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Jonah chapter four is, uh, I love, I love this book. I love the way this book ends. It is not the typical ending that you like to have in any story you read or any movie you watch you like everything buttoned up, tied together, have the warm fuzzies when it’s over and have some sort of heroic charge. Just like I’m going to fill today after the Patriots won the super bowl, you know, so nobody booed that. That’s okay. Haters can hate all you want and it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. How’s Kim? You go, you’re like, I hope he eats just humble pie next league. I don’t care. Put it on public on the radio. It’s going to be online Patriots win the super bowl, but more exciting than that. More exciting than that is I’m really how this book ends because the way that this, this book concludes, I think gives us a lot of hope as individuals in where we are in our walk with God and the security that we can have in that, not because of us, but because of Jesus.
And really your, your relationship to God is the foundation for everything that we are and everything that we do in this world. What are you going to find is throughout this text, throughout this book, Jenna responds with a lot of anger and the action of anger really comes from a place of insecurity. And, and even on the other end, like you may label, you can think of some, maybe some people, it’s not, maybe not name drop here, but they, they tend to be flying off the cuff all the time. And I’m not like them. But as soon as someone brings a charge against you, you might say to yourself, well, I don’t always react the way I should, and so my behavior is justified, right? But really in this story, when you’re going to see Jonah in anger, just retaliating, retaliating, retaliating. You see this consistency in who the Lord is, that that really points some significant things for us and our relationship with God and how how God walks in our lives.
So let me just jump into the texts without telling you everything about the text before you read it. But if you think in this story, Jonah goes to Nineveh. Remember how the story starts? He’s, he’s called to go to Nineveh. He’s like, no way. I know this beachfront property. I’m hanging out there. God, no way am I going to Nineveh. Those are, those are our enemies. I love my people more than I love them and I love my people more than I like following after you. And so because I want to, I want to love my people more. I’m not going where you call me to go. I’m not walking 500 miles into the desert and to this place. These people that have attacked us, they hate us. They’ve done gruesome things. I’m not going there. I’m going over here. See you later. God, God loves Jonah enough.
God loves Jonah unconditionally that he doesn’t allow Jonah to run away. He permits Jonah to, to, to run. But he, you’re never, you’re never so far from the grace of God. And so what we say at the end of Jonah chapter one verse 17 has got appointed a fish and he uses that fish as a way to draw Jonah back to him, draw Jonah back into walking with him, living life with him. And Jonah’s praying and chapter two before the Lord. And eventually what we find in the store is that Jonah obeys God. He goes, uh, he goes 500 miles from his hometown into the area of Nineveh and he preaches this message and 120,000 people come to know the Lord. How do I know it’s a 120,000 people? Well, the end of Jonah tells us it’s 120,000 people. I mean, it’s the kind of thing if Christians are, are, are in the Lord and just carry the heart for God’s, uh, God towards the people in a city, in a Valley, that this is the kind of thing we would just rejoice over. How do you feel Jonah?
Jonah chapter four starts, but it greatly displeased Jonah. Jeez, why don’t you tell us how you really feel? I mean, everyone else is all excited about this and you’re greatly displeased. And then the very next phrase, and he became hangry. All right, John, let’s just get it all out on the table, right next couple of verses. Jonah explains to us his perspective. He, it’s interesting when he, as he explains this, because he has an accurate picture of God, just the wrong attitude, and they say, worship happens when you’re seeking God for who he is and what he desires and these passages, these two verses are the opposite of that. It says in verse two, he prayed to the Lord and said, please, Lord was not this what I said while I was still in my own country. Therefore, in order to forestall this, I fled to Tarshish, the beach I’m gone for. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness and one who relents concerning calamity.
Therefore now, Oh Lord, please take my life from me for death is better to me than life. No, I’d rather be dead really God than honor you and what you desire because I know what your nature is and then God’s response. I don’t know how many lives Joanna has, but he’s quickly using them up here. It’s just like got you. Look at this story like, Hey God, now you’re going to get mad right now. You’re going to hate Jonah. Finally, he’s, he’s pushed you over the limit and you’ve boiled over and you’re just so frustrated him. I can see it’s coming here and then in verse four you get God’s response. The Lord said, Jonah, do you really have a good reason to be angry? No.
