Patron saint of the disgruntled Jonah 4
Here we have a prophet but he’s more than just a prophet. Jonah has the gift of an evangelist. He preaches and people get right with God. We don’t know too much about his ministry prior to Ninevah and we know nothing about what he did afterwards but when he preached in Ninevah everyone from the beggar on the street to the king in the palace responded. Over half a million people were ushered into the kingdom during a three day walk through the city.
Can you imagine the excitement of having God use you to impact the lives of a half a million people? In 2 Peter 1:10-11, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Here we have a picture of those who arrive in heaven as being greeted by the very ones they encouraged to either accept Christ or helped along the way.
Imagine what’s going to happen with Jonah. A half a million people would be waiting to thank him for being a faithful preacher of the word of God. And yet there’s a problem isn’t there. Jonah doesn’t want their gratitude. As a matter of fact, if it was up to him everyone of them would be in hell. He didn’t like these people before he went to Ninevah and if you read chapter four carefully you find that he didn’t care for them afterwards either. Jonah had a hard heart. He was a joyless, hard-hearted believer. And yet he was affective in the ministry.
Why did God use him? Romans 11:29 says, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." Which is another way of saying they are irrevocable. When God calls us to do something and gives us the gifts that go along with the office He doesn’t take them away if we don’t live up to His expectations. That’s why I think some of these people on TV who are bleeding people to death for money are still reaching people for the Lord. They have the calling and the gifts but they often take advantage of their audience.
God also used him to demonstrate His grace. God’s dealing with Jonah demonstrates the extent of His love in His patience and longsuffering. God not only saves us from our sin but goes to great extremes to work in the hearts of those He saves. He accepts us just the way we are but He loves us too much to leave us that way. In His grace He uses a rebel that deserved to be left in the belly of the whale and gave him a second chance to be used. We see the same thing in the New Testament with Peter. He publicly denied the Lord before the unsaved but the Lord publicly restored him before the saved. Then there’s Mark who left Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. At the end of his days Paul would write in 2 Timothy 4:11, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." In spite of his failure God used him in the end.
So, God used him because he created him for that very purpose and He used him as a demonstration of His grace. I think He also used him to show how the message is more powerful than the one who preaches it. Listen to what Paul says in Philippians 1:15-18, "Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." Paul says I don’t care if they’re preaching for money or fame as long as the gospel is preached.
Many years ago there was a Baptist pastor who was arrested for homosexual solicitation in a public washroom. He resigned from the church and became an alcoholic. As far as I know he died drunk. The night before he was arrested he preached a message and a friend of mine was saved. My friend went on to serve the Lord and brought all eight of his children into the church. Does the fact that God used this pastor indicate anything about his spiritual life? No. It demonstrates the power of the word of God.
God did use Jonah and today I want you to see how he responded to being used by God.
I Jonah’s resentment.
a) In the first three verses he’s so angry that he wants to die. What he so mad about? All these people repented of their sin and God forgave them. He hated these people and wanted God to kill everyone of them. Now, they’re all claiming to have the same faith in God Jonah has. Instead of killing them God blessed them. And now word is liable to get back to Israel that the prophet has taken the message of God to the Assyrians. The problem is, Jonah wasn’t the only one who hated the Assyrians. The rest of his fellow Israelites felt the same way.
So he’s saying to God. I didn’t want to preach to these people and you made me do it. I knew you. I knew you weren’t going to kill everybody. I knew you would show them mercy and now that my reputation is dead just let me die and end my miserable life.
b) In verse four God asked him a question. Then said the LORD, "Doest thou well to be angry?" Or, what right do you have to be angry?
Over in the New Testament Jesus told a parable to illustrate what the kingdom of heaven was like. Its in Matthew 20:1-15, "For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man [that is] an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, [that] shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them [their] hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that [were hired] about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received [it], they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought [but] one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take [that] thine [is], and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?"
There are a couple of things here I want you to see. He asks a question. Didn’t you get what I said you were going to get. Why are you so preoccupied with what I’m giving everyone else? How does what they end up with affect you? And the same could be applied to Jonah. How does my blessing the Ninevites affect you?
Then he asks, "Is it not lawful for me to do whatever I want with the things I own?" Again He could say to Jonah, I own them and I own you and whatever I want to do with either one of you is my business.
