Morning Bible Study
There will be that interesting phenomena known as a “Blood moon” (total
lunar eclipse) on Monday night. It
starts at 11pm, but the moon will actually turn blood red around midnight and
it will stay that way for over an hour.
Tuesday also coincidentally happens to be the Passover. If you want more about the significance of
this and the connection with the end times, check out our study from Joel
2:28-32 (January 26).
Jonah’s ministry began around the year 786 BC
Jonah was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel, and the message of
his early ministry was “conquer”, to encourage King Jeroboam II to enlarge the
kingdom of Israel. (2Ki. 14:25)
The events in our book won’t take place until 759
When Jonah was charged by God to go and preach to
the city of Nineveh, he ran the opposite way toward Tarshish.
When a storm threatened his boat, the sailors tossed him overboard when he told
them that it was his fault for running from God. Jonah found himself in the
belly of a huge fish.
When Jonah finally repented and called out to God for help, the fish
deposited Jonah on the shore.
Once again God asked Jonah again to go to Nineveh,
and this time he went.
Jonah’s message was simple – “In forty days comes judgment”.
Yet that was all the city needed to hear. The people responded to the message, they
turned from their sins, and God did not destroy Nineveh.
You might think this was the end of the story, but it wasn’t…
4:1-11 Anger and Mercy
:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he
:2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord,
was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore
I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are
a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness,
One who relents from doing harm.
:2 Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish
Jonah knew all along that God was gracious and merciful.
He knew this when God first asked him to go to Nineveh.
He was angry with God when he fled the first time, and he’s
angry with God now.
It seems that sometimes there are clear “triggers” to our sin.
These are things push us into acting out our sin.
Sometimes fear is my trigger. I’m afraid that something isn’t going to work out the way I
want it to, and so I act out as a way of relieving that anxiety.
Sometimes it’s a sense of shame.
It might be something in my past that I’m
ashamed of, or it might be a sense of shame that others have tried to put on
me, but either way I act out as a way of finding comfort from that shame.
Sometimes (like Jonah) my sin is prompted by good
I might be resentful at a person for something they
did. I might be resentful at how a
situation turned out.
Jonah was resentful at God because while God wanted to be
merciful to the people of Nineveh, Jonah didn’t want
them to find mercy.
Last Sunday afternoon I heard the very sad and disturbing news that a Calvary
Chapel pastor of one of the largest churches in the U.S. resigned as pastor due
to “moral failure”. Bob Coy has long
been one of my favorite pastors to listen to. I appreciate him not just because he tells
good jokes (and is good at telling them), but his messages are always
thoughtful and full of pretty deep spiritual insight.
Apparently Bob had a problem with pornography and
also had an affair.
There will be some people who will take this and say that
all Christians (and pastors) are hypocrites. But personally, news
of Bob’s sin is a wakeup call for all of us. It scares me to death. If Bob could fall, I don’t
know what hope there is for me.
Even though Bob’s radio show has been discontinued,
some of the Calvary radio stations had the next week’s shows already
downloaded. This is an excerpt of what
was supposed to be on his show yesterday, a message about Samson and Delilah,
and he is talking about the verse from Ecclesiastes:
10:1) Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, And cause it
to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.
The principle Solomon is writing about is that if you don’t take care of the “little things” (like “flies”), it
will turn something that’s supposed to be sweet smelling (your life and
reputation) into a foul odor.
Play Bob Coy audio clip.
On Tuesday, we went to the pastors’ pre-Harvest Crusade
meeting at Anaheim Stadium. Greg Laurie
is close to Bob Coy. Greg had talked
with Bob earlier that morning. Greg
asked Bob if there was anything he would like for Greg to say
on his behalf. Bob said, “Tell
them it’s not worth it”.
Sometimes we try to deal with our sin by working to avoid external temptation.
The alcoholic or drug addict might throw away their stash.
The sex addict might install porn filters on their computer.
These are a good place to start.
The problem is, when there’s
probably something deeper going on inside of you that needs to be dealt with,
and as long as you don’t deal with it, you can always go out and find the thing
that tempts you.
Yet if you want to find true lasting success in your struggle against sin,
perhaps you need to think about the underlying things that are the real
triggers to your disobedience.
You may want to take another look at things like
fear, shame, or anger.
You may not be able to pull it off on your own.
You may need the help of other brothers or sisters, taking that thing that
triggers you and bringing it out into the light.
If you are ready to start moving in the right direction,
come up and ask me or one of the pastors. We know people.
:3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for
me to die than to live!”
:4 Then the Lord
said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
:4 Is it right for you to be
Sometimes, like Jonah, we feel that we have a “right” to be angry.
James warns us:
(James 1:19–20 NKJV) —19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be
swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not
produce the righteousness of God.
:5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the
east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the
shade, till he might see what would become of the
:5 sat under it in the shade
Nineveh (modern Mosul, Iraq) has weather a little like Fresno, except
warmer and dryer.
In the summer, the average high temperature is over 100 degrees.
:6 And the Lord God prepared
a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to
deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very
grateful for the plant.
