Jonah 4

God got a little angry!
God was upset because Jonah was running up against Him. 
God was upset because here was a person who had devoted his life to serving Him and still did not even catch on to the heart of God.

You see, God loves sinners! 

If God loves sinners, shouldn’t we love them too?
Jonah lacked God’s love for people. 
He missed the heart of God and lost out on the joy of real ministry.

You see ministry must flow out of love for people – Christians and non Christians alike. 

Passion for ministry must flow out of us having God’s heart for people. 
It is time we put on the glasses of God and see people through His eyes.  God loves people more than anything.  It is why He sent His only Son to pay the death penalty for our sin, not because He loved Christians but because He loved people.

Let us love people the way God loves them. 
Willing to lay down our rights so that they can find redemption. 
Willing to do whatever it takes to hear the Good News. 
Willing to put aside our prejudices and preconceptions so that they may experience His love through us.

Jonah 3

God gives Jonah another chance to run with Him.  And Jonah's response was, "Yes Lord I am willing." 
All God needs is a willing servant and He will do the rest. 

Look at what happened with Jonah. 
He goes to Ninevah and begins to preach.  The Bible says that his words could be distilled to one simple message summed up in 8 words…
“Forty more days and Ninevah will be overthrown.”

The results of it are incredible…120,000 to 600,000 people repent and turn to God.

When God sends you He prepares the way and when you are obedient and step out in Holy Spirit power the results are nothing short of amazing.

The excuses we have will not hold up, God can  and will use a willing servant to accomplish His purposes. 
The key is not money, organization, cleverness or education, it is the power of God working through a willing servant. 
We all need to get back to the power source and that happens through prayer.

Heeding God’s Warning Brings God’s Favor.
Here is a good lesson to learn from the Ninevites.   When they heard the message of God, they repented.

You see that is God’s intent from the very beginning – the message of judgment always has the intent of repentance and reconciliation.
God is not out to destroy, but because He loves He chastens and sends a stern message of impending judgment so that  repentance and reconciliation can occur. 

The people of Ninevah heard the words of the prophet and responded in repentance and God had compassion on them and did not bring about the destruction as He had threatened.
But the repentance must be genuine.  If it is real our actions show it.

The people of Ninevah proved that their repentance was genuine, which is why God turned away His anger.  How did they respond?

·    They fasted.
·    They sought God. (They prayed.)
·    They turned from their evil ways and followed God’s ways.
It is not enough to say you are sorry you need to change your ways and follow God’s ways.

Jonah 2

So you are running from God - being disobedient.  And God is trying to get your attention. Just when you think you have reached your breaking point things get worse.  You get thrown off the boat and now instead of going in any direction you are sinking fast. 
And just when you think it can't get any worse than this along comes a big fish and gobbles you up.

In the case of Jonah, he was in sin and running from God and God was the one that caused the affliction.  That is not always the way it works.  Sometimes the affliction is not brought about by God but God uses the affliction to get your attention.

The very thing that could be seen as the end of his life is the very thing that saves his life.  The same goes for us, the hard times that you are going through now may be the very thing that will save your life and put you back on the right track. 

It seems paradoxical that God would do that, but the very thing that is your greatest trial right now may be the thing that saves you and preserves you, and places you back on the right track towards experiencing God’s power and might in your life.

What happens to us is that we fall into the pity party mode.  Look, I am trying to do everything right and everything is going wrong.  God has forgotten about me.  Just when I got my act together everything is going the wrong way.  Poor me, poor, poor me.

Quit yer bellyaching!

Look at Jonah in the belly of the whale. 

It is noticeable that in all of the dialog with God you never see Jonah bellyaching and complaining about how bad it is.  He is not crying out to God and saying, “O deliver me God from this horrible mess.” 

Instead you see that his prayer is of
·    thanksgiving (2-6),
·    contrition (7,8) and
·    re-dedication(9).

Jonah allowed the trials and affliction, mind you borne out of his own sin, to lead him back to how wonderful and loving God is. 

In the belly of the whale he comes to the realization that underneath him and around him are the everlasting hands of Jehovah. 

Funny how sometimes when we sin and we are facing the consequences of it we get angry at God that He is not bailing us out.  Stop it.  Do like Jonah and come to a place of thanksgiving, contrition and re-dedication.

Jonah 1

Jonah 1:1-2 (GWT) 1The LORD spoke his word to Jonah, son of Amittai. He said, 2“Leave at once for the important city, Nineveh. Announce to the people that I can no longer overlook the wicked things they have done.”

Ninevah was the capital city of the Assyrians.  It numbered about 600,000 to 750,000 people.  Assyria was the rising world power at the time God spoke to Jonah and Assyria was destined to destroy Israel.  Jonah would have known this.
    Add to this that the Assyrians were noted for their brutality.  When they conquered a city they were merciless to the captives.  Sometimes victims were held down and then an Assyrian soldier would pull their tongues out.  Other times the victim would be tied to the ground and then skinned alive.  For others, sharpened poles were inserted in the lower part of the chest and then they were planted in a hole and left to die.  Other times they Assyrians would behead their victims and stack the heads in mounds resembling a huge pyramid to serve as a visual reminder to all nations of the power of Assyria.  These were cruel and wicked people and God could stand it no longer.
    God knew the condition of the Ninevites, He saw that they were wicked because they did not know and love Him.  But God didn’t turn His back on them, instead He calls to one of His messengers to go and proclaim God’s message – Turn back to Him or be destroyed.

That is one of the most amazing things to me. 
The grace of God absolutely blows me away. 
I think many of us miss the beauty of the story of Jonah because we never grasp the full meaning of God’s grace that is so evident in it. 
It is not a book about a great fish. 
It is not a book about a vine. 
It is not a book about a storm at sea or a near shipwreck. 

It is the beautiful story of God’s dealing with a wayward man so that this man could be the bearer of God’s message to a wicked, depraved and needy nation.

God’s grace to Assyria is extravagant.  He sees the wickedness of the people and is angered but in the midst of the anger He gives them yet another chance to turn to Him and be spared His wrath and impending judgment.

It really is the story of God redeeming us so that we can be His bearers of grace in a sin filled world.  Why not read the story of Jonah as though you are Jonah.