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October 25, 2021 12:00 am
God is saying. I think this is going to these people in that city living around that palace. Those leaders in the hoi polloi and the people who have enough money to live within the city gates words say the truth is they can't figure out the difference tween the right hand in their left-hand, they have no moral parameter or wandering around without moral guidance. Doing whatever they think makes sense, but in reality they are entirely the main character is God.
The story of Jonah hasn't unusual ending after disobeying God.
Jonah repented, and went to Nineveh to preach the gospel the entire city was transformed by the power of God but instead of praising God for his mercy. Jonah condemned God for it will see this unfortunate response in Jonah, but will also see that the heart of the story is our merciful God, having studied this little Journal of Jonah together with you now ending up in the session. I'm convinced that Jonah would rather have ended with chapter 3. In fact, had the book of Jonah ended in chapter 3, he would have gone down in history as the greatest evangelist to have ever lived or preached imagining 40 days of preaching an entire nation has repented and followed after God and not just any nation were talking about the dreaded Ninevites is cruelty and idolatry was known all around the ancient world.
Jonah's world would be shocked by the news from the king all the way down to the commoner they have all repented and they have thrown themselves on the mercy of God, and it has been absolutely amazing. Frankly, if it it ended there and had Jonah lived today. This would have been front page news for months he would've been sought out for advice by every Christian leader on the planet evangelist and pastors would be paying high dollars for his outlines that he preached, and in Nineveh, he would be interviewed by the secular media, even in fact, I'm sure when times man of the year and when the Nobel peace prize for the impact of his of his life there would be revival springing up.
I think all over the country. Banners outside 10 crusades would promise revival like Nineveh here this week. Books would be produced with titles like effective sermons for effective evangelists how to preach like Jonah, without swimming with the fishes. Jesus came to my mind as I thought about it.
The strategies for reaching pagan unreachable goals.
When the city in 40 days or less. I think these books would've fallen off the shelves as Jonah began his bus tour instructing the believers throughout the Mediterranean region on how to plant churches and former pagan temple Christian bookstores would have life-size cardboard cutouts of Jonah, so everybody could have their picture taken with the greatest humblest servant of all time.
Think of the possibilities.
I just took a few minutes to think of these.
Evidently this didn't happen in the American church.
Fortunately, none of that happened because unfortunately for Jonah, there's one chapter left and as far as Jonah is concerned, this little book is one chapter too many actually it's just like God to record the rest of the story.
The part of the story that will protect Jonah from becoming a celebrity for centuries to come.
Instead, it will keep him in the category of a normal clay pot that God just so happened to use for his own glory, and all of this would happen not because of Jonah but because of Jonah's God. Frankly, if I do apply it to our seam today. I believe the church today is far too quick to make superstars out of saints. The church has way too many celebrities and not enough clay pots for that and for other reasons.
I believe this is a wonderful chapter in most needed because God is going to ask not just Jonah's penetrating questions what is going to ask everyone of us the same thing in this chapter Jonah will be asked three questions by God. The first question has to do with perspective. The second question has to do with priorities in the third question will have to do with passion.
Let's go back to chapter 3 and get a running start with verse 10, when God saw their deeds that they turned away from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which he had declared he would bring upon them, and he did not do it, but it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. Now if you would never read the biography of Jonah given to us here before. This would, I'm sure as a surprise. Can you imagine someone preaching a 40 day campaign meeting and everyone is converted to faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the preacher goes home angry because you believe that everybody got converted. I've never been more angry in my life.
Well, that's exactly was happening, you would expect Jonah here to break out in great praise. Praise God every lost pagan got converted but this is the very thing that caused Jonah to run from God in the first place.
In fact, let's let Jonah explain for himself. Verse two he prayed to the Lord and said please Lord, was not this what I said well I was still in my own country. Therefore, in order to forestall this side fled the tortious I needed you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.
In other words, Jonah had run from Nineveh in the first place. Not because he was afraid that no one would listen.
