God Will Be Gracious

Jonah 4:4-11

Two verses, frequently used as proof texts – Exodus 33:19; Rom. 9:15. Used to “prove” God’s absolute sovereignty – see, God does what he wants to whoever he wants, so get over it. What God said does show that. Yet also shows something much more important (there are other places that make his sovereignty clear) – God says “I will have mercy”. God under no compulsion to be merciful, yet he freely chooses to be abundantly merciful.

Grace and mercy go together, opposite sides of same “coin”. Mercy vs. grace: hold back what is deserved, give what is not deserved; hold back what has been earned, give what cannot be earned. Message of Jonah: God will be merciful and gracious to lost of Nineveh, nothing will hinder his intentions and purpose for them, not even Jonah. And… God remains gracious to Jonah in spite of bad attitude.

Jonah pouting, Jonah resentful, Jonah angry with God, yet God graciously continues to teach his prophet about grace, adding to personal experience, further equipping for ministry.

A. a gracious question v.4, 9a

God doesn’t ask questions for his own benefit

“Adam, where are you?” – God knew, giving Adam opportunity to respond; “is it right?” keeping Jonah engaged in conversation

someone calls suicide help line, keep them talking – leaving to stew facilitates downward spiral of thinking, never good

intended to challenge / instruct

God also expecting Jonah to give due consideration to his question, come up with reasonable (if wrong) response

helps us remember God is gracious – doesn’t automatically smack us down when we speak or act wrongly.. even toward God

keeps us engaged so will be influenced in right direction – truth is if God left us alone, Satan right there to fill in the blanks

provides opportunity for re-thinking and repenting

remember Adam, Eve, Cain – where are you? who told you? what have you done? why are you angry? – God not on detective mission

each question should prompt re-thinking… from God’s perspective – if He’s asking, must be something ought to give more weight to

since God is asking questions, must be something wrong, must be need for repentance – question offers ideal opportunity

two different responses

silence – guilty conscience (4)

at this point, still had enough God sense to be ashamed, not want to talk – preferred to walk away, hope God didn’t follow

had not yet worked through full justification for sinful attitude, not that ready to challenge God and his actions

was uncomfortable being in God’s presence… again – had yet another reason for thinking God was wrong in dealings with now both Ninevites and Jonah

quick retort – defiance (9)

24 hours later, more firm in his resolve (code for hardened in his rebellion), defiantly defensive and overly dramatic

this time answers question… plus – yes, I’m right, even more right than before, right enough to die whether God agrees or not

is interesting: as drama / dialogue progresses Jonah displays less maturity and more childish petulance, not acting physical or spiritual age

B. two lessons v.5-8

the helpful plant

God’s provision after man’s sorry attempt – just like the Garden – made coverings that were temporary, God graciously replaced

Jonah sat in shade he made for himself, only temporary and certainly insufficient – what happens when rely on human genius

should have prompted thanksgiving – Jonah didn’t ask God for shade, yet God provided… for wayward prophet, and still no response of thankfulness – taking for granted if he even grasped that God had done it

God regularly and often makes up for lack in his people, supplying what they need and have no power to acquire

the hot wind

God prepared plant, now prepares a worm that loves that kind of plant – cut off supply of nourishment so plant began to die

then God prepared a wind – plant, worm, wind all specifically designed and sent by God to teach Jonah about God and his grace

three everyday things, unremarkable in appearance, all sent by God – how many times has God done similar for us, are oblivious to it and his intended lesson for us or someone else

discomfort, perhaps even danger – combination of wind and sun can quickly go from uncomfortable to deadly in that climate

don’t forget… Jonah sitting in hot sun by his own choice – no requirement whatever that he endure such hardship

could just as easily have chosen to go find shelter and safety – except bad attitude prevented that, fueled anger toward God

should have pushed Jonah toward God – still not at point where Jonah would acknowledge he needed God’s grace – still thinking he had earned God’s favor

C. an encouraging rebuke v.9-11

truly a rebuke but not delivered that way – are you sure you’re right?? you really need to think about it from different POV

patiently leading Jonah toward truth, not smacking him silly – really accurate rendering of how God treats all his children from time to time

much God could have criticized in Jonah – could have told him how little he deserved, how much aggravation had cost God, how wrong his attitude toward Nineveh was

and that’s just for starters – if God fully revealed to Jonah (or to us) full extent of our sin as he sees it, would drive to despair

instead pointed out what was commendable

you had compassion for the plant, wanted Me to spare it – true, partly selfish… benefit of shade that meant a lot to Jonah

but yet, Jonah wanted God to show compassion to a plant, something that has little value beyond its immediate usefulness

should I not have compassion for 120,000 lost men, women, boys, girls and spare them? – Jonah begrudged compassion on Ninevites, made in God’s image, “worth” his redeeming love

appears Jonah had hard time making that kind of connection, seeing the contradictions in his own thinking, grasping just how contrary to God’s perspective his own was

Most important thing Jonah did not get: if God did not love his enemies, show compassion toward them, be gracious to them, every last soul would die in their sins. Was because God loved his enemy that Jonah was a prophet. Same true for each and every one of us. If we are to truly follow Christ, we must demonstrate same loving compassion to God’s enemies and ours. We must depend on him to use us, even when our “message” doesn’t seem very evangelistic, to draw lost to himself.

The Bible Project is a non-profit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated videos to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. Website – thebibleproject.com; YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLIabZc0O4c 9min.


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