:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jonah Chapter 4

Jonah Chapter 4


- Quick recap. Jonah made it to the city of Nineveh... most likely looking less like his normal self... He preaches repentance, and the entire city, from King to beast, repents. Begs God for forgiveness and mercy. And God postponed His destruction.

- “This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! 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. Just kill me now, Lord! I'd rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”

- OK so a couple of things.

- 1. We get a picture of God as Jonah knew Him... and as we know Him. And this is the OLD TESTAMENT God... The one that's sometimes seen as being angry and unfeeling? eh... not so much...

- He is merciful and compassionate. Slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. Eager to turn away from destroying people.

- MAN! That's a GREAT picture!

- Our God loves us all, sinner and saint alike. He doesn't want to see any of us destroyed. He longs to be able to turn away from destroying people. Jonah said “eager”.

- Our sin leads to destruction. When we sin, there are consequences. God is also a God of truth, of justice, and of discipline.

- While God may love us and feel compassion towards us... He is also a very strong believer in tough love. God's justice does not allow Him to pass off or overlook our sin. But His love compels Him to give us a hundred chances if we need them, to repent and turn back to a righteous pathway.

- So if it takes making life hard for a while... or allowing us to make decisions that are going to make life hard... well... He'll let us do that.

- Exodus 34:5-7
- Psalm 89; 86; 145
- I John 4:7-5:12
- John 3:16-21
- Nahum 1:1-15

- 2. We get a look at Jonah's heart.

- He so hated these people so much, that he was willing to run away from the voice of God, just so he could be sure that they would be destroyed.

- That doesn't look so much like a picture of who we're supposed to be does it...

- If we are to be following in the footsteps of God and modeling after Him... aren't we too supposed to be merciful... compassionate... slow to anger... loving... eager to find a way to save a life?

- But Jonah... was so full of himself and his own anger and bitterness... that he failed to see the opportunity to save a life... or many lives...

- Sometimes God asks hard things of us. He asks us to love our enemies.

- In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus said “You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven, For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

- If we are to be mirror images of Christ... whew... that does NOT include running away from God to avoid dealing with problems in your own heart...

- I love the part that says “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.”

- Even completely nonreligious people can be nice... or good... or kind...

- So what makes you stand out? Is it your love? Your self-righteousness? Your generosity? Your sharp tongue? Your hospitality? Your close-mindedness?

- My dad had a sermon a couple weeks ago about seeing Christ in every facet or aspect of your life. No matter if it's at your job, your home, your family, your church, your local grocery store... Christ should be evident in it all.

- Jonah's relationship with God was a selfish one. He wasn't ready to sacrifice his anger, or his bitterness, or his hatred, in order to become more like God. This whole thing may have been just as much for Jonah as it was for the people of Nineveh.

- God is always working on perfecting us. Sometimes that means putting things in our lives that forces us to look at the problems and issues within our own hearts.

- When we are bitter, we may encounter other people who are bitter who show us just how terrible we are treating others. Or perhaps the cause of our bitterness is apparent in someone else's life and we see the damage and injury it is causing in their family, or their church... Or maybe we are forced to see the focus of our bitterness in a different... more compassionate light... Whatever the reason may be... we are forced to reevaluate ourselves.

- This is a video that the skit guys did about God chiseling away the bad things from our lives. Sometimes it's a painful process... but it's a necessary one in order to make us into reflections of Himself.

- God called Jonah to go to Nineveh... maybe... just so Jonah could see his enemies in a human light... to see that they... really did need God just as much as he did. Maybe to see that there's always hope for a soul. Maybe so that God could perfect Jonah... and not lose him to his anger and bitterness.

- If Jonah continued in his anger and hatred... it would have eventually pulled him away from God. He would have become so consumed by it that eventually he would have turned it on God Himself. “God, why did YOU let this happen? YOU allowed these people to kill, steal, and destroy my people, my nation. YOU allowed them to conquer us. YOU allowed them to prosper while we starved...”

- When we get caught up in our sin... a lot of times we refuse to see that we have a need for change. We look at everything around us, and demand that it changes... but we don't want to look at at our own hearts...

- When God puts His finger on your heart... is your first response to run from Him? To hide from what He wants from you? Jonah said he ran so that God's purpose would not be fulfilled. Oh not in so many words... but he didn't want God to forgive the people... he didn't want to be the vessel that completed that mission... so he ran...

- And Jonah got so angry when God forgave the people... that he prayed that he would die. He would rather die in his anger than to see the people of Nineveh saved from their sin.

- Wow... such a HARD heart.

- “The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”

- NO! But he was anyway... so then Jonah goes away to pout about it...