Let me just let the kettle a bag here in scripture when got us questions like this, he already knows the answer. So when God poses this question to Jonah, we can go ahead and presume by the context of what we understand who God is and his nature and being all knowing. He’s not asking this question for him. So God’s response and frustration towards Jonah in this passage. If he were fed up with Jonah, Jonah had pushed him past some point, his, his reaction to this would be just a way with Jonah. But I’ve shared without the content, through the context of this book of the story of Jonah, that the point of Jonah, I don’t even see it. It’s not, it’s not about 120,000 people in Nineveh though. That’s great. It’s not about a fish though. That’s pretty cool. Not for me if that happened, but that I could see it’s happening to someone else. I mean that’s, that’s a cool story.
But the point of the story of Jonah, it’s about one man’s experience in his walk with God, how God continues to pursue after Jonah in the condition of his heart. And here in this passage in verse four God’s asking this question and then saying to us that what God isn’t doing is that God isn’t reacting in anger, anger. The reason God’s not reacting in his anger is because he already understands who he is in his nature. So that has a lot to do with the way that we react to the, to how people treat us.
When we understand the identity that we carry in Jesus, whatever charges brought against us because our identity is secure, it dictates our response. And here in, in, in chapter four verse two we find that the, the, the reason that God’s not reacting to Jonah in this is because Jonah is already identified the nature which God possesses and the very thing that God is front are the very thing that Jonah is frustrated about towards God is the same thing that is sparing his own life. So God isn’t reacting in anger because he knows who he is. Insecure people are the ones that react, but the identity of who God is in this passage is securely presented to us in verse two and hypocritically Jonah uses that charge against God, not even recognizing in his own life. It’s the very thing that he desires and needs justice for everything everyone else got. But but grace for me. And here what we find in the story in verse four and the reason God’s asking this question to Jonah, it’s because anger, anger is revealing something about Jonah’s heart. It’s his defense mechanism. It can be angry out of fear, out of hurt, out of insecurity, out of depression.
But Jonah’s reacting in anger and God’s just identifying this in this moment to help Jonah through this moment. Because the point of the story of Jonah is about Jonah and his journey with God. Laura told you in the beginning when you, when someone mentions the word Jonah, instantly the thing that we think of in our mind is often the fish, right? And the Sunday school story goes big, fish swallows him. And so the main point about Jonah is fish and fish has nothing to do with it. It was just a tool for what to communicate. Jonah chapter four verse two to us in what God desires for us as people, that’s the only reason that we’ve got an opportunity to have today has nothing to do with how lovable I’ve made myself before God, but everything to do with this compassion and grace that’s been demonstrated towards us despite us. What’s interesting about Jonah is when you, when you consider who he is as an individual, this is a guy who’s studied God’s word, he is a prophet. He obeyed all the rules and a verse or chapter one chapter two we see him responding rebelliously and then in chapter three you see him responding religiously, meaning he does what we would qualify externally as good. He obeys God and goes to Minerva, but it’s hard, still doesn’t belong to God and it’s possible to be good.
It’s still not connected to God. What often happens in our lives when we become religious people is that we PR we, we base our spiritual status on performance and you sorta treat God like this that you’ve got. If I push all the buttons the right way, you’re going to do exactly what I want you to do because I, I have, I have captured you to be my slave, right? So I obey these rules and therefore you are now obligated to position yourself below me because I have elevated myself above you, obligating you to do as I desire because I’ve done all of the religious rules and yet God in verse four identifies you’re angry for a reason and he uses the context of chapter four to dive even deeper into the problem before, before he gives the solution. And so it goes in the verse five it says this, then Jonah went out from the city and he sat East of it and there he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. And what John is doing here is not very God loving or gracious. If you remember in chapter three, Jonah and Jonah in verse four, this is the message he shared with Jonah. Then Jonah began to go through the city in one day, one day’s walk, and he cried out and said, yet 40 days and Nineveh will be overthrown. Jonah, you’ve obeyed God. You’ve gone into Nineveh, you shared the message that God wanted you to share. Now you can leave. What’s you wanna do? He goes up on the city and he waits.
