East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
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August 11, 2013
"The Mercy of God"
Jonah 3:10

Intro: Jonah series reminds us what church is to be, do. Lessons: Moved by God's mercy, we call people to repent. Guard our hearts from sin. Wake up to powerless world under God's judgment. Listening is most effective strategy for witnessing. Cross necessary for God to forgive sinners. See how great God's grace is, can't help but thank Him! God's grace doesn't change some things, does change our relationship to Him! Last week, believing God and repenting of our sins is impossible, humanly speaking, but by God's grace, some of us get it! Jonah has finally warned Nineveh of God's judgment. Surprise! Nineveh repented! What happens? Did God destroy Nineveh after 40 days?

God Sees! (Read Jonah 3:10.) God saw the Ninevites' changed behavior! He saw that, before Jonah's warning, they delighted in wickedness, violence and sinful, selfish pursuits. After Jonah's warning, God saw the Ninevites fasting, giving up wickedness, and humbly calling out to God for mercy. God noticed their behavior! We too easily forget this today! (Read Jonah 1:2.) God sees how we are living! Many people imagine God is distant, disinterested. The beautiful, alarming truth is that He's present!

God Repents?! NIV glosses over Heb: "God repented!" Not of sin! God is entirely holy, unable to sin. God repented of carrying out His just punishment on sinners. (Read Jeremiah 18:1-10.) God set conditions for how He acts when a nation turns from wickedness, or turns from righteousness. God turns depending on how we turn! What happened to Nineveh. Happening to America! If we continue to rebel against God, we can expect God's judgment! But if we turn from wickedness, we have reason to hope that God may have compassion. Many people imagine God is cold, unfeeling. The marvelous truth is that His heart is breaking for us, enslaved to our sin, destined for His judgment

God Takes Action! The Hebrew word for "repent" literally means "moved to pity!" God feels pity over Nineveh's desperate situation. God feels sorry for sinners! And so God extends mercy. Mercy? Mercy is God taking pity on sinful people over their desperate condition, and taking action to deliver them from His judgment. God's pity compels Him to act! God spared Nineveh! Didn't destroy them like He said He would! Many people imagine that God is not involved in this world. The wondrous truth is that, God's great mercy motivates Him to take action!

God Didn't Lie! Nineveh was not destroyed! Does this mean the message God gave to Jonah was wrong? No. God is entirely holy, unable to lie! Remember God's command to Jonah in 3:2: "Proclaim to Nineveh the message I give you!" The message God gave to Jonah had a note of ambiguity! "Forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." Saw last week, echoes Genesis 19; Sodom's destruction, but can also be translated: "Forty days and Nineveh will be turned upside down!" Can also mean a profound change instead of destruction. Either way the Ninevites respond, God's word will be proven true! Many people imagine God is eager to condemn us. The marvelous truth is that God goes to great lengths to show mercy to sinners!

God Shows Mercy to Sinners! But How? God spared Nineveh! But where did God's anger over sin, His just punishment, go? Profound, holy question! Heart of OT is God's self-revelation to Moses. (Read Exodus 34:5-7.) Speaking reverently, it seems to be a conflict between two of God's attributes: His mercy and justice! How does God show mercy to sinners, yet justly judge sin? When God forgives our sin, where does the punishment go? It doesn't just disappear! He takes it upon Himself! Jesus took our punishment, hanging on the cross! (Read 2 Corinthians 5:21.) Many imagine that for God to show mercy to us sinners, costs Him nothing. The amazing truth is that God has paid the ultimate price to show mercy to sinners!

Application: God's mercy is a marvelous, wondrous, beautiful thing! God is not ...distant ...unfeeling ...inactive ...eager to condemn. No! God has gone to great lengths to show mercy to sinners! Showing us mercy even cost God the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. Have you been gripped by the amazing reality of God's mercy? How should we respond to this wondrous, beautiful news? Like Nineveh, we need to repent! Like Jonah, we need to share this incredible news with others!

Next Time : Has there ever been a time when you've been angry at God? Has He ever behaved in a way in which you didn't approve?

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© East Side Church, 2013