Here’s the outline for my sermon on Jonah 4 “The Compassionate Mercy of God” preached at Cross of Christ Fellowship.
Jonah 4: “The Compassionate Mercy of God” 2/5/23
Intro: IMAGINE, we sent out a couple to Pyongyang, North Korea.
-The couple preached the gospel and amazed there was a massive repentance and trusting in the LORD
-How would you expect that couple to respond? JOY, Gladness, plans to plant churches and disciple new Christians.
-The book of Jonah does not end like this.
-In ch 3 we saw Jonah proclaiming God’s message, a massive repentance, and God relenting of judgment
-How did Jonah respond? He’s unhappy, angry, and sulky. He responds in a sinful way.
-Jonah does NOT read like a modern day missionary story.
– Jonah’s almost an anti-type for missions: he’s upset and angry over God showing mercy!
-Jonah 4 is historical account of how God tenderly dealt with his sulky prophet: he patiently worked with him.
–God’s mercy is not only for unbelievers who come to faith, but also for his people struggling with their sins.
-We need to be reminded of this today: we too struggle with sinful actions and attitudes.
-As God patiently, and tenderly dealt with Jonah, so he patiently and tenderly deals with us.
-This gives us hope as we face temptation and struggle to walk in holiness.
Because God tenderly and compassionately deals with us in our sin, we can have hope, even as fight against sin.
STRUCTURE: Jonah’s struggles with God (1-3); God’s patient dealings with Jonah (4-11)
1. Jonah’s Struggles with God (READ 1-3)
-Jonah’s Response (1): But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
-This is a strange response for someone who is a believer. Shouldn’t he rejoice?
-It is not the way a man of God should respond to God’s merciful ways.
–Jonah’s prayer (2-3):
-Jonah’s thinking explained: “Is not this what I said… I knew that.. that’s why I fled to Tarshish”
-Here we find out why Jonah acted the way he did in ch 1 when he boarded ship to Tarshish
-God’s character: you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
-God’s showing mercy to a wicked people is what Jonah knew would happen. And he did not want it!
-From Exodus 34:6; quoted lots in OT; a favorite description of God, teaching us wonderful truths about Him!
-Is your heart cold? Feel dry in your soul? Struggle to worship? Probably not meditating on Scripture.
-Meditate on this phrase this week, until you see your heart start to delight in God again.
-Jonah asked to die: Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
-Selfish, sulky, suicidal prophet.
*SMITH: v 2 “This verse is an extremely disturbing one. It indicates that while Jonah had become obedient, he still lacked a spirit of submission. Lest we judge Jonah too harshly, we should remember the common frailty of murmuring against God’s sovereign will. Throughout the pages of history, believers have stood in direct opposition to God’s revealed will and sought the implementation of their own wishes.”
QUESTION: Are you murmuring against God? Unhappy about God’s providence? Trying to fight against it?
Why was Jonah so unhappy? 3 Main views (it was likely due to a mix of these I think):
1. Assyria was a wicked nation, and Jonah lacked compassion—only wanted them to receive judgment.
2. Jonah’s own prophetic ministry and reputation were at stake: would have been costly to him (see 2 Kings 14)
3. Jonah’s awareness that Assyria was the nation God would use to judge Israel. Wanted to stop that destruction.
SUMMARY: Jonah was not responding to God’s mercy to Nineveh the way he should have. He was sinful and sulky.
QUESTION: How does God respond to His immature, sulky prophet?
ANSWER: Tender, compassionate mercy. He deals with him patiently and does not leave him in his sinful state.
–NOTE: This is how he deals with us today too, even as we struggle with sin.
-God is not interested in giving a pain-free life, but making us more holy like Jesus (Roman 8:28-29)
2. God’s Compassionate Mercy to Jonah (4-11)
Here we see how God responds to Jonah’s sulky, sinful attitude. He responds with patient, compassionate, mercy.
-TENDER QUESTIONING OF GOD (4): 4 And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
-Instead of a harsh rebuke, God tenderly asks this question.
-Isn’t God amazing in how He tenderly deals with His people?
-We experience this by God’s Word, our conscience and His Spirit.
–My own experience this last week (selfishly withheld, conviction, correction)
-Jonah positions himself outside the city (READ 5)
-Made a booth, likely made of sticks and leaves to cover himself from heat and sun
-He wanted to see what God would do—perhaps hoped that God would show judgment in the end.
-God orders events to expose Jonah’s heart (READ 6-8)
-First, God brings comfort (6) “appointed a plant…save him from his discomfort”
–Note: Jonah’s response “exceedingly glad because of the plant”
-Then, God brings discomfort (7-8a) “appointed a worm…appointed a scorching east wind”
-Being in the desert, this was likely very hot and uncomfortable
-Jonah possibly has sunstroke “sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint”
-Jonah responds with another death wish (8b) “And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
*QUESTION: What was God doing here with plant and the worm and the wind? Exposing Jonah’s heart.
-God does this to us as well. He brings blessings and trials to expose areas of heart in need of change.
-How do we respond to great blessing?
-How do we respond to great (and even small) challenges?
-God comes to Jonah AGAIN with a question (9)
-Note the patient tender compassionate mercy (9a): But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?”
-Jonah’s spoiled brat response (9b): And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”
-This clearly is a wrong attitude, sulky, and wrong.
-But can’t you see yourself in this, in moments of struggles? (I can!)
-God graciously rebukes Jonah and helps Jonah see the goodness of His mercy to Nineveh (10-11)
-Jonah had a misplaced pity (10):
-Did not labor for plant or make it grow
-Plant appeared in day and perished in night.
-God had rightly placed pity for Nineveh (11)
-Rightness of God’s pity: “should not I pity Nineveh”
-Consider the size: 120,000
-Consider their spiritual ignorance: do not know right from left hand
-Consider the animals: and also much cattle?”
POINT: It was right for God to pity Nineveh, to have a compassionate mercy for them. And it is shamefully wrong of Jonah to lack compassion toward Nineveh and care more about his own selfish interests and comfort.
SOME APPLICATION QUESTIONS…
1 How are we like Jonah, lacking compassion for the lost around us? (Our non-Christian neighbors need Jesus!)
-How have the values of suburbia led us away from caring for the eternal state of those around us?
-When self-interest and comfort consume our hearts, there is no room for compassion to the lost.
2 How can we act in compassion to the lost around us? How can we take steps forward in sharing the gospel?
-Can we be more intentional with unbelieving neighbor? Invite people to church or FMSC? Practice hospitality?
-What are some steps we can take to compassionately reach out to our neighbors who need Jesus?
GOSPEL CONNECTION: Jesus, unlike Jonah, had compassion on the lost. Matt 9:36
-He acted in mercy and love to save us. Matt 20:28
-If anyone repents and believes in Jesus, they will be saved, and experience God’s compassionate mercy.
TO THE UNBELIEVER: The invitation to become a Christian is not the invitation to an easy life.
-It is an invitation to true joy, and deliverance from the power and penalty of sin.
-But when you become a Christian your life will become harder, as God sanctifies you.
-However, it is worth it. And becoming more like Christ actually is the path to true joy and life.
CONCLUSION: Praise God that His mercy is not only for unbelievers who repent and place their faith in Him. Jonah responded sinfully to God’s mercy and God’s ways, but thankfully God was also merciful to Jonah. God patiently and tenderly dealt with Jonah in His sin, and that is what He does for us too. This is gives us hope, even as we fight against sin.
*Because God tenderly and compassionately deals with us in our sin, we can have hope, even as fight against sin.*