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When God Calls and We Obey

The Unacceptable Grace of God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Claim (of the passage) - God’s righteousness results in judgement upon humanity and His love results in grace to those who truly seek His mercy.
Focus (of the sermon) - Delight in the grace of God, whether by delighting in obedience to His will (unlike Jonah) or whether for the first time pleading for mercy to be spared from judgement.
Function (for the congregation) - For non-Christians to cry for mercy before a righteous God. For Christians to see how failing to delight in obedience to God shows we have forgotten the grace he showed in sparing us from judgement.
PRAY
Jonah has disobeyed God once in chapter 1.
He ran away.
If you have to ask your child to do something twice, then
It’s a bad reflection on Jonah’s attitude towards His heavenly Father.
Jonah thinks God’s grace is unacceptable.
It’s similar to when I ask Zeph (my son) to get his spellings out and practice while I make a coffee in the morning.
But God is not like Jonah.
I return with my coffee and find him in another room smashing a ballon about.
He loves Jonah enough to do the hard thing.
To bring him to repentance, to demonstrate to Jonah that he is the cheif recipient of His unacceptable grace,
It’s a bad reflection on his attitude towards me.
If you were here last week then you’ll remember we saw that even in God’s plans to bring about great despair for Jonah,
he was at work in his grace.
God is unrelenting in his grace.
He has pursued the disobedient Jonah, and brought him back.
And then that grace, in chapter 3 brings Jonah to a point of obedience.
At this point we are not sure if Jonah is obeying out of fear and resignation that he has no other choice,
But then God the Father, showed Jonah grace, by not allowing him to mess up his life.
or
Or do I
becasue he desires to please the Lord now.
We’ll find that out next week.
But what we do see this week, is that,
‘When God calls, and Jonah obeys’ absolutely incredible things happen for God’s kingdom.
I hope that’s what we will learn for our own lives as well.
‘That when we are obedient to God, give our lives to serve him in every-way, then absolutely incredible things happen for God’s kingdom.
God called Jonah to go to Nineveh, and Jonah ran!
although, God in his unrelenting grace uses Jonah’s escape to reveal himself to some sailors.
But as a result of Jonah’s running, he faces a horrific time.
It makes sense really, that if we proclaim to be followers of Jesus, and yet we run from prioritising obedience to him, then life will not be all it could be.
Non-the-less, God, in his unescapable, unrelenting grace, will pursue his people and bring them back to himself - but it might be a horrific experience.
And so now, chapter 3, shows us the opposite option.
Look what happens when we, God’s church are obedient to Him.
Then the results are incredible.
And
S
He brought about consequences and pain, so that Jonah would realise His father knew best.
You see if God had asked Jonah a second time, and Joanh
If you have to ask your child to do something twice, then
So Jonah is asked for the second time!
Jonah 3:2 NIV - Anglicised
“Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
So
verse 3
Jonah 3:3 NIV - Anglicised
Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days.
The first thing to note is that Jonah is to go and ‘proclaim the message’ that God gives him.
He is not going to make up his own mind about what to say.
This will be a message directly from God.
The Ninevites don’t need any more man-made wisdom.
They have plenty of that - and God’s assessment of that is that they have turned out wicked.
They need to hear the righteous message of God.
Truth that is right and good.
It’s why week by week here at GC, we explain the bible in our sermons.
You do not need any man-made wisdom or ideas,
You certainly don’t need my wisdom or ideas!
You need the righteous, true and living word of God.
And that’s important,
becasue as we’re about to see,
often what God has to say,
does not sound like it will go down to well!
Many churches today speak of...
prosperity or you’re doing ok type messages.
No, God’s word, the word Jonah is going to proclaim,
is far from ‘you’re doing good’
going to reveal the character of God.
It is actually, ‘You’re doing really bad - and now you’re going to pay’
So that is what Jonah’s job is.
Then we get 2 things eamphasised about Ninevah.
Firstly, Nineveh, was a big place, an important city.
It stood as one of the great ancient cities under the rule of the Assyrian empire, around 800BC.
The detail of it taking 3 days to visit gives you an idea of all the hustle and bustle, people and trade, noise and distractions, it could easily take 3 days to travel around it.
The London of the UK.
Bold, powerful.
It inspired self confidence and strength.
The London of the UK
They had it all.
They believed they were in control of their own destiny, and they had no place for the God of the bible.
We know that, becasue that is the other detail we are given about them.
“We’re above that God stuff”
“How dare you tell me I’m not good enough”
“That judgement stuff may be good for you, but I don’t need it”
But other than being big, we are only given one other significant fact about the city.
We were told back in in 1v1. It is full of wickedness.
Which in the bible means that they are ignoring the good rule of God and live by their own standards.
To speak of God of judgement (as Jonah is about todo) to the Ninevites, would have gone down about as well as it would in your office, or the school playground today in London.
“We’re above that God stuff”
“How dare you tell me I’m not good enough”
“That judgement stuff may be good for you, but I don’t need it”
“How dare you”
But that was the message Jonah was to proclaim:
Jonah 3:4 NIV - Anglicised
On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”
Judgement is coming.
I don’t know how comfortable you are with understanding God as bringing destructive judgement.
This great city was to be overturned!
It’s a foretaste of the ultimate judgment that God will bring upon humanity for it’s wickedness when Jesus returns.
But if you’re not comfortable with God being a God of Judgement, then we ought to be.
we ought to know and hear, and speak of ourselves of the coming judgement of God.
Because judgement is an unavoidable byproduct of God being righteous.
Something we probably are used to accrediting to God.