Well, he wants to see day 40 I don’t want to watch you destroy. And so while God is on the throne over the city, really Jonah, Jonah puts himself on the throne above the city and just looking and hoping for the destruction of Minerva. And so you see in verse one verse two Jonah’s frustration, Jonah’s anger. Then you see him in verse five Jonah’s frustration, Jonah’s anger. And then in verse six, seven and eight I want to tell you when I, when I first became a believer, I remember reading the book of Jonah early on. And when I first read this, my initial reaction to this is, ha ha, God’s finally getting you like you finally made him mad because of the things that happened. So when you, when you read this, when you read this, the section of scripture, it says, so Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort.
So you say, Oh, that’s so nice. God still still loves you. Right? And then it says in verse seven, then Jonah was extremely happy about the plant, but God appointed a worm when he w when Dawn came the next day and attack the plant and it withered when the sun came up, got appointed a scorching East wind and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint and begged with all his souls to die saying death is better to me than life. So what you see in the story, right? Been waiting the whole time to do this. Kevin bacon gets me every time. But what you see in the story is God, God creates this awesome plant. And then trimmer shows up and eats the plant and then the storm comes and it just helps Jonah. I mean, if there’s any indication, just how stubborn his heart has.
If you’re ever in a storm that’s just beating down on you here, here’s what you need to do. Uh, go somewhere else. Go anywhere else. Like don’t just sit there in anger, but Joan is so angry and frustrated. He’s like, I’ll show you God. I’m going to sit right here. The storm just the storm just beats down on him. And so when you read the story, you’re like, yeah, God smiley getting you Jody, you deserve every bit of this. You thought you had this coal plant, God toyed with your emotions. And then he, and then he just shows up with tremors, eating. You’re eating your plant and then, and then the storm comes.
But then you realize as you read the context of this passage, what does actually say? Remember Jonah chapter one, verse 17 God appointed a what? What that phrase meant to us is that general was running away from God and God was running after him and the fish. But it wasn’t because he was surprised by Jillian’s reaction. In fact, before it ever happened, God had appointed this fish for Jonah. Even fel rejected God and ran away, got appointed a fish because he knew that’s exactly what he needed. Same thing again.
God appointed a plant and he took away the plant and he brought a storm. Not because he was interested in destroying Jonah or killing Jonah or just retaliating to Jonah. God doesn’t react. This was planned.
And so rather than communicating God’s destruction against Jonah, what it’s communicating is God’s gracious, compassionate hand. So sometimes in our lives we’re, we’re interested in the circumstance got changed. The circumstances got changed, the circumstance got changed, the circumstance. And if God were to change the circumstance, if we’re being honest, the only reason that we came to God in the first place was because of the circumstance. And as soon as a circumstance changes, it’s like we forget that God showed up. I’m not saying every bad circumstance is some divine punishment from God in this world or, um, it may or may not necessarily fall in the context that we’re reading today. But what what I am saying in this passage is that sometimes we’re interested in the circumstance, but more than the circumstance, what God is interested in is the heart of the individual going through the circumstance and he cares so much that the circumstance becomes the very tool that God uses to communicate what he’s most concerned about, which is your heart. So it’s possible in our lives for everything to go, go great, go well and still be empty.
It’s also possible in our lives for things on the outside to not look so great but for God to fill us up, which is why regardless of the circumstance, what God is most interested is in the heart. Because if you can replenish and fuel and minister to the heart, the heart is what strengthened to go through any circumstance. And so when God is sharing the story with Jonah, it’s, it’s not the attitude of a punishing Jonah. What he’s actually saying to Jonah’s when when you aren’t in tune with God, you look to everything else to satisfy. But yet when our circumstances are empty, it helps our hearts to redirect what is important. And then in verse nine, God does it again. Then God said to Jonah, just like verse four, do you have good reason to be angry about the plant trying to your heart right now?
Oh, that’s happened in, in of all that’s happened with the whale. All that’s happened with this plant. It’s an offer. This my pursuit is your life. And it’s like, Jenna, when are you going to get it? Man? Jonas response at the latter half of this verses. And he said, I have good reason to be angry, even to death. It’s like saying God, you may think my anger is not right, but you’re a plant murderer. Yeah. But Jonah, Europe, people murder Cayman recognized that in in your own life that your anger, your anger is destroying people. I mean, you could get all religious about this and be like, well, no, not really. Uh, Jonah doesn’t want to kill the people. He wants God to do it. So that’s hard. Right?
