28 Jun Jonah #4 – Lessons From An Unhappy Camper (Jonah 4:1-11)
– Howdy Pastor Mark Driscoll here and I’m happy to report that we are now giving away the Jonah Sermon Series of Fishy Tale about a faithful God. We take four weeks and go through one of the most interesting, curious, peculiar, well known and hotly debated books of the Old Testament. Looking at God’s reluctant Prophet. We’re calling it a Fishy Tale About a Faithful God. It’s a four week study of the Book of Jonah. Verse by verse, you can find it in audio and video format at markdriscoll.org. If you sign up for the leaders letter, you’ll also receive about a 12,000 word research brief and introduction for those of you who want to go deeper into the Book of Jonah and for those who are going to be preaching and teaching it as well. As always, just very grateful for your support, a gift of any amount, and a prayer of any kind are always appreciated. You can find everything at markdriscoll.org. All right, big, big day. We finish the Book of Jonah today. If you’ve got your Bible, go to Jonah 4. That’s where we find ourselves today. We’ve been looking at the story of Jonah and if you’re new, let me capture up to speed Jonah 1: God speaks to Jonah. Jonah 2: Jonah speaks to God. Jonah 3: God speaks through Jonah to the great city of Nineveh, and today God and Jonah sit down and have a bit of a conversation. So in Jonah 1: God told his prophet Jonah, “Leave the nation of Israel go to the nation of Assyria, and preach against this evil city called Nineveh.” And you and I may not understand, but it’s basically modern day Iraq just outside of Mazal Iraq. And these are the great, great, great grandfathers of ISIS and the Taliban. Not really friendly toward God’s people. Jonah does not wanna obey the Lord and so he literally runs the opposite direction jumps on a ship to flee as far and as fast as he can from God’s presence. God sends a massive storm, almost sinks the ship. The sailors on board do not worship the God of the Bible, but they’re very afraid. They asked Jonah, “What God do you worship and why has this calamity come upon us?” Jonah says, “Basically I’ve sinned against God. God’s unhappy with me. So to cause his wrath to be subdued, take me literally throw me overboard, and I’ll surrender to the will of God.” So they seem to get converted. And these sailors start to worship the God of the Bible. They throw Jonah into the sea, and he surrenders himself to the will of God. God then sents a fish to pick up Jonah. I’ve said this before, but this is the great theme of the Bible. We run and God pursues, and don’t get too distracted by the fish that’s just a cab, and Uber or Lyft. That’s just God’s way of picking up Jonah and taking him to the place that he ultimately wants Jonah to be. So then in Jonah 2 he’s praying and wrestling and talking with the Lord. And then at the end of chapter two, he literally gets vomited out onto the land. The story then continues that he makes his way into the great ancient city of Nineveh and he preaches a mere five words in Jonah 3. It’s basically “40 days you will burn.” That’s basically all he says. Just a short tweet drops the mic leaves that’s all he’s got for the city of Nineveh. Does the minimum, doesn’t really seem to love these people be too enthusiastic toward them. And God does something extraordinary. I’ll read it to you. Jonah 3:10. “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented to the disaster that he said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” And so Jonah just drops a mere five words and what happens is the biggest revival perhaps in the history of the world. You’ll see at the end of Jonah 4, I don’t wanna give it away. But 120,000 people came forward for the altar call. You ever seen Billy Graham? I hate to interrupt your nap, come on, participate. If you ever seen Billy Graham?
– [Congregation] Yes.