He was afraid that everyone would listen and he hated Ninevites as much as Ninevites hated the Jews and again you need to understand. Jonah is a super patriot. He is a defender of Israel and Israel's belief misguided, though it is that they are the sole owners of Israel's God. Wonder Jonah prays in verse three.
Look there, therefore, that will work.
Please take my life for me for death is better to me than life. If you can imagine a Jonah would rather die and not be able to get his own way. One author put it this way. Jonah prayed his best prayer in the worst place fishes building any prayed, his worst prayer in the Best Pl. in Nineveh.
Following this great awakening his first prayer came from a broken heart and a second prayer came from an angry hardness of God suddenly asks Jonah questions that were all allowed to hear 10 verse four Jonah, do you have a good reason to be angry that Celica parent. Do you have a good reason for doing that for feeling that way. This is a question of perspective pieces that were looking at the same thing and I'm doing it differently than you are obviously like Jesus Christ to look out over the city of Jerusalem and he wept. Luke 1941 or Paul who walk around the city of Athens that had more statues. Historians tell us lining the streets than people, and he was filled with alarm.
He was the word's distressed acts 1760 Jonah looks at the city of Nineveh that is now converted and he gets angry that God has shown the mercy and sense of God asked him, gently, kindly, basically saying listen Jonah were looking at the same situation we have two totally different perspectives. I am the host of heaven are rejoicing and you're mad getting madder by the minute. Which one which perspective do you think is most reasonable. Did you notice by the way, all the great theology that Jonah laid out in verse two. Lord I know a lot about you know your gracious and compassionate, and long-suffering kind and merciful, but none of that affected his perspective and it certainly didn't affect his emotions to see. He just didn't want the truth to control his life.
He could quote it, but he didn't want to live it. Can you imagine someone coming to faith in Christ and you mutter under your breath know, not him, not her.
I hope it doesn't stick to exactly what Jonah is saying here. Look at verse five and Jonah went out of the city and set east of it. There he met a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what happened to the city that were there no places for him in the city to sit course there were the kings on palace would have been open to him. It would've been a wonderful retreat, but John isn't going to hang around the Ninevites even converted once or not is kind of people. Now watch as God sets up the next penetrating question for Jonah, who is we mentioned a prodigal profit by the way this text is acting more like the prodigal's older brother whose angry that his younger brother has returned and is now being treated with kindness and mercy by the father for six so the Lord God appointed your circle that word it showed up earlier. Remember the Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his discomfort and Jonah was extremely happy about the plan. By doing this is the first time in the story that Jonah has something he's happy about the first time the word happy as ever. In Jonah's Leslie's last few months, but would you notice I got a sort of setting the stage, verse seven, but God appointed a worm's and Morgan appointed a worm when Don came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered the word here refers to a fruit grub gnaws on the roots of vines and plans and it attacked this particular plant under divine orders and by the way, you cannot help but notice that God has appointed a great fish God has appointed a plant God has appointed a worm and they all obey his command. Everything in this book obeys God. But Jonah everything response to God's command. The storm, the great fish swallowing Jonah the great fish spitting Jonah. Now the plant then the worm and don't forget the Ninevites they will surrender to God and his command, and even the wind notice verse eight when the sun came up. God appointed same word again. He appointed a scorching east wind. Literally a sirocco is a hot dust storm that can last for days and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint. Literally he fainted away he revived the bag with all his soul to die saying death is better to me than life. Then God said to Jonah do you have good reason to be angry about the plant and Jonah said I have good reason to be angry even to death forgetting for the moment it is actually arguing with God. The first question expose the misdirected perspective. The second question exposes a mistaken priority.
Frankly, a test of priority is this what you get excited about and what you get angry about what what turns your engine on and what burns your engine up those of the things in your lives that would be priorities, they come first.
