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We Are Jonah

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
July 31, 2016 6:00 am

We Are Jonah

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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Welcome to the Summit Church. My name is Curtis and I am extremely blessed to serve as one of your pastors here.

Just a little bit about me. My wife Elizabeth and I have been married about seven and a half years. We have two beautiful little daughters. We have a newborn who's three months. Her name is Nora and then we have another daughter.

Our oldest is 20 months. Her name is Avia. We call her Avie. And for me as a dad, the older Avie, she's just at that incredibly fun age where she's cute and she's fun and she runs and jumps and laughs and screams and hugs and kisses.

She's putting sentences together, you know, just adorable. And one of the things she has learned that she loves the most is actually my cell phone. And more specifically, she loves FaceTiming people. Anybody that knows me knows that if I even remotely know you, I'm not going to call you.

I don't like calling you. I love FaceTiming you. And there's two people I probably FaceTime more than anybody in the world. Of course, my wife. And then second, one of my best friends whose name is Garrett, who has the initials Gigi. And so anytime my phone rings and it's kind of that FaceTime ring, my daughter immediately perks up and she gets really excited and she'll start saying mama, mama, mama, mama, or she'll say Gigi, Gigi, Gigi.

And if I answer and it is not one of those two people, there is a visible disappointment and she will verbally say, uh oh. And so I know that when these lights came up and it was not Pastor JD on stage that a lot of you went, uh oh. And so that's okay.

You're forgiven. I'm still incredibly grateful to be up here and to get to deliver God's word to each of you. If you're a first time guest here with us, or specifically if you are here and you are not a believer, I am so thankful that you've chosen to worship with us this morning. I hope you felt welcomed.

We do a lot to go out of our way to try to make you feel welcomed here. But if I am being completely honest with you, this is going to kind of sound a little weird. Um, this is probably not the best weekend for you to be here. Like at all.

And I know that might sound weird, but here's the reason why. The reason why is because all the suspicions that you've ever had about Christians, all the reasons that you dislike us are actually about to be confirmed. And the worst one of all, that all Christians are hypocrites, it's about to be confirmed the most.

And that sometimes the most religious ones, even pastors can be the biggest hypocrites of all. And so just to dissipate the awkwardness in the room, I want you to turn to your neighbor right now. And I want you to say these words. I want to want you to say you are, you can talk. There's way more people in here than that. I know you can say, look at them and say, you are a hypocrite.

There you go. Now that we're operating on a baseline level, one of my boys over here just got engaged this weekend. He's looking at his fiance. He's like, you are not baby. Don't listen to this man. He is, he is lying. He is, you are beautiful. You are not a hypocrite.

That's what happens. Well, today we are going to look at one of the biggest hypocrites in all of scripture. And his name is Jonah. We know him from Jonah and the whale. And so if you have your Bibles and I hope you do, um, open it up to the book of Jonah, the book of Jonah. Uh, if you don't know where that is, it's right between Obadiah and Micah. So I'm sure that'll help you find it pretty quickly.

Um, no, use your table of contents. There's no shame in that at all. Um, Jonah is a story about a very religious man, but not a religious man that we are supposed to emulate in any way. I hope you know by now that the Bible is not about characters to emulate, but it's about a savior to adore. See, the same message of Jonah is the same message of the entire Bible. It's that God is always pursuing you with a ferocious kind of love. If you hear nothing else that I say this entire morning, um, hear this three minutes into this sermon, it's that no matter what you have done, even in all of your sin, even in all of your hypocrisy, that it does not disqualify you from God's love.

He is still relentlessly chasing after you. And the fact that you are here today under the sound of my voice is the very proof of that. So we have about 30 minutes to go through this entire book. So go ahead, fasten your seatbelts, tray tables in the upright and lock position, cell phones off, unless you're using it for scripture, of course.

And we are going to dive right in. Jonah chapter one, verse one says, now the word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai saying, arise, go to Nineveh, that great city and call out against it for their evil has come up before me. So before we get too far in, let's get our minds around who these three main characters are. First, you've got Nineveh.

Nineveh at the time is the flourishing capital of the Assyrian empire. They represent the non-believer. They are the non-believing bad guy who ends up receiving great mercy from God.

