Summary: The middle verse of Jonah says "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs".
1. One of best known stories in Bible is the story of Jonah - often seen as a children’s story and heard many children’s songs about it.
2. But the story of Jonah is a story that has an important message to each of us - as a church and as individuals. Not just about a big fish swallowing Jonah or even just about the fact that we cannot run away and hide from God.
3. The focus of what God is telling us this evening is found right in the middle of this book (48 verses - 25th verse) in Jonah 2:8. "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs."
4. Has been important verse for me as I have dealt with different issues in my life. Important verse as we move into new year.
5. Helps us look at our lives and to deal with the things we carry around with us. Think about what we will carry with us into the next year.
6. I ask you to consider whether or not you feel you are experiencing the grace of God to it’s fullest or if you often question His grace. If not, listen to word of God.
1. Jonah was a prophet in the 1/2 century from 800-750 BC. Israel had been reduced to a powerless nation by the Syrians. We first read about Jonah in 2Kgs 14:25. He had prophesied that King Jeroboam II would restore the boundaries of Israel and that Israel would experience a time of peace and prosperity.
2. This came true because Israel’s neighbour (Assyria), 2 doors down, on the other side of Syria, weakened Syria so much that I was able to overpower them and chase them out of Israel.
3. Prophets Amos and Hosea said that Assyria would take Israel because of her sins but had not yet happened. People were smug in their prosperity. "We are God’s chosen nation and are favoured"
4. They wanted God’s judgement to fall on their neighbours and destroy them to make Israel more powerful.
5. God had given them prosperity as a sign of His blessing and His grace, but they failed to honour God and they made an idol of what God had given them. In Amos 7:13 they called Bethel the king’s sanctuary and
temple rather than God’s - this is our church not God’s.
6. In this setting God tells Jonah to go to A’s capital city, Ninevah and preach against it - to warn that unless they repented they would be destroyed.
7. His response reflects the attitude of the people of Israel. We know story well - tries to run away but God still got Him to Ninevah.
8. In ch 4, after Ninevah repents, we find out why Jonah did not want to go - he was afraid that she would repent and be spared. He would rather have seen her destroyed and Assyria weakened.
9. In his own selfish, national interest he wanted N destroyed
10. Like someone who sins against you ( person not follow Lord). In one way you want them to repent, but maybe part of you hopes they don’t want them to so they will get their due.
11. Israel was to be a light to the nations, an instrument of God’s grace, but she did not want to be that.
12. Instead clung on to an idol - idol of nationalism, security, pride, selfishness.
13. Even in ch 4 after God spares Ninevah, Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. (4:1-3) He would rather die than see enemy spared.
a. Sits in hot sun outside the city, waiting, watching, hoping it would still be destroyed.
b. Despite attitude God still gracious to Jonah and gives Him a vine that grows to provide Him shade.
c. But only for a day - then sends a worm to chew vine so that it withers, to teach lesson. Jonah more concerned about vine dying (no shade - own comfort) that about Ninevah.
14. Lost perspective - missed out of joy of seeing God’s grace - 120,000 people spared.
15. God gives us so much - family, money, possessions, freedom, wisdom, church - these things are good in themselves - blessings from God. But when they become more important than their giver, when we live for
them rather than God - then these things become idols.
16. What are the idols you cling to? - possessions, reputation, name, family, accomplishments, church, anger, bitterness, guilt, security?
17. If you cling to them you forfeit or lose something more important - the grace of God that could be yours.
18. God has given these things to you so that you can use them for His glory. When we give our lives to God, our talents, our money - we see God use them as instruments of grace.