In fact, James chapter four verses one and two says that when you’re angry, it kills. When James is writing that passes in James chapter four verses one and two. He’s not talking, he’s not talking to murderers, he’s talking to Christians. So let me read it. [inaudible] what is the source of corals and conflicts among you? Is it not the source of your pleasures that wage war in your members, you lost them? Do not have so you commit murder you were envious and cannot obtain so that you fight in coral? Well, what he’s saying to Jonah is that you carry the attitude of a murderer. It destroys. I may not physically destroy people, but at least it destroys relationships. And God has created us for those, the greatest command, loving God, loving others. It’s about your relationship to the Lord and relationship to each other. And when anger enters in that equation, it kills, kills your relationship to God. It kills your relationship with others. You look at verses 10 and 11 and Jonah and a story got finally dives into the situation. He’s saying, okay, Johnny, you’re not getting it. So let me, let me just paint this picture for you. Okay? I mean we, we as people, someone that offends us, that’s always justifiable reason to be the bigger rear end back, right? Sorry, was that uncouth?
Whoever’s the largest war on in the end winds and I’m justified because you wronged me first. Then God just speaks to Jonah. Lord said, think about this, Jonah, you had compassion on the plant, which you did not work, which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight.
Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 1200 persons who do not know the difference between the right and left hand and also much cattle? Can I just let this cow the bag and say, when people that don’t know Jesus act ignorant, don’t be surprised.
The more shocking thing is that when Christians who know Jesus retaliate to that and act just as foolish, that’s what he’s saying in verse 10 and 11 here, well, what what God is doing in verse 10 11 he’s also showing Jonah his priorities are messed up and who’s really in charge, right? So Jonah is sitting over over Nineveh as if he is the King on the throne and God is reminding Jonah, no it’s, it’s not you but I am the one who really sits as a King on the throne. Jonah, you care about what you shouldn’t if you don’t care about what you should and you’re so stuck in self that your is mutilating the relationships which I’ve called you to.
Can I tell you maybe one of the, one of the things that Joan has done here in this passage by being mad about this plant is he centered his joy on things that disappoint if your joy is based on circumstances because it will always, always come back to disappoint here. If your joy is based on someone or something, it will disappoint you. It put it in the context of where we are right now. It’s the set like this and I hope when I say I really want it to be all of us but I don’t serve, don’t be offended by this for a minute, but I don’t serve at ABC because you guys are awesome. I know that’s hard to believe. I mean some of you thinking, I am fantastic, but okay, let’s, let’s roll with this, right? Like I don’t serve at Alpine Bible church because you guys are awesome.
I serve at ABC because Jesus is awesome. So if I come to a place like this and serve, because I think the people are great, eventually in that service, at some time people will disappoint me, that my joy will be gone and I will become angry because I put the expectation on you. But I already know who we are. We are broken people. We’re in people in need of Jonah chapter four verse two in all of our lives. This is why Israel reads this book every year on Yom Kippor and says, I am Jonah. I hope it’s not in you. If it were, I would have to quit at some point.
Start saying that it’s some, some, some attempt in my life that I could stray and it could be in that way. I could without being recognized and put my hope and expectations and other things. But, but I, I acknowledge here verbally so that my heart hopefully continues to connect to this month. My hope is always in the Lord because he is the one that does not disappoint. He is the one whose nature is always consistent. He is the one that never fails. And even in my failures, let’s not give up.
If anyone has tested them over and over and over to demonstrate this, it’s Jonah. Jonah in this passage even even modified his behavior. Well, he did what God wanted. He went to Nineveh. He said the words he was supposed to say, God wasn’t after behavior modification. God’s after his heart transformation. I like, I like the way it ends here. Some translations, uh, have this ending. Other ones translate a little bit differently. They just refer to animals. But, but here’s the, here’s what he says. It says 1200 and 20,000 persons who do not know the difference between right and left hand and also much cattle. Jonah like you can’t forget the cows. It’s kind of like you saying, Hey, how about this? Another great illustration for you here. He’s like, he’s saying, he’s saying to us, um, Jonah, if you don’t care about people, I mean at least care about the animals. What about the animals? He’s gone. He’s gone. All Sarah McLaughlin on us, they saw solid angel, right? Donate today and you can save a life.