Mercy is not getting what you do deserve. What they deserved is destruction and punishment because they were essentially modern-day terrorists who had bullied Israel for decades. What they were well known for were their methods of torture and death. If they would capture you as an enemy, what they would do, they would actually skin you alive. They wouldn't kill you.

They would skin you alive, take you out into the burning hot desert, bury you up to your neck, nail your tongue into the ground, and then just leave you to die in the sun. So these are like bad people, bad, bad people. And then you've got Jonah. He's the good guy, right? He's supposed to be the prophet of God. But as we read, what we end up seeing is that he is actually a super religious racist, i.e. hypocrite. And he represents the person that receives great grace from God.

Grace is getting something you don't deserve. And here's Jonah who lived during a time when Israel had it all. During what scholars call the golden age. They had money, they had power, they had prosperity, you name it, they had power. They had power, they had prosperity, you name it, they had it. In a lot of ways, Israel was a lot like us. And during this time in Israel, Jonah had a very patriotic and a very popular ministry. He was like this hyper nationalist hero, if you were. So like if you were around today, every post he made would end with like hashtag blessed, hashtag America. Like that's what kind of guy he was.

But here's the problem. Jonah had more commitment to his country than he did to his God. He is more Israel's pastor than he is God's prophet. And so you've got Nineveh, the bad guy, and then Jonah, as we read on, we'll see that Jonah is actually the worst guy. And then you've got God, the only good guy in the story.

God is the giver of grace and mercy toward those who don't deserve it. And so this God calls Jonah, Captain America, essentially, to go share the gospel of grace and mercy to Nineveh, who is modern day ISIS, essentially. So verse three, what does Jonah do? But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. See, religious people like Jonah, they don't like the free mercy of God, because what it does, it calls their supremacy into question.

They no longer have something that the bad people don't. And so here's God calling Jonah to go preach the gospel to the terrorists who deserve nothing but destruction and punishment. And Jonah doesn't like it. So he runs as far away as he possibly can. But running from God never ends well. See, fleeing God's presence always leads to problems. Fleeing God's presence always leads to problems. And so, yes, the text says he rose to flee from the presence of the Lord.

But isn't that ridiculous? The psalmist tells us, where shall I go from your spirit, Lord? Where shall I free flee from your presence, God? If I ascend to heaven, you're there.

If I make my bed in Sheol, you're there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Jonah and the whale, even there, your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall uphold me. God, the creator, the maker of heaven and earth, who is everywhere at all times simultaneously, there's no way to get outside of his boundaries. It's like trying to go outside and run away from the sun.

It's just not possible. And so three verses in, I don't know about you, but I already see myself in Jonah. Because, see, Jonah's runaway posture, fleeing from God, his runaway posture is our posture every single time we sin. See, when we sin, it's not that we stop believing in God. It's not sin, so therefore God doesn't exist. It's just that what we believe about God has shifted. See, when we sin, that something in which we choose to believe in is not no God, but we pridefully believe ourselves as God. And so we find ourselves with the same problems as Jonah had in trying to run from God.

The first problem is pride. You know, it's interesting that Jonah was always willing to obey God when it benefited him and his people. I mean, how do you think he got to become a prophet of God? But now we find him in a scenario he doesn't like, and he thinks he knows what's best, and so he pridefully devises a new plan. So the text continues. It says he went down. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. The old country preacher says, running from God will always lead you down.

And it says he paid the fare. When you're running from God, you always end up paying something. And he went down into it to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord. Let me tell you something. There will always be a ship ready to go to Tarshish. There will always be something or someone or somewhere to run to to attempt to get away from the presence of God. But what I want to tell you is that the ready way is not always the right way. And actually, if you think about it, don't you usually have to work harder to disobey God than just simply obey him?

So let me paint this picture for you. Jonah is in a city called Joppa when God comes and gives him the assignment to go to Nineveh. From Joppa to Nineveh, that's about 500 miles by land.

So long way, but not that bad at all by land, 500 miles. What Jonah does, he goes in the complete opposite direction, 2,500 miles this way by sea. And at that point in the modern world where he went in Tarshish, that is as far as you could possibly go. So Jonah is literally running to the ends of the earth to get away from God just to disobey him.

And we can knock him, but we're no different. Like we are extremely creative sinners. We'll go out of our way to disobey God.

We'll figure out a way to go 2,500 miles by sea when we could easily go 500 by land. Some of you will go 2,500 miles in 25 years to the ends of the earth, making sure you don't forgive that person for how they hurt you when you could easily be free of the bitterness and slavery by simply going the 500 miles and forgive like God has called you to. I'm just going to let that one sit.

Let's move on. Verse four. 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.

Fleeing God always leads to problems. Verse five. Then the mariners, the sailors, they were afraid and each cried out to his God, lowercase g, 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 he had laid down and was fast asleep.

So the captain came and said to him, what do you mean you sleeper? Arise, call out to your God. Perhaps he will give a thought to us that we may not perish. Like one thing I've always wondered, we get so quick, we just read through the Bible, we skim through, we don't think about some of these just ridiculous details. Like one of the things I've always wondered is how in the world could Jonah go to sleep? Like my wife can't fall asleep if one of our kids is blinking in their crib and here's Jonah fast asleep in the middle of a giant storm.

Here's what I know though. I know that running from God is tiring. It is so tiring and you try to do anything you can except for to sit and think about it. Before I was a believer, I couldn't just sit in my thoughts. I couldn't find peace and I didn't know what it was at the time. I wouldn't have called it condemnation or conviction or whatever you want to call it, but I knew that I either had to be at work or school or partying or sleeping.

Those were like my four options. Just to sit alone in my thoughts was too heavy a burden to bear because running from God, now that I knew that's what I was doing, it is so tiring. So Jonah goes to sleep. So they wake him up, verse seven, and they said to one another, come let us cast lots that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.

So they cast lots and the lot just happened to fall on Jonah, which is kind of ridiculous because Proverbs tells us that the lot is cast but every decision is from the Lord. Verse eight, and they said to him, tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What's your occupation? Where do you come from?

What's your country? Of what people are you? And he said to them, I am a Hebrew and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, the God who made the sea and the dry land, the God that made the sea and the dry land that I'm trying to flee from him on. I'm trying to use his creation to flee from the creator. How ridiculously prideful.

Can't you just see it? He's puffing out his chest and he's saying, I am a Hebrew. I am one of God's chosen people. See, it's not bad to be proud of something, but proud and pride are two totally different things. When proud becomes pride, it always leads to our second problem, which is idolatry. You've heard us say around here that idolatry is anything in your life that you value more than God. For Jonah, his idol was his identity. But even as one of God's prophets, his identity wasn't anchored in God. It was in being an Israelite and a prophet. Again, it's as if he's saying, what would set me apart?

God, if the Ninevites, the terrorists had what I have. And so it begs the question, what is that thing in your life that makes you look down on everybody else that makes you think you're better than everybody else? What is that one thing in your life that you could not live without? Maybe it's a job. Maybe it's good looks. Maybe it's really well behaved kids.

Maybe it's some talent you have, or maybe it's a gushing 401k. Whatever you look at that makes you look down on everybody else, whatever that one thing is that you cannot live without, whatever it is, that is your idol. Some of you idolize acceptance.

This is the one I struggle with the most. Some of you idolize acceptance, and so you continue hanging around people who are toxic because you need their approval. And you're going through a storm just like the sailors are, not because of anything that you're necessarily doing, but because of who you've allowed in your boat. You've got a Jonah in your boat and you need to toss him overboard.

Our sin makes those around us miserable. Verse 10, then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to Jonah, what is this that you've done? For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. Then they said to him, what shall we do to you? That the sea may quiet down for us. For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. What a fantastic word, tempestuous. And he said to them, pick me up and hurl me into the sea.

Hurl me into the sea. Don't you see the pride and the idolatry just flowing out of this? Like even his solution to the storm is idolatrous. He's like, I know what will make me look good. Like I can end my life looking like the hero and I don't have to go to Nineveh.

Win-win. Verse 15, so they picked up Jonah. They hurled him into the sea and the sea ceased from its raging. Skip to verse 17. And the Lord appointed, that's a word that's going to come around a couple of times. And the Lord appointed a great fish, Jonah and the whale, to swallow up Jonah.

And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Andy Stanley says you can run from God, but you can't outrun God. Just because you try to flee his presence does not mean he doesn't have a plan for your life. And so if you are an unbeliever and you find yourself in here with all these problems, maybe you came to find some problem solver. I am not the problem solver.

You don't need a problem solver. You need God's presence. You don't need to flee from him. Jonah flees. God appoints a fish.

