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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bible Session - 12-10-12 - Jonah's Response - God's Lesson

Jonah’s Response – God’s Lesson
Review last 3 weeks: 
            God told Jonah “Go to Nineveh.”
            Jonah runs in the opposite direction and gets on a ship.
            The ship almost sinks in a storm.
            The sailors cast lots; it’s Jonah’s fault.
            Jonah has the sailors throw him overboard.
            The sea becomes calm; the sailors are saved.
            Jonah is swallowed by a large fish where he stays for 3 days and 3 nights.
            Jonah turns back to God and the fish pukes him out onto dry land.
            Jonah goes to Nineveh, the entire city repents, and God saves Nineveh.

Read:  Jonah 4:1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.

God just saved over a hundred thousand people and Jonah is ticked off about it.  Why do you think Jonah was so strongly upset about God’s grace for these people?

Read:  Jonah 4:2-3 He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home?  That is why I was so quick to flee 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.  Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Jonah is really ticked off at God!  He perfectly describes how awesome and loving God is. He’s supposed to the man of God on the street telling people how awesome God is and to live for God, and yet, he can’t seem to pull himself together.  His emotions are running low.  He’s spent.  He didn’t want to go to Nineveh.  He didn’t plan on spending three days in the reeking gut of a large fish.  He hates the people of Nineveh and all they stand for, and now God went and saved them.  He is irate!  He calls it quits.  It’s like he’s throwing in the towel and saying, “You’re an awesome God, but I can’t handle your grace for these people.”

Read: Jonah 4:4 But the Lord replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

God sounds just like a Dad here.  It is not like it your decision who I save or don’t save.  I can almost hear Jonah whining at God, “But, but Daaaaaaaad.  Nineveh has never loved you. Nineveh is full of rotten people who hate, and kill and do all kinds of evil that you would never tolerate.  You shouldn’t save them!”  And then God says, “Sit down.  Calm down.  Take a chill pill my son.  I’m still in control here.”

Read: Jonah 4:5 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. 

I wonder if at this point Jonah was thinking maybe God would change his mind and destroy the city after all.  I wonder if he looked at Nineveh’s repentance and thought, “That’s never going to last.  They’re going to fail and then God’s going to smite them!”

Why do you think he was waiting to see what would happen to the city?

Read: Jonah 4:6 Then the Lord God 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.

One thing I note here is that Jonah never thanked God for that vine.  I wonder if verse 7 and 8 would have been different if Jonah’s response had been different.

Read: Jonah 4:7-8 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that 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.”

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  God takes away the vine that he had provided for Jonah. 


Read: Jonah 4:9 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.”

Jonah really is hard headed.  He really is not getting God’s object lesson here.   Read on…

Read: Jonah 4:10-11 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 is so self-absorbed throughout this story that he can’t see the bigger picture.  There are one hundred and twenty thousand people who are going to die instantly and go straight to hell unless God extends his grace and mercy to them and allows them to repent, heal, and grow in their relationship with God. 

Think about the people in your life.  Is there someone specific God is sending you to?  Will you be hard hearted and hard headed like Jonah until the bitter end or will you see the bigger picture and reach out with God’s message of salvation? 

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