You don’t care about people. At least care about the cows, Jonah. I mean, how bad does it have to be where you’re like, nothing. I care for nothing except for the plants. Can I tell you one of the ways I want to be careful here, we recognize Jonah has got some problems, right? What I want to be careful with is to recognize and say to ourselves, okay, if I, if I relate to this in any way, um, which we all should, but you’re not the one that transformed yourself. Like the answer isn’t all I’ve done bad. I need to do good so that God embraces me.
The answer is because of who you are and where you are, you need to go to God because he is the one that transforms. It’s not your strength. It has nothing to do with you. And your, uh, ability. It’s, it’s laying yourself down before God because he is the one that’s come for you. He is the one that’s given his life for you. He is the one that NGLs you by his spirit. He is the one that transforms your heart. And here’s what we need to see in this context is that when we, when we screw up, when we mess up, when we fail, when we get angry at all of those things, God’s nature doesn’t react.
That is all of a sudden be like, Oh, that was the last odd, that’s the last straw for me. I’m going to show you who’s boss. That’s not God. That might be some fictitious thought that you have about God. But what God’s interested in all of that is our heart. And so the response to that when you read Jonah chapter four, verse two, rather than run away from God, rather than try to show God that you’re worthy of his love, rather than try to transform yourself because he has compassion and loving kindness and he’s slow to anger and he extends his grace. The answer then is to turn and run to him. Seek his face.
God, I’m yours. I think the reason this book ends just so weird with cows messy. The reason it ends that way is so we can stop and be like, Hey, that’s me, man. I’m messy too. This journey with God, it’s, it’s not like this. I come to Jesus, everything’s perfect. It’s this consistent walk with God. We’re on that journey. I’m messed up. I fail. I feel like a failure and God is compassionate and God renews me and God transforms me in his image and God brings me the security in his identity, not my own, because of my identity. Apart from it, it is no good, but in his identity it lifts me up and it elevates me in Jesus and it gives me opportunities to continue to seek his face.
That’s why when you look at a story like the story of Nineveh were 120,000 people come to know the Lord and you think about your own Valley and what God does, you don’t have to quit because you feel like you failed because it’s all in Jesus at this thing takes place. It’s what gives me the strength regardless of my past, to think about a future and this thing, Sarah McLaughlin, if I feel, and so when we hope in things that fail, the, the tendency in our heart is to get angry and disappointed. You know the benefit of that moment, that reaction reveals your heart. That’s why God asked Jonah the questions that he did. So let me ask you [inaudible], what was the last thing you got angry about? Did your anger express what God wanted? Well, if it did, did your anger expressed the way God wanted it and did you use it to speak life? Yeah, the joy of the story, the joy of the story. Even though Jonah is a brat, same thing that Jenna hates God for is also the same thing that brings God near his rebellion. God’s still interested even in the brokenness of his heart, God is still interested in his heart.
So you get to the end of the story and you ask them, where is that for me? Where is it that God shows up and reveals this and demonstrate this for my life? And the answer, we’ve said it from the beginning, and I just want to draw our hearts there. Jesus. Luke 11 verse 30 just as Jonah came, became assigned to the Ninevites. So will the son of man be to this generation? Jesus, of course, as a solid man, three days, three nights in the heart of the earth for you and for me, the compelling thought of that for us is that Jesus, by his death and sacrifice is offered the continual gate for us to be able to enter into his presence and experience the reason for which we are created, transforming work that he does lives. It’s sang to us just like God cared for Jonah in this moment. So God cares for you. So whether you’re a believer or not, this is how the journey starts for all of us. We stop in the ARB moments in our tracks, whatever’s got us frustrated, whatever works might be angry about from people who don’t know Jesus acting like they don’t know Jesus. Whatever that excuses, I’m rebellious, I am rebellious, my heart can be selfish. It can run from God. We distant from God. In fact, that’s what the gospel message is, right? Like it’s not do good. So God accepts you. It’s it’s that we’re all rebellious from his kingdom and need his grace. We need his grace and Jonah experienced it in his life over and over and even a message just ends message that we can see how God consistently is going to show up and in Joe’s life. And the same is true for us. Why?
Cause to have him is to have everything and to see the way he responds to us, even in our failures and even with all the excuses and even all the reasons we could give for why we act the way we act. In fact, we still do and God still loves them. God still desires to transform and God still wants to bring us mercy. If we put one thing, abandoned, everything, the secret space, ah, transform.