And again, just the details we miss, like do you see the humor in the story? That the first character in the entire story to obey God is a fish, not the prophet. It's a fish. And yet even in his disobedience, God continues to provide and be patient with Jonah because God is faithful even in our disobedience.

Let me ask you something. Do you think Jonah saw the fish as provision or as punishment? Provision or punishment?

Do you think he saw the fish as God's appointment, God appointed it, or simply as a disappointment to his plan to flee from the Lord? How often do you think that God allows or maybe even appoints something in your life that you think is punishment, but really it's God's provision? I've been saved less than 10 years, but what I've learned is that God's provision doesn't always come wrapped in my preferences. When I think back on some of the hardest times in my life, when I was in the Valley, when I thought, God, where the heck are you? Do you even care that now on the other side of those, I realized that God was always faithful. He was always looking after me. He was always at work that he never left my side and that he always had a plan for me. He's the God that never slumbers nor sleeps. So even when you're sleeping, he's working all things together for good. He's always looking after you.

He's always chasing after you. He is always and forever and never ending and relentlessly and ferociously and viciously, eternally chasing after you. You can say, amen. It's okay to say to praise God because even in our disobedience, he is faithful. And that's just chapter one, chapter two, verse one. Then Jonah prayed to the Lord, his God from the belly of the fish, saying, I called out to the Lord out of my distress.

And he answered me. God is faithful to answer when we cry out. So in chapter two, Jonah goes on to give this big prayer of remorse and thanks to God. And probably one of my favorite verses in there is verse eight. Verse eight says, those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies. Again, the irony, the irony of the story is that Jonah didn't appreciate his own words about God's grace. He was the one worshiping false gods. He was the one worshiping false idols and turning his back on all God's mercies.

Let's keep reading and see what happens to him. Verse 10. And the Lord spoke to the fish. Jonah cried out. God was faithful to act. The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land. Again, just pause for a second and catch this imagery of a giant fish vomiting a human being out on dry land. It's ridiculous.

The humor's there. I had a buddy, one of my best friends growing up. Pre-Jesus days, we were drinking buddies. And so whenever we'd have too long of a night, if he had to work or go to school or whatever it is, if he had some obligation in the morning, he would always call in with the exact same excuse. He would always say, man, I got a hold of some bad shellfish and I'm just not feeling good today. Like who's going to argue with bad shellfish? Like same excuse always, always worked.

Nobody argued with it. Because see, usually when a man eats bad fish, it makes them vomit. In this story, a fish eats a bad man and the fish vomits.

Like the humor is just so thick. Chapter three, verse one. Then the word of the Lord, this is beautiful. Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time. Who in here is glad that you serve a God of second times? Who in here is glad that you serve a God of second times? If you are glad that God is a God of second chances, will you just put your hand in the air?

Will you say amen or thank you Lord or hallelujah or whatever you need to do to remind yourself that even in your disobedience, that God is faithful, that he is a God of second chances? So God says, verse two, he's repeating himself, arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, call out against it, the message that I told you. So Jonah arose and he went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.

Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, just means it's a big city. Three days journey in breath and Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey and he called out, here's a sermon, here's a sermon, here's Jonah's entire sermon, yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown. That's it, that's a sermon.

Some of you are like, I wish you would preach that short. Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown. Verse five, and the people of Nineveh believed God. Scholars say it's around 600,000 people that repented and believed on God and so they called for a fast and they put on sackcloth from the greatest of them to the least of them. Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

Nineveh shall be overthrown. In Hebrew, this is even shorter. It's a five word sermon and the entire city repents because of five words. Jonah is so bitter about having to preach to his enemy that he preaches quite possibly the most hellfire brimstone sermon ever. Like there's no good news, there's no gospel, there's nothing in it and yet the entire city repents.

Like if I'm mentoring Jonah, I'm sitting down and I'm like, hey, like good try, good effort, you'll get them next time, tiger. But next time, use like all the Christian buzzwords, you know, like tell them how much God loves them. Tell them about forgiveness and salvation and tell them that they can confess and repent and believe and they can ask Jesus into their heart and they'll have the warm fuzzies and they'll eat sunshine and they'll poop rainbows. Like tell them about all the good things that happened in the Christian life. And instead, Jonah doesn't even go three days.

