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May 19, 2020 4:00 am
The Old Testament prophet Jonah after he was saved. Grounding finally obeyed God's command and declared God's message to the Ninevites yet.
Tragically, Jonah's heart was still in rebellion today on Truth for Life. Alastair Ben cautions that we often act in a similar way, poking a rebellious heart in outward obedience and I invite you to take your Bibles and turn with me to the book of Jonah. In the Old Testament Jonah chapter 4 and I going to read from the first verse as they will refund the 10th verse of chapter 3 when God saw what they did and how they returned from their evil ways. He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened, but Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord all the Lord is this not what I said when I was still at home. That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish, I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, but it is better for me to die than to live.
But the Lord replied, have you any right to be angry. Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a buying and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort and Jonah was very happy about the vine but at dawn the next day, God provided a warm, which chewed the vine so that it whether when the sun rose God provided a scorching east wind and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said it would be better for me to die than to live, but God said to Jonah do you have a right to be angry about the vine I do. He said I'm angry enough to die, but the Lord said, you have been concerned about this vine, though you did not attend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight, but Nevaeh has more than 120,000 people who cannot tell the right hand from their left many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city. Amen. Before we study. Let's ask on cell, but we pray now that with our Bibles open up on our laps, that the spirit will be our teacher. That in and through and beyond the voice of a mere man. We may hear your voice. You may speak to arrest to enlighten, to encourage, to convert in whatever way you choose. Grant that our minds may be ready to think that our lives may be open to receive and that our wills may be brought into obedience to your holy war. For we pray in Jesus name, amen throughout the opening chapters we have seen the prophet Jonah in a variety of situations. We found them. First of all running mainly running away from God and from his clear dictate seeking to go in the opposite direction from that which God desired for. We then found him sleeping below day on a ship that he had taken in order to run away from God. The incongruity of his sleeping in the midst of the storm was striking to his then we found them described in chapter 2, droning with the seaweed closing over his mouth almost to suffocate him and then we picked him up later when he was praying and this time from the belly of a great fish which God had provided at just the right moment to be present to pick him up and deposit him on dry ground. As a result of his reinstatement on terra firma.
We then discovered him preaching and he now goes to say what God has told him to say to the people that he had originally sent, we might've anticipated that he we would then find them rejoicing, but in point of fact, as chapter 4 opens, we discover that the prophet of God is sulking sulking and on two occasions he indicates that his sense of discouragement and depression is enough to bring them to the point of wishing to be done with life altogether and so it is clear that the prophet although he is a prophet called by God and given a unique place in the purposes of God still has a lot to learn.
I used to think when I was a younger man, that those who'd been called to be other preachers and teachers probably knew everything you were supposed to know when I would be sitting under their instruction and perhaps hanging around them.
I had assumed that they were just about absolutely perfect. I recognized you that the preacher always has a lot to learn and that are of course those who are given the place in life of always pointing that out to his last.
We should ever be tempted to forget and all of us who listens in the Bible have a lot to learn in the time that we have the most to learn is usually when we think we just about learn little for them without our most vulnerable others.
Nothing more that I have to discover now are pretty well covered all text and I grunted all button-down at that point we probably have a big lesson about to come over her horizon know it is interesting, at least to me, and I hope to you also that despite the fight, but Jonah had a Charlie Shakti Jude that he was narrowminded as an in his approach to things that he was responding in the wrong way to God's kindness.
God doesn't write him off here provided a large fish to save him and he could easily have provided a large lion to even he could have responded to them by saying Jonah. I've now had perfectly enough of you. I give you one word and you went in the wrong direction.
I send a fish to save you expect to him, he began to preach, now you're as miserable as sin.
Why don't I send a lien to each. You, but he doesn't do that because he is a gracious and compassionate God. Are you grateful that God doesn't send liens to meet us because we were disobedience to his plan. How many of us would still be here this morning. If, on the occasion of our disobedience. He sent a lion to eat us.
The congregation would be vastly depleted.
If were honest, I certainly would not be the preacher. I know that for sure Ali would see is one of my shoes sticking out of the lion's mouth somewhere as it went scurrying down chagrin Boulevard know God is gracious and compassionate. He treats his servant with patients and with kindness so as to bring them to the realization that what is wrong. More than any other thing is Jonas and teacher knowing to be tender this morning. Perhaps we, visit as visitors or even those of us who been around for a few weeks to save ourselves. You know this is an irrelevant account from somebody who was long ago and far away. I don't know why we would even spend our time studying something like this. I want to suggest to you that you may well very quickly and quite pertinently find your face reflected in the attitudes of Jonah I want you to get ready for that actually. I don't think you go very far. Now, without all of a sudden seeing your face reason I say that is because it didn't take me very long into the verses before I saw my ugly face in the reflection of the Bible.
