Saturday, May 28, 2011
God, R U kidding me? (Part 4)
Text: Jonah 1:2, 4:1-10
The whole book of Jonah sets us up for what is about to happen. Jonah disobeys God and through his own words says, I am deserving of judgment. God shows mercy to Jonah and he praises God for that mercy and re-commits himself to serve God. Jonah goes to a people who have been disobeying God and deserve judgment. God shows mercy on them and here is Jonah again, but instead of praising God, he is angry. The whole book sets this up to show us how absolutely inexcusable Jonah's attitude is at this point. And when we read this, we've got to look at Jonah and say "Where are we in Jonah?"”Is this really how I am?”
Jonah rejoiced in being forgiven, but he wasn't willing to forgive. Many people carry around hate like that. Rejoice at being forgiven, but just are not willing to forgive others. Sometimes it’s a specific person, or a particular incident that has hurt us deeply. We are not willing to forgive and we hope that God doesn't either. We don’t want them to be forgiven. Let's be honest, we want them to pay. We are like Jonah.
Sometimes it’s a group of people, maybe a nation. With all the unrest in the world, maybe it’s a whole nationality that we don't want to forgive. We don’t want to see God bless them.
There are all kinds of things that stick in our hearts that we struggle with. So here we have a prophet, sent by God who is having the similar issues. Jonah had this deep-seated prejudice and hatred for these people, but there is something more going on in Jonah's life. And, we can sense it even if we can't personally identify with this sort of hate; maybe we can identify with the other kind of problem that Jonah is dealing with.
Let's pick up at Verse 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. Then the Lord 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. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so it withered. 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." 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" 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. 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?"
Jonah has been completely comfortable on the hillside waiting for the city to be consumed like Sodom and Gomorrah. Okay, the shade may be gone and its a little hot....but the people have repented. Praise God! Isn't this a good, if not a great thing? What is wrong with Jonah?