MESSAGES FROM THE PROPHETS:
Jonah’s Mom was So Proud
Today is the day once a year since 1908 that we traditionally set aside to acknowledge and celebrate those women who are our mothers, grandmothers, and guiding lights in our lives. We appreciate our ‘moms.’ I know that over the past year or even two years many among us have lost our moms and I am sorry that you are going through this day for the first or second time. It is hard. You might feel a little bit like an orphan. May the Lord meet you in your grief and bring you comfort as only He can.
It is Mother’s Day. I normally preach on motherhood on Mother’s Day. For the past couple of weeks, we have been in the Minor Prophets… we have looked at Joel, Amos, and Obadiah so far. I was thinking about mother’s day and the story of Jonah and a funny thought came to mind: “Jonah’s mother must have been SO proud.”
INTRODUCTION… How should I make my mother happy and proud of me? (p) [https://www.quora.com/How-should-I-make-my-mother-happy-and-proud-of-me]
You know you can literally find anything on the internet. I was thinking and praying over our message today and had Mother’s Day on the brain and I googled: “How should I make my mother proud of me?” Boom! I found a question and answer site that dealt with this topic. Here are some answers people gave to that particular question:
“Don't live for your mother. Live for yourself.”
“Really all our parents want is for us to grow up and be self-sufficient. Relying and aching for our parents' approval isn't the best demonstration of that. Showing you can be independent and confident and make your own decisions and are happy with your life; that's the proudest thing a parent can see.”
“It is good that you want your mother to be proud of you. This probably motivates you to be the best person you can be. The lessons that she has taught you can serve as guiding principles throughout your life. Those things should make her proud.”
“Your mother should already be proud of you! Moms are naturally proud of their kids. From your first poopy diaper, potty training, graduation from kindergarden, art classes, high school, every achievement you ever achieved, has made your mom proud.”
“Choose healthy friends.”
“A million psychologists have bought yachts precisely because "mommy issues" are common and complicated.”
Jonah’s mother is not mentioned in the Bible, but what I would like to do today is go through the story of Jonah and see the ups and downs Jonah’s mother would have had with him and then I’d like to settle on Jonah 4:1-3 which is very meaningful for mothers and is a passage that more importantly is meaningful for us about God.
THE STORY OF JONAH
Jonah’s story begins with the Word of the Lord coming to him and getting an assignment. His mother must have been so proud that he was a prophet. The assignment Jonah got was not to prophesy to the People of God, but rather to preach a Word of repentance to one of Israel’s enemies. Jonah’s mom was probably even more proud that he got to travel on business because that is exciting!
Jonah does not want to do it. He literally and figuratively goes in the opposite direction than what God commands.
Between verses 2 and 3 of chapter 1 we find Jonah’s fear and anger.
Between verses 2 and 3 of chapter 1 we find a struggle within Jonah that each of us also shares at times.
Between verses 2 and 3 of chapter 1 we find Jonah flat unwilling to do what God tells him to do.
What do we call that? Sin. Disobedience. Wrong doing.
What do we call that? Stubbornness. Willfulness. Selfishness.
Well, so maybe Jonah’s mother is not so proud of him at this particular moment. That is often the way of motherhood… proud moments and not so proud moments… ups and downs. Jonah tries to leave God behind, but God sends a storm on the sea to the boat Jonah is on. The sailors figure out Jonah is the problem.
I wonder what Jonah felt as angry fearful sailors grabbed him.
I wonder what Jonah felt as he was heaved over the side of the boat.
I wonder what Jonah felt as he was falling into the raging storm.
I wonder what Jonah felt as he hit the water.
We are told in the story of Jonah that as soon as he hit the water, the storm died down. The storm was sent by God and the storm was taken away by God. God’s will was that Jonah be tossed over and it was done. God had a bit of a surprise waiting for Jonah in the water in the form of a huge fish. It swallowed him. Jonah became a resident inside the fish. Jonah felt like lunch inside the fish.
We see grace from God for Jonah in the belly of the whale. It was not until Jonah was in the whale that he changed his mind about serving God. He should have changed his mind during the storm, but oh no! He had to test God to the limits! It is absolute grace and mercy and God being slow to anger that God planned the large enough fish swallow Jonah. God could have let Jonah go. There were other prophets. Amos was around at the same time as Jonah (2 Kings 14 and Amos 1). God could also just call another prophet. God chose to give grace and give Jonah the opportunity to turn his life around.
Jonah’s mother could be proud of Jonah again. We all make mistakes. We all do things and say things we should not. We do not all end up in the belly of a whale, but Jonah did come to his senses and chapter 2 shows us Jonah’s confession.