And then there is the third question. "Is thine eye evil, because I am good?" The NIV phrases it, "Are you envious because I am generous?" Its like He asking if His goodness is the cause of Jonah’s sin.
And Jonah wouldn’t even attempt an answer. He doesn’t answer because I doubt that he even knew the answer. He’s mad as a hatter and he doesn’t even know why. Anger is a powerful emotion and there are times when its right to be angry.
Anger is the reaction we have when we feel someone has done something they have had no right to do. Someone says something or does something and we explode. What right do you think you have? And God wants Jonah to tell Him just what it is that God had no right to do. Did God have any right to deal with Jonah the way He did? Sure! Did God have any right to do what ever He wanted to do with the Assyrians? Sure! This is God. And Jonah doesn’t answer. He simply walks away.
We should always be angry with ourselves when we knowlingly fall into sin. We even see that Jesus expressed anger a couple of times. On the temple when they turned the gentlie prayer area into a flea market. They were so concerned about making money from the worship of God they left no room for God. Another time He was angry when He saw how hardhearted the people were towards those who were suffering. In Luke 13:10-16, "And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up [herself]. And when Jesus saw her, he called [her to him], and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid [his] hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, [Thou] hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or [his] ass from the stall, and lead [him] away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?" He said do you know what you’re problem is. You have warped values. You are more concerned about dumb animals than you are about people.
II Jonah’s response.
He should have known better. He tried to walk away from God before and it didn’t work. Did he think God was finished with him yet? He’s angry and decides to sit outside the city and stew. Even though the people have repented he’s hoping that God will destroy them anyway and he wants a good view of the destruction. So, he sets up a little camp. It says he made himself a booth. It was probably a lean to. And then God caused a gourd to grow it says to deliver him from his grief. He was so angry about how things worked out that he was all worked up. God made this plant with large leaves to grow up overnight and it obviously provided him with some cool shade. He sat under the shade of his gourd waiting for God to destroy the city and thought about how comfortable he was. That night God prepared a worm that attacked the gourd. It died as quickly as it grew. Then God sent a hot east wind and it took all of Jonah’s strength away. And for the third time in the book Jonah wants to die.
First time. Rather than preach to the Ninevites he told the sailors to throw him in the water. He didn’t like where God wanted him to go. Second time was in verse 3. He didn’t like what God had done. And then in verse 8 he didn’t like the way God treated his stuff.
Basically, he was telling God, if I can’t go where I want to go, I’d rather die. If I can’t do the kind of ministry I want to do. I’d rather die. If I can’t enjoy a certain level of comfort in this world. I’d rather die.
III God’s rebuke.
Here’s the bottom line. You were more concerned about your vegetable garden which only lasted a day than you were about the eternal souls of 600,000 people.
What was his problem?
Jonah was a joyless believer who was all wrapped up in himself.
2 Timothy 2:24-26, "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
I don’t believe that Satan can possess a believer because God’s Spirit dwells in us and He’s not about to give space to the devil. But on the other hand, there are times when believers think like and act like the devil. Take for example the time Peter told Jesus to forget about the cross. He was soundly rebuked by Jesus in Matthew 16:23 when He said, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." He said, you are thinking like the devil.
Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He is constantly attacking believers. He accuses us to God and I have no doubt that he accuses us to one another. He does everything in his power to destroy the credibility of our testimony. And there are believers who do the same. If you are in the habit of attacking the character of another believer you are involved in Satanic activity.
Joy is the bi-product of a heart that filled with the Spirit of God. God doesn’t fill the hearts of those whose ways displease Him. Where was the joy in Jonah’s life? The only thing that made him happy was his own personal comfort. When the gourd grew up and gave him some shade he got something for nothing and he was content.
What an extremist Jonah is. He was so amgry because God spared the Ninevites and yet so happy over a vine. Its obvious that his goal in life was to gratify his flesh rather than glorify the Lord.
Jonah complains about the mercy of God but if it wasn’t for God’s mercy where would Jonah be?
Jonah knew the Lord. He declared himself to be a worshipper of God before the unsaved sailors. He knew the scriptures. In the second chapter when he prays he refers to the scriptures 11 times.