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God Reveals the Thoughts of Our Hearts

Andrew Mugo
Jonah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:26
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Jonah Part II
Chapters 1 and 2
Outline for Two Series Sermon
Recap of the Story outline.
The story of Jonah unfolds in seven episodes:
A: Jonah's commissioning and flight (1:1-3)
B: Jonah and the pagan sailors (1:4-16)
C: Jonah's grateful prayer (2:1-11)
A': Jonah's recommissioning and compliance (3:1-3a)
B': Jonah and the pagan Ninevites (3:3b-10)
C': Jonah's angry prayer (4:1-4)
D': Jonah's lesson on compassion (4:5-11)
Jonah was one of only four writing prophets that Jesus mentioned by name during His earthly ministry (Isaiah, Daniel, and Zechariah were the others).
But Jonah received more than a mere mention. Jesus actually identified Himself with the prophet’s three-day sojourn in the belly of the great fish, noting it as a foreshadowing of His own death, when Jesus would spend three days “in the heart of the earth,” before His resurrection (Matthew 12:39–41).
Jesus’s identification with the prophet at the lowest point of Jonah’s life finds echoes in the book of Hebrews, where it teaches that Jesus “had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest” (Hebrews 2:17).
THEME: God reveals the thoughts of our hearts

Jonah complies to God’s recommissioning and speaks God’s message which the Ninevites respond by faith (3:1-10)

One question we need to ask at this point is, does Jonah recommissioning means obedience? We will know as we proceed with this 2nd part of the story.
We can identify three changes to the recommissioning text here (31-3a)
One, instead of being commissioned to preach against the Ninevites, Jonah is recommissioned to preach to the Ninevites.
Two, instead of preaching "because their wickedness has risen before me (God)," Jonah is recommissioned to preach "the message I am (God) about to give to you."
These two changes open up to the possibility that the judgment against the Ninevites that we anticipated based on the opening verses of the book might not come to realization.
Three, instead of disobeying by getting up and fleeing to Tarshish, Jonah complies with God's recommissioning by getting up and going to Nineveh. Will get to know if it was obedience or compliance.

Jonah and the Pagan Ninevites (3:3b-10)

God's sparing of the sailors (1:4-16) foreshadows his sparing of the Ninevites, and God's heart for the nations continues to emerge in the unfolding of the narrative.
Nineveh is once again described as a "great city." It was no doubt "great" owing to its size, but it was also "great" in that it was important to God, something that Jonah was not really prepared for.
How could a pagan nation characterized by terror be important to God?
On his first day in the city, Jonah delivers his message of doom for Nineveh with words that were clear and to the point, "Just forty days and Nineveh will be overturned."
The following are several characteristics of the response of the Ninevites to God's word through Jonah.

1. The response was immediate.

No committees to scrutinize Jonah's credentials.
No weighing of the pros and cons.
No deliberating over the likelihood that the message was true.
Just "Then the people of Nineveh believed in God."
The immediacy is also seen in how quickly the king responded when the word reached him.

2. The response was sincere.

By setting (mixing) the message and the response of the people without mentioning yet the decree of the king, the author emphasis for us is that the people of Nineveh responded from their heart to the message of Jonah and not just to the decree of their king and his nobles.

3. The response was pervasive.

In describing the people's response, the author tells us that they repented "from their big ones to their little ones."
Regardless of the particular meaning of this phrase, the main point is clear. The merism (indicate completeness) means that everyone responded.
This pervasiveness is emphasized in the king's decree, which calls on "man and beast, herd and flock" to mourn and pray and turn from wickedness.
The entire city is involved in the response to the message.

4. The response was hopeful.

"Who knows?" says the king.
With these words the king expresses hope that the Ninevites might not "perish."
With apparently very little knowledge of the character of the God of Israel, at his word of divine judgment the Ninevites respond with a faith that is remarkable in its immediacy, sincerity, pervasiveness, and hopefulness
Let’s hear Jonah’s reaction in his prayer.