1 - Righteousness = Judgement

Logic determins that God is righteous, by which we simply mean he is, RIGHT.
God is the creator, sustainer and ruler of the universe.

SO logically he is the definition of what is right or wrong.
He is the moral compass for humanity.
His character defines rightness.

2 - Judgement = Responce

You and I could try and define righteousness, but you and I will end up disagreeing.
And neither of us have any claim to righteousness.
But God, well his very nature,
as creator, means he is the definition of righteousness.
And fortunately for us, he is a good God, a God of love.
So to put things simply, he cannot tolerate, or accept anything that is not right.
If I was to murder someone and God didn’t mind, then murder would be a righteous act.
There would be nothing wrong with it.
But God does mind. So murder is unrighteous.
And has to have a consequence.
To be righteous demands there to be justice and therefore judgement.
If one of my sons hit his brother,
and I said or did nothing about it, then I am telling him at worst that his act of hitting is right,
Or at best I don’t care for him and can’t be bothered.
I would be a terrible and pointless father if I never explained and rebuked him for what I believed to be right and wrong.
Just like with God.
The Ninevites, most of London, most of Worcester Park,
has turned their backs on God, which is the definition of wickedness.
And God, if he’s any sort of Righteous God at all must do something about that.
Otherwise he’s no better than a pointless father.
And so the message comes.
What you are doing is wicked.
You will face judgment.
A right God cannot allow unrighteousness to be in his presence.
He must by definition, remove it, destroy it, overturn it.
That righteousness, truth, goodness and love may survive.
PAUSE
If you don’t believe in God, if you haven’t put your trust in Jesus here today,
Then you will face the righteous and terrible judgement of God when Jesus returns.
The message hasn’t changed.
You may not like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
And like Jonah warned the Ninevites,
I warn you today.
YOu will be overturned.
God will judge you for your ignorance of him.
For believing you can do life without the creator of the world.
And becasue God is righteous, he will judge.
And becasue there is judgement, then there has to be a response:

2 - Judgement = Response

There is no option not to respond to the promise of judgment.
To ignore the warning,
to say you don’t believe it is still a response.
Just becasue you ignore something doesn’t mean it’s not there.
AS the Titanic sank, many didn’t believe it was possible for the ship to sink.
Well look how that turned out for them.
To ignore God is
to throw your pride in the face of God.
It’s to mock His very existence.
And it’s to bring even more judgement upon yourself.
It’s what we might expect Nineveh to do!
But something else, a very different something else happens.
Jonah 3:5 NIV - Anglicised
The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
5
They humbled themselves!
They acknowledged their wickedness before God.
They stopped believing they could do life by themselves, and recognised their creator.
And they showed it in true humility.
And not just a few people...
Jonah 3:6–8 NIV - Anglicised
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.
Jonah 3:6–7 NIV - Anglicised
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh: “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink.
jon 3 6-
jon 3 6-
The king himself.
The most powerful person in the city, humbled, even embarrassed himself in humility by removing his royal robes, putting on rags ad sitting in the dirt!
DO you see the extraordinary change in attitude and character the king showed.
From one of the greatest rulers on the earth,
Everything he wanted at his fingertips.
The man who has everything.
Power, wealth, respect, women, the latest chariot with 12bhp.
He has no need for God.
That is, unless he realises he faces judgement.
And none of that can save him.
I don;t know your hearts here today.
But have you grasped that without God on your side you are finished.
Judged, overturned, defeated.
Enjoy what you think you have now, for you’ll have non of it in eternity.
And as hard as it may be to lay all those things down and HUMBLE yourself before God,
You MUST!
It’s your only chance. Your only option.
v9
Jonah 3:9 NIV - Anglicised
Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
And Christians here, don’t forget the humility in which we first approached God.
And don’t forget that judgement faces all those who stand against him.
We have a duty to sound the alarm,
to proclaim that judgement is coming.
We are no better than those who don’t believe,
We to have only the compassion of God to turn to in humility.
We just happen to believe that the ship is sinking, and we know were the lifeboat is.
Are we going to walk on past those who are ignorant and not plead with them.
Judgement = Responce
And now, v10, so simple, and yet so glorious, and it introduces our final point:
Jonah 3:10 NIV - Anglicised
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

3 - Response = Salvation

By response I obviously imply a response of humility and calling on the mercy of God.
That sort of response,
although we don’t deserve it.
although we may not understand that it is guaranteed,
although we may fear we have been too wicked,
That humble calling on God for mercy,
Well that always results in salvation.
Think of the sailors in the boat, who cried to God in humility for mercy from destruction at sea.
Think of Jonah as he sank as deep as the roots of the mountain, drowning, who cried humbly to God for mercy,
Think of the Ninevites now who cried humble to God for mercy,
It’s all a deliberate pattern to SCREAM what ought to be obvious!
Call on God in humility, for mercy - and you will be saved!
Just like God’s righteousness demands judgement for the wicked,
God’s chracter also demands salvation for those who humble and truly call for mercy.
You can be saved from this judgement to come.
Becasue it is the right thing f
Simply humble yourself before God.
The story of Jonah, the sailors, of Nineveh are here to declare that the righteousness of God demands judgement,
Than judgement demands our responce,
But incredibly, our right response demands salvation.
PAUSE
Next week we will see that Jonah is angry with God for saving the Ninevites.
Remember he thinks God’s grace in unacceptable,,
Perhaps he’s concerned that God’s righteousness hadn’t been satisfied if he lets people of the hook!
Ironically he’s forgotten that he too is being let of the hook.
He too, as is obvious in this story, deserves judgement, even as a follower of God, he deserves judgment.
But God doesn’t let us off the hook without satisfying his righteousness.
You see, somehow,

4 - Salvation =(has to satisfy) God’s righteousness

The OT all points forward to a messiah.
A saviour,
A lamb who will be slain in judgement on behalf of his loved one.
Jesus.
The death of Jesus, in time, would pay for the wickedness of the Ninevites.
Jesus the one man who never sinned - who was never wicked.
Jesus the son of God.
Laid down his life, to satisfy the righteousness of God,
so that they might be freed from judgement, and instead find salvation.
Eternal life with the rightest of right, the king of Kings, Lord of Lords.
And just like he died for those Ninevites,
Jesus died for you, if only we’ll humble ourselves and call on his mercy.
Perhaps you have grown up or more recently, in humility before God, called on his mercy in the name of Jesus.
Well praise God that he has given you salvation, continue in that wonderful fashion.
Celebrate the incredible result that humble cries of mercy grants you access to salvation in Jesus for all eternity.
But perhaps you haven’t yet humbled yourself before God.
Today is the day to do so.
He is righteous.
He will judge
You will respond (one way or another)
And a response of humility will always be met by the most incredible, undeserved, unacceptable and unrelenting grace of God.
Destruction will be avoided,
and glorious joy takes it’s place.
PRAY
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