– Billy Graham preaches and then there’s an invitation imagine 120,000 people came forward. Now what we’ll see is Jonah’s reaction. Here it is. Here it is. Jonah 4:1, “but it displease Jonah exceedingly.” Imagine Billy Graham up front at the altar call here comes under 20,000 of these like, “I hate this. Every time they come forward, they get their sins forgiven. They avoid hell, they’re not going to be kindling like I was hoping this is very frustrating.” He’s the Billy Graham in the Old Testament, and he’s angry that people are getting saved. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was what? Angry. I mean just you’ve gotta see this. There are parts of the Bible that are funny because here’s what happens. We take ourselves sometimes very seriously, and God doesn’t. And here’s a moment where Jonah is taking himself very seriously but it’s a little bit funny. And he prayed to the Lord and said, “Oh, Lord, is this not what I said when I was yet in my country? So remember when I was back over in Israel before he put me in the fish and had me thrown up remember that back in the good old days? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish for I knew…” here’s the problem, “that you’re a gracious God.” That’s the problem we have. “You’re nice to people. You’re merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster. Therefore now Oh Lord, please take my life for me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” He’s angry. How many of you have been or are angry at God? A little disappointed, a little frustrated. “I thought you do a better job. And I told you some stuff that you could do and you didn’t do those things. And instead, you decided to do some other things. And I’m a little frustrated with you because you’re supposed to be good at your job and you’re not very good at it.” He’s a little angry. He’s a little upset with God. Here’s the point I wanna start with. Pay attention to your anger. Pay attention to your… What makes you angry? what gets you angry? What keeps you angry? And that ultimately reveals our heart. “Why do I get angry about these things?” And how many of us we can identify with Jonah that not only have we been angry, but maybe we’ve even been angry with God. Now we may not verbalize it quite as clearly as he has. And here’s the question I would ask when you get angry are you angry about something that God is angry about? See, it’s not a problem to be angry. The Bible says, “In your anger, do not sin.” You and I will get angry, but when we get angry, it’s an indication of our heart. And we’ve gonna ask ourselves, “Am I angry about something that God is angry about?” In this instance, God is glad that people have turned to him. But Jonah is angry that people have turned to him. So Jonah is angry about something that God is glad about. And sometimes God will allow something to happen in our life or cause something to happen in our life, and it makes him glad but it makes us angry, then we need to examine our heart and say, “Why is my heart not in alignment with God’s heart?” And what Jonah is struggling with here is number one for himself the sense of entitlement that we can all have. “God I belong to you.” I studied him. He’s a learned man. He studied the scriptures. This is like a guy who went to Bible College, went to seminary, you know, stayed pure until he was married, you know, abstain from all vices was very morally upright compliance and obedience. And he has this sense that God kind of owes him a little bit. “God, I’ve obeyed all the rules. Why don’t you obey some of my rules? I’ve done everything you’ve told me to do. Why don’t you do a few things that I tell you to do? I didn’t wanna go to Nineveh. I wanted to stay in Jerusalem. I didn’t wanna go to Assyria I wanted to stay in Israel. I didn’t wanna talk to these people. I don’t even like these people.” You get it? And sometimes religious people and we all have this sort of Jonah component of our heart, we can think that we are ones who have caused God to be entitled toward us. “I have a right to some things. I’ve done my part you do your part.” The other thing he’s struggling with, is he has entitlement from himself but struggling with God’s grace to others. How many of you when somebody is blessed you get a little jealous. When somebody’s life goes good, you get a little frustrated. When somebody gets something that you don’t get you get a little annoyed, right. You’re single, they’re married. You’re married, they’re single. You’re jealous, right. Right. You’re jealous. So what he’s struggling with here is his own heart where he’s angry toward God because he has this sense of entitlement to be frustrated at God’s grace to others. The other thing I would say is pay attention to your despair. What makes you sad? When emotions come, it’s good to pause and ponder where those emotions are coming from and what motivates them. He is despairing. He says, “I’m so despairing, I want to die.” Now, sometimes this can be depression, where we sort of withdraw, we retreat, we give up. You know what, “Life’s not working. I’m just going to exit stage left.” Sometimes this is suicidal thoughts, literally wanting to die. And that’s basically what he’s telling God. “I wanna die but I don’t think you’d be happy if I kill myself. So how about we make a deal and you kill me instead?” That’s his deal with God. And some of us are very religious. And so what happens is when we really want to die we start studying what we call End Times Theology. And End Times Theology is Lord Jesus. “When are you coming back in a set everybody on fire and give me a happy place to live forever?” That’s the Christians version of suicide. It’s like, ‘Well, I don’t wanna kill myself but kill all of them and make it better.” Now when you get angry or you get despairing, you’ve got to examine your heart and ask, “Why?” Now, here’s the deal. True or false? He has good theology about God. Theos is God, ology is the study so he has a good theology. He has a good understanding of God. Here’s what he says. “I knew that you’re a gracious God and merciful” Is that true or false?
– [Congregation] True.
– True, okay. slow to anger, long work. True false?
– [Congregation] True.
