God saw the genuine hearts of this once evil Nation and chose to save them for His glory. Let me ask you a question this morning! Would you rejoice, knowing a person’s/nations wickedness before they were saved by His wonderful and merciful grace? Better Yet! Would you be as merciful as our Lord was to those who have had evil backgrounds? Did Christ die for all sin or not? 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
(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
- It’s God’s salvation as He draws sinners to Himself.
- It’s God’s grace He freely gives to those who repent and believe.
- It’s God’s forgiveness of sin as He will pardon the wickedest and vilest of people.
- It’s God’s mercy to all that call upon the name Lord Jesus, no matter how evil a person may seem.
Jeffrey Dahmer will definitely go down in history as a very wicked man. Being a homosexual who abducted, raped, tortured, murdered and cannibalized his many victims (seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991, he is ranked among the world’s worst men in the minds of most.
No matter how depraved a life he led (raping, homosexuality, cannibalism, necrophilia, serial killing…… he repented for his sins according to his testimony and believed upon Christ Jesus. And if Jeffery was genuine (which many believe he was) then God can save anyone. See, Jeffery Dahmer’s testimony is a prime example of God’s relentless grace and mercy for sinners. Just as He chose to draw this man to Himself, is the same way God drew the nation of Nineveh to Himself. Let me ask you and be honest with your answers…..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? The reason I ask this is because of what we read in chapter 4! Jonah didn’t get it and he felt that God should pour His wrath on this wicked and evil nation. Look at (v1) “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.” The first question I want to look at this morning is……..
DO YOU REJOICE WHEN GOD IS MERCIFUL TO OTHERS?
“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. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us,” Eph 2:4. He is so rich in it that He is willing to impart it to others. God’s infinite love is the groundwork of our salvation and for those who are being saved. 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 and emotionally. He had rage issues!
Jonah was feeling violent towards…..
- The people of Nineveh
- With their salvation
- With their obedience to God
- With God and His mercy that He showed these wretched sinners
His heart attitude was at this moment unloving, sinful and murderous to a degree. Jesus warned us about this kind of heart behaviour! In Matt 5:21-22 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. This is where we need to be extremely careful in how we look at those who God choses to save for His glory. Because none of us deserve this grace and if you think you do…then you are no different than Jonah. Only the Lord is full of mercy and abounding and ready to forgive all sinners. Essentially and independently good, from whom every good and perfect gift comes as James said. Jonah couldn’t see past God’s wonderful grace and mercy to these people who once were wicked….because like Jonah we look through the lenses of humanity and not through the lenses of Christ.
Look what Jonah says next! “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." Jonah 4:3. Jonah was bitter about God relenting (He had compassion and mercy) and did not destroy them as He planned.
See Jonah forgot all about the mercy that God showed him resently……
- By sparing his life through the storm and time he spent in the “Great Fish”
- By chastening him because He loved him “as a Father loves His son.”
- By restoring him to fellowship with a Holy and Just God.
- 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 wanting to grow in their Christian walk. Would you embrace your brother/sister in Christ? 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. Did Jonah fulfill the mandate that Paul gave to the church? Romans 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
“Rejoice with them that rejoice” for example: a person’s salvation, personal victory over sin and temptation. “Sympathize” with the joys and sorrows of others. It’s a special duty for Christians to sympathize in each other’s grief. This is a nation broken over their sin and they have turned from their wicked ways to follow the true Living God ……just you, just like me, just like Jonah. We are to rejoice for and with sinners who come to saving faith in Jesus alone! As Jesus said “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Luke 15:6. In the second story Jesus said “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.' Luke 15:9. And in Luke 15:32-30 we see a brother who is no different than Jonah! “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate. "Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, 'Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!' And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'" Luke 15:32-32
DOES YOUR ANGER TRUMP GOD’S UNMERITED GRACE?
