The Instructed Prophet
Jonah 4:1-11 (NASB) (1) But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. (2) He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (3) "Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life." (4) The LORD said, "Do you have good reason to be angry?" (5) Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. (6) So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. (7) But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. (8) When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, "Death is better to me than life." (9) Then God said to Jonah, "Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "I have good reason to be angry, even to death." (10) Then the LORD said, "You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. (11) "Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?"
1. Jonah is an amazing book – so filled with grace and mercy
A. Grace and mercy towards the rebellious Jonah as God pursues Him
1). Doing what is necessary to turn him back and then using him again
B. Grace and mercy towards the sailors on the ship headed towards Tarshish
1). Pagans at beginning of story – crying out to false gods
2). By the end of witnessing God’s power they are worshipping Him – Saved!
C. The greatest of all – God’s mercy to Nineveh – this ungodly, wicked city
1). God uses the preaching of Jonah to bring wholesale revival to Nineveh
Thought: What a story – since we love happy endings – end it there Jonah
A. You’ve got this incredible story of grace and mercy
B. You’ve got drama with the storm and the fish
C. You’ve got a great story line – bad boy prophet makes good
1). End it now – maybe with you and God walking into the sunset
Looking back on Nineveh while they worship God
D. But NO! Jonah you have to go and write one more chapter
1). A strange ending indeed – No rejoicing - No celebration or thanksgiving
a). We find Jonah angry and depressed! Mad at God!
E. In reality we should be happy the book didn’t end in Chapter 3
1). Jonah had one more lesson he had to learn that is so valuable
a). Perhaps the most important lesson of all
AN OVERVIEW OF WHAT JONAH HAS LEARNED
Chapter 1 – He learned the lesson of God’s providence and patience
Chapter 2 - He learned the lesson of God’s pardon
That God forgives those who call upon Him
Chapter 3 - He learned the lesson of God’s power
As he witnessed a whole city humble themselves before Him
Chapter 4 - He is going to learn the lesson of God’s pity
That God has compassion for lost sinners like the Ninevites
And God wants His servants to also have that compassion
A. So in Chapters 1-2 God has dealt with Jonah’s rebellion
In Chapter 4 God is dealing with his attitude
1). Jonah is now doing what God told him to do – but his attitude isn’t right
a). God wants Jonah to obey not only externally but also internally
2). A warning to us – we can be in God’s will in our actions
a). But out of His will in our attitude – grumbling – doing it half-heartedly
3). The works that are meant to glorify God
Mat 5:16 (NASB) "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
a). But that won’t happen if we do those works with a lousy attitude
1a). It makes it look like serving God is not an honor – privilege
It makes it look like serving Him is nothing but drudgery – no delight
Point: God wants both our actions and our attitudes to be right
Transition: So again we have God correcting Jonah
3. Signpost – two simple divisions
A. The incensed prophet (4:1-3)
B. The instructed prophet (4:4-10)
i. the incensed prophet
Jonah 4:1 (NASB) But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.
1. He is mad at God (Heb. Very indignant - furious)
A. WHY? He thinks God was wrong in showing mercy to the Ninevites
B. He wanted God to judge Nineveh – destroy them – fire & brimstone
1). In his mind that is what they deserved because of their cruelty and wickedness
Point: But God extends mercy instead – and Jonah is fuming
2. Jonah is judging God
A. In the original language it hints that Jonah thought what God did was evil
“God you really messed up this time! You should have handled this one differently!”
B. How foolish this is! He’s making himself the judge of almighty God
"God this is not what I’d have done - therefore its something you shouldn't have done"
1). He’s acting like he is wiser than God - would make better choices than God
2). He’s putting himself on a higher moral ground than God Himself
Thought: We think "How could Jonah do that?" Wait a minute - we do the same thing!
A. There are a lot of Christians walking around judging God – bitter at Him
"I can't figure out why God would allow this or that! Why He would do this or that!"
“I don’t know why God would allow me to have this disease?”