He gets one day in and he looks around and he's like, bump this and he goes, destruction. And 600,000 people repent and God saves them because it wasn't up to Jonah's perfect gospel presentation. Salvation is up the Lord anyways.

Let me ask you something. Have you ever not shared your faith because you're afraid that you won't have all the answers? I think every one of us in here, including myself, have had at least minimum one time where we didn't share our faith because we were afraid we didn't have the right answers or we wouldn't know what to say. You don't have to be scared to talk about God. You don't have to be scared to share the gospel. You don't have to be scared to share your testimony because it's God who saves anyways, not your perfect presentation.

This story should be so encouraging to you. You may say five words and someone's entire eternity has changed. You know the words, the six words that have changed more lives in the history of the world than any other.

For God so loved the world. That's it. Now I've heard it said that evangelism is just two awkward nervous people having a conversation. That's it. So if you go anywhere right now, just think about it, like if you go anywhere right now in public, there's like groups of people scattered.

The mall is by far the worst and most of them don't even know each other. They're just walking up, like giving each other high fives and like, yeah, yeah, and they're like, you know, rejoicing with one another and they huddle in groups and they're holding their phones and they're walking around like this. What are they doing? What are they doing?

Go ahead. They're playing Pokemon. Pokemon.

I don't even know. They're playing Pokemon. That's what they're doing. They're rolling around, catching imaginary creatures. That's just what they're doing. Danny Franks, one of our pastors, he tweeted this.

He said, a random stranger just spent 10 minutes telling me about Pokemon Go. So let's stop talking about how hard evangelism is. If you can't say, amen, better say ouch.

People are walking around, catching imaginary creatures with their cell phones and rejoicing with one another. And we're scared to look foolish for Christ. Are you kidding me?

I have nowhere else to go with that. So verse 10. Verse 10, when God saw what they did, how the Ninevites turned from their evil way of torturing and killing and playing Pokemon, God relented of the disaster that he said he would do to them. And he didn't do it.

Why didn't he do it? Because God's desire is for all to be saved, even the absolute worst. His will is that none should perish, that all to come, salvation unto the Lord. That sinful, terrorist Nineveh needed to be saved, just as bad as sinful, religious Jonah needed to be saved.

Do you know what you and me and Jonah and Nineveh and ISIS and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton all have in common? We're all sinners. We all have great sin, and so we're in need of a great savior. And there's offered us one in Christ, and the good news of the gospel message is that salvation is available to any and all who would call upon the name of the Lord.

Any and all. And if you don't like that truth, then you haven't understood the point of this book yet. The point is that God is graciously willing to save anyone who would repent and believe in him. That's all salvation is. It's just saying yes to the gift that God has offered you in Christ Jesus. Nineveh says yes, they repent, they believe, God saves, Nineveh says yes, they repent, they believe, God saves them.

Jonah, the prophet of God, he's the one saying no, and he says it directly to God. And is there any sin greater than that one? The original sin, the one that damned the entire human race.

What was it? It was saying no to God. It was the eating of a forbidden tree. It was direct rebellion, direct blasphemy. And that's a sin that every one of us, that's a sin that all of you, even religious people have committed. You may not have lived the crazy party life and killed people like Nineveh, but in some ways your sin is much worse. You're directly saying no to God.

I've heard it said that you're never farther from God than when you're close to him and you say no. Honestly, Jonah, Jonah probably saw his sin and Nineveh sin in two totally different categories. So Jonah would look at the Ninevites and he would say, God, they are adulterers. God, they worship idols, they are murderers, they are cruel, they skin people alive, they steal, and I haven't done those things.

Jonah thought he was so much better than them. But let me tell you something, God does everything through those who understand they are nothing and God does nothing through those who think they are everything. That's the message of the gospel. God, I have nothing to bring and yet you give me everything.

That rhymed, I just made it up, it was awesome. 600,000 people repent. Jonah, the prophet of God, should be exploding with joy, right?

Well, let's see, Jonah 4, final chapter. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was angry. Do you realize that most of the frustration in your life comes from thinking God should have done something differently? Verse two, and he prayed to the Lord and he said, oh Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country?

