29 June 2010

God is More Merciful than His Prophet



Jonah 4: 1-11

What have we learned from this letter that Jonah penned? Chapter 1 we learn running doesn’t solve the problem, it only leads to disobedience......and when we disobey it brings chastisement from the LORD, who will fulfill His plan and purpose with or without you. In chapter 2 we saw brokenness and deliverance by a sovereign God......true biblical repentance by Jonah..... submission.........restoration by a sovereign God. In the 3rd chapter we saw the Mighty power of God Word in how it leads to repentanc, renewal and revival to a people who need a Saviour! (Jonah 3:10) "When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it." God saw the hearts of this once evil Nation. Let me ask you! Would you rejoice with Nineveh's salvation if you knew who they were or what they have done? Would you be as merciful as our Lord to those who have had an evil backgrounds? Did Christ die for all or did He die for to ones who were less wicked and evil? The Bible says “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2. In Heb 2:9 "But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone." We need to understand something! Its God’s salvation....its God’s grace....its God’s forgiveness of sin.....its God’s mercy to all that call upon the name Lord Jesus, no matter how evil a person may seem.Talk about Jeffery Dahmer and his story of salvation! How would you respond if you had lost a child at the hands of this man? Would you truly rejoice for his salvation? Would you embrace him with Christian love as Christ did with you? Remember what I said last week! (Luke 15:10) "Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Jonah didn’t get it. Jonah felt that God should pour His wrath on this wicked and evil nation. Look at (verse 1) “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” The first question I want to look at this morning is

1) DO YOU REJOICE WHEN GOD IS MERCIFUL? (V1- V4)

Mercy: is the outward expression of pity. It is used of God, who is rich in mercy, Act of God; peace is the resulting experience in the heart of man. Grace describes God's attitude toward the lawbreaker and the rebel; mercy is His attitude toward those who are in distress. (Eph 2:4) "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us," He is so rich in it that He is willing to impart it to others; so rich that he can make all blessed......God’s infinite love is the groundwork of our salvation. Martin Luther says "The law works fear and wrath; grace works hope and mercy." Jonah was “displeased” (v1) means to feel a violent, an irritation, physically. Jonah was feeling violent....irritated:

• With these people of Nineveh
• With their salvation
• With their obedience to God
• With God and His mercy that He showed these wretched sinners

(Ps 86:5-6) For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. Only the Lord is full of mercy and abounding and ready to forgive all sinners. God is esssentially and independently good, from whom every good and perfect gift comes. Jonah couldn’t see past God’s wonderful grace and mercy to these people who once were wicked. (Jonah 4:3) "Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." Jonah was bitter about God relenting (He had compassion and mercy) and did not destroy them as He planned. See Jonah forgot about the mercy that God showed him:
  • A. By sparing his life
  • B. By chastening him because He loved him “as a Father loves His son.”
  • C. By restoring him to fellowship with a Holy and Just God
  • D. By giving him a second chance to do the Father’s will.
We as Christians are no different than Jonah sometimes..................Think about it for a minute: What would you do if someone walked in that door, a known rapist or murder, and seats down desiring to grow in their Christian walk. Would you embrace your brother in Christ? Or Would you show bitter resentment towards him? Because this is exactly what Jonah is doing! Jonah said “I would rather die than to see a nation come to salvation.” Oh how easy we forget sometimes, when we look others and forget about our own sinful lives. The bible says (Rom 12:15) "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." Rejoice with them that rejoice, (salvation, personal victory.......Sympathize with the joys and sorrows of others. The special duty of Christians to sympathize in each other’s grief. Why? Our Saviour (the sinless spotless Lamb of God) set for us the example! We belong to the same family (the universal church) We are all subject to similar trials and afflictions as our brother and sisters in Christ.

2) DOES YOUR JOY ONLY COME FROM SELF-CENTEREDNESS? (V6-V8)

 Self-righteousness and centeredness does not lead to true biblical joy. (Jonah 4:6) "Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant." We see another great miracle performed by our LORD. God appointed a plant (He prepared a plant for His weeping prophet) In all of Jonah’s bitterness and complaining and selfishness......God still showed Jonah:

1. Compassion
2. Love for His chosen child
3. Comfort
4. Shelter
5. Patience with His selfish prophet

Jonah was very grateful, exceedingly glad (in the Hebrew it means Jonah rejoiced with great joy). Do you realize for the first time in Jonah's letter...he iis happy about something! Jonah showed more joy for this plant that God provided for him. Then Jonah did for 600,000 souls coming to God for salvation. AGAIN LET’S RECAP

1. God commissioned Jonah to preach in Nineveh (He did not like that)
2. Then there was a storm (He didn’t like that either)
3. Then God created a great fish (Jonah didn’t like either)
4. Then the Nation of Nineveh repented and believed (Jonah was displeased with that also)

