Sunday, July 1, 2012

God Loves All Kinds of People

A sermon developed by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett based on Jonahs 3:1-2, 5, 10, 4:1-11.
God asked Jonah to go preach to the evil people who lived in the city of Nineveh. Jonah got on a ship and sailed the other way instead in an effort to run from God. God sent a huge storm that kept Jonah from running away. Instead, Jonah got thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish. After three days in the fish he was vomited onto dry land near Nineveh, ready to obey the Lord.

Jonah 3:1 - Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time.
             Even though Jonah had ignored God the first time, God gave him another chance.
             No matter what we have done, and how far astray we have gone, God is willing to give us another chance.

Verse 2 - Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.
             God gave Jonah the very same job that Jonah had previously failed at.
             The reason God asked us to do something in the first place was to either teach us a lesson or to help us help someone else.
             Therefore, our second chance often involves something similar to our first chance.

Verse 5 - The men of Nineveh believed in God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least.
             The evil people turned from their bad ways and placed their faith in God.
             They fasted, which demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice for God.
             They dressed in sackcloth, which was a symbol of humility in their culture.
             When we really place our faith in Christ, there should be external evidence based on the inner change we have experienced.
             If there has been no external change, then there was probably no inner change.

Verse 10 - Then God saw their actions—that they had turned from their evil ways —so God relented from the disaster He had threatened to do to them. And He did not do it.
             God saw their actions and had mercy on them.
             Mercy is not getting the punishment we deserve.
             We have all received mercy, for which we should rejoice!

Chapter 4, Verse 1 - But Jonah was greatly displeased and became furious.
God had done a mighty work and how did his prophet respond?
             Jonah was “displeased.” The Hebrew word could mean sad but it can also be used to mean evil. This was a sadness that was evil in its intent.
             Jonah was “furious.” The Hebrew literally means “he was burned up” in his negative emotions that came from his evil intent.
             Jonah did not like the people of Nineveh.
             Jonah wanted the Ninevites to be judged by God.
             Jonah thought they were the “wrong” kind of people to share his faith with.
             Anytime we divide people into groups and then say a certain group is not welcome, we have misunderstood the mercy of God.

Verse 2 - He prayed to the LORD: . . . I knew that You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster.
             Jonah knew God was:
             Merciful – not giving the punishment that people deserve.
             Compassionate – moved to take action to help those in need.
             Slow to become angry – it takes a lot to get God mad at us!
             Rich in faithful love – God has so much love to give out that He never runs out.
             Trying to not send disaster – God does everything possible to keep from punishing people. He will do it if He has to, but He tries everything else first!
             Jonah liked all of these attributes about God when they were applied to his life.
             But Jonah got upset when God showed the same kindness to those that Jonah did not like.
             Many of us are more like Jonah than we want to admit.
             We want the grace and mercy of God for ourselves, while wanting the wrath and judgment of God for others.

Verse 4 - The LORD asked, "Is it right for you to be angry?"
             God challenged Jonah’s motives and logic in order to get Jonah to see the situation the way God saw it.
             God sometimes has to do something to get our attention and help us see things from His perspective. 

Verse 5 - Jonah left the city and . . . made himself a shelter . . . to see what would happen to the city.
             Jonah did not answer God’s challenge.
             He was still stubborn.
             So God was going to have to use some other way to get his attention.
             Does that scenario sound familiar?
             Many of us have had to “repeat” certain lessons from God because we missed it the first time around.

Verse 6 - Then the LORD God appointed a plant, and it grew up to provide shade over Jonah's head to ease his discomfort. Jonah was greatly pleased with the plant.
             “appointed” – Hebrew word “manah” which means prepared.
             God supernaturally aided Jonah even when Jonah was clearly in rebellion to God.
             How often has God helped us even when we did not deserve it?

             Jonah liked it when God helped him.
             Probably in his anger he thought he deserved the help, though clearly he did not.
             Too often we start demanding things of God as if He owed us His assistance.
             God has already given us more than we deserve and He owes us nothing else.

Verse 7 - When dawn came the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, and it withered.
             Just as God prepared the plant, God also prepared a worm to destroy the plant.
             God gives and God takes away.
             We like it when God gives.
             We do not like it when God takes away.
             But if God knows what we need, then we should trust Him regardless of whether we are in the receiving or losing mode.

Verse 9 - Then God asked Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?" "Yes," he replied. "It is right. I'm angry enough to die!"
             God asked Jonah the same question as before.
             This time Jonah gives an answer.
             It is a self-righteous and conceited answer.
             It was also the WRONG answer.
             It was the wrong answer because:
             Jonah had not planted the plant.
             Jonah had not watered the plant.
             Jonah had not tended the plant.
             Jonah had only enjoyed the fruit of God’s work and had no fruit of his own to enjoy.
             We often like all the blessings that God gives us and tend to think that we earned those blessings when in reality they were gifts from God.

Verse 10 - So the LORD said, "You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in a night and perished in a night.
             God points out that Jonah cared about things that he had nothing to do with.
             God also points out that the things Jonah cared about were temporary and really did not matter that much.
             What do we care about?

Verse 11 - Should I not care about the great city of Nineveh, which has more than 120,000 people . . .
             God cares about people!
             While Jonah was complaining about his comfort level, God was caring about people.
             While Jonah was upset because people did not get the punishment he wanted them to, God was busy changing those people’s lives and drawing them to Himself.
             After all Jonah had experienced, he still did not seem to get the point of God’s mercy and grace.
             As a pastor, I have met many people who just never got it.

Jonah 5
             It seems like there should be another chapter where Jonah realizes that God loves ALL people and wants them to experience mercy and grace.
             But no such fifth chapter exists.
             Many theologians have wondered why there is no fifth chapter in Jonah that tells us what happened next.
             Did Jonah get right with God and live happily ever after?
             Did he end up inside another fish on the way home because he still had not learned his lesson?
             We do not know what happened to Jonah.
             But our focus should not be on how God deals with others. It should be on how God deals with us.
             So what will OUR fifth chapter be?
             Will we turn our focus from self and toward the people around us whom God is calling us to reach for Him?


  1. Just got my copy of Mission Possible through a local bookstore. I look forward to reading it!

    David Fleeger

  2. Yes, I'm afraid I resemble Jonah...many times repeating the same old lesson. Mercy may also be that God doesn't give up on me. Thanks for the word, Dr. Terry. Blessings, Diane

  3. Thanks David, glad you are enjoying the book. Diane, I think we all resemble Jonah from time to time.