Summary: Like Jonah we run from God and we disobey God. Even though God gives second chances doesn't mean our heart will be in it. In the end we have to ask are we graceless like Jonah or grace filled because of Christ.
I Am Jonah
Part 4: Who Am I?
Pastor Ryan Akers
Last message of the series. The theme for today is questions. The title of the sermon is a question, God will ask Jonah two questions in this chapter and I will also finish by asking a question. Lots for you to ponder as you listen and then reflect later.
Jonah 4:1- If you’ve been here for these messages then you know the story very well, if not then I’ll give you the quick version. Jonah is commissioned by God to go to the Ninevites and warn them that if they don’t repent and turn from their wicked ways within 40 days they will be destroyed. Jonah doesn’t want to give the message(he hates the Ninevites) so he runs, God sends a fish, Jonah reflects for 3 days and nights. The fish spits him out and Jonah obeys. His heart still doesn’t seem in it or at the very least he still doesn’t seem to care about the future of these people because he tells them they will be destroyed in 40 days not that they will be destroyed unless they repent. Regardless, the people repent and they hold out hope that God will see their repentance as genuine and will relent which he does. Now, Jonah is angry. He wanted Ninevah destroyed. They are a wicked, violent, and cruel people. Jonah felt they deserved the wrath of God. Jonah 4:2-Funny that he prayed. We only see him pray twice. First is in chapter 2 when he is thanking God for saving him, granting grace towards him and forgiving him for his disobedience. But then in chapter 4 his prayer of thanksgiving and worship becomes an angry rant of complaints about God’s goodness and how he hated that God showed grace to the Ninevites.
I have rarely heard of someone who would get angry because God chose to show them mercy. I don’t think I know any pastor who would complain that through their preaching God changed thousands of lives. That’s why we preach. Each week I stand up here hoping and praying that even one person will be transformed for Jesus Christ. That one person will be touched, convicted to change, to repent, to make their life right by living for Christ rather than their individual selves. If God used my message in the way he used Jonah’s I wouldn’t be sulking I’d be rejoicing. But it only made Jonah burn with anger which is ironic considering that as a prophet Jonah’s life mission was to proclaim God’s Word for the purpose of changing people’s lives.
At the same time we might be able to empathize with Jonah a little. If after killing 6 million jews Hitler became a born again Christian, we would have to believe that god would forgive him otherwise you can’t say that Christ death was sufficient or that Christ shed blood covers the sins of ALL who believe but rather just some who believe. Would it be incredibly difficult for us to accept that Hitler is forgiven and as a believer would be in heaven? Absolutely it would. It might even make us sick to our stomachs to imagine that he was spared and is in heaven. Essentially it was the same with Jonah for the Ninevites. To imagine them being spared after all the cruelty they had done is, in his mind, unacceptable. They are unforgiveable.
Now, what I consider the point of the book is right there for us in the second part of verse 2. Jonah says, “I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people.” Jonah never wanted to go to Ninevah because He knew what God was like. He knew that if they repented God would relent. God would forgive. Why? Because unlike humans who are only sometimes merciful, sometimes compassionate, sometimes loving, usually quick to anger and slow to love God is ALWAYS merciful towards us. He is ALWAYS compassionate. He is ALWAYS loving, and patient. God’s desire is that none of us would perish but that all of us would come to repentance and a saving faith in Jesus Christ. Will everyone in this world who hears about Jesus believe and come to a saving faith in Jesus? No. But God hopes that all of us would.
God doesn’t see anyone in this room as hopeless. You may have had people give up on you your whole life but God has never given up on you. God sent Christ to die so that we might be live. His grace is beyond comprehension, his love is beyond our understanding and his patience for us is unmatched. Jonah knew that and so he ran. And when he did obey he still showed no grace. And when God relented he got angry. So angry in fact that he wanted to die. Jonah 4:3. Now, God could have just struck him dead like he did to Ananias and Saphira in Acts but, God doesn’t get angry with jonah. He doesn’t get impatient with him although, after all Jonah has done, he would certainly have a right to be. Instead God continues to grant grace to a graceless man. The way God deals with Jonah only confirms what Jonah knew about the character of God. He chooses instead to challenge Jonah’s emotions and reaction with a question.