Intro : Jonah series; what church is to be, do. Lessons: Moved by God's mercy,
we call world to repent, because sin is damning, and world is powerless under God's
judgment. To witness, we must first listen, then share how God forgives sinners
only through Cross. When we see how God's grace does what (for us) is impossible,
and changes our relationship with Him, we can't help but thank Him! Last week, learned
God has gone to great lengths to show mercy to sinners! Review: Jonah preached
to Nineveh. Ninevites repented, God spared them. Jonah's reaction? "Greatly displeased
and angry!" Have you ever been angry at God? Ever disapproved of God's behavior?
Jonah's Focus: The City! Flashback (v. 5-11) emphasizes author's point.
Start in v. 5! (Read Jonah 4:5.) Jonah travels east of Nineveh, builds a booth,
and waits for fireworks! Jonah's focus on the city! 3x! Obsessive thought, can't
wait! Fearful it won't happen! Why did Jonah hate Nineveh so much? Not just personal
vengeance; Nineveh was entirely deserving of God's judgment! Jonah is focused on
how much Nineveh deserves God's punishment, but what is God focused on?
Jonah's Focus: The Plant! (Read Jonah 4:6-8.) God "provides" a plant, which shades Jonah
from the hot sun. Literally a life saver! "Discomfort" (v. 6) is same Hebrew word
as 1:2's "wickedness/misery/calamity." Plant = sign of God's grace. Jonah: "very
happy" about the plant. Willing to receive, enjoy God's grace. But God "provides"
a worm, to "attack" the plant! When plant dies, God "provides" a scorching east
wind, and the sun "attacks" Jonah. Why is God doing this to Jonah? Jonah has been
focused on his own happiness, but God is focused on showing Jonah his need for God's
Jonah's Focus: God's Unfairness! (Read Jonah 4:1-3, 8.) After seeing his worst fears realized,
Jonah's small comfort, this plant, has been taken away, too! God is unfair! Jonah's
reason for running revealed! Knew Nineveh might repent; that God would probably
forgive them! Jonah turns God's self-revelation into an accusation! (Read Exodus 34:5-7.) "I knew You were too gracious, God!"
Jonah is angry; can't stand God! Echoes Adam, Cain, Elijah at their worst! Not even
interested in living! Jonah is focused on how unfair God is, but he is blind to his
need for God's grace!
God's Patience! (Read Jonah 4:4, 9-11.) God is not threatened by Jonah's anger.
Notice God's patience! "Jonah, you ungrateful wretch, listen to Me now!" No, He
gently leads Jonah with questions. (Engaging; lecture, walls go up!) Question emphasized
thru repetition: "Do you have a right to be angry?" Jonah's "concern" for the plant
is contrasted with God's "concern" for Nineveh. Jonah did nothing to grow plant
vs. God's "growing" the city. Little plant vs. lots of people! God describes how
He sees these people: with a lot of pity! "Right hand/left hand" - OT way of saying
pretty clueless, morally! God is focused on showing Jonah Nineveh's need for God's
The Story's Ending! Book ends with question. How does story end? Depends
Jonah focused on Nineveh's destruction... Maybe you hate a person or people
so much that you believe, act like God shouldn't save them. No?! Both active hostility
and passive neglect reflect hatred! Our attitude toward other people is tied to
our attitude toward God! Won't you let God's grace change your focus?
Jonah focused on his own happiness... Maybe you've lost sight of the big
picture of eternity You're trying to be satisfied with your own safety, wealth,
comfort, family, health. Horizon far too small! Won't you let God's grace expand
Jonah focused on how God is unfair... Are you angry with God? Maybe you feel
that even the tiniest glimmers of God's grace have been choked out of your life.
Won't you let God treat you unfairly, and receive His undeserved grace?
God focuses on showing us our need for His grace. Won't you let God's grace
expand your vision, change your focus? Honestly look at yourself: with hate in your
heart towards God and humans b/c no one behaves the way you think they should, see
your desperate need of God's grace. And if God is gracious enough to save you, isn't
He is gracious enough to save anyone who humbles themselves and trusts in Jesus?
Tim Keller, Center Church: "The city will challenge us to discover the power
of the gospel in new ways. We will find people who seem spiritually and morally
helpless to us. We will think, " Those people will never believe in Christ."
But a comment such as this is revealing in itself. If salvation is truly by grace,
not by virtue and merit, why should we think that anyone is less likely than
ourselves to be a Christian? Why would anyone's conversion be any greater miracle
than our own? The city may force us to discover that we don't really believe in
sheer grace, that we really believe that God mainly saves nice people-people like
Next Time : Many people are asking difficult questions about Christianity:
Aren't Christians acting arrogantly when they tell people to believe in Jesus? Are
there even valid reasons to believe in Jesus? Isn't the story of Jesus just a bunch
of myths written hundreds of years after people claim He lived? Does it even matter
what a person believes? Next week, we'll begin a series from the book of Acts which
will help to answer these types of questions!