Summary: This sermon looks at chapter four of Jonah and his attitude toward God. In this final sermon of the series we find: 1. God Loves PEOPLE 2. God's Plan For Saving People Involves PEOPLE 3. God's Willing To Do Whatever It Takes To Save PEOPLE
Journey Of Jonah - The Pouting Prophet
A new resident to the community was walking down a street and noticed a man struggling with a washing machine at the doorway of his house. When the newcomer volunteered to help, the homeowner was overjoyed. The two men began working on the bulky appliance one from inside the house the other on the porch. After several minutes of fruitless effort the two stopped and just stared at each other in frustration. They looked as if they were on the verge of total exhaustion. Finally, when they had caught their breath, the first man said to the homeowner: "We’ll never get this washing machine in there!" To which the homeowner replied: "In? I’m trying to move it out of here!"
They were not on the same page - neither was Jonah and God.
When we left off last week Jonah had preached to Nineveh - as he was preaching a great revival took place - greater than any revival in the history of world. It pleased God - but not Jonah. Let's pick up the story in chapter four of Jonah:
"But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life." Jonah 4:1-3 (NASB)
I love it when a story has a happy ending. I like it when the good guy wins - the bad guy looses and the hero rides off into the sunset with a beautiful young woman at his side. Don't you love those types of stories? But that is not what happens in the book of Jonah. If the story had just ended at chapter three - I think I would have be OK with it - but we have chapter four.
You would think Jonah would be happy. But no - he's not! He is angry with God for showing too much mercy. He is angry with God for showing too much compassion. He is angry with God for forgiving "THOSE" people. He is angry with God for not destroying them - like Jonah thought they should be destroyed. Bottom line - He is angry with God for acting like God.
Do you see what was going on in Jonah's mind? Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh because he knew the character of God. He knew that God was gracious. He knew that God was compassionate. He knew that God was slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness. He knew that God would forgive them - if they turned from their wicked ways and sought the ways of the Lord. But here is the bottom line Jonah:
God Is God - And Jonah Is NOT!
Boy this is a hard lesson for Jonah to learn - but then again it's a hard lesson for all of us to learn. Because if the truth be known - there is a little Jonah in all of us and a lot of Jonah in most of us.
Can I really let God be God? Can I really let Him take control of my life? Can I really trust Him and believe that He knows what is best for me? Can I really acknowledge that He is in control and I'm not - even though sometimes I think I am?
God will often do unpredictable and extraordinary things - and sometimes they are things I don't like. Look at these passages of scripture with me:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4 (NASB)
And we are also happy with the troubles we have. Why are we happy with troubles? Because we know that these troubles make us more patient. And this patience is proof that we are strong. And this proof gives us hope. And this hope will never disappoint us.
Romans 5:3-5 (ERV)
Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials....We are also happy with the troubles we have. What is the Bible talking about? When trials come - when troubles come - I am neither happy nor filled with joy. But here is a fact folks - God is always more concerned with our character more than He is with our comfort. Maybe Jonah you need some attitude adjustment? Maybe Jonah you need a change of heart? Jonah are you listening? Jonah are you learning? Jonah can you hear what God is trying to teach you? God is in charge not you - you are not in charge of Him. Jonah don't you know that God says: