Jonah: Running From God 4
Jonah 3:10: “When God saw what they did
and how they turned from their evil ways,
he relented and did not bring on them
the destruction he had threatened.”
Chapter 4: But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.
[A.A. Milne: “The Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief—call it what you will—than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counter-attractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.”
This is the story of humanity & sin in a nutshell:
our own way/opinion/perspective is right, God’s Truth is wrong.
We don’t like the idea of hell, eternal judgment,
we don’t like God calling sinful
certain beliefs/actions that we love/cherish/support,
we don’t approve of all of God’s actions in the Bible,
so we throw out the Bible or the parts we don’t like
and essentially create a god made in our own image.
Only the LORD knows how many church-attenders do this
& give the name of God/Jesus to their false god creation.
Oh we need His help/transformation daily!
Tim Keller: “Often what seem to be our deepest desires are only our loudest.”
God’s response seemed wrong to Jonah,
& he went with his feelings (leading to anger & bitterness).
We often feel things that seem so right, & we go with our feelings
instead of God’s Word & end up angry & bitter & suffering under our sin.
Jonah’s anger came from elevating his opinion over the LORD’s Truth;
like a twisted/dislocated arm causes pain,
so we get angry/bitter/discontent when we twist God’s Word &
dislocate our opinion—what we think/how life seems—
from what God has said/how life is.
- Imagine babies in the womb disconnecting themselves from the umbilical cord because they wanted to feed themselves. This is what we do when we disconnect our opinions/feelings from submission to God’s Word.
We make our perspective more important than God’s directive.
We flip it, putting our opinion above God’s Truth;
we might as well walk around on our hands all day
& put our feet above our heads.
This only leads to us passing out unconscious…
Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
Isaiah 53:6: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Judges 21:25: In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit
[or what was right in their own eyes].
Matthew 16:21-24: “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things
at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law,
and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said.
“This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!
You are a stumbling block to me;
you do not have in mind the concerns of God,
but merely human concerns.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple
must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Isaiah 45:9-12: “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’
Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?
10 Woe to the one who says to a father, ‘What have you begotten?’
or to a mother, What have you brought to birth?’
11 “This is what the Lord says—the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children,
or give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.”]
Back To Jonah:
2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home?
That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing 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, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
[Jonah knew the Truth about the LORD, but Jonah wasn’t enjoying the Truth;
this is what happens when we don’t learn to enjoy the LORD—
we get angry at Him, we run from Him, we ignore Him,
we chase idols, we make self-destructive decisions.
How do we delight in the LORD?
Admit that we don’t delight in Him, that we treasure so many other things:
Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Understand what He has done for you:
Isaiah 61:10: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…”
Philemon 1:6: “I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in
deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.
I’m working on a list of the details of our inheritance in Christ,
the fine print benefits of salvation,
the promises of God that we are to cling to. I hope to share that soon…
This doesn’t mean that we will necessarily enjoy every moment of our lives,
this doesn’t mean that our Father will make every second
light & easy & happy & comfortable.
- My final year of high school cross country, our coach put us through interval training that nearly caused us to throw up. He didn’t mean to injure us, but he did intend to break us down so that we peaked at the end of the season.
- My final two races that year were personal records. Did I love & enjoy every moment of the interval training? Not really. Did I enjoy the results such training produced? You bet. And guess what I remember/focus on all these years later: my final two races and the joy of peaking at the end. I barely remember the pain/discomfort of the training. That is what it means to delight in & enjoy the LORD…
Back to Jonah:
4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
5 Jonah had gone 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.
[Jonah took care of himself,
he was concerned about his comfort but not his character.
He focused on his earthly safety, but not the Ninevites eternal safety.
He wanted to sit & watch what would happen to the city—Jonah’s will be done—
instead of going to & investing in the city—God’s will be done.
6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah
to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort,
and Jonah was very happy about the plant.
7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm,
which chewed the plant 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, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant,
though you did not tend it or make it grow.
It sprang up overnight and died overnight.
[Jonah’s concern for the plant was really concern for himself;
he noticed/treasured the plant because of what he got from it;
he wasn’t concerned about the LORD Who gave him the plant—the Giver—
but rather the gift, the plant, & how it benefitted Jonah.
That’s lust, not love.