That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish away from you, for I knew that you were a gracious God, I knew that you were merciful, slow to anger, I knew that you were abounding in steadfast love, I knew that you would relent from disaster. He's using God's awesome character as an insult. You know what this makes me think of, and I hate saying this because I'm like a die-hard Florida State fan, but it makes me think of Tim Tebow. Like people hate Tim Tebow for no reason, just because he's a nice guy. I mean he played at Florida so that's enough reason to hate him, but aside from that, like what has he ever done?

Be good at football, be really nice to everybody, like serve homeless orphans in third world countries. Like this is how Jonah is with God, he's mad that God is so good, which is crazy because everything that Jonah despises about God, he's experienced himself more than anyone. God has been gracious to Jonah, he's been merciful with Jonah, he's been slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, he has relented from disaster to Jonah. Jonah shouldn't be resentful, he should be grateful. And don't you find it funny how Jonah didn't have a problem with these same characteristics of God when he was in the belly of the fish? There is no one in this story who has received more grace than Jonah, but he's resentful because he ceased to think of himself as a sinner. You see, if you think of yourself as a basically worthy person, that God owes you good things because you're so good, then grace is completely shocking to you. You get resentful when God seems to be blessing people in ways that they don't deserve, that you do deserve, yet even in his resentment God's grace is greater than Jonah's sin because God's grace is always greater than our sin. God's grace is always greater than our sin. So we see in verse three, verse three says, Therefore, now, O Lord, this is Jonah speaking, please take my life from me, for it's better for me to die than to live.

Like, what a crybaby. You'd rather die than see your enemies become your brothers and sisters in Christ? And it's easy for us to be like, Jonah, chill, are you kidding me? But think about it. What if God offered grace and mercy to some of the most evil and some of the worst organizations in the entire world? What if God offered grace and mercy to Al-Qaeda and ISIS and Boko Haram and the KKK? And what if one of those people repented? The question is, would you be okay with worshiping Jesus for eternity right next to that person? Would you rejoice in their salvation?

That's the question the story is getting at. Are you really okay with God being gracious to everyone the way he's been gracious to you? And so, verse four, the Lord says, Do you do well to be angry? He's like, Hey, Jonah, the same grace that I've showed you is the same grace I'm showing them.

So can you really be upset about that? But the prophet of God, Jonah, he never wanted their repentance. All he wanted was their destruction. So he thinks God is being too soft. So, verse five, he goes out of the city to sulk, and he sat to the east of the city, and he made a booth for himself there, and he sat under it in the shade so he should see what would become of the city.

He's like literally pouting. He's having a prophet pity party. Now the Lord God appointed, there it is again, 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. God continues to lavish grace on him.

This is the best part. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. For the first time in the entire story, four chapters in, Jonah's happy. See, the only time Jonah was happy about God's provision was when it benefited his convenience.

Remember what I said earlier? We're always happy to receive God's provision, but only as long as it matches our preferences. So Jonah wants shade. God provides a plant. He loves it. He loves it.

God provides a plant. He loves it. What Jonah needs is a heart change, and so God provides an opportunity to love his enemies, and he absolutely hates it. He despises it, and he tries to run.

There's the question again. Are you okay with God giving grace to those whom you hate? Are you okay with God giving grace to your overbearing boss? Are you okay with God giving grace your in-laws? Are you okay with God giving grace to your ex-husband?

Are you okay with God giving grace to Muslims? See, what Jonah still hasn't realized is that God's provision was never for his comfort, but to actually fulfill his calling of preaching the gospel of grace and mercy to everyone. So what does God do with the plant?

Verse 7. But when dawn came up the next day, appointed—there it is again—God appointed a worm that attacked the plant so that it withered. Like, I've always wondered what kind of worm this is that attacks the plant. Like, have you ever seen tremors?

It's like, I picture like a mini version of those. What I know is this. I know that God always has a way of getting our attention, and so sometimes he uses the wind. Sometimes he uses a whale, and sometimes he uses a worm to point us back to him and to say, you have two options on the table. You can say yes and obey, or you can say no and disobey.

The option is yours. So verse 8. When the sun rose, plant gone, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die. And he said, it's better for me to die than to live. But God said to Jonah, Jonah, do you do well to be angry for the plant? And he said, yes, I do well to be angry. We know him well enough by now, angry enough to die. And the Lord said, Jonah, you pity the plant for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow.

The plant which came into being into a night, and it perished into the night. It's temporary. 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? It's talking about children.