:7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared
a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered.
:8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east
wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished
death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
:8 God prepared...
prepared – manah – (Piel) to appoint, ordain
The same word appears three times in the passage (vs. 6,7,8).
God is going to give Jonah an object lesson, and it has to do with a plant.
In creating this “object lesson”, you see the phrase “God prepared” three
First God prepared a plant.
Then God prepared a worm.
Then God prepared a hot east wind.
God “prepared” one good thing (plant), and two bad things
The Windy Day
What can you learn on a “windy” day?
It seems Piglet was learning to hang on tight
It’s not so terribly hard when good
things come our way to trust God and give Him credit.
1:17 NKJV) Every good gift and every perfect
gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there
is no variation or shadow of turning.
But it’s not so easy to trust Him when a hot east
wind comes and like Piglet you can’t stay on your feet.
I think that sometimes the “tough times” can be due to our own stupid
Sometimes the tough times can be an attack from Satan.
But sometimes we are left with no other conclusion
than God may have allowed this difficulty into my life.
It was God who “prepared” the worm and the wind.
In reality, no matter what caused the difficult “wind”, a windy day is when
we need to trust Him.
When Jonah’s hot east wind blew, he wanted to quit.
There’s another way to handle a
Job was a man who had lost everything in a great wind. A servant came to
report that …
1:19–21 NKJV) —19 … suddenly a great wind came
from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it
fell on the young people, and they are dead; and I alone have escaped to tell
you!” 20 Then Job
arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and
worshiped. 21 And he
said: “Naked I
came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be
the name of the Lord.”
Job “trusted” God.
He showed it in how he honored God, how he worshiped God.
When Job lost his health as well, his wife told him he
ought to just forget about trusting God.
2:10 NKJV) But he said
to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Job was willing to trust and honor God, even when it didn’t make sense.
Peter also learned about the wind. After
Jesus had fed 5,000 people with a few fish and bread, He told the disciples to
take their boat and He’d meet them on the other side
of the lake…
14:24–33 NKJV) —24 But the boat was now in the
middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night
Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the
disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a
ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them,
saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter
answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me
to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said,
“Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat,
he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he
saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink
he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And
immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to
him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they
got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying,
“Truly You are the Son of God.”
Peter learned that if he wanted to keep from sinking in
the storm, he needed to keep his eyes on Jesus, not on the storm.
Peter would later write about how to handle life when
things seem unjust. He was specifically
talking about how an employee ought to act when their boss was treating them
Peter 2:21–24 NKJV) —21 For to this you were called, because Christ also
suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22 “Who committed no sin, Nor
was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who,
when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not
threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the
tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose
stripes you were healed.
We keep our eyes on Jesus by following His example. We need to follow in His
Thursday night we were reminded
of just how unjustly Jesus suffered when He was scourged, when He received His
Jesus made it through His “windy day”, so can we.
We don’t know what God is doing in the
“wind”. But we keep
our eyes on Jesus and trust that God knows what He’s doing.
:9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for
you to be angry about the plant?” And he said, “It
is right for me to be angry, even to death!”
:10 But the Lord
said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made
it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night.
:11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than
one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right
hand and their left—and much livestock?
:11 persons who cannot discern between
their right hand and their left
It would seem that God is talking about children who aren’t
old enough to know their right hand from their left. These are individuals who
might not be fully mature people, but they are more valuable than a
:11 should I not pity Nineveh
The whole point of this “plant” was to give Jonah an object lesson.
Jonah had come to care about a stupid plant, so much that he wished he
would die when the plant shriveled up.
If it was okay for Jonah to care so much about something without a soul,
something like a plant, then why was Jonah so upset about God caring for an
entire city filled with living, breathing people?
Responding to Mercy
In a way, there are two ways of responding to the mercy of God.
You can respond like Jonah and resent it.
You can respond like Nineveh and receive it.
It’s all very similar to a story that Jesus told (Luke 15:11-32)
Are you angry at sinners like the “older brother”?
Jonah was like that “older brother”
Sometimes when we’ve worked hard at stopping our
own sin, we can become resentful of others who are still caught in sin.
We can say to ourselves, “I have worked hard at getting
where I am today, how come this other person isn’t working as hard as I am?”
We find ourselves acting like Jonah, being angry at God for daring to be merciful to others who don’t work as
hard at their sin as we do.
Don’t forget that God loved the
people of Nineveh so much that He sent Jonah to warn them about their sin.
God wanted to show mercy to sinners.
Do you need God’s mercy like the “younger brother”? (Luke 15:21)
You may be like the people of Nineveh.
It may be that today a light bulb has gone off in your head and you realize
that you need to change.
Change starts with finding the mercy of God.
God doesn’t say, “Clean up your
life and I will forgive you”.
God says, “I will forgive you, and we will clean up your
God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to not only warn
you about your sin, but to die in your place and pay for your sin.
And that’s not all. Jesus rose from the dead to demonstrate the
power He has over sin and death. He
wants to share His power with you and help you overcome your sin.