– True, true. Abounding in steadfast love, true or false? True, okay. And relenting from disaster true or false? He has a good theology and about heart. Some of you have wronged Him at all. If you just have a good theology, everything will be okay. You can have a good theology and a bad heart and everything’s not okay. He knows who God is. He just doesn’t like him. You understand that? He knows who God is. He just doesn’t like him. And what he’s actually quoting from is a section of Scripture. I’ll read it to you. It’s actually really important. So there’s a story in Exodus 34. Jonah’s familiar with it. He’s a Bible guy. He studied it, he knows it. He’s actually quoting it verbatim from memory. And in this section, what happened was there was a guy named Moses who was leading God’s people, and he went up to mountain to pray to the Lord. And while he was absent, the people created a golden calf, and they committed idolatry and they all worship the golden calf. How many of you remember the story? Some of you do, okay. Moses comes down, and he sees that God’s people are committing idolatry and they’re worshiping the golden calf rather than the God who delivers them. And what God does is God in that season, in that instance, in that scene, God comes and reveals himself. He tells us, he tells them who He is. And this is different because we have a lot of speculation where people say, “I think God is like this. I think God is like this.” This is Revelation where God says, “Let me tell you who I am.” And when God tells us who He is, He’s telling it to people who are supposed to be God’s people, but they’re disobeying. He’s telling it to the Israelites, but they’re behaving like the Ninevites. They’re not good people. They’re bad people. They’re not doing the right thing. They’re doing the wrong thing. And what God speaks to them and tells them who He is. And I’ll read this verse in just a moment. This verse of the Bible becomes the verse that is quoted more often than any other verse in the whole Bible. So what this means is, this is the most popular verse in the whole Bible. And that’s the one that he quotes. It’s Exodus 34:6-7 “The Lord passed before him,” that’s Moses, “and proclaims” so now God tells us who is “the Lord the Lord, I’m God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But who will by no means clear the guilty.” He doesn’t have bad theology, he has a bad heart. It’s not that he doesn’t know who God is. He doesn’t like what God does. How many of us can identify with Jonah? And part of his issue here, quite frankly, we would use this language today is one of racism. “God, I like it when you’re loving to us, but not to them. I like it when you’re merciful to us, but not to them. I like it when you forgive us, but not them.” You get that? So he doesn’t want God to be consistent with all people. He wants God to play favorites with his people. How do we get to the point of racism? I’ll give you three ways. There are many more number one, you’re hurt becomes hate. A person or a group of people hurt you, so rather than forgive them, you hate them. So you’re hurt becomes hate. In this instance, these are Syrians. They were a nasty mean people. They lived in a fortified city that meant that they had a wall around their city and you couldn’t attack them and you couldn’t get to them. They were protected. And they were a military empire. They were probably the most powerful military empire on the earth in their day. They’re powerful. They’re rich, they’re arrogant, they’re blood thirsty. These are the guys who roll into town like terrorists. They behead the men, they abandoned all morality. They abuse the women, they enslave the children and they take all the plunder home. And they’ve sought to destroy God’s people on at least three occasions historically. And it seems possible if not probable, that for Jonah his hurt became hate. Imagine if there was a group of people that assaulted you and ruined your family and killed your business and sold your possessions and men took your wife and enslaved your children. And God said, “Go knock on their door and show the four spiritual laws with them.” You’d be like, “I’m not, no send somebody else. I hate those people because they’ve hurt me.” Sometimes racism comes because our hurt turns into hate. Sometimes our preferences become our prejudices. Meaning, this is how we do it. That’s not how they do it. It’s not issues of sin, but it’s issues of style and culture. And we may think that my preferences or prejudices, meaning, the way we do life in our culture is different than the way that they do their life in their culture. So as a result, I’m prejudiced against them. And I believe that people should be like me. The story of the Bible is that people shouldn’t be like you and you shouldn’t be like them that all people should be like Jesus. And as you look at the end of the Bible in the Book of Revelation, It says that in the center of all of human history, and all of eternity is Jesus, and all the nations, all the cultures, all the languages, all the races, all the people groups, they gather around Jesus and they worship Jesus. And Jesus is the center of our unity. And as we all become more like Him, we maintain our cultural distinctions but our preferences don’t become our prejudices. Number three, one of the ways that racism creeps in is if you idolize you invariably demonized. One of the greatest theologians in the history of America is a guy named Jonathan Edwards. And he said, “If you idolize, you will demonize.’ Meaning if you idolize your race, you will demonize other races. If you idolize your nation, you will demonize other nations that whatever team or tribe that you are a part of, if you idolize your group, you will demonize the other group. This happens politically on the left and the right. This happens racially with the black and the white. This happens with the rich and the poor this happens with men and women this happens with young and old. This explains generational conflict, amen.
