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Jonah

Heroes of Faith  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Good Morning

Good Morning Church.
Let me also Welcome you!
At such times as these.
Welcome from wherever church is for you today.
Here at the Lowestoft building.
At home.
In your group.
Welcome also to those who will listen to this at some later time.

Scripture Reading

Our reading for today is from Jonah 3:10-4:3.
The Book of Jonah is easy to miss.
Before it is Obadiah, all one chapter of it.
After it is Micah , all 7 chapters.
Jonah is one of those called the minor prophets.
Minor refers to the length of the book
Nothing minor about the message in Jonah.
Have you found it ?
Jonah 3:10–4:3 NKJV
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it. 1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

Prayer

Jonah

The Prophet Jonah, Our next hero of faith.
The one who has a death wish.
Jonah 4:3 NKJV
3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
Lord, please kill me and put me out of mu misery.
I just love the bible, it is so honest, it is so relatable to real life.
Jonah, worthy of a place in Hebrews 11?
With Enoch, Abraham, Noah....
What do you think?
Maybe ? Not sure? Absolutely ?

The Second Call

I am mostly going to focus on chapter 3 and 4 today.
Chapter 3 starts with,
Jonah 3:1 NKJV
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying,
Note the second time.
That is important.
The first time is in Jonah 1.
We will come back to that later.
Jonah lived in Gath Hepher.
In Northern Israel
About 14 miles west of the southern end of the Sea of Galilee.
We are told in 2 Kings 14:25 that Jonah had a successful earlier domestic prophetic career in Israel.

Jonah’s Call to go to Nineveh

For the second time Jonah is called by God to be a foreign missionary to Nineveh.
The bible calls it, that great city, Nineveh.

The Timing

We believe this took place Around 800–750 B.C
Nineveh is the capital of the mighty Assyrian empire.
The timing of this event would have been less than 50 to 100 years prior years to the conquest of Northern Israel by Assyria in 722BC under Sargon 2, leaving Judea alone as a power.
Just think about that.
I think it plays into Jonah’s reaction to the call
The growing thread from the North.
A prophet is sent by your God to the HQ of the power that in less than a generation will conquer you!

Nineveh location

Nineveh was a long way from home for Jonah.
In upper Mesopotamia,
Today in what is Iraq, just outside Mosul.
Unfortunately some of the architectural sites at Nineveh have been damaged by those terrorist thugs called ISIS.
You may have heard about that in the news.

Jonah goes to Nineveh

So In response to God’s second call Jonah goes to Nineveh.
At this time Nineveh was “an exceedingly large city”.
Jonah tells us that it is “a three day journey in extent”. Jonah 3:3.
So it took three days to walk around it!
The bible says,
Jonah 3:4 NKJV
4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Nineveh Believes and Repents

Then we read, in
Jonah 3:5 NKJV
5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.
From the greatest, the King, to the lowest person in the city.
They repented.
They turned from their destructive course.
They turned around to God’s way!
That is what repentance is!

God’s Response to Nineveh’s Repentance

Jonah 3:10 NKJV
10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.
God’s response is mercy and grace
Because his mercy and grace always triumphs over judgment.
The angels in heaven are celebrating with God!
For Jesus says,
Luke 15:7 NKJV
7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

Jonah’s Response to Nineveh’s Repentance

But not Jonah, Mr kill me quick and put me out of my misery,
Jonah 4:1 NKJV
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.
Pause
God response is unmerited grace and mercy.
The angels response is joy
The Prophets response is, displeasure and anger.
Pause
Have you ever felt displeasure and anger at God because of what is happening to someone?
To yourself?
Pause

Jonah’s Prayer

Jonah 4:2 NKJV
2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.
Jonah’s prayer is basically, I told you so.
That is why I got on that boat and fled, to get as far away from you as possible
Emphasis
Because I did not want you to do what you have done!
Why would you do or allow such a thing to happen?
Pause
Have you ever said that to God?
Pause
Remember what Jesus said to John the Baptist, I spoke about that a few weeks ago,
Matthew 11:6 NKJV
6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”

Jonah’s death request

I wanted you to judge these people.
They deserve it
I wanted you to destroy them.
I hate them.
But You have relented.
Because you are a God of grace and mercy.
Jonah 4:3 NKJV
3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
Just kill me quick and out me out of my misery
I don’t want to deal with this.
If you agree that Jonah wrote Jonah, I can only think he wrote verse 3 with some irony.

