have a right to be angry about the people I decide to save? Some of you have heard some ridiculous theology that says it‟s ok to be angry at God because you‟re just being honest with Him. No! You have no right to be angry at God, because you are not God and He is. You are not perfect and He is. You are not the standard of goodness, and He is. Some of you think God is your janitor to clean up after you, and that you can boss around and call in prayer, and when God doesn‟t do what you want you think you can have a right to life your voice or hand to Him. You want to be God, you want to sit on your throne, you want to do what you want, and you everyone to take orders from you, especially God. But you‟re not God Jonah, I AM. Jonah, do you think you‟re any better than the Ninevites? They may be blood thirsty, they may be into witchcraft, they may be violent and vile and brutal people, but when they heard about me they stopped what they were doing and decided to listen to me. What about you Jonah? At least they obeyed my word, but you‟ve known it from your youth and you won‟t follow it. You like to receive my grace, my mercy, my love, my compassion, but you don‟t want to give it to others because your self-righteous and selfish. You only love yourself Jonah, you don‟t even love those that I love. You think I love you because your lovely Jonah? It‟s because of my love that makes you lovely, not because of anything you possess. If at any time you think you can be angry at God, essentially what you are saying is that God sinned and that He has made you His moral judge to tell Him what is right and wrong, good and bad. Verse 10 10 But the LORD said, "You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. Jonah, I put you in a fish and puked you out, I sent you to Nineveh and 600,000 people get saved and the only thing you care about is the stupid plant!!! You care about a plant, you don‟t even care about the people. God provides things and we get so enamored by what He‟s provided that we begin to care more about it than we do about Him and others. You‟re into your hair, your weight, your car, your house, your golf game, your football team, your investments, your decorations, and all of these other ridiculous things, but you don‟t even care about the men, women, and children that are dying in their sins and going to hell. You‟re like Jonah, you care more about your comfortable little shaded spot that you do the entire city that you live in. And when the car breaks, you lose your hair, your house gets eaten by termites, your team loses, your decorations are out of fashion, you‟re unhappy because you placed your energy and time and resources into something that is temporary and is going to perish, and when it does your miserable. You didn‟t lay up treasure in heaven where moths and rust won‟t damage it, and where thieves can‟t steal it. Jonah is mad because the one thing that gave him comfort and made him happy was something that God gave him and not God Himself. So God takes that away to show Him where his affection is and now he‟s angry at God because God continues to show him how selfish and self- centered he is. There is a reason why this city is so anemic in its relationship with God. There is a reason that so few churches preach God‟s truth on Sunday morning. There is a reason this city is so enamored with the gifts God has given rather that the God who gave them. It‟s because you and I are just like Jonah. We are just as self righteous. We are just as racist. We are just as rebellious. We are just as disobedient. We are just as defiant. We are just as immature as we stomp our feet and run out to suburbs and try to hide under a shady spot while we sit on our porch and wait to see what‟s going to happy to San Diego. You and I are just like Jonah. We love ourselves more than we love others. Verse 11 11 "And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left-and much livestock?" This is a euphemism for little children. The city has around 120,000 kids that live in its walls. God says “should I not pity Nineveh?” Jonah, maybe you don‟t care about the men, there bloodthirsty and sinful. Maybe you don‟t like the women, they‟re wicked as well. What about the kids Jonah? Do you even care about them? Jonah, you want me to go smoke the daycares? You don‟t like the adults, but don‟t you even care about the kids? You‟re sitting here waiting for destruction to come upon Nineveh, but there‟s 120,000 little kids running around and you‟re hoping I destroy the whole city! Then God says, ok maybe the kids are snot nose little brats, but what about the cows Jonah? What do you have against them? Jonah, c‟mon, you‟re even angry at the cows? What did the cow ever do to you Jonah? You have no mercy and no compassion if you want me to smoke all the adults, the daycare centers and all the cows! And the book ends there. God gets the first word in Jonah 1:1 then we see the racist, rebellious prophet and then God gets the last word in chapter 4. CONCLUSION Why in the world would God use Jonah? If you wanted 600,000 people to be saved would you pick a racist, angry, self-righteous, prophet that is disobedient to God? NO! The same reason God has put us in our own Nineveh. Some of you have come to San Diego in crazier circumstances than Jonah being vomited out by a whale. The reason is because God wants us to do the work with Him so we can see ourselves in the work. Most of us think we are so glorious and God is so impressed with our skills, and often what it takes is to be close to God in an assignment He has asked us to do so that we can see how much we really do not love the way we should, we really do not care the way we should, we really do not understand or give grace the way we should. The problem is that we never see this until we step out in faith to follow God on His mission. God sends us on a mission to bring a message to San Diego so that we see conversion in the city, and we see conversion in ourselves. God uses Jonah, not because He couldn‟t find a better prophet, He uses Jonah because as He converts the sailors on the ship, as He converts the Assyrians in Nineveh, God wants Jonah converted also, but Jonah doesn‟t think he needs to be converted, so God takes him on a journey through self-righteousness, through rebellion, through anger, through racism, all for the purpose of making Jonah into a man of God. How do we know Jonah repented? Who wrote the book? Jonah. I believe the book of Jonah is Jonah‟s repenting and seeing his foolishness in how he responded to God. I believe that this book reads the way most of have been with God as we look back at our past. I believe, like Jonah, that we need to confront and admit our rebellious, self-centered, prejudice hearts that same way Jonah did, by being truthful about it before the Lord. Let‟s pray. Communion and tithe.
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