– [Congregation] Amen
– Idolize demonize we’re the good people, you’re the bad people. And they’re thinking, “No, no, no, we took a vote. We’re the good people, you’re the bad people.” And how many of you say, “Man I’m so glad there’s a hell for people like them.” That’s idolize demonize. He’s got an issue here of racism that underlies this, because when God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, relenting toward disaster toward his people. He’s very joyful. When God acts that same way toward other people, he’s very angry and wants to die. And here’s why Jonah is thinking, “They are my enemies” and God is thinking, “You are all my enemies.” And if we’re all God’s enemies and he treats us with love and grace and mercy and patience and compassion, for us to think that our enemies are somehow in a worse position than we are before God has His enemies is to be blind to our own need for God. It’s not just that we have enemies that God has enemies and every one has God’s enemy through sin. And this is how God treats his enemies. And if we’re God’s people we’re to treat his enemies the way he treated us when we were his enemies. Love, grace, mercy, compassion and patience. And here’s how it works. Now, this will hurt but it’ll explain a lot of frustration in your life. Here’s how we like to operate, especially those of us who are more religious, more law keeping, more Bible believing, which Jonah is. Law for you, grace for me, Law for you, grace for me. Law for you. Grace for me. That’s Jonah’s view, “Law for them, set them on fire, destroy them, love me, forgive me, race for me.” Law for them, grace for us. Okay, now if you’re married to this person, I apologize and I’m glad you brought them today. Let me explain how this works. Some people will go to the Bible and say, “Here’s all the rules and laws and I will use them like a hammer to pound you, pound you, pound you, law for you.” “Hey, you broke the rules too. Oh, grace for me. Don’t judge. Nobody’s perfect. Jesus died, put they gun down. Don’t shoot me,” amen. How many of you… This is how religious people operate. They give you law and they want grace. Jonah’s a religious person. He wants God to give everybody else law, set them on fire, burn them to the ground, send them to hell, grace for me. True false? Jonah doesn’t look that good in the Book. He runs from God, he rebels against God, he puts at risk the life of two innocent sailors who didn’t do anything wrong. He walks into town does the minimum just basically tweets out five words, and you’re gonna see in a moment, He really hates these people and still wants them to go to hell. And what Jonah’s telling God is, “These are very bad people, you should just give them law. They’re not good people like me.” And what tends to happen is when we sin, we tend to have a lot of empathy for ourselves. So give yourself a big hug for a minute. We have a lot of empathy for ourselves. And so for Jonah would be well, “They’re Assyrians and they’re mean to us and they tried to destroy us three times and they hate us and they say nasty things and their kids are all mean and they worship the wrong god and they offer child sacrifices and they behead people and put it on the internet. You know, these are just very bad guys.” Jonah, what about you? “Well, you know me my dad didn’t hug me and my personality type is JRK and you know, I’m working through some issues and they haven’t got my meds figured out.” You know, we’ve always got excuses for ourselves. We’ve got a lot of empathy, capacity for ourselves, but not for anybody else. And what God is trying to show here is that He has empathy, love, grace, mercy and compassion for everybody, not just people like you. Not just people like me. It’s not just law for them and grace for me. It’s grace for all. The story then continues. God is patient, loving and hilarious. So here’s the story. “And the Lord said… You notice how God keeps asking questions? You ever had a kid that just threw a fit? Or should ask have you ever had a kid? Kids throw fits. You ever seen a kid just throw a fit for no reason? I was in the grocery store not long ago. Kid complete nuclear meltdown in the store. On the floor, complete nuclear meltdown. Jonah’s like a kid just throwing a complete fit at the grocery store, a complete nuclear meltdown. A good parent walks up to the kid and starts asking questions like, trying to get them to think through what they’re doing. God walks up to Jonah starts asking the questions Do you do well to be angry like, Jonah is this? I know you’re angry. You’re a very… we can tell you’re angry. “Are you angry for a good reason? Jonah went out of the city, and sat to the East of the city and made a booth that’s a tent for himself there. He sat under it in the shade till he should see what happens or should become the city now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah that might be a shade over his head to save him from his discomfort.” I’ll show you what Jonah does. Literally here’s what Jonah does. Jonah goes up to a high place. He’s on top of a mountain, sets up a tent, maybe builds himself a little fire for dinner, grabs himself a camp chair. Right, here’s what Jonah does, sits in his camp chair, knees overlooking the city of Nineveh. What’s he waiting for? God told him in 40 days, if the Ninevites don’t repent, I’m gonna destroy everybody and ruin the whole city. And look at that they repented, but maybe, maybe they’ll go back. Maybe there’s still 39 days, there’s still 39 days for these people to revert back to their old ways. And if they do, then it’ll be like the Fourth of July, and whoosh, everything is gonna just explode and God’s gonna burn them all to the ground. So Jonah’s sitting up on the hill, safe distance away, sitting in his camp chair for 39 days, hoping that their repentance is not real, and that ultimately God would still destroy them. That’s his heart. Okay, and what God does because it’s hot now, I didn’t understand this till I moved to the valley. But have you ever felt a warm breeze? Yeah. Now imagine I mean, I can look out here and I can see Camelback Mountain from where I preach. Now imagine that, Jonah’s up at the top of Camelback Mountain in a lawn chair and there’s no shade and he’s gonna be up there for 39 days in June July August. He’s gonna need some shade, amen. So what does God do? The Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah so that might be a shade over his head to save him from his discomfort. So in a day God’s like, “Jonah, I love you. Here’s a plant.” “Oh, here comes just look at that. It’s a perfect little palm tree with one big palm and it just sits just ever so perfectly over my head. So I could sit here and just pray Lord, please murder those people. While I sit here at the top of Camelback Mountain.” How does Jonah feel about that? The story continues. “So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant.” He was like, “I love this plant. This plant is amazing. This is the best plant of all time. Thank you, Lord, You are a good God. This is a nice plant.” But, okay, the Bible is funny. Religious people don’t know that because they’re not. But the Bible is funny. And God has a sense of humor. It’s sort of a British sense of humor, but it’s still a sense of humor. It’s a little dry. But when dawn came up the next day, how long did he have the plant for?
