Summary: This is the last of four and looks at the heart of Jonah compared to the heart of God and the lessons in love that Jonah would need to learn as a consequence.
Jonah chapter 4: 1-11. Lessons in love.
I recently watched documentary on the internet it we Louis theorux and he was spending some time with a Christian family from Texas who had formed a Church called Westboro Baptist church and part of their evangelistic strategy was to travel around America going to the funerals of war veterans all over the USA and stand with placards saying “Thank God for dead soldiers’ othe placards said God hates America others which said ‘God hates fags.’
What shocked me about it all was that there wasn’t one ounce of grace and love towards sinners in their message their was no opportunity for repentance it was a message without mercy, it offered no hope to sinners what so ever.
Now whether the TV production crew edited in such away as to depict them like this eccentric fringe group I don’t know?
But it reminds me very much of the heart of Jonah at this time as a nationalistic Jewish prophet for him God of Israel and not the world. There was nothing wrong in his preaching he obeyed God 3:3 It was a tough message 3:4 but one which caused a positive response 3:5. And God would show His immense compassion upon the city v10
Jonah like the family from Westbro Baptist Church didn’t want a positive response, he went to Nineveh 40 days and this place will be overturned....... It was all bad news from the lips of Jonah, he wanted judgement upon his enemies. And so it’s here in the heart response of Jonah we see a number of deep rooted problems, which Jonah needs to rectify and learn some lessons in love. And if were honest with ourselves we may need to also....
1. We need to work in partnership with God. 1-3
Jonah wasn’t always working together with God, he was a reluctant prophet who was singing from a different hymn sheet to God. After all God had said go to Nineveh – Jonah headed in the opposite direction for Tarshish.
Jonah actions remind me of the old Laurel and Hardy films where so often Oliver is doing one thing and Hardy the exact opposite as a result disaster strikes.
Laurel and Hardy films 1932 The Piano where they try to get a piano up a huge flight of steps after spending a whole afternoon trying to get it up the steps, once in the house they unpack the crate and begin to tidy up with Hardy placing the wood on one side of the room whilst Laurel picking Hardy’s pile and placing it on the other counteracting each other. You see it all the time in their films.
What God wanted and what Jonah wanted for the people of Nineveh were two different things. Just picture it over 120,000 people have just come to the Lord 4:11 and yet 4:1 He was greatly displeased and became angry v3 and wants to die because of what’s taken place.
I can’t ever imagine Billy Graham or DL Moody after one of their crusades when hundreds no doubt received Christ or when Whitfield / Wesley who were involved in field preaching saw great numbers coming to Christ actually were displeased, angry or wanted to die... Wouldn’t they be rejoicing in the Lord? So what’s the problem?
Jonah’s prejudices: Like the Westbro BC in Kansas Jonah has little love for others who weren’t like him , he even resented the very nature of God v2.
Ex 34:6 The Lord the Lord the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.
He knew God’s character but he couldn’t accept it v3-4 . A city he had hoped had gone up in smoke would turn in repentance to God. His heart was not in tune with the character of God. He needed to learn the vital lesson that shouldn’t God love the whole world as well as Jonah and Isreal?
If we are to reach out in partnership with him we too need get rid of all our self righteousness and prejudices we might have towards others, which will prevent us from reaching out in a God like way.
The greatest commandment taught Israel was to Deut 6:4 love God and to love their neighbour as they love themselves Lev 19:18 But to Jonah his neighbour didn’t exist outside of Israel.Jonah wasn’t willing to love his neighbour as God had intended he was full of prejudices which we see in the NT with Jesus.
Do you Luke 10::25- 29 Remember the expert of the law wanted to justify himself “ Who is my neighbour” The good Samaritan story The one who had mercy he couldn’t even bring himself to say Samaritan .