Summary: Jonah’s reaction to hating God’s assignment and the success he found.
Exposing the Truth
* As we end this story or book, we discover that Jonah would have made a great 21st century church member in America. Jonah may have well been the original “It’s all about me” prophet. As I was reviewing this book and his life, I was thinking about Jonah in these terms. Consider this with me;
o He received a call from God
o He rejected God’s call
o He resisted God’s discipline
o He relented only when death was eminent.
o He reluctantly completed God’s call.
o He reacted negatively to God’s work of grace.
o He revealed his true heart, his true self.
* By the way, this revelation isn’t pretty. It shows Jonah to be the self-centered, selfish, and even prideful person which he truly is. It demonstrates to us that a person can answer God’s call and do so with the wrong attitude. Very few places in the Bible do we see such wickedness in one who serves God. What can be revealed to us by studying this part of Jonah’s life? Like all of God’s work, it could be something “life-changing.”
* (READ) A priest was being honored at his retirement dinner after 25 years in the parish. A leading local politician who was a member of the congregation was chosen to make the presentation and give a little speech at the dinner. He was delayed so the priest decided to say his own few words while they waited. “I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place. The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when stopped by the police, had almost murdered the officer. He had stolen money from his parents, embezzled from his place of business, had an affair with his boss’s wife and taken illegal drugs. I was appalled. But as the days went on I knew that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full good and loving people.”Just as the priest finished his talk, the politician arrived full of apologies at being late. He immediately began to make the presentation and give his talk. “I’ll never forget the first day our parish priest arrived,” said the politician. “In fact, I had the honor of being the first one to go to him in confession.”
* Well, the truth was now exposed. Exposure can be good or bad. If you are exposed as the long lost heir of a now dead rich relative, then it is considered good. However, to have secrets, sin, selfishness, and the like exposed is quite painful. This is where we find Jonah tonight.
* Think about this; Jonah walked into a wicked town who has 120,000 residents and preached the message of repentance which was empowered by God and the city responded in mass! In verses 5-9 we discover how both Jonah and God interacted in the aftermath of the revival.
1) The Rebellion of Jonah – We are kidding ourselves if we think that, for one minute, Jonah WANTED to answer God’s call. When taken in the totality of the story, we know that Jonah is exhibiting some bad behavior. Let’s see;
a) His Stubbornness – The HCSB says that Jonah “left the city and sat down east of it.” The Hebrew word means he “moved away” from the city. Most translations say he “went out and sat down”, however I love how Gene Peterson says it, “He just left.” The Living Bible says he went out and “sat sulking”. For some reason, Jonah wanted these people to received divine punishment and wouldn’t be pleased with anything less. Who knows exactly why? Perhaps they lived on the wrong side of the track, they were different from Jonah, or maybe they were more affluent and Jonah was jealous.
b) His Selfishness. - When he sat down he got up and built him a shade to set in. (Had he been a Baptist he would have fabricated some kind of cushion for his seat because this is all about him.) In fact, we see Jonah’s selfishness in verse 2 when he almost sticks his fist in God’s face and says, “I told you so!” Now instead of staying where God put him, Jonah goes outside the city to moan, groan, and carry-on about God doing what Jonah didn’t think God should be doing. I have just begun reading a book entitled, “Essential Church.” Dr. Thom and Rev. Sam Rainer are speaking to the exodus from the church of our young people. Guess what, we are finding that young people don’t particularly leave their faith, just the church. And why? Because they haven’t made the connection between faith and their church. And why? Because they have not SEEN that connection in their elders or been truly discipled by the truths in God’s word. Why is this? Because they have seen us older people selfish instead of spiritual in our decision making. And now the price is being paid.