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Jonah 4

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 13, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words

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).

Thursday Night:  Movie Night – Video:  The Passion of the Christ

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)

(2 Kings 14:25 NKJV) He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher.

The events in our book won’t take place until 759 BC.

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 became angry.

:1 displeasedyara– to tremble, quiver

:1 he became angrycharah – to be hot, furious, burn, become angry, be kindled

: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 You are a gracious and merciful God

It is well known among the Jews that this is what God is.

This is exactly what God had told Moses about Himself (Ex. 34:5-7)
(Exodus 34:5–7 NKJV) —5 Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. 6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

: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.

Perhaps Jonah hated the Assyrians so much he didn’t want them to be forgiven by God.

Perhaps it was more of a political motivation.

Maybe he didn’t want the Assyrians to prosper because he was aware of the prophecies that they might one day bring judgment on Israel.

No matter how it worked, Jonah’s disobedience in fleeing to Tarshish goes back to his anger.

He was angry way back in his own country when God wanted him to go to Nineveh to preach.
Because of his anger, he disobeyed.  He ran.


Sin’s triggers

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 old anger.

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:

(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!”

:3 better for me to die

Depression.  Anger leads to depression.


Saul, Judas


Keep in mind that Jonah doesn’t take his life in his own hands, he just wishes that God would take his life.

:4 Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

:4 rightyatab – to be good, be pleasing, be well, be glad;  (Hiphil)  to do good to, deal well with; to make a thing good or right or beautiful; to do well, do right

:4 angrycharah – to be hot, furious, burn, become angry, be kindled

:4 Is it right for you to be angry?

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 city.

: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.

If Jonah is on the east side of the city, he might be watching from across the Tigris River.

: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...

preparedmanah – (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 times.
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 (worm, wind).


The Windy Day

What can you learn on a “windy” day?
Video:  Winnie the Pooh – Happy Windsday
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.
James wrote,

(James 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 actions.
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 windy day.

Job was a man who had lost everything in a great wind. A servant came to report that …

(Job 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.

(Job 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…

(Matthew 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 unfairly.

(1 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 footsteps.

Thursday night we were reminded of just how unjustly Jesus suffered when He was scourged, when He received His “stripes”.

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!”

:9 angry…angrycharah – to be hot, furious, burn, become angry, be kindled

: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 gourd plant.

: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)
Video:  Lumo – The Prodigal Son
Are you angry at sinners like the “older brother”? (Luke 15:28)
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.

You may think that you’ve arrived at a place of being fairly “sinless”.  But there is no one more “sinless” than God, and look at how God treated Nineveh.

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 life”.

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.