This is why we see the question in (v4) “do you do well to be angry?” At this point God tried to reason with this rebellious prophet. But Jonah continues to sulk, yet God still pursued him. The LORD did not reproach Jonah but compassionately asked him a question that should have stirred him to the true condition of his soul. Jonah had no right to be angry. He had no right to be angry at what God chose to do with the Ninevites. He did not have reasonable grounds for his bias against the Ninevites. Notice that Jonah did not answer this question from God. He just went out obtusely to the edge of the city to see if God would judge Nineveh. (v5). Jonah was determined to see Nineveh destroyed regardless of God’s question. God tries compassionately to awaken us to the true condition of our souls. He will not allow our mistaken values to remain unchallenged. This is especially true in our heartlessness toward those without Christ. Coldness of soul keeps us from reaching out to those without Christ. What is the true condition of your soul about this?
DOES YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE ONLY CONSIST OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU?
Because! Self-righteousness and centeredness does not lead to true biblical joy and contentment or genuine salvation. Remember the 2 men who went to pray "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner! I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:10-14. Jonah is no different than this Pharisee or maybe you this morning! Is the Christina life all about you and your goodness or is it about His relentless mercy and grace towards saving sinners? We see that put to the test! 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 yet another great miracle performed by our LORD. God appointed a plant (He prepared a plant for His weeping/self-righteous prophet). In all of Jonah’s bitterness and complaining and selfishness, God still showed Jonah…..
- Love for His chosen child
The Bible expresses that Jonah was very grateful, exceedingly glad. In the Hebrew it means “Jonah rejoiced with great joy” For the first time Jonah is happy about something! Which is sad by the way. Jonah showed more joy for this plant that God provided for him. Then he did for 600,000 souls coming to God for salvation.
AGAIN LET’S RECAP! God commissioned Jonah to preach in Nineveh (He did not like that). Then there was a storm (He didn’t like that either). Then God created a great fish (Jonah didn’t like anymore than the he liked the storm)
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 of God for the other people.....God was finally doing something for Jonah. What do we call this?................ SELFISHNESS!
(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). As James said “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:14-16. 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......And according to James, that would be to....... lie against the truth. We’re 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/selfishness joy is only temporary!! As one writer said “He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals”
DOES BITTERNESS AND UNTHANKFULNESS BLOCK YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD?
(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 (v4) “is it right for you to be angry? Now the Lord asks Him “is it right for you to be angry about the plant? (v9)
We need to remember
- God prepared the plant for Jonah.
- God is the giver of life to all of His creation saved or unsaved.
- 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
Why Jonah? Because as 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! This plant the Lord provided was dead and the heat was unbearable like it is when Marvin touches the thermostat in the sanctuary. Again, Jonah wanted to die! Jonah had selfish pride and bitterness towards God for showing such love and mercy to the Nation Nineveh. Sadly when this happens our relationship with God seems distant and severed. He thought he was more important than these wicked people. How could you save someone like that LORD? But as 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 “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. Eph 4:31-32
Just as Christ forgave you Christian! Just as God forgave Jonah and gave you a second chance to bring Him glory!! And have you forgotten Jonah? That there is 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:
- Jonah don’t you pity the children of this nation, which exceeds over 120,000?Jonah, you are telling me that you care more for the plant then these children?
- Should I not be concerned about that great city Jonah?
- Was I not concerned before the Flood?
- Was I not concerned for Sodom and Gomorrah?
- Jonah is it not right for Me (meaning GOD) to show mercy for their sake?
Are you like Jonah, bitter and resentful towards God’s people whom He showed mercy to? 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? James Boice said “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?” As Psalm 145:8-9 says “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 for you and me! We can learn a great deal from this disobedient prophet. SEE JONAH IS A TYPE OF PRACTICALLY EVERYTHING:
- He is a type of Christ (who was buried but rose again, but that's it!)
- 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 man and our sin nature. BUT THE GREATEST LESSONS WE LEARN ARE:
- The mercies of God.
- The compassion of God.
- The providence of God working all things for His glory and our good.
- Salvation is the power of God for those who repent and believe.
The real mercy of God was displayed when He sent His Son to outstretch His arms as He hung on the Cross to die for our salvation. THIS BOOK ENDS WITH A QUESTION? Remember as we leave here today, and I really want you to think about it! (v11). Because Jesus says......(Luke 15:10) “Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repent” The question is "Will you rejoice?"