“I don’t know why God let them lay me off – Why He hasn’t given me a spouse yet”
1). We get thrown for a loop – get bitter towards the God who loves us
Question: What is the answer to that? Can I suggest - KNOW YOUR THEOLOGY
A. Most times incorrect reactions toward God flow out of a shallow understanding of scripture
1). A failure to realize who God is and what God is like
2). And a failure to apply those truths to the situations we face in life
B. Scripture tells us that God is perfect in all His ways
Deut 32:3-4 (NASB) "…His work is perfect…
2 Sam 22:31 (NIV) "… his way is perfect…
Job 37:16 (NIV) “…His knowledge is perfect”
1). His works and His ways are ALWAYS perfect – WHY?
Because He plans those works and ways through a knowledge that is perfect
2). Therefore He never guesses in His planning (educated guess like us)
a). His planning flows out of this perfect wisdom – knowledge - omnipotence
b). He never has or ever will make a mistake in His planning – never says Ooops
3). OTW whatever He does or whatever He allows is always the right thing to do or allow
a). Whether we understand why He does it or not - it has NO error in it
C. Why this is important to understand
1). There are going to be many things in this life that we will never fully understand
Things that have potential to rock us - shake us to very core - destabilize us
2). That is when you must run to what you do understand - retreat to fortress of scripture
"I may not understand why this has happened, but I do understand this. That the one who caused it to happen or allowed it to happen never makes a mistake. Even though I can't figure it out, He has got it all under control and His planning and his purposes are perfect. I choose to rest in that"
3). I find my equilibrium in the solid truths of God's unchanging Word
a). That tells me about my God and how He plans - I find rest there
Transition: Back to Jonah and why he’s throwing his latest temper tantrum
A. Whats effecting him so adversely is the whole question of sovereign grace given to man
1). He has this group of people he feels its good for God to be merciful too
a). That would be people like himself - the Jews
2). He has this other group he feels like its wrong for God to be merciful to
a). That would be the Ninevites – those who aren’t like him
3). He felt the Ninevites didn't deserve mercy - he forgot he didn't either
a). He didn't deserve anything but judgment - but God forgave him
b). But now he's not willing for God to act in the same way to the Ninevites
B. I said in the first study we would see ourselves in Jonah – we can be like this
1). There can be individuals or people groups we don't want God to treat as graciously as He treated us
a). We somehow think they deserve judgment & shouldn’t be shown mercy
We forget that we didn’t deserve the mercy we were shown
2). May God deal with this prejudice that is so natural to every one of us
Jonah 4:2-3 (NASB) He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. (3) "Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life."
1. For the second time in this book we find Jonah praying
A. But this time it is very different than the first
1). The first time he prayed his best prayer in the worst place – fish’s belly
This time he prays his worst prayer in best place – in Nineveh where God was working
2). His first prayer flowed out of a broken, repentant heart
This prayer from an bitter, resentful heart
3). In his first prayer he asked God to save him
In this prayer he asks God to take his life because he had saved others
2. His complaint
“Lord, this is exactly why I didn’t wan to come here in the first place. I knew you were a gracious, compassionate, loving God who doesn’t enjoy sending destruction. I knew you’d go and do something like this”
A. OTW I was afraid you’d go and do something like this!
That’s why I didn’t want to come in the first place!
3. What a brat he is! "Just kill me God…" “Take my life”
“He wishes to die rather than live because the Ninevites get to live rather than die”
Transition: God patiently deals with his temper tantrum – teaching him his last big lesson
A. He begins to patiently instruct Jonah by asking three questions
1). V. 4 "Do you have good reason to be angry?"
2). V. 9 "Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?"
3). V. 11 "Should I not have compassion on Nineveh…”
ii. the instructed prophet
THE FIRST QUESTION
Jonah 4:4 (NASB) The LORD said, "Do you have good reason to be angry?"
