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A Pouting Prophet
Last week we left Jonah right after the city of Nineveh repented and
God relented. God used his brief message, (5 Hebrew words) to penetrate
the hearts of the people of Nineveh. The people spread the message like
wild fire. When the word reached the king, he didn't allow the message
to get tied up in governmental red tape. He didn't pass the buck saying,
"It is impossible to legislate morality" or defer his leadership position
to others. Rather, he issued a proclamation calling the nation to repentance
and prayer-he acted more like a prophet than a politician. And the people
What do you expect Jonah's reaction was? Did he join the people of Nineveh
in repentance and marinate in God's grace? Certainly, Jonah had some repenting
to do. But you say, didn't he repent in the belly of the fish? Hardly.
In the belly of the fish, he reminds me more of a politician than a prophet-he
said what he had to say to get delivered from his peril, but I do not sense
a true heart-felt repentance, do you?
If he'd repented, wouldn't he of had a better attitude and preached
with more effort than he did? You'll remember that a few weeks ago, we
concluded that God used Jonah because of his obedience-paper thin as at
was-Jonah was obedient, and God used him to accomplish His purposes.
How then do you think Jonah responded? Let's return to the text.
it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry.  And he prayed to
the Lord and said, "Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still
in my own country? Therefore, in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish,
for I knew that Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger
and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.
 'Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better
to me than life.'" (Jonah
Does it surprise you that
Jonah became angry? Look closely at verse 2, in it Jonah affirms that his
loving God is gracious and compassionate-nothing wrong with his understanding
of God, is there? But also notice how he misapplies his accurate theology.
Jonah says, in essence, he'd rather be dead than witness God's grace pouring
out on people he despised.
Surely this is an anomaly
in scripture, surely Jonah is the only one of God's servants that responded
with such callous disregard for others, right?
We would never respond that
way, would we?
Think for a minute before
you answer. You might want to use one of your life lines on this one. You
can poll the audience, use 50/50 or phone a friend. I'd recommend you phone
You could phone the prodigal's
brother and see what he would say. Do you think he heard sobs coming from
his father's room at night? He must of seen the pain in his father's eyes
as he stood out front waiting for his son to return home.
Yet when he heard the news
that his errant brother came home and his father showed him mercy, he was
so angry that he wouldn't even go into the house. His father had to leave
the party for his son to listen to the older brother complain:
"But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have
been serving you, and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet
you have never given me a kid, that I might be merry with my friends; 
but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with harlots,
you killed the fattened calf for him.'"(Luke
Or you could phone those
who witnessed Jesus responding to the harlot who poured the costly perfume
on his feet. She heard that Jesus was reclining at one of the Pharisees'
table, so she crashed the party. She knelt before Jesus and began to weep.
As her tears mixed with the road dust on his feet, she wiped his feet clean
with her hair and splashed the perfume on his feet. Showing her appreciation
for God's grace, she ministered to the Lord.
As if God's grace was meant
exclusively for church people, Jesus' host responded, "If
this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this
woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner."
(Luke 7:39 NASB)
You could also phone the
workers who labored all day in the parable of the Vineyard. The owner of
the Vineyard needed laborers in his field so he recruited some workers
early in the day to work all day long for a denarius. At the third hour,
he saw others standing in the market place looking for work, so he hired
them to go into the vineyard and work with a promise to pay them whatever
is right. He did the same the sixth, the ninth and the eleventh hour. At
the end of the day, he called all his workers from the field and paid them
the same wage--a denarius.
The workers who worked all
day long were not inspired by the landowners grace, instead, they said, "These
last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us
who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day."
(Matthew 20:12 NASB)
All of these people have
something in common-they wanted God's grace for themselves but weren't
too happy to see His grace freely given to others.
How does God feel about his
children who want to hoard grace?
To the prodigal son, the
"And he said to him, 'My child, you have always been with me, and all that
is mine is yours.  'But we had to be merry and rejoice, for this brother
of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'
" (Luke 15:31-32
To his host, Jesus said, "And
Jesus answered and said to him, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.'
And he replied, 'Say it, Teacher.'  'A certain moneylender had two
debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When
they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. Which of them
therefore will love him more?'  Simon answered and said, 'I suppose
the one whom he forgave more.' And He said to him, 'You have judged correctly.'"Luke
And to the early workers,
the vineyard owner said, "But he answered and said to one of them, 'Friend,
I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? 
'Take what is yours and go your way, but I wish to give to this last man
the same as to you.  'Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with
what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous?'  "Thus
the last shall be first, and the first last."
(Matthew 20:13-16 NASB)
On second thought, instead
of calling those life lines, maybe you should call Judy Lawson.
Before her death, Judy Lawson
became a spiritual Mother of scores of hardened criminals. "On her last
Mother's Day," according to Bill Myers, "she received 40 Mother's Day cards
from men whose life she touched." Her prison ministry began eighteen months
after her son was brutally murdered. She knew it was God's will for her
to forgive the murderer, and she had spoken the words, but she continued
to harbor ill will toward the man who robbed her of her son. She had agreed
to never say "no" to God, so when she heard Him saying, "I want you to
love the man who killed your son" she had no choice but to fight the natural
rage boiling up and to practice Christian love and forgiveness.
While visiting a prison to
support a friend at a parole hearing, she came face-to-face with the murderer.
She fought God, but soon, in faith gave in to His leading to speak to the
man. "Richard," she said, "my name is Judy Lawson--you murdered my son
and I want you to know that I love you and I forgive you."
The man began sobbing and
the prison guards removed her from the facility. She sent the murderer
letters. He sent them back. She continued to write. Her family said stop.
Her pastor said stop. But her God said continue. Soon, God's grace broke
through and the vicious killer and the victim reconciled and began a ministry
together proclaiming grace and forgiveness to inmates. (From Fresh
Amazing! Judy Lawson lived
what Jesus said in Luke 6:27
"love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,"
Though it is not natural
to us, by God's grace, we can learn to rejoice when God's grace flows,
even to our enemies.