Title: Why Don’t You Get It?
Scripture Text: Jonah 4: 1 – 11 (NIV)
Preacher: Bro Yap Chee Kai
1.0 The second stanza of the hymn entitled To God be the glory, great things He hath done, “Oh, perfect redemption, the purchase of blood . . .” reminded me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s quote: “Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the Cross. He waited until one of them turned to him.” What a promising assurance from God.
Following the aftermath of the late Billy Graham’s evangelistic crusade, South Korea predominantly a Buddhist country began to see a rise in Christianity from 10% in 1970s to 29% in 2010.
2.1 (Just like in the Book of Acts), a divine 100% miracle, revival – the work of God, not men: everyone repented and gave their lives to Christ. How would you have felt, responded or reaction? Praise, thanksgiving, humility?
2.2 This is what we see in 3:5 – a great revival, the Ninevites repented.
3.0 JONAH’S ANGER (vv. 1–3)
Verse 1 starts quite the opposite. Why is Jonah so angry? Doesn’t he have a heart, has he lost his mind? Is there something Jonah is not getting?
3.1 The answer to this question lies: God’s important lesson regarding Jonah’s heart – God is revealing and dealing with the baggages in Jonah’s heart.
3.2 Why didn’t Jonah get it? There is something that Jonah understood, but he still misses the main point.
3.3 Jonah was furious and desires to die in verse 3 – he could not come to God’s term of withholding judgment from the Ninevites. Why did Jonah want the Ninevites to be destroyed?
3.4 The Ninevites were long-standing enemies of Israel: they were extremely brutal, evil, sadistic and violent. Prophet Nahum called Nineveh “a city of bloodshed” – relates to our horrific Nanking Massacre, the Holocaust or the Cambodia genocide.
3.5 Jonah in his pride as God’s chosen people felt the Assyrians did not deserve God’s compassion. That is why Jonah didn’t get it – his pride and hatred has blinded him.
3.6 Application: What about us? Is God trying to uncover the baggages in our hearts? What about the people we unconsciously discriminate against or have prejudices against?
4.0 GOD’S QUESTION (vv. 4–8)
4.1 God’s lesson to Jonah in verse 4 and to us too.
4.2 This question helps Jonah to process his emotions: to introspectively reflect and ask himself; Why does he feel that he has the right to be upset with God’s act of compassion? Who is he to condemn God’s action?
4.3 The narrative motif of the vine (v.6), the worm (v.7), the scorching east wind (v.8), and the blazing sun (v.8) served as an answer to God’s question.
4.4 God’s twofold-lesson:
Firstly, using the argument from “lesser to the greater” (Matt. 6:30): shouldn’t Jonah concern too for the Ninevites and not just the plant? Jonah failed to see from God’s perspective and understand God’s compassion towards the Ninevites.
Secondly, God is telling Jonah and the Ninevites that His mercy extended to them is of His divine providence, although neither of them deserves it.
4.5 Application: God’s love and compassion extend even to the worst of sinners and the enemy of God. God hopes for Jonah to emulate the same compassion towards the Ninevites.
5.0 OUR RESPONSE (vv. 9–11)
5.1 Jonah’s reply in v.9 shows he still did not get it. This applies to also the last two verses (vv.10-11).
5.2 The Book of Jonah ends abruptly – leaving to the probing question: did Jonah get it? Do you think he learned his lesson?
5.3 It is left open-ended for the purpose of contrasting God’s compassion and Jonah’s prideful prejudice.
5.4 Application: It is left open-ended to force us to close this chapter with the choice that we make. Have we got it? Have we truly understood and experienced God’s love, His love and His compassion that compels us to love others? Who are the Ninevites in our lives? Do you want to be a gimper for the Lord?
5.5 Another reason for the Book of Jonah is left open-ended –it gives us the assurance that it has been a difficult journey for Jonah to show compassion, it will be the same for us too.
5.6 Application: Unload your deep hurts to the Lord for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Allow Him to take residence over your life and transform your life.
6.1 Conclude with the story of Corrie ten Boom – explicated marvelously in her book, Hiding Place. Corrie learned “it is not our forgiveness anymore than our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When he tells us to love our enemies, he gives, along with the command: the love itself.”
6.2 Carrie adds: “Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. The forgiveness of Jesus not only takes away our sins, it makes them as if they had never been.”
6.3 The difference between Corrie ten Boom and Jonah: Corrie recognized that God is sovereign in his compassion towards herself and the Nazi guard. She was able to look at her enemy through God’s lenses and extends forgiveness. Corrie got it, but, Jonah did not.
6.4 Application: We can’t answer for Jonah, but we can answer for ourselves. The question is: Do we get it? Let us pray.
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