1. This is a challenge to Jonah – getting him to think
A. Jonah who has this one right – You or God – creator of the universe?
B. Jonah I’m pleased with what happened – you’re not – who is looking at this with the right perspective?
A. Whenever that question comes into our mind – sent by God
When we may be angry – questioning Him
B. We must realize that whatever our thoughts or feelings may be
It is ALWAYS God that is correct – we must change NOT Him
1). He has acted out of perfection – we are judging him out of ignorance
Jonah 4:5 (NASB) Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city.
1. Jonah’s response – silence – Why?
A. He is mad – defiant – not going to give in
B. He walks off – probably trying to get away from God again
2. Sulks off to the east of the city where some hills were located
A. Builds a shelter and sits down to “watch what would happen to the city” – WHY?
1). Probably because he didn’t trust the Ninevites
“They are so wicked – they’ll go right back to their sinning”
a). Then God will be forced to keep His word and destroy them
b). If that happens he wants the best seat in the house to watch it from
2). This is the kind of man we’re dealing with here – Yet God used him!
Transition: Now God is going to set up a situation that prepares Jonah’s heart for the second question
Jonah 4:6-8 (NASB) So the LORD God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. (7) But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. (8) When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, "Death is better to me than life."
1. Notice the repeated “appointed” or some “provided”
A. God provided a “vine” (v. 6) a “worm” (v. 7) a scorching east wind (v. 8)
B. Again here we see the sovereignty of God over His creation
1). Whether it’s the huge fish in chapter 1 or the small worm in chapter 4
2). Whether its the ferocious storm in chapter 1 or the scorching wind in chapter 4
a). God’s at work moving His creation in such a way it accomplishes His purposes
Point: All of creation is His servant to accomplish His will
2. God provides a vine to shelter Jonah from the sun (vs 6)
A. Miracle - springs up overnight to such a size it provides shade
B. For the first time in the book Jonah is happy
Transition: But that won’t last – God’s going to use the vine for something much deeper than just temporal shade
A. He’s going to use it to teach Jonah a powerful lesson - to correct his lousy attitude
3. God uses the vine to instruct Jonah
A. He uses a tiny worm to chew up the vine so that it withers - stops providing shade
1). Then sends scorching east wind & beats sun down on Jonah's head to make him miserable
2). God is putting Jonah back into the classroom of adversity to instruct him
4. Jonah responds in the usual way "I just want to die!"
A. We also see the great patience of God here
God could have said "all right you little brat I think I can accommodate that wish"
1). Instead He reasons with Jonah - instructs Him
2). God doesn't want to destroy Jonah - He wants to develop Him & uses this as an opportunity
B. Aren't you glad that God is patient with His people as they struggle towards maturity?
1). How patient He’s been with each one of us
This room is full of Jonah’s (one is preaching right now)
Transition: First question – “Do you have any right to be angry?”
A. Think Jonah who is right? You or me?
1). If it’s me then do you have a right to be angry over what I’ve done? NO!
2). This question exposes how distorted Jonah’s thinking was
B. Move on to question 2 - which builds off the first question
Jonah 4:9 (NASB) Then God said to Jonah, "Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?"
1. This question exposes how petty Jonah had become in this process
A. His anger has moved from being upset with God – who it at least a worthy opponent
To being angry at such a petty thing as a vine and a worm
1). OTW his anger is now taking over! Spilling into everything
Thought: Isn’t that how it is when we become angry?
A. We can begin by being angry at big things – important matters
1). But quickly that anger can spread – find ourselves being angry at petty things
B. OTW We get angry at God over something
1). That spreads to expressing our anger at the larger circumstances
IF unchecked – eventually it spills into being angry at minor circumstances
2). Next thing you know – you burn the toast and you cuss and kick the dog
a). You’ve become an angry – bitter person
C. God is saying “Jonah look where your anger has taken you. Is this the way you really want to live?
Being annoyed all the time at petty things?” What a waste!
3. Jonah’s response
Jonah 4:9 (NASB) Then God said to Jonah, "Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "I have good reason to be angry, even to death."
A. Jonahs fuming & wont back down - "I do have a right to be angry, I'm angry enough to die"
1). His anger has taken him to the place where everything is now a bit deal
He’s hating life right now! Everything is wrong! (know people like that?)