The issues of the chapter turned largely on two questions, both of which are posed by God one he asks. Twice one only ones. The one he asked twice you'll find in verse four and again in verse nine, the final one is actually the final sentence of the chapter.
The first question is this. Do you have a right to be angry when she asks on two separate occasions and the second question is should I not be concerned about that great city of these questions are well. Are they not because of Jonah's reaction is strange for a preacher instead of the repentance of Nineveh day, providing a basis for his encouragement and actually provokes him to feuding. You would've thought that having now gone and said what God had called him to say and as a result of that, seeing the people turn in repentance, he would have said what a privilege to be used in God's service. I'm so grateful that God has been kind to me and is not cast me off didn't write me off but is given me the privilege of a second chance and get what we discover the literal translation of the opening sentence is it was evil to Jonah a great evil. It's translated in the NIV Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. The absence of the calamity that he expected. I calamity which he thought. And actually, Holt would come upon Nineveh day proved to be a calamity in Jonah's own thinking so because there was no calamity and then of a it was a calamity for Jonah in his own thinking I was you not think that Jonah had disobeyed God.
This is not the disobedient Jonah of chapter 1. This is the obedient Jonah chapter 3 and the obedient Jonah of chapter 3 is perplexed in his obedience because as a result of being obedience and on account of what he knows of God. It is set up in his mind. These questions with which he is wrestling questions which thoughtful people in every generation will be forced to wrestle with. Although he had gone where he'd been told to go. Although he had said what he had been told to say he was clearly not in complete harmony with God's gracious plan that is a word of caution, incident. We may goal where were told to go, we may say what were told to say, we may externally conform to that which is the standard expectation of God for us as his servants. And yet the very core of our lives in a circumstance like this this morning. Not really be in harmony with the unfolding of God's plan is wrestling. I think in fight.
I'm sure with an issue that each of us must face it is a supreme issue and it is a question that anyone along the journey of faith will come to, sooner or later, and probably sooner rather than later. The question is the sovereignty of divine grace now for some of you. You see immediately.
I'm not sure what that actually means. And furthermore, I'm not sure that it means anything that is of remote interest to me. I was hoping that I when I came this morning, I would've some kind of practical insight into the fight that I'm dealing with a tremendous amount of stress in my life. I was hoping that something along the journey may help with the fact that our air conditioning broke down and that somehow or another. There must be something practical that the Bible is to say about these issues and now here I am, and I can't I'm in this room. It feels as though there conditioning is broken down in here and he announces the fight that the central issue is the sovereignty of divine grace yet.
All I could address those questions for you Sunday by Sunday. I did have sermons for your letter just like that seven principles were dealing with stress.
Five ways to be a better dad. Six ways to be a good mom 15 ways to clean your bedroom and so on and give it all scribble notes down and I may have absolutely nothing at all to do with the Bible so I don't know about the sovereignty of divine grace.
While that's fine I'm going to tell you about is yes why God gives to the church pastors and teachers so that we might edify the saints so that you can do the work of the ministry so that we might tackle issues that are not immediately apparent to the rank-and-file Christiana so sure that the sovereignty of divine grace is a matter that is number one or even in the top five of my considerations and before we finish the study and in the Jonah chapter 4 said I didn't realize how presently important. See the real issue of God's dealing with humanity.
Is this matter of his grace, I will of mercy on whom I will have mercy. He says to Moses, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Paul wrestling with this in Romans chapter 9 on this whole matter of election quotes from the Old Testament in the 14 verse of chapter 9 and it is this matter which is the very basis for the perplexity to which Joan of the prophet gives voice. He is angry. He is arguing and he is praying simultaneously. It's not an easy feat. Incidentally, to be angry and prayerful at the same time. All s this is exactly what I said listen to him as he tries to justify his previous sin never intended to do that sin that was so clearly wrong.
I disobedience it was so obvious God forgives you picked you up put you back on track. Then you go to him in prayer and you try to come back and see against her by the way, you know. Thanks for forgiving me, but the real issue is this like children, we do with our parents all the time but please forgive me. We get forgiven and then we come back in the kitchen was safe and I know you forgive me for the reason that I was doing what I was doing. It was a good reason for me being there for doing this are doing what we have here is not Jonah. The Bible answer man what we've got here is Jonah the Bible? And while it is good for us to seek answers in the Bible and the Bible is full of answers.
It's also full of questions and I'm not sure that those of us who like to be quick on her feet with an answer. I'm guilty many times of providing answers to questions that people aren't even asking and refusing to hear the questions that people are justifiably bringing to and it is a striking importance that this is not some crazy little man who has no knowledge of God, who is asking these kind of questions. This is somebody that God is chosen from all of eternity called into his service given him his word and made him a preacher and he's not alone throughout the story of the profits you find them asking questions. Let me illustrate it from the book of Jeremiah.
We could go all through the prophets, but let me just give you three illustrations from Jeremiah you want to turn to them.