Jonah had no compassion while God had compassion for the Ninevites (4:1-11)

Jonah was angry because of Ninevites faith (4:1-4)
In the previous scene the Ninevites free themselves of their הָ עָ ר"( wickedness").
In response God got rid of his הָ עָ ר"( the trouble that he had threatened to bring against the Ninevites for their wickedness").
The result was that neither the Ninevites nor God were any longer associated with הָ עָ ר"(wickedness/trouble").
Because of this Jonah experiences deep הָ עָ ר"( troubled").
How ironic that in response to the Ninevites and God freeing themselves of their הָ עָ ר") wickedness/trouble"), Jonah became filled with! ("trouble ("רָ עָ ה)!
In his prayer Jonah explained to God why he fled to Tarshish when God commissioned him to go to Nineveh: He knew God's nature.
Jonah knew that God was gracious and compassionate, patient, and full of covenant commitment, and would change his course of action and not bring the trouble that he had threatened.
("wickedness"). So, we are surprised, even shocked, at Jonah's response of anger at God's compassion instead of being delighted.
In spite of how silly and senseless Jonah's response to God's compassion toward the Ninevites was, Jonah remained the son of God's faithfulness.
The scene closes with God gently asking Jonah if Jonah was justified in being so angry.
Let’s turn to the last text and find Jonah’s response to God’s question.
Jonah's Lesson in Compassion (4:5-11) Read.
Jonah 4:5–11 ESV
Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
This final scene is the only scene that does not match another scene, so it stands out as the concluding scene of the story.
The question raised at the beginning of the story as to what will happen to the Ninevites has been answered.
We expect that the question raised as to what will happen to Jonah will be answered in this concluding section
A: Jonah's desire for the city (4:5)
B: The Lord prepares plant (4:6a)
C: Jonah is happy (4:6b)
B': The Lord destroys plant (4:7-8a)
C': Jonah is angry (4:8b)
B'': The Lord asks (4:9)
C'': Jonah is angry (4:9b)
The Lord's desire for the city (4:10-11)
These verses are contrast between Jonah's heart and the heart of God.
In Jonah's heart we see a deep desire for destruction of the city (Jonah 4:5), while in God's heart we see a deep desire for the sparing of the city (Jonah 4:11)
We see Jonah's heart for the city in Jonah 4:5. Having just been asked by God if Jonah was justified in being angry at the sparing of the city. He had turned on his heels and walked out of the city.
He sat down on the east side of the city, where he would be exposed to the hot desert wind that would blow from the east and that was frequently experienced as a form of divine judgment (see Psalm 48:7; Isaiah 27:8; Jeremiah 18:17; Ezekiel 17:10; Hosea 13:15).
Apparently, Jonah had been sitting east of the city for a long enough time for the sun to rise and the heat of the day to make him quite uncomfortable.
So, he built a shelter for himself to escape the heat of the day. Knowing that the city had been spared, Jonah sat hoping against hope that in the final hour God would yet relent of his relenting and destroy the city any way. But God, in keeping with his compassionate nature, God provided a plant to deliver Jonah from his הָ עָ ר ("wickedness/trouble").
The Lord wanted to deliver Jonah not only from his external heat ("trouble") but also from his internal heat ("wickedness"), just like he had delivered the Ninevites from their "wickedness/trouble."
When Jonah experienced the compassion of the Lord in this way, he was very happy (Jonah 4:6) in striking contrast to Jonah being very troubled when the Ninevites experienced at the compassion of the Lord (Jonah 4:1). Jonah was still true to his name, "silly and senseless."
The compassion of the Lord does not always come in a gentle fashion, however. At dawn the next day the Lord appointed a worm that struck the plant so that it dried up and would no longer provide shade for Jonah.
Next the Lord appointed a scorching east wind, a hot desert wind that combined with the blazing sun to drain Jonah of his emotional and physical strength.
Jonah was now so deeply troubled that he said he was better off dead than alive. the Lord asked Jonah if he was justified over the destruction of the plant (Jonah 4:9).
Jonah's response that he was justified to the point of death indicates that Jonah had not yet learned the lesson that God wanted him to learn.
The Lord tried one final time to get to Jonah's heart, and here we arrive at the climax of the story (Jonah 4:10-11).
The Lord began by pointing out that Jonah was after all a compassionate person. He asked Jonah for permission to have compassion on the great city of Nineveh, arguing that Nineveh was a city that the Lord had expended much energy over and that for many years, providing things like sunshine and rain and livestock and grain.
In contrast to the 1 plant that Jonah had compassion on, the Lord wanted to have compassion on 120,000 people.
Jonah's compassion for 1 plant that he had done nothing for and had known for only a day in contrast to the Lord's compassion for a 120,000 people whom he had cared for years.


What are our hearts like? Are our hearts like Jonah's, hearts that are happy at the grace and compassion of God extended to "us" and angry at the grace and compassion of God extended to "them," to those who do not "deserve" this grace and compassion?
We like Jonah are to one degree or another and from one time to another out of being in agreement with the heart of God.
And yet, we remain, like Jonah, "benAmittai," the sons and daughters of God's faithful love.
May our reflection on the story of Jonah deepen our gratitude for the faithful love and compassion of God extended to us. And having experienced more of God's love and compassion, may our hearts become more and more like his
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