Summary: There is no way to prevent the unrelenting love of God from achieving its purpose
Not for Prophet
Text: Jonah 1:1-16
Introduction: (The week of August 18 to September 2, 2005) This has been a difficult week for most of us as we have contemplated the devastation that has taken place in the south because of Hurricane Katrina. We are told that as many as 10,000 people may have perished in what has become the deadliest storm in U.S. history. Even today victims are still struggling to get even the most basic supplies -- food and water -- in order to keep their loved ones alive. As a pastor I have I have prayed for those who are suffering while thinking long and hard about the question that many of us are asking: "Why did this happen to them?" Certainly we know about the reputation of New Orleans, a city known for its moral decadence. So we ask, "Is this the result of God’s judgment on the people who live there?" There is obvious biblical precedence for such a thing (Noah and the flood -- See Genesis 6:5-7; Abraham, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah -- See Genesis 18:20). Others wonder, "Where is God in all this? If He’s so loving and kind, why doesn’t He do something?"
As to the answer of the first question, I would not presume to speak for God as to why this took place. He knows, but He has not chosen to inform me and is under no obligation to do so. Together we’ll have to trust that He is too good to do wrong, too wise to act foolishly and too powerful to see His plans frustrated.
The second question is a little easier to answer. "Where is God in all this? I’ll tell you...He’s seen in the common grace that is evident in the kind and caring action of thousands who have offered their help. He is seen in the overwhelming response of believers from around the world who are letting their light shine. He is seen in that He restricted the progress of the hurricane so that countless more lives were not lost (See Genesis 8:2). He is seen in His gracious exposure of man’s limitations that we might look to Him. (There is nothing like a little chaos to cause us to understand that God is all we need.) God has not stopped loving people, created in His image and for His glory. God’s love is an unrelenting love. It does not give up. It does not grow discouraged and distracted. The same love that God is demonstrating for the people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia is seen in the passage that we are going to be looking at together today. Turn in your Bibles to Jonah 1 and let’s consider together 3 characteristics of His unrelenting love.
I. You cannot explain it (See Jonah 1:1, 2). God’s unrelenting love often makes no sense to us. He loves the unlovable. In this case He was declaring His love for the people of Nineveh, much to the dismay of Jonah. A city originally built by the great grandson of Noah -- Nimrod, son of Cush (See Genesis 10:11), Nineveh was a prominent city in the Assyrian kingdom inhabited by 120,000 people. Most were evil and wicked (See Nahum 3:5-7) and deserving of God’s righteous wrath. At first glance, we would think that Jonah would be delighted to take the message of their impending destruction to them. It’s only when we consider Jonah 4:2 and realize there is implied in Jonah’s message the opportunity for repentance that we understand his hesitation. He simply could not fathom the unrelenting love of God for a people who were flagrant perpetrators of the worst kind of crimes. Application: I wonder how many of us are just like Jonah. It makes sense for us to love those who are for whatever reason lovable. But to love those who are evil and who are bent on wickedness seems beyond the realm of possibility. Often we forget that we are who we are only because of God’s matchless grace (See 1 Corinthians 15:10). Yet somehow we tend to think of ourselves as more deserving of God’s love than the next guy. The truth is that we are no better than anyone else (See Psalm 14:2, 3). God loves us, not because we deserve it, but because it is His nature to love (See 1 John 4:8). Illustration: This was a difficult concept for the Pharisees to grasp during the lifetime of Christ. They could understand God’s love for them because they were righteous. But how could God love sinners (See Luke 15:1, 2)? Someone told me recently that Mickey Mantle gave his life to Christ six months before he died. I have to admit I was skeptical because I know he was a drunkard who lived an immoral life. I wonder if I’m not guilty of the same false assumption...only good people can come to faith.