East Side Church
(Baptist - Disciples of Christ)
201 Spruce Ave.
Sharon, PA 16146
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August 18, 2013
"A Plant and a Pouting Prophet"
Jonah 4

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 grace!

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 grace!

The Story's Ending! Book ends with question. How does story end? Depends on us!

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 your vision?

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 us."

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!

© East Side Church, 2013