Should I not pity that great city in which there are more than 120,000 children? And then it ends. The book ends like this. And also much cattle?

Could you at least care about the cows, Jonah? And the book's over. That's the end. That's it. No more.

Some of you are scrolling. Micah, that's what's next. Blank. You're like, what happened to Jonah? I need to know what happened to Jonah. They just left me with this cliffhanger. Did he repent? Did he backslide?

Like what happened? But see, the writer never intended to tell us about Jonah. His intention was to put God's question clearly before you and me. Do you care more about temporary plants or about eternal people? Do you care about temporary things that will fade in a night or do you care about eternal souls? It sounds absurd, but what do you care more about? Do you care more about lost people or your pet? Do you spend more money on your dog than you do the mission of God?

You care more about lost people or your paycheck? You spend more time climbing the corporate ladder for your namesake or leveraging your job for God's namesake? It is so easy to knock Jonah until you realize internally that we are Jonah. Every one of us are Jonah. Every one of us are the hypocrites. So the question is, are lost people, are your enemies, are the people whom you hate? Are they simply a concept to you or are they real, living, breathing people that will spend eternity in hell unless you share the gospel of God's grace and mercy with them? No matter what their sin or their wickedness, God's grace and God's compassion is greater. No matter what somebody has done to you as a believer, you are called to share what God has done for them and not just to share it, but to also love them like Christ loves them. If you were to go back and read beginning to end, one of the words you would see that repeats all throughout the story is the word great, great, great.

Go to Nineveh, that great city. The Lord hurled a great wind. There was a great storm and then we're greatly afraid. They feared the Lord greatly, so God sent a great fish. The whole point of that is to show you the greatness of God's mission and the greatness of God's grace. Nineveh's wickedness is great. God's grace is great.

Nineveh's wickedness is great. God's grace is greater. Jonah's hatred of the Ninevites is great, but the value of the human soul is so much greater.

It is impossible to love God and hate those who are made in His very image. And so what this story shows is that those who have received great grace should be the first to give great grace. If we were to skip all the way ahead to the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament, telling stories about Christ our Savior walking on earth, you would see that the language that Mark uses is almost identical to that of Jonah. So Mark talks about how Jesus was in a storm in a boat just like Jonah was, how both Jesus and Jonah fell asleep, how both times the sailors had to wake them up and say, we're going to die, do something.

And in how both cases there was a miraculous divine intervention in the sea was calmed, and how afterwards the sailors were more afraid than they were before. And in Jonah's story, what he says to the sailors, he says, hey, there's only one thing to do. If I perish, so throw me overboard, you, the sailors, you'll avoid judgment and you'll survive. In the midst of our sin, Jesus says, I will die that you may live, but you won't just avoid judgment.

You'll receive eternal life because I am the resurrection and I am the life. What Jesus is doing, He's declaring one greater than Jonah is here, church. See, Jonah left his post in Israel to go to Tarshish to flee away from the will of God.

Jesus went from heaven to earth to accomplish the will of God. One greater than Jonah is here, church. Jonah was thrown overboard and sacrificed to calm a raging storm.

Jesus was thrown on a cross and sacrificed to cure our raging sin. One greater than Jonah is here. Jonah was called to go preach to people that hated him, but at least they would eventually repent. Jesus was called to go preach to people who hated him and would eventually put nails in his hands, and yet he still willingly came because one greater than Jonah is here.

Oh, this is when it gets good. Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights because of his disobedience. Here it comes. Jesus was laid in the belly of the earth because of our disobedience. One greater than Jonah is here.

The fish, the fish, the fish, the fish, the fish, is here. The fish, the fish, spit Jonah out after three days to give him a second chance. The grave spit the Son of God out after three days to give you and me a second chance.

One greater than Jonah is here. God's ability to forgive is so much greater than our ability to sin so he doesn't come after us because he needs us. He comes after us because we need him.

The reason God seeks sinners, the reason God saves sinners, the reason God sends sinners to sinners like Nineveh, sinners like you, sinners like me, is because God loves sinners. If you are grateful for that truth, will you say amen? Will you get on your feet? Will you sing praises to our God? Will you stand? Will you shout? Will you jump? Will you worship? Will you give your gratitude, give your all, give your everything to God who deserves it?
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-05 15:47:35 / 2023-09-05 16:04:27 / 17

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