Jonah is vomited up on shore and he knows exactly where he has to go because God commands him for the second time where He wants Jonah to go and what He wants Jonah to tell them. Jonah does go. Jonah tells the people exactly the message that God has given him. Jonah’s mother again can be happy and proud of her son because he is fulfilling his calling from the Lord. Jonah effectively preaches. The people of Nineveh, to whom he was sent, listened and repented.
We might think Jonah would be happy. We might think that Jonah would be ecstatic that his preaching was successful and that his message was heard. He should be full of joy that the moral message about God Almighty was heard by people who lived immorally. He should be thrilled that the power of God was displayed in the lives of people and they saw His grace. He could have been relieved that he finally gave the message that he was supposed to give and could now go home. He was not any of those things. Not even close.
Jonah’s mom’s pride in her son probably dims a little at this point.
What should have happened is that Jonah realizes the grace that he has been given and then offers that to the people around him. He should have seen how gracious God was with him through this whole process and so when it came to someone else… he should have also given grace. Grace is not something we should hold on to. Grace should be given out.
Jonah did none of that.
Again, kind of a funny thought and sarcastic, but: “Jonah’s mother must have been SO proud.” Then we come to chapter 4 and the verses I would like us to focus on today.
READ JONAH 4:1-3 (NIV)
“But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."
READ JONAH 4:1-3 (MSG)
“Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, “God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That’s why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness! 3 “So, God, if you won’t kill them, kill me! I’m better off dead!”
Jonah knows God. Jonah knows exactly who God is. I love this passage in Jonah because in the midst of his attitude problems and his anger and disobedience, Jonah knows exactly who God is. He knows God’s character.
In these days of COVID-19, do not doubt God’s character.
If you are mourning and grieving the loss of your mother, do not doubt God’s character.
If you are struggling as a mother, do not doubt God’s character.
If you are not sure how to be a better mother, copy God’s character.
GOD ACTS IN GRACE AND MERCY
God acts in unbounding grace and pure mercy. John 1:16 says, “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.” Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “It because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved.”
Grace and mercy are characteristics of a good mother. They also happen to be defining characteristics of God Almighty. We all mess up and have attitude problems and make mistakes. Grace and mercy meet us and offer us a second chance.
GOD IS NOT EASILY ANGERED
God is not easily angered. Exodus 34:6 says, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” and Nahum 1:3 says, “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power.”
Being not easily angered is a characteristic of a good mother. It also describes God. It takes a long time for God to get angry and for His temper to erupt. We can all probably emulate this part of God’s character. People around us will disappoint or disobey or sin against us. For us, well for me, anger is a natural reaction. May we be slow to anger like our God.
GOD IS LOVE
God is rich in love. Psalm 145:8-9 says, “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.”
Being rich in love for her children is a great characteristic for a mother. We all assume our mothers love us. The kind of love that parents have for their children is love in the ups and downs. I imagine if Jonah’s mom was with him her pride in him might have dimmed, but her love for him would have never wavered. That is love. Love wraps up grace and compassion and goodness and offers it always. May you be a mom like that! May we all be like that!
GOD IS FORGIVING
God wants to forgive. Psalm 103:2-4 says, “Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits-- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion.” Micah 7:18 says, “Who is a God like You, Who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
Jonah is sulking and brooding and being an all-around horses’-patootie as he sits outside of town hoping that God will still strike the Ninevites dead. He wants to watch sinful people get what they deserve and burn. God forgives.
Wanting to offer forgiveness is a characteristic of a great mother and is definitely one of our God. Not only does God forgive, but He wants to forgive. He wants us to follow the ways He has lined out so that forgiveness can happen. Jesus died so we could have the path for forgiveness and He wanted to offer Himself for us.
In these days of COVID-19, act in grace and mercy, try not to be easily angered, act in love, offer forgiveness.
If you are mourning and grieving the loss of your mother, rest in the grace, compassion, and love of God our Heavenly Father.
If you are struggling as a mother or are not sure how to be a better mother, copy God’s character and commit to being a person of grace and mercy, slow to anger, rich in love, and pursues forgiveness.
Grace and Mercy.
Not easily angered.
I would like to press one more thought into your mind and heart before we finish this morning. Looking at Jonah’s life, it is my hope that you see all the points along the way where God was gracious to Jonah. He ran away… there was grace. He had a poor attitude… there was grace. He yelled at God… there was grace. If you are not yet a Christian, think back on your life. Have you seen grace? Has God been chasing you down? Has the grace of God led you to this moment in this place where you might have the opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior?
John 1:17 says, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The truth is we are sinners and separated from God. The grace is Jesus Christ died to set you free from guilt and shame and the consequences of being a sinner. It is grace that you are here today. It is grace that different points of your life have led you to the willingness to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Please come forward today if you need to accept Him.