The First Call

This is not the first time for such sentiments from Jonah.
God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh the first time.
Jonah says no and flees to Tarshish by ship.
God sends a big storm
Everyone on board finally realises Jonah is the reason for their peril.
Jonah says,
Jonah 1:12 NKJV
12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”
And here beloved is another Grace Object lesson
Jonah 1:17 NKJV
17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jonah intention was to commit suicide.
Emphasis
It was Jonah idea to be thrown of the ship, not Gods.
But God in his grace and mercy, and is his foreknowledge, provides the big fish.

Object Lessons from Jonah

That was my introduction
As 3 seems to be Jonah’s reoccurring number, I would like to draw 3 key things from this account

1) God is God, and you are not!

Firstly, God is God, and you are not.
You know that right?
It is liberating as we get top know God
Quick
We don’t get to decide our truth, God is absolute truth and so is His word.
We don’t get to decide our call in life, God does.
We don’t get to decide our message, God does.
We don’t get to decide God’s method of building our character, God does.
Pause and repeat
We don’t get to decide God’s method of building our character, God does.
We are the clay, He is the potter
God is God, you are not!

Self deception

The problem today in the world, and in the church, is that people will not submit themselves to God and his clear word in the Bible.
What I like to call “The main and the plain of the Bible”
We can so easily rationalise our feelings, thoughts, decisions and actions
We justify ourselves to ourselves.
We compare ourselves to others.
We can so easily be self deceived and tricked by our own hearts.
Pause
As was Jonah.

God’s Training Program

We talked last night in Sabbath School how pre-fall Eden was a place of training for Adam and Eve.
Let me tell you something, so is this post fall World!
Emphasis
It can be very humbling, especially when God uses ungodly people as part of our training program.
Or a big fish!
To refine our character.
To purge the dross.
His purpose is always to make us more Christ like!
Because in Christ is the abundant life for today, tomorrow and eternity.
Hebrews 12:11 NKJV
11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
God is God, we are not!!!

2) God’s Grace is for all, including our Enemies

Secondly, God’s Grace is for all, including our Enemies
How do you feel about that?
God’s Grace is for all, including our Enemies
Wow, I don’t like that one.
Jonah hated it.
He wanted to see these people get destroyed and get what they deserved!

Opening ended story

We don’t know the end of this story with Jonah.
God uses a plant that withers and dies to teach Jonah an object lesson.
Jonah 4:9–11 NKJV
9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” 10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?
And that is where the book of Jonah ends.
We don’t know what happens next.
Personally I hate watching films that end like Jonah.
Open ended.
I don’t want to invest 90 minutes of my time, just to be left hanging!

Extra biblical

We don’t know for certain, let me emphasis that, but there is a site that claims to be the tomb of Jonah at ancient Nineveh.
It has been damaged by ISIS.
At the same site archaeologists have also uncovered a 2,700-year-old inscriptions that describes the rule of an Assyrian king named Esarhaddon (Es-ha-addon)
We believe that is the same King of Assyria mentioned in 2 Kings 19:37 ad Ezra 4:2.
If, a big if, it is the tomb of Jonah, it means he remained with his enemies, was buried there and will rise again at the end of the age to receive His reward, along with all those from that great city of Nineveh who heeded the Lord.
That would be so cool
But, the key point here is that God’s grace is for all, including our enemies

3) I must trust God, even when I disagree

I conclude with this, “I must trust God, even when I disagree”.
I must trust God, even when I disagree.
We live in the armpit of the universe.
Bad stuff is happening
It is going to get worse
Bad stuff may have happened to you or those you love most.

Joan Frost

The funeral of Joan Frost will take place on Friday.
Norma and I had grown very close to Joan
We were always amazed at her trust in God inspite of her losses, one of her daughters to cancer, one of her sons in a plane crash, a granddaughter to cancer at only 16 and her beloved husband.
I must trust God, even when I disagree.
It will get better, must better
It will be perfect
Jesus is coming soon

Finally

Pause
God is God and I am not!
God’s Grace is for all, including our Enemies
I must trust God, even when I disagree
Add> Matt 12:38-42. Jesus put Jonah in the hall of fame. No other testimony is needed.

God will take care of us

Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you; beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you.
Refrain God will take care of you, through every day, o’er all the way; he will take care of you,
pause
God will take care of you.
I would like to invite Helen to the front to sing this for us.
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