B. One reason the Scripture exhorts us
Eph 4:26 (NIV) "… Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
1). Check it every night – deal with it so it doesn’t spread
Transition: Now we come to the whole point of the chapter
A. God has asked him two questions to show how messed up his thinking was
1). And where that kind of thinking had lead him – a bitter, angry person
a). Incorrect thinking always leads to incorrect living
B. Now God uses the vine with a third question – to close the deal
1). To show how wrong Jonah’s priorities were – how unlike God he had become
2). So God is dealing with his thinking – actions – priorities in these questions
Jonah 4:10-11 (NASB) Then the LORD said, "You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. (11) "Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?"
1. God argues from the lesser to the greater
"Jonah you're concerned about this little plant even though you didn't create it, or put any effort into sustaining it. Then shouldn't I be concerned about these Ninevites whom I did create and have sustained every day of their life?"
A. Scripture says that God holds the breath of every living creature in His hands
Scripture says He brings both sun & rain so their crops will grow and they will be fed
Point: God’s dealing with Jonah's priorities
A. You cared so much about this plant that you didn't create
You think it is wrong for me to care about these people I did create
B. You cared about this plant because it gave you temporal comfort from heat of the sun
You think its wrong for me to care about eternal comfort of these people from heat of hell
2. God adds a powerful argument about the Ninevite children
Jonah 4:11 (NASB) "Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?"
"Jonah you want to see all of Nineveh destroyed because you think the people are so cruel and vicious. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 who can't tell their right hand from their left"
A. Who is that - Children - so young they haven't learned that simple knowledge yet
"They haven't done any cruel acts you despise the Ninevites for! Should I destroy them?”
B. A city of 600,000 - 120,000 children "God says should I be concerned about this city?"
1). Answer is obviously "YES" the creator should be concerned about those He's created
C. The applications obvious "AND Jonah as my representative you should be concerned too!"
Point: Jonah had thought that God was absurd in saving the Ninevites
A. Now God has shown Jonah that it is his thinking that needed to be corrected
B. Jonah's was selfish - self-centered - concerned about a plant that gave him temporal relief from the sun
1). But he had no concern for the Ninevites escaping the eternal heat from hell
2). God says "I'm not happy with that Jonah you need to change!" And so do we!!!
a). You need to think differently – act differently – have different priorities
iii. application (what we learn from this study)
1. This book confronts our Phariseeism
A. That self-righteous pride and arrogance - we deserve mercy - but that other group over there doesn't
1). No one deserves mercy - but God’s gracious & will extend it to all who will repent
2). The right attitude is humility not pride
2. This book confronts our prejudice
A. What does that mean for us?
1). God is willing to extend mercy to all who repent
a). But they must hear the message about Christ
Rom 10:13-14 (NIV) for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (14) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
B. Who does God send to tell them? US!
1). This book teaches us - He may just send us to people we aren’t particularly fond of
2). Interesting – you don't have to love somebody for God to send you to them
a). Jonah didn’t – but God did deal with that ALONG the way
C. We can’t let prejudice overpower the necessity for obedience
1). God may send you to somebody you don’t like – to reach them & deal with you
3. This book confronts our priorities
A. Jonah’s more concerned about personal comfort than eternal soul AND God dealt with that!
Question: What about us? What's more important than eternal soul of another to us?
A. Hobby, cars, a house, the things of the world? A big bank account?
1). Do we spend all our time, money on things that bring pleasure, entertainment
a). But have no time, make no sacrifice to reach out to the lost?
4. This book should excite evangelism
A. The same reason why Jonah didn’t want to go should thrill us
Jnh 4:2 (NASB) He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.
1). This God loves to save! Who knows what can happen when we just obey Him!
This is what makes evangelism exciting – who knows what He will do!
5. The call
A. If you don’t know God tonight – have not embraced His Son by faith
1). God is calling out to you – He loves to save – loves to have mercy
2). The message is you MUST be saved! You are lost without Christ