– [Congregation] One day.
– One day, just long enough to look forward to it. “Dawn came up the next day. God appointed a worm.” This is amazing. “It attacked the plant so that it withered and died.” God keeps sending unexpected things like Jonah. a storm, a fish, a plant and a worm. And you just see it? There’s Jonah, so what’s Jonah gonna do? Here he is in his camp chair at the top of Mount Camp, you know, Camelback Mountain, and he’s overlooking the valley and he’s like, “I hate these people. I still hope they die.” And then he looks at it like, “That’s a weird looking worm.” Plant falls over. How does Jonah feel? Grateful for the one day entitled to 38 more days. When the sun rose, this is awesome. God appointed and haven’t gone, “He needs a nice warm breeze. “That should do it.” God appointed a scorching East wind I literally didn’t know what that was until we moved to the valley. I was like, “That’s not a big deal. Oh, it is” amen. It totally is. About two in the afternoon up at the top of Camelback Mountain, and you’ve been sitting under the blistering sun with a scorching wind all day and you’ve got 37 and a half days to go. You’re in bad shape, amen. And the sun beat down on the head of Jonah. I don’t know if he was bald If so, you guys just know what that’s like, He’s blistered up so that he was what? He’s facing. So here’s stubborn Jonah up in the chair on the top of, you know, Camelback Mountain. And he’s literally having a little war with God. Gods like, “I’m gonna get you to apologize.” And Jonah’s like, “I will not. I will sit here as an act…” Here’s what he’s doing. He is protesting God. That’s what he’s doing. This is his sit in. This is his picket of God. “God I’m gonna sit here in defiance to you. I don’t care if you send in 120 degree day with a scorching East wind and you kill the plant and I pass out and die. I’m not getting out of the chair. We’re gonna have a fight and I’m gonna win.” Obviously, he’s a man. And so ’cause we’re stubborn and we won’t get out of our chair, it’s a real problem. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” We’re nearing the end of the story. How many of you have heard that stories and they lived-
– [Congregation] Happily ever.
– Happily ever. It doesn’t feel like it’s going there, amen. Doesn’t feel like it’s going there. What we get here is we get the equivalent of a counseling session where God sits down with Jonah, and they’re having a conversation. And in this counseling session, the real issue is this. Who’s in charge? It’s an issue of theologically we’d call it lordship. Who’s the boss? who’s in charge? Jonah’s like, “You know what God I’m in charge and you should respect me. I’m sitting here on my throne in a high and exalted place, and there are some things that I need you to do.” And God said, “You know, I was sitting on my throne in a high and exalted place thinking the same thing.” And we’re having a disagreement about who gets to sit in the throne in the high and exalted place and tell the other what to do. It’s an issue of lordship. It’s an issue of sovereignty. It’s an issue of obedience, who ultimately is in charge at this moment? You know, every year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it’s the high holy day for the Jewish people they get together in the synagogue even to this day. They read the entirety of the Book of Jonah. And then in unison, the people say, “We are Jonah.” It’s important for us as God’s people, especially those of us who are Bible believing and theologically inclined and feel like we’ve you know, lived a pretty good life in the sight of God that we say, “You know what, I’m Jonah. I feel like God owes me a little bit and I get angry when things don’t go my way because I have a perfectly good script for my life. And I handed it to God. And He’s just so foolish not to read His lines.” And it’s an issue of lordship. Here’s what I want you to know. We can all be very successful and very miserable. If we don’t have a pure heart. At this moment is Jonah true false is he successful? He is the greatest evangelist in the history of the world. How many of you would just like one day to preach a sermon where 120,000 people came forward for the altar call? You’d like, “That’s a big day I put that on my resume. I would take a photo of that and put it on my social media feed. In fact, I would put it on a T shirt that I would wear every day showing me preaching that sermon. And then I would write a book about the day that I preached that sermon and then they would make a movie about the day that I preached that sermon. And for the rest of my life, I’d be talking about that day.” Jonah is very successful and very miserable, because he doesn’t have a pure heart. And some of us think God, “If I just get what I want, “then I’ll be happy.” And God says, “No, you need to have my heart “and then you’ll be happy with whatever I give you.” The story continues, and it’s a crazy story, amen. This is how we know that God wrote the book and not human beings. If human beings wrote the book, I don’t think it would read like this. I’m thirsty. And the story continues, “That we are all a work in progress. But God said to Jonah- Isn’t it nice He keeps having a conversation with Jonah. Isn’t it nice? We don’t trade you guys in for Pentecostals. I mean, come on, isn’t it nice? Gosh, okay. God keeps talking to him. Now Jonah doesn’t wanna talk to God, but God wants to talk to Jonah. How many of you you’re a parent, you understand this? Because like, “Don’t talk to me.” You’re like, “No, we need to talk about that.” they’re Like, “I don’t wanna hear it.”