Nothing pleased Jonah except this plant that the LORD provided for him. Why was Jonah so happy? After all the compassion and attention God was showing Nineveh.....God was finally doing something for Jonah. What do we call this?................ SELFISHNESS! Solomon wrote (Prov 14:30) "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot." A tranquil heart (means) sound, wholesome, yielding. Brings life to the flesh! Envy (means) jealousy, zeal. makes your bones rot (means) decay, rottenness (thing).
(James 3:14) “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.” Jonah was bitter over this nation and over God for showing mercy and compassion. Jonah selfishness lies both against the truth of God's word and his own conscience. According to James........that would be to....... lie against the truth. We are about to see what happens to our selfishness....when we behave like Jonah did here on this hill top. Jonah loss his joy and happiness once again! Because man made joy is only temporary!! “He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals” Unknown Author. “At this very moment you and I are either committing [selfishness], or about to commit it, or repenting it.” C.S Lewis

3) DOES BITTERNESS AND UNTHANKFULNESS BLOCK YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD? (V10-V11)

 (Jonah 4:10) "And the LORD said, "You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night." This is the second question the Lord confronts Jonah with. The first one being in (verse 4) “is it right for you to be angry? Now the Lord asks Him “is it right for you to angry with the plant? We need to remember.....God is the one who prepared the plant. God is the giver of life to all of His creation. God performed another miracle by preparing a worm to eat the plant. Jonah you did not tend to the plant, help grow the plant; but you are angry over the plant (Prov 26:24) "Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbours deceit in his heart;" If you are harbouring bitterness or a grudge in your mind, as Jonah did with these people. Your heart is full of hate and evil this is what Jonah was experiencing in his life!His plant the Lord provided was dead, the heat was unbearable even for a camel, Jonah wanted to die again! Jonah had selfish pride and bitterness towards God for showing such love and mercy to the Nation Nineveh. He thought he was more important than these wicked people.....John Piper says "It horribly skews the meaning of the cross when contemporary prophets of self-esteem say that the cross is a witness to my infinite worth... The biblical perspective is that the cross in a witness to the infinite worth of God's glory, and a witness to the immensity of the sin of my pride." Remember what Paul said................ (Eph 4:31-32) "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." As Christ forgave you Christian. As God forgave you Jonah and gave you a second chance to bring Him glory!! Jonah do you know that there are 120,000 who cannot discern for themselves. (Jonah 4:11) "And should not I 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?" What God is saying is:

1. Jonah don’t you pity the children of this nation, which exceeds over 120,000?
2. Jonah are you telling me that you care more for the plant then these children?
3. Should I not be concerned about that great city Jonah?
4. Was I not concerned before the Flood?
5. Was I not concerned for Sodom and Gomorrah?
6. Jonah is it not right for Me (meaning GOD) to show mercy for their sake?

ASK YOURSELF! Are you like Jonah, bitter and resentful towards God’s people whom He showed mercy to? Have or are you bitter towards a fellow brother or sister in Christ? If so, is this the way you want to live, bitter and angry all the time like Jonah? Do you rejoice over the conversion of another without prejudice? Remember the Psalmist when he wrote (Ps 145:8-9) “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.” His holy nature is ever inclined to show favour. He is full of compassion - Kind; compassionate; ready to do good. His greatness is shown in his mercy; and the manifestation of that mercy is great. THE LESSONS OF THIS SMALL BOOK ARE MANY TO YOU AND ME AND ESPECIALLY JONAH.........SEE JONAH IS A TYPE OF PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING: He is a type of Christ (who was buried but rose again)....He is a type of Israel (disobedient to the will of God)....He is a type of all Believers (for we all run away from God at times and need to be disciplined). ALSO SOME OTHER LESSONS WE TEND TO OVER LOOK WHEN WE READ THE SCRIPTURES! There are lessons that concern Nineveh and the true meaning of repentance. There are lessons relating to doctrine of God’s Sovereignty over men and nature. BUT THE GREATEST LESSONS WE LEARN ARE: The mercies of God......the compassion of God.....the salvation to a person that come to Him in repentance of sin....the Providence of God...His working things out for His glory....the Love of God to children as God said to Jonah in (verse 11) "And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left." James Boice says “how can we, who have known that mercy and benefited from it, be less than merciful to others? How can we do less than love them and carry the Gospel to them with all the strength at our disposal?” The real mercy of God is that outstretched arms of the Lord Jesus Christ as He hung on the Cross to die for our salvation. THIS LETTER ENDS WITH A QUESTION? Remember as we leave here today, and I really want you to think about it! Because Jesus says......(Luke 15:10) “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repent." Question is......Do you rejoice with them?

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