They affect your motion. Mind and heart. Jonah is as miserable. Don't miss the fact that is miserable because he brought it on his own head. His own selfish anger. He could've been in the palace wife and son away from the dust storm sipping Syrian sweet tea. If they had it. But no, not Jonah, I want the Ninevites wiped off the face of the earth. Jonah may have preached the message of God's mercy that led to national awakening.
But Jonah himself is in need of reviving. He moves from anger. In verse one to happiness. In verse six and now he's angry all over again over the conversion of sinners and he's but he's happy for the moment at the creation of this plan is comfortable and that happens to be his priority.
What matters to me matters most. Ladies and gentlemen, what makes you and what makes me happy and what makes us angry reveals more about our priorities more about how we are wired more about how we are living than probably more than we like to know you say, but I can't. I can't believe that Jonah really got upset over the condition of the plant, more so than the condition of people he did, but not us all. Do you think people care more about their shrubbery than they do. People as the average church member. How much time they spent on their lawn, compared to how much time they spend reaching the lost. Find out how much time they focused on feathering their nest than on winning the world and then asked the penetrating question what really is our priority.
Who are we kidding, I was listening to an interview with Washington Post reporter who said it seems obvious from polls that even those who say they don't believe in the use of abortion to terminate a babies life their voting for a candidate who supports abortion even up to the time of delivery. Why were his words. I jot them down because this man said is a rather chilling admission quote.
Even those who care about abortion, evidently do not care about it as much as they do about their own personal economy.
Jonah cares more about his life, his own personal comfort that he does people's lives. He would fit nicely into the American culture of the 21st century, he would fit in well.
So before we say I can't believe he's upset about a plant and it's not comfortable anymore for him and his life is discomforted and miserable and he's upset and in the wrong people are are are moving into the wrong place and better think twice.
Verse 10 the Lord then said you had compassion on the plant for which you did not work in which you did not cause to grow which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, that great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between the right hand in their left-hand as well as many cattle to the first question had to do with misdirected perspective, the second with mistaken priority. The final question has to do with misguided passion. Should I not feel compassion on Nineveh. Should I not be moved with pity and mercy should I not be moved on their behalf. She Jonah had to learn the difference between what is perishable and what is permanent. Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, everything on this planet is in the process of perishing, except in the spiritual realm of God's glory and the lives of people who will live forever. I notice when God points out to Jonah about the Ninevites back in verse 11. He says there are 120,000 people who don't know the right hand from there. There left interesting phrase.
Some Bible scholars believe this is a reference to children who haven't learned the difference between the right hand in their left-hand.
You have a got a go left him right hand.
They just haven't gotten it yet could be perhaps God is pointing out that this judgment will take the lives of 120,000 toddlers. I think that's it. I believe this is a reference to the people who live within the city wall, not counting the outlying suburbs where you have 500,000 more people who will also die.
God is saying.
I think this listen, Jonah. These people in that city living around that palace and those leaders and the hoi polloi and the people who have enough money to live within the city gates word safe. The truth is they can't figure out the difference between the right hand, and their left-hand was he mean by that. It will in the Bible.
The left hand is the place of ruin or spiritual blindness. Jesus Christ said that he will set his sheep on his right hand and he will set the goats. That is, the unbelievers will be placed at his left hand. Matthew 2533 Christ is said to have ascended to the right hand of God the father, which is the place of prosperity, so to speak, or blessing. Galatians chapter 2 verse nine speaks of extending the right hand of fellowship place a blessing. Psalm 73. In verse 23 David rejoicing.
I am continually with you, for you have taken hold of my right hand of the right hand in Scripture stands for that which is good and effective in the in the left-hand stands for moral compromise and blindness and coming judgment.is basically saying this using this idiom with Jonah to say, look, these people are so confused they do not know the difference between right and wrong. In other words, they have no moral parameter there wandering around without moral guidance into doing whatever they think makes sense, but in reality they are entirely absolutely confused. Imagine going back centuries, you have the use of the right and the left side of her position in life. Listen to Solomon who put it this way in Ecclesiastes 10 to a wise man's heart directs him toward the right, but a foolish man's heart directs him toward the left, but do we care about those who are so upside down. I don't have the right from the left.
They don't know which is good effective in a blessing and that which is blind wandering Jonah. Should I not have passionate feelings for these people in all their livestock were not given Jonah's answer. I'd like to think it was the right one.
Jonah packed up his stuff headed back into Nineveh to start discipleship training classes seems to be some evidence that he did in fact that the hill around the school that the tell where they discovered Nineveh was known for centuries as Jonah's Hill.
Furthermore, I have learned that the Syrian Christians living in the school today which is the place of ancient Nineveh, those believers still relate their salvation back to the coming of Jonah to their forefathers and listen. They are extremely grateful to this day Jonah came preaching the gospel of God, they trace it back to their before we wrap up the study I have to quickly refer to one who was greater than Jonah wanted to do an entire sermon on this people tuck it in here in Matthew 12 verse 41 the Lord said the men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation.
At the judgment and will condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold a greater one than Jonah is here. Jesus is greater than Jonah the Ninevites repented at the at the preaching of Jonah, but Jerusalem would repented at the preaching of Jesus, so was he really greater in that sense he was. How whether both Jews and their both profits. But Jonah was a man. Jesus was the God man. John one.
Jonah preached a message of only judgment Christ preached a message of repentance and salvation. John three John almost died for his own sins.
Jesus died for the sins of the world. First John two Jonah's ministry was to one city Jesus Christ's message will circle the globe. Revelation 19 Jonah didn't love the people he came to rescue Jesus Christ had compassion for the lost and came to seek and to save them. Luke 19 Jonah waited outside the city, hoping God would not forgive those who hated the Jews, Christ was put on a cross outside the city, praying that his father would forgive those who hated him. Jesus Christ is greater than Jonah in a million more ways that all the more reason to follow so the book ends with a question. Interesting. Only Nahum and Jonah and the question in the Bible and both books and with a question about Nineveh name about its judgment and and Jonah about its salvation mercy mercy of God. So you have the ending here with the questions of perspective and priority in passion and it occurred to me that we can't answer for Jonah, but we can answer for ourselves what would your answer be as a Royster perspective and priority in passion. Let's give God the right answer. Shelley let's obey him like the wind and the waves and the fish and the worm let's obey him like that, let's let's say the him Lord commanded away command away. I am yours.
Use me send me let me be as we sang a light shining in the dark as our culture grows darker and darker and darker. I want to be a product I want to be the prodigal's older brother, either to you so Lord let me just obey you like that one did I like to at least match the world. That's my goal.
And that's fish. That'll be enough for me and I'm sure for you. Well, as we leave this up this journal. Prodigal profit hero of the story is clearly not shown and it'll never be you or me. It'll always be is no need for Jonah's autograph or photograph hero is our gracious and compassionate, long-suffering love, merciful God. To him be praise and honor and glory forever and ever and all the peoples that we close the seven part series from the book of Jonah. The driving theme of the book is God's grace and mercy towards sinners, God demonstrated his grace and mercy toward Jonah toward the Ninevites and he demonstrates it to us as well. I hope this lesson and this series have blessed you. There are two resources I want you to be aware of. First, we've taken the seven lessons in this series and put them together as a set of CDs. Also, Stephen has a hardback book that contains his practical and pastoral exposition of Jonah and we been offering the book at a very special rate during this series today is the last day to take advantage of it. We want you to have this resource in your library so contact us about the special promotion go to our website which is wisdom online.org search the store for the word Jonah and you'll find these resources.
You can also call us and we can give you information over the phone.
The number here at the wisdom international office is 86 648 Bible or 866-482-4253. Once again, that's 86 648 Bible 866-482-4253 website is wisdom online.org thanks for joining us today here on wisdom for the hearts tomorrow. Stephen begins a three-part series called the beauty of the bride. Be sure and join us for the next