24 February 2008

Jonah 4

Jonah's Anger at the Lord 's Compassion

1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."

4 But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"

5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."

9 But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"
"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die."

10 But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"


Sermon notes from UCC: February 23, 2008.
(Recap: In Jonah chapter 3, the city of Nineveh as saved [not destroyed].)

Jonah 4: It's Me or Them
I. God Forgives
Jonah knows this.

4:2...I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
He has heard prophets speak about the Lord. He knows the Lord. He quotes the Lord himself.
Exodus, chapter 24: God says this. Numbers 14. Nehemiah: the Levites say this. David says it in Psalm 86, 103, and 145.

You might be Jonah if... there's someone God has forgiven that you haven't. Jonah threw a tantrum, but God didn't punt him back into the belly of that fish. He waited on him. God forgives. How about us?

II. God Provides
So far in the book of Jonah, God has provided a fish, a vine, a worm, and an east wind. Summers in Mesopotamia average 110 degrees. The east wind is called a "sirocco." It could increase the temperature 16-22 degrees. Put that on top of the 110 already. God saw that Jonah was starting to celebrate his own pity. He wanted Jonah to move. The worm eating his shade was to get him to move. Jonah stayed put.

You might be Jonah if...you won't go serve the people to whom God has sent you.

When we start celebrating our own pity, it's time to move.

III. God Teaches
God questions Jonah twice, "Are you right?" He asks. "Are you right to be mad?" Ask yourself this when you are angry. God used a plant to show Jonah the big picture. The plant brought him relief. God used Jonah to show the people of Nineveh the big pictures. Jonah brought them relief. (v. 10-11) God cared.

You might be Jonah if... you've ever missed the big picture for the sake of your own.

What matters to us? Are we concerned about others? What message do we take them? Jonah went because God told him to. God told us to. (Matthew 12:41 and 28:16-20)
Are we waiting for God to provide a fish?

Jonah left the book unfinished. He didn't respond to God. He was saying, "My story is not done." This is where we come in. There are still things to be done. Our story continues 30 minutes from now, tomorrow, a week from now.

Jonah said to God, "It's them or me." God said, "Are you right? I want both."


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