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Jonah 4:1-11

Don't Let Go

  • Samuel Wilson
  • Weekend Messages
  • August 27, 2017

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture
Don’t Let Go

Jonah 4:1-11 

Intro: Holding on for a roster spot.

When success became beyond my understanding, I had an incredible need for compassion. This teammate understood my position and had sympathy to my circumstance. It was an incredible blessing and without it, my results would have been much different.

Similarly, God has compassion on us, pointing us in the way we should go. Directing us to the places we need to be, in order to live as His people. In Jonah chapter 4, we see Jonah responding to the mercy God had on Nineveh by walking away in anger and frustration.

Backstory: Jonah 1-3

The revival in Nineveh, was one of the most incredible revivals in history, 120,000 people turning from wickedness and toward the Lord. God had used Jonah powerfully and here in chapter 4, Jonah is deeply upset by the outcome.

Read Jonah 3:10 – 4:11

The Lord had displayed His mercy on the city of Nineveh. Jonah was used in a mighty way in proclaiming the message. But, after the Ninevites turned to God, Jonah turned away, angry and disappointed. Jonah was in a place that many of us find ourselves in when mercy is given to those we don’t feel deserve it.

The truth is that nobody deserves mercy, but God graciously gives it. He contends for those in darkness, those who have given up, those who are running and those who ran long ago. When mercy reigns and you don’t agree, don’t let go of the Lord, He knows what needs to happen next.

I. God is Still at Work

  • The Lord had relented concerning the destruction of Nineveh after the entire city turned their hearts to Him.
  • Jonah became angry after God relented. He reminded God that the outcome was exactly what he thought would happen and was why he had run in the first place.
  • He is so upset that he asks God to take his life, declaring that it would be better for him to die than to see Nineveh blessed.
  • Jonah had proclaimed calamity in 40 days, and now it was not going to happen.
  • There were multiple reasons he was upset. The first was: He hated the Ninevites. The second was: he had proclaimed destruction, and now it was not going to happen.

Illus. A meaningless softball game.

  • Here is Jonah, he declared calamity and the Lord showed mercy. He saw beyond what they had been.

Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  

  • The Lord was in control and we see His hand at work, bringing Nineveh to repentance but, His prophet wanted a different outcome.
  • In the life of Jonah, the Lord had more work to do. He wasn’t going to let him go or leave him. Just as the Lord was still at work in Nineveh when they were filled with wickedness and anger, so too He was at work in Jonah. 
A. Follow His heart
  • After Jonah cries out to the Lord, God answers him with a question: “Do you have good reason to be angry?” In other words, I have done something good, should that make you angry?
  • In expressing his thoughts to God, Jonah was doing a good thing. He was approaching the Lord honestly, letting God know how he was feeling.
  • It was right for him to express his heart, however, his feelings toward God weren’t justified.
  • Jonah wanted a different answer, he wanted to see judgment still, and the Lord asks a question, to reveal Jonah’s heart.

Illus. Questions often reveal our heart.

  • If we are angry against God, He will ask us the same question He asked Jonah: Is it right for you to be angry?
  • The Lord asks a question so that He can begin to address the issues and work to align your heart with His.
  • His heart is so much different than the heart of man, and it becomes painfully obvious when we become frustrated, angry, or upset.
  • The blessing is, He listens, and He wants to know your heart, so that He can restore your heart.

Illus. An unforgettable dentist.

  • The process whereby I needed this procedure was not a fun one, but I was being asked questions I was unable to answer.
  • When the Lord asks questions, He doesn’t close His ears.

Psalm 34:15, The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.

  • The Lord revealed His heart for the Ninevites and was doing a work in Jonah so that his heart would align with God’s.
  • This was new for Jonah. He was not in the same place as those in Nineveh who were receiving grace for the first time, Jonah was being stretched in seeing grace extended. This required character.