- footnote- “Sometimes people wish that judgment and destruction would come upon sinful people whose wickedness seems to demand immediate punishment. But God is more merciful than we can imagine. God feels compassion for the sinners we want judged, and He devises plans to bring them to Himself. What is your attitude toward those who are especially wicked? Do you want them destroyed? Or do you wish that they could experience God's mercy and forgiveness?”

- Joel 2:12-14
- Philippians 1:9-11
- Hebrews 12; 3:7-19
- Romans 1:18-2:16

vs. 5-10: THE LOVE OF GOD

- “Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah's head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.”

- Jonah can't stand it. He's hoping that the city will be destroyed in flaming balls of fire... or some other drastic terrible thing. So he goes up into the hillside to watch and wait. Isn't that terrible???? He so hates these people that he can't wait for their destruction. He is enjoying thinking about all the things they've done and all the ways they deserve to die. All the torturous screams they might scream and all the pain they might feel. And he wants to watch. He wants to see with his own eyes the destruction of Israel's tormentors.

- Okay... so I understand Jonah's point of view... I mean these are terrible people. They've caused much pain and terror in Israel... possibly to Jonah himself or to his family... I understand that he probably wants revenge. Justice.

- But I can also imagine that he's enjoying the thought of someone else's pain and suffering... and that... is not okay At all...

- This is a prophet of God... and he goes up on the hill to watch people die. He's not working to save them. He brought God's message... but he didn't preach more than he had to... and he didn't stick around to make sure the message was heard and adhered to.

- So what's with the plant? Jonah goes up on the hill to sit and wait... and God allows this plant to grow to shade him while he's pouting...

- Maybe it was to show Jonah that God still cared about him. Even in his moment of pouting and storming off to hope for the destruction of Nineveh... God still cared about his little comforts... Maybe he was hoping that Jonah's heart would soften.

- I Kings 19:1-18 (a similar story)

- Then comes the lesson...

- “But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.”

- Oh boy... The plant grows for shade. Then the next morning, God tells a worm to go eat through the stem... so the plant dies. And then about the time the sun gets SCORCHING hot, the east wind starts to blow. (which is usually a strong wind... and in this case... probably a hot one.)

- Jonah's sitting up here, still waiting on Nineveh's destruction... but now he's MISERABLE. He's hot and he's getting sun stroke. So he starts wishing that he could just die.

- Okay... first of all... just move. Go down from the hillside. Go find some water. Go home. But nope... he's still waiting to see if the city is destroyed.

- His heart is so full of his sin... that he's willing to die instead of repent of his own sin.

- God is asking Jonah to take a good look at his heart and let God do some chiseling... and Jonah would prefer to die in his stubbornness...

- So now, in addition to pouting and feeling angry with Nineveh and God... Jonah's wallowing in self-pity. He's sitting in the sun, roasting, and feeling like God's just picking on him. Refusing to see God at work in his or anybody else's heart.

- “Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?” “Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”

- Good grief... not even when God called him on it did Jonah look at his heart. Was it right for Jonah to be angry? Of course not! But he's so mad, that he's willing to argue with God over this.

- “Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more then 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn't I feel sorry for such a great city?”

- Jonah felt more compassion and sorrow over the plant... than over all the people of Nineveh.

- If Jonah was really more concerned with things than with people, God even threw in that there were all these animals in the city as well!

- 120,000 people and all their animals... and Jonah's worried about a plant...

- God didn't see just their sin. He saw lost people walking in spiritual darkness who needed a savior... who needed to hear truth... who needed... God.

- God sees us all as His children. Just some of us have made terrible decisions and are walking away from God. It doesn't mean that God loves us any less. In fact... His heart is so desperate for us to be rejoined to His.

- God looked at Nineveh and saw a people who needed to be loved... there was a possibility that they could yet be saved. So He decided to give them one more chance... and if you remember from last week... this wasn't the only “last” chance they got. God constantly sent people to them to speak truth so that they could have the chance of coming to Him.

- God looked down with pity and compassion and saw hearts that were ready to repent... so He gave them their chance. And they took it.

- God loves us all with abandon. He gave up everything just to save us.

- If you remember the story of Paul... when Paul was Saul... he was persecuting the church. He was killing and arresting Christians... but God gave him another chance... and look at Paul... he's the main writer of our New Testament. He's considered a great man of Spiritual depth and understanding. A man to model after... and he was a murderer...

- This is a song by JJ Heller called “What Love Really Means.”

If you've never heard it... it's a great picture of the God who loves us... for who we are... broken and beaten and sinners all... It doesn't matter how bad we've been or how much we've done. It doesn't matter that we have terrorized His people, or even killed His people... He still loves us enough to give us another chance.

- Psalm 103
- Isaiah 63:7-66:24
- Romans 12:9-21