Summary: The incredible story of Jonah and the depth of God's grace
(c) 2019 Grace Community Church, Winchester, VA
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A young boy was pulling a large hay wagon down the road when it overturned in front of a farmer's house. The farmer came out and saw the young boy crying and said, "Son, don't worry about this, we can fix it. Right now dinner's ready. Why don't you come in and eat with us and then I'll help you put the hay back on the rack."
The boy said, "No, I can't. My father is going to be very angry with me."
The farmer said, "Now don't argue, just come in and have some lunch and you'll feel better."
The boy said, "I'm just afraid my father is going to be very angry with me."
The farmer and the young boy went inside and had dinner. Afterward, as they walked outside to the hayrack, the farmer said, "Well, don't you feel better now?"
The boy said, "Yes, but I just know that my father will be very angry with me."
The farmer said, "Nonsense. Where is your father anyway?"
The boy said, "He's under that pile of hay."
Anger is an emotion you feel when your expectations of justice are not met in a certain situation. There are times that anger can be justified, righteous anger, such as when Jesus cleared out the temple. But in most circumstances, our anger is unrighteous. Anger makes almost everything feel ugly and it makes us look ugly too; we cuss, we become envious and turn violent. When Michael Brown was shot by a police officer in Fergusson MO, people were angry. People felt passionate about the event that transpired, but that anger turned into rioting and destruction of the town. A department store chain started putting mirrors behind the customer service counters so that people could see how they looked as they angrily complained. It seems that our society has become angrier.
We might expect that there to be triumph in the Prophet Jonah as we conclude the Book of Jonah. He prayed in the belly of the whale, "Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9) and then he preaches in Nineveh and "And the people of Nineveh believed God" (Jonah 3:5). But instead, there is prejudice and anger. Thus our final part in our series of Jonah needs some careful consideration and best understood keeping in mind the depth of God's grace
I. Our Anger Causes Us to Miss God’s Grace in Action in Our Own Lives and the Lives of Others
1But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2And he prayed to the Lord and said, "O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live." 4And the Lord said, "Do you do well to be angry?" (Jonah 4:1-4)
Jonah is not just miffed; he's vehemently angry. "See, God, I knew you were going to forgive them. It is tempting to think that Jonah is being self-righteous and has forgotten that he is a sinner. But a better interpretation is that Jonah thought there were sinners - and then there are sinners. We might think, "Well at least I'm not an Adolf Hitler sinner." or "I deserve mercy, but he deserves God's wrath!" What it boils down to is that Jonah had a problem with how deep God's mercy goes; uncommon mercy.
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7).
Jonah is responding like the prodigal's son's brother. The prodigal returns home and a feast is held. The brother isn't rejoicing that his brother is home, he's ticked that his father is holding a party. Unchecked anger becomes cancer that will not let you go. Once a circus performer would allow a huge Python snake to encircle him and then at the last moment he’d throw the Python off to the roar of the crowd. But one night when he went to throw off the snake he couldn’t and the crowd watched in horror as the snake squeezed the life out of him. What the performer failed to realize is that with each passing performance, the snake was becoming stronger. That’s what happens when you allow anger and unforgiveness to take hold in your life.
The truth is, sometimes we don't want favor to be shown to someone who we don't want favor shown to, especially when that favor or mercy is from God. Just like Jonah in verse 3, anger robs you of life. It steals your joy and joy is supposed to be a signature mark of the Christian.