– “You need to hear it.
– I’m not listening.
– Well, you’re gonna listen.” Well. You’re gonna listen. God’s like a father. Jonah’s like a bratty kid throwing a fit. But God said to Jonah “Do well to be angry for the plant.” Gods like, “Okay, let’s talk about the plant.” Let’s talk about the plant. Did you like the plant?”
– “I really like a plant there’s a nice plant. Why’d you take my nice plant? Only had it for a day.”
– “Do you have any right to be angry about the plants?”
– “I do have a right to be angry about the plant. It was my plant, I enjoyed the plant, nice plant, you killed the plant you plant murder. That’s not good.” What he just wanted to do was God to kill all the Ninevites and not the plant. You get the point? Let me ask you do you care more about people or things? Okay, gotcha. He cares about things not people. God cares more about people than things.
– “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” He said, “Yes, I do well to be angry angry enough to die.” He was like a kid throwing a fit, amen.
– “Do you have any rights…?”
– “Yes, I have a right to be angry. I’m so angry. I wanna die. I dare you double dog dare you kill me now.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant you have a lot of compassion on the plant. You’re very emotionally attached to the plant for which you did not labor. Did you do anything to get the plant? No, that was a gift. You like getting the gifts you just don’t like when I give gifts to other people? Nor did you make it grow. It came into being in a night and it perished in the night and should I not pity Nineveh that great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons.” Just you know, that’s a huge city in the ancient world. Like where Jesus grew up in Nazareth, I’ve been there. It got maybe 100 people had one well, you had to go pull your water from the well. So you couldn’t have a high population of people. People lived in houses that were about the size of the modern day parking stall, and that even included a little area for their animals. 120,000 people that’s massive. Some commentators, they’re the minority, but they would say, where it says 120,000 persons who do not know the right hand from their left, some would say that might even just be the number of children. ‘Cause if you go to a kid, you’re like, “Which hand is your right?” And they’re like, “Oh, one of these? ” Because they don’t know, right. They just don’t… They don’t know the right hand from their left. This could be a euphemism, or God is saying, “These people are so morally confused. They don’t know right from wrong.” Or it may even refer to just the number of children if so you’re looking at an even larger city. Either way, here’s the big idea. God says, “Look down at that city. There’s a whole lot of people there, at least 120,000.” Here’s what you need to know. God counts every person in every city. God knows every person in every city. God cares for every person in every city.
– [Congregation] Amen.
– He just does. He knows you, He knows you, He knows you, He knows us. He’s got it, He’s got a tally. He’s paying attention. More than 120,000 persons who do not know the right hand from their left and this is so… And so many cows. He’s like, “Jonah what about the cows, the poor cows? If we set the whole thing on fire that’s just so much barbecued. Just think of the cows.” It’s kind of funny, amen.