B.Choose character over comfort

  • After the Lord seeks a reason from Jonah for his anger. Jonah headed out of town. Made a shelter for himself on a hillside east of the city. He then sat in the shade in order to see what would happen after he left.
  • Jonah had just seen over 120,000 people turn to God after preaching to them. The greatest revival the world had ever seen; and Jonah is depressed.
  • He was hoping these people he had preached to, would be ruined and destroyed. He had “done his part.”
  • In response, God turns His attention to Jonah’s heart and shows him again what mercy is all about.
  • The Lord appoints a plant to grow up over Jonah’s head, even though his heart was in the wrong place. 
Illus. Jonah had it made in the shade.
  • The next day, God appointed a worm to attack the plant so that it withered. Then came a scorching east wind and the hot sun beat down on Jonah.
  • Jonah declared to the Lord that death was better than life and the Lord asks another question: “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?

Illus. Getting things your way, right away.

  • God’s way is different than our way. He wants to develop our character, rather than our comfort.
  • Jonah wanted to sit under the branch and watch the Ninevites until they fell. The Lord did not want him to stay in that place, He caused the plant to wither, to get to what was beneath it, Jonah.
  • Jonah had declared at the end of chapter 2 that salvation is from the Lord. Here, after seeing salvation, he would have to recognize that truth again.

II. Side with Him

  • We can so easily create sides and division. “Whose side are you on Lord? Mine or the Ninevites?”
  • This is true in other areas as well: Whose side are you on Lord, mine or my neighbors? Mine or my co-workers? Pick a side, because I am mad! The Lord says, neither.

Joshua 5:13-14, heading into Jericho.

  • What is important to know is that the Lord doesn’t choose sides, rather, we must choose Him. What has my Lord to say to His servant?
  • This is what we want from another person, to choose a side. Either you are with me, or against me, which side are you on?

Illus. When we choose sides, we divide.

  • The Lord is not going to choose a side. He chooses people, not sides. Our opportunity is to choose Him.

Jonah 4:10-11, You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow... Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?

  • Jonah was angry at the loss of the plant which gave him comfort in the hot sun. God essentially says, you are upset about a plant that withered, but not 120,000 people?
  • The book of Jonah doesn’t end with an example of Jonah making a choice. We don’t know what Jonah chose to do after the Lord asked this question.
  • But we know who our God is, and we see His heart again revealed. 

A. He will point you to His heart

  • The theme throughout the book of Jonah can be summed with in three words: God loves people. 
  • We can get so upset with another person and desire to see them destroyed, taken down, and judged. 
  • This is not the heart of the Lord. 
  • In saying that there are 120,000 people who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, the Lord is saying they have no moral compass. They don’t know which way is right, or which way is wrong. His heart is for all people.

Illus. Understanding the ground rules.

  • Our God goes after an imperfect people, who don’t know which way to go, and He has compassion on them.
  • Jonah had a great need to pursue the heart of the Lord for others. To trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

  • I am lost in my own understanding. Just like my tryout. But when I seek the Lord rather than my own understanding, He will take control. 

B. He wins in compassion

  • Forgiveness and compassion are our greatest needs and God’s greatest accomplishments.
  • When we take the seat of judgement, we go against the heart of our Father.
  • We often want to take the seat of judges and juries. But the Lord needs more nurses and doctors in this world.
  • This book is left open ended. We don’t know what Jonah decides. It is a perfect ending, because it really isn’t about what decision Jonah made, rather, it is about what decision you will make.
  • Interestingly, everything and everyone in this book responded in obedience to God, except for His prophet.
  • Don’t let go of the Lord in your life, don’t let go of His calling, hold onto Him, He is victorious in compassion.

Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Jonah 4:1-11          NSAB

1 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. 2 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, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life." 4 The Lord said, "Do you have good reason to be angry?"

5 Then Jonah went out from the city and sat east of it. There he made a shelter for himself and sat under it in the shade until he could see what would happen in the city. 6 So the Lord God appointed a plant and it grew up over Jonah to be a shade over his head to deliver him from his discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant. 7 But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8 When the sun came up God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah's head so that he became faint and begged with all his soul to die, saying, "Death is better to me than life."
 
9 Then God said to Jonah, "Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "I have good reason to be angry, even to death." 10 Then the Lord said, "You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?"

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