The first is in Jeremiah chapter 12. This is how he begins. You're always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. The words he establishes the nature of who God is and his understanding of theology. Having said that, then he says what I'd like this to have a word with you if I may about your justice. Why does the way of the wicked prosper.
Why do all the faithless liberties. Have you ever find yourself asking the question, why do the faithless liberties you have planted them. They've taken root may grow and bear fruit. Yet, look at me ever honest is a fair question, and if we don't recognize as a fair question were dishonest, and if you never asked the question, the chances are your brain-dead the sound assess the prophet asked why since you are a just God do people who do so many bad things come off so well and those who are your chosen receipt to obey you come off apparently so badly. Chapter 15 you. Verse 17 he says I never said in the company of revelers. I never made Mary with them. In other words I'm been going down the pub and getting smashed. Instead, I sat alone because your hand was on me and you had filled me with indignation that here's the question why is my pain on ending and my wound grievous and incurable, will you be to me like a deceptive group like a spring that fails in other words, are you going to hang me out to dry God. Are you want to say come over here and there's water and I get over there desperate for a drink of water and I discover that it is no there is no was a result it's a mirage in the desert.
This is the question of the prophet of God. I said I give you three illustrations virtus enough.
I can tell by the pained expression on your face that we need to keep moving.
We see this in passing letter has been where of always wanting to be the people with the answers right.
I don't mean let us embrace vagueness. Let us walk around saying we don't know and nobody knows there are certain things the Bible is given as absolute clarity on concerning which we can be clear and straightforward by the fact of the matter is that our dilemmas in life which will remain unresolved until we see God face to face, and we are known by him and we know even as he knows questions are understandable. Although all of our questions are not always commendable. There is I think a key to what's going on here when you consider that in the arguing of Jonah is a little too much. Jonah you notice how many times the personal pronoun pops out. You and I find ourselves arguing with God. If we are honest will find there's a little bit too much baggage in our questions, at least in my case and yours.
Of course you really apply your own name. I'm prepared to carry the way for my own, but I'm not very get away for you. What is he doing release presenting the issue as a matter of Jonah's word against the Lord's word and he rather thinks that his own is better ever been there and in Jonah's case, the root issue is a double standard. He is a standard for himself and the people of God, namely Israel and then he is another standard by which the foreigners and the enemies of God's people are to be joy it was okay for God to forgive Jonah's disobedience, but not in Jonah's mind just is right for God to show his mercy to the Ninevites. I cannot like a God that your kind and compassionate towards me got me out of that dreadful problem.
There were about to drown.
I don't like this idea of your kindness and your compassion being shown to after all this, a simian power.
God is an enemy of your people.
These are bad people coming when I went in there to pronounce judgment. I was pumped about it because I sit landed if all you know, let it come down when it will rain down on them fast and hard because I don't expect you to be compassionate and not monotheistic like us, they'll bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of God playing the Shema in Deuteronomy 6. They don't observe the various codes and shibboleths and dimensions of an existence of those who are the true people of God. God be merciful to them. We seek is the question I posed the issue of the sovereignty of God's grace.
Now whenever you find yourself thinking that way as to Jonah, then it will be clear that we have forgotten just how undeserving we are to be the recipients of God's grace. The sulking servant, the title of her message today from Alastair big on Truth for Life.
Today's message gives us an important although uncomfortable reminder whenever we are tempted to feel indignant or self-righteous about God's grace to others. We need to look inward for a minute and remember our own failings because the fact is, none of us lives up to God's righteous standards even as believers we continue to battle sin on a daily, sometimes an hourly basis from a human perspective, we simply can't live in perfect obedience to God. So what does this mean do we just keep trying and failing over and over again. Well, the answer, thankfully, is no and that's the topic of the book that were thrilled to be offering this month to book titled impossible commands and possible commands.
Covers are rarely discussed subject our inability to live a God honoring life. The book gives us a wonderful framework that helps us acknowledge our shortcomings and bring them to God, independence, and honesty. If you know all too well the pattern of committing to do better and then facing the disappointment of falling short. This book offers tremendous comfort and peace and joy.
It gives us a whole new pattern for living a life that honors God even in the face of failure.
This tremendously helpful book comes with our thanks when you donate to support the teaching of God's word through this program were grateful to be able to make this daily program available in as many different listing and viewing formats as possible. In fact, you may be listening today to our podcast to our mobile app on radio via YouTube or Amazon Alexa. And while it's always free to listen to this program being on these platforms requires considerable financial support to fund that's why your gift is so essential in helping reach an ever widening global audience with clear relevant Bible teaching so as you're able, please give today a Truth for Life.org/donate if you prefer to get by phone number is 88858878848885887884. Don't forget requester copy of the book impossible commands and Bob Lapine hope you'll join us tomorrow as we learn more about God's undeserved grace for more serious man overboard. The Bible teaching of Alastair big is furnished by Truth for Life for the Learning is for Living