– [Congregation] Amen. I think it’s funny. You may not think it’s funny but here at the Trinity Church, we’re putting the fun back into fundamentalism. That’s what we’re doing right here. What about the cows? Do you see work? I think God’s having a little you know, “Come on Jonah. Lighten up, you take yourself so seriously. You don’t take me seriously. You don’t take ministry seriously. You take yourself so seriously.” How many of us freak out over little things and lose sight of big things? How many of you like you lose your car keys, that’s it. The end of the world has come you know God is off the throne and the dog needs to be kicked, right. It’s the little things that drive us crazy. And here it’s this little plant rather, that drives him crazy. And so what God is saying is Jonah, “When I’m nice to you, you get very happy. When I’m nice to somebody else, you get very angry at me. Jonah, how come it’s not okay if I’m nice to you and I’m nice to them?” How many of you have God blesses somebody else you get jealous, you get critical, you get covetous. Like “They didn’t deserve that.” God’s like, “You don’t deserve anything.” Well, they’re very bad people. God’s like, “I follow you around.” Right. Right? Jonah does not yet have God’s heart for the people. And he’s really struggling with God’s compassion and God’s forgiveness. Yet it’s God’s compassion that allows him to remain alive. And it’s God’s forgiveness that causes God to continue with him and us. And the story of Jonah is that ultimately, obviously Jonah’s not the hero . If you pick that up Jonah’s not the hero. I mean, can you imagine how weird it was when they wrote this piece of history into the textbooks for the elementary school kids in Assyria? “Randomly we had a great revival kids, and he hated our guts and wanted us all burned to the ground. But his Lord was compassionate, unlike that man that He sent.” I mean, it had to be a weird thing to tell the kids in school as a piece of Nineveh’s history. Jonah is obviously not the hero of the story. This was not obviously done by Jonah’s power. The whole point of the story is that it is ultimately God who saves. As he said, I think it’s in John 2:10 “Salvation belongs to the Lord.” And the story continues, And then along comes the Lord Jesus. And the Lord Jesus, many years later he comes, but he comes with a very different heart than Jonah. he comes not to Nineveh, but he comes to Israel. And what he does is he weeps over the city because he has such compassion for the people. And then the Lord Jesus, He teaches actually, about forgiveness. On his cross, He is not crying out for the Father to obliterate all of his enemies, He is crying out, Father, what?
– [Congregation] Forgive them.
– Forgive them. So Jesus comes with a weeping heart of compassion, crying out that his enemies would be forgiven. He has the completely opposite heart of Jonah. And Jesus Himself teaches about Jonah in Matthew 12:38-41. Some of you have been with us and you understand this. Some of you’re new and maybe you’ve never heard this. People ask did this story really happen? Is this really real? Jesus says that it really happened and it really is real. Matthew 12:38-41, “Some of the scribes and Pharisees answered Him.” So these are some of the religious people coming to argue with Jesus. These are guys who have Jonah’s heart. We’re gonna go investigate Jesus to see where He’s wrong. So we’re not tryna make you religious, religious people killed God. “They say, ‘Teacher we wish to see a sign from you perform circus act, make a miracle, impress us.’ but he answered them. ‘an evil and adulterous generation seeks first sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man has titled himself, the three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, the men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.'” Jesus says the whole story about Jonah pointed to me. “I’m greater than Jonah. I’m here to do greater things.” So let me tell you how Jesus is the greater Jonah. Jonah only cared for his nation but Jesus cares for every nation, amen. ‘Cause we’re not in Nineveh or Israel. I know if you knew that, right God cares for all nations. Jonah ran from Nineveh, but Jesus ran from heaven to the earth. Jonah went to Nineveh unwillingly, but Jesus came to earth willingly. Jonah had a heart of anger, but Jesus has a heart of love. Jonah refuse to dwell with the Ninevites. As soon as he’s done, he goes up far away from them. But Jesus chooses to dwell with us sinners. Jonah waited for his enemies to be punished, but Jesus was punished for his enemies. Goes to the cross substitutes himself. Jonah spent three days in the fish but Jesus spent three days in a grave. Jonah spent 40 days hoping for destruction, but Jesus spent 40 days proving his resurrection. And Jonah sat up on a high place in a little throne and he was just hoping that everyone would be destroyed. And today Jesus is high and exalted in high place, He sits on a great throne, and he invites us all to salvation not damnation, to forgiveness not condemnation, that He is waiting very, very patiently. And his heart is open very lovingly. And the Lord Jesus right now He is seated on a high place and He is seated on a great throne. And you know who’s up there with Him?
– [Congregation] Jonah.