My dear friends, we don’t just live where we live
for what we get out of living there;
We live here to represent Christ here,
to be salt & light in this city & bless it with His Gospel!
We must cry out to the Holy Spirit to give us
awareness of & compassion for the suffering around us,
whether the Ninevites know they’re suffering or not.
If they are not in Christ, forgiven & adopted & made new, they suffer.
We must not sit back hoping to watch the city & its people
crumble around us,
or sit in our bunkers (“at least we’re safe!”)
ignoring the fair consequences coming
for those who ultimately reject Jesus, the One greater than Jonah.
We need our Father’s transformation & each other’s help
to shine each day,
to highlight Christ Jesus & His Good News in our daily lives.
Without compromising the Truth,
we need awareness that notices,
compassion that feels, &
mercy that ACTS & lives out the awareness & compassion.
We need spines of steel and hearts of cashmere…
Please click HERE for a video on this from John Piper.]
11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh,
in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people
who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
[Beautiful lesson…Hebrew verb translated “show concern” means:
“to show pity, mercy, have compassion, spare”
(NIV Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, p. 1934).
Jonah wanted to spare the plant—he had concern for it—
though he didn’t plant it, care for it, make it grow.
Jonah had intense emotion regarding the plant.
He cared more for nature than for the ones created to care for nature…
God the Teacher is connecting to the experience of his student, Jonah:
Thus, since you care for this plant,
shouldn’t the LORD have even more concern over the Ninevites
whom He made in His image,
whom He has been caring for everyday of their lives?
Shouldn’t the LORD have concern over their rebellious behavior,
shouldn’t He grieve, have deep emotion & compassion over
the judgment that they deserve &
the mercy He delights to give?
Ezekiel 33:11: “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord,
I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked,
but rather that they turn from their ways and live.
Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’
Matthew 23:37-38: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets
and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed
to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.
38 Look, your house is left to you desolate.”
My dear friends, one of my hopes over the last four posts
is that we’ve asked the LORD—& He’s shown us—
the ways we are similar to Jonah,
the ways we are similar to the Ninevites.
- The ways that we run from our Savior—His will & plan for us,
- the ways that our hearts are hard toward certain individual/groups of people,
not wanting them to be saved/forgiven/blessed/embraced by Christ,
- or that we are not in Christ, that we are in full rebellion against Him
& have not repented & trusted in Jesus alone to forgive & adopt us.
My hope is that the LORD has humbled us all in different ways.
He’s done so to me…
So I want to finish this short series by encouraging you:
if you are in Christ by grace alone thru faith alone,
there are deep blemishes/sins in us,
we as jars of clay are deformed in different ways.
But our Father is the Master Potter &
He is in the daily process of forming, reforming & conforming us
to look/act/believe/think/live like His perfect Son Jesus.
Jeremiah 18:1-6: “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord:
2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.”
3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.
4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands;
so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said,
“Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord.
“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”
Please watch this video on master potters & notice the following:
- material used—clay; common, unhelpful for growing crops,
walked on, overlooked.
- the sharp carving & cutting that must happen for transformation
- the focused care & attention given to the clay by the potter—
- the dunking of the clay in liquid
(I’m drowning, Lord Jesus! What are You doing!?)
- the furnace: necessary part of transformation process;
- potter carefully places pottery IN the furnace,
- potter goes inside furnace WITH the pottery,
- potter attentively watches the pottery while it is in the furnace
- potter carefully increases the temp, adds the wood,
seals pottery IN the furnace
- potter carefully removes pottery from furnace—look at the transformation;
we never would’ve guessed that walked on & overlooked clay
could be so transformed
- photos are being taken of the pottery as it’s removed from the furnace,
but only to increase & spread the fame of the potter.
The parallels between our transformation & the pottery is deep & profound.
Please use this time to be with the LORD
& confess & repent of ways you’re like Jonah…or like the Ninevites…
or use this time to cry out to Jesus for the 1st time as your Savior & King.
Jeremiah 29:7: “ 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city
to which I have carried you into exile.
Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Let’s go out into Ninevah with our Father’s message—the Gospel—
in our hearts, on our lips & thru our hands.
Let’s show & tell the eternal prosperity offered thru His Son Jesus:
Isaiah 45:8: “You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
I, the Lord, have created it.”