– Jonah. Can you imagine how fun that is? Can you imagine? Can you imagine the Lord Jesus sitted on His throne, Jonah somewhere around there looking down at Jesus loving, saving, seeking healing, forgiving, pursuing people from all the nations. How many times a day do you think Jonah was like, “I am so sorry. I did not see it the way you see it. And now I see it the way you see it. I see that, Lord Jesus, you’re treating other people the way you treated me. Thank you for being gracious with me. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for pursuing me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for making fun of me. And having a little fun with me. I was so self righteous. I was so entitled. I was so proud. I was so independent. I was so stubborn. I was so unloving. I was so wrong.” Right now Jonah is seated or standing somewhere in the presence of the resurrected, exalted Lord Jesus. And I think he’s probably chuckling and shaking his head, just like, “I can’t believe that. Oh, yeah, every time they preach that book down there, I just feel really awkward.” Here’s my question to you. Did Jonah ever change? We know he’s changed now, but did he ever change? I think perhaps he did. Because of the way the story is told. If he did not have a heart change, do you think that the story may have never been written? Or if it was written, it would have been written differently. “My name is Jonah. I’m a prophet. I walked into town five words biggest revival history of the world dropped the mic went home. You’re welcome. Jonah, #Jonah.” It didn’t go that way. The way the story is told, Jonah is obviously painfully, clearly not a good man. And God is clearly a good God. He’s good to Jonah, He’s good to the sailors. He’s good to the Ninevites. He’s good to the King of Nineveh. There are a few occasions in Jonah, like Jonah 2 when he’s in the belly of the great fish and he prays to God, there’s no eyewitnesses. We have a record of what was said and what he experienced. We would not know what happened unless he told us, Amen. Like nobody else was in the fish. There’s not like there’s a guy from CNN and the fish. “Oh, now he’s praying to the Lord. It sounds like a song.” The only way we know it’s ’cause he tells us. How about chapter four was anybody up on the mountain with Jonah? Just God and Jonah had to be the one that told us what he was thinking, what he was saying, what he was doing, what he was feeling. So what happens is Jonah gets brutally honest, and he meets with God. And I believe, eventually at some point over time, like me, like you, like us, he was pretty stubborn. It took a while. He came to see himself as God sees him. And he came to agree with God rather than disagreeing with God. And therefore when he tells the story, he tells you that God is the hero and he is not. So you know what, there’s hope for you, there’s hope for me, there’s hope for us. And what I would ask you to do today, as we’ve spent four weeks examining the life of Jonah, examine your own life. Ask yourself, “Where or how am I running from God in my own life?” Also, “How has God been faithfully pursuing me, loving me, forgiving me, compassionate toward me, and generous toward me?” And if you’re here, and you’re not a Christian, Ultimately what you need to do is stop being angry at God or judging God, passing your verdicts on God or making demands of God, you need to surrender to God and submit to God and trust God, and His name is Jesus Christ. For those of us that are more religious, like Jonah was, we know some Bible, and we think we’re pretty good people, and that God is entitled to us and that things should go the way that we want. We need to as the Jews do, each Yom Kippur War, say, “I am Jonah. There’s some things in my heart that still needs to be dealt with by meeting with God.” And so what we’re gonna do now we’re gonna give you an opportunity to meet with God, but here’s what I want you to do. As you meet with God, I want you to do so with a little bit of humor, a little bit of comedy, a little bit of joy. As we read the story of Jonah, true or false, it’s kinda funny and it points a little bit silly. God wants us to look at our life and to learn to laugh at ourselves. I was wrong shouldn’t have said that shouldn’t have done that, aah. I’m glad they didn’t write a book about that. We’re not preaching sermons about that. And I want us as a people when we come to a place of repentance to come to a place where we don’t just take ourselves seriously, but we take God seriously. And we start to take ourselves less seriously. Why am I so angry? Why do I say that? Why do I do that? Why do I think that? Why am I like that? Man, I’m like a little kid, you know, who won’t go to bed at night and has just thrown a fit and makes no sense at all and just needs to just run to my father and have him encouraged me and embrace me and love me and pray for me and help me ’cause I’m just a little kid who a little bit out of their mind right now. And that’s what I want you to understand. If you read this, and you’re like, “Oh, Jonah was evil, and I am evil.” You’ve missed the whole point. God is loving, gracious, merciful, compassionate and hilarious. Father, thanks for a chance to study this great Book of Jonah. And Lord, this is a historic moment here at the Trinity Church. This is the first Book of the Bible that we have had the opportunity to study in its entirety. Holy Spirit, thank you for inspiring the writing of Scripture. Thank you that we can open and learn and thank you, Lord God for the honesty of Jonah. And Lord, may we follow in his honesty and Lord God as you were compassionate and loving and gracious and merciful to him, so you are to us. And Lord God, it is my purse, we come to meet with you now that we would be honest. But then we also would learn to laugh at ourselves to look back at the silly times in our life, where maybe we felt so angry or so hurt or so frustrated, but it was just so unnecessary. May we Lord God, confess those things to you, turn to you, trust in you and enjoy you, have those burdens relieved by you and walk out of here laughing a little bit and looking at our life as Jonah did in Jesus name, amen.