God of the Second Chance #2
Will You Celebrate Repentance?
Well, we move to finish our short series in the book of Jonah. We must remember that God called Jonah to go to the wicked city of Nineveh and announce God’s judgment coming in 40 days.
But Jonah ran. He boarded a ship heading the opposite direction.
God sent a storm to get his attention. He was thrown overboard and then a God-prepared fish swallowed Jonah alive.
Jonah spent 3 days in that fish. He repented, confessed his sin, and committed his way and very life to the Lord and God gave him a 2nd Chance!
God caused the fish to spit him out on the short and he headed for Nineveh. He spent 3 days preaching through the city and their hearts were touched, their souls awakened, and they believed God and repented. And God relented of his promised judgment.
That catches us up … let’s pick up where we left off … back one verse to Jonah 3:10 and read chapter four
READ Jonah 3:10-4:11
Let’s be honest, sometimes, we have a list of people who in our mind, don’t deserve God’s grace. We just think it wouldn’t be fair to give them grace because they aren’t worthy.
To guide our thoughts today, let me ask some questions.
Now I’ve had a lot of different responses in revival meetings. I’ve been surprised when people respond. I’ve been surprised when they don’t respond. I’ve been disappointed when the response wasn’t greater. But I can honestly say that I’ve never been angry because people DID respond.
This is part of the problem with some preachers who base all of their preaching on pronouncing judgment. They begin to feel like THEY are the judge and they nearly joyfully proclaim judgment.
God does NOT glory when he is forced to judge sin, but his holiness requires it.
But Jonah seems to have enjoyed the pronouncement of God’s promised destruction
But when Jonah’s sermon ends the people, repent … and it is as if Jonah is saying “hey wait a minute, you aren’t allowed to repent, that’s not an option.”
And then God relents of his promised destruction and Jonah gets angry … not with Nineveh … but with God …
Have you ever been angry with God?
The NIV says “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry”
The HCSB – “Jonah was furious”
The YLT – “it is grievous unto Jonah – a great evil – and he is displeased at it.”
Paul Mackrell says that this phrase literally could be rendered “it is evil to Jonah, a great evil”
This is more than Jonah saying “I don’t like this” … this is an accusation against a Holy God that His deeds are EVIL.
A righteous God is accused by his preacher of being evil … using two different words for evil, “yera” and “ra’a”
SHOULD we be angry with God? NO … But anger is an emotion … sometimes it springs up … So, when it does, and you are angry with God …
What should you do?
Dr. Gary Chapman in his book, “Anger: Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way”, teaches us that when we are angry with God
1) Tell him
2) Listen to him
3) Report for duty to your next assignment.
We won’t handle the 3rd … but the first two are in this chapter.
Jonah DID tell God … we might be uncomfortable with how he told him … but verse 2 says
Not exactly a model prayer here, but a prayer nonetheless.
You can almost hear his voice rising and now we know WHY Jonah ran away in the first place, in chapter one.
You can hear Jonah saying “I KNEW IT! I knew you would forgive them if they repented. I knew it because that’s who you are.”
Then Jonah quoted from God’s statement about himself in Exodus 34, as he showed Moses his Glorious Reputation … Jonah said, God you are “gracious … compassionate … slow to anger … abounding in love … LORD I KNEW IT! And It’s NOT RIGHT”
Then he tries to take it up a notch in verse three … “Just kill me now!”
Aren’t you glad that God “he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Ps 103:14)
He knows we are passionate, sometimes rash, and ultimately we are children. And so like a kid throwing a tantrum and then saying “I hate you” … they parent often lovingly overlooks it. So God overlooks the seriousness of these statements and doesn’t just ZAP JONAH where he stands.
But listen … if you are angry with God … and you PRAY angry … at least you ARE PRAYING …
If you ARE angry and you pray … but don’t voice your anger … then you are in essence lying to God and so hurt yourself
And if you fail to pray at all when you ARE angry, you have no chance to hear from him and it shows you are controlled by pride
So … this isn’t a pretty picture … It isn’t Jonah’s finest moment, but we CAN relate can’t we? So, Jonah was angry because God let Nineveh off the hook, which brings us to another question
God actually asked Jonah this question himself. He asked it twice over two days. God asks it about Jonah’s anger over Nineveh and about his anger over the vine dying.
V4 God says “have you the RIGHT to be angry”
NASB – “do you have a GOOD REASON to be angry?”
What would give Jonah the RIGHT or REASON to be angry?
Before I answer … notice the reason for the question.
Just because anger is an emotion doesn’t mean we can excuse it. If you blow your top all the time … you can’t say “that’s just the way I am” … you need to learn from it and change … you need to learn that you don’t always HAVE to be that way.
Jonah needed to CHECK himself and change his attitude
In Verse 9 Jonah says “I do” (have the right) and adds “I’m angry enough to die”
But that’s a statement of reality … not a reason for it …
But what WOULD give him a RIGHT to be angry?
1) If Jonah MADE Nineveh, if he made the Vine … then he could decide their fate
2) If Jonah were Holy and Righteous, then he could determine the outcome of all who were not up to HIS standards
3) If Jonah had been appointed by God as Judge of the Living and Dead, then he could carry out the sentence
4) If God had even ASKED for his OPINION …
No, No, No, No …
NONE of that is TRUE
He is NOT Creator, Judge, Holy, Righteous, or God’s Council
Jonah is like the Pharisees in Luke 15:2 accusing Jesus of loving sinners …
Jonah is saying “God I can’t believe you would enter a relationship with these sinners just because they repented”
And so, Jonah went out and POUTED under a shade shelter …
So, then … if we have no right …
This is hard for us to see since Jonah didn’t get it right.
But God made this vine grow up, literally right away … “the Lord provided” the vine just like he provided the fish
And guess what, Jonah was “very happy” Or “exceedingly glad”(ESV)
Three words here form this phrase “very happy” … literally it is saying that Jonah “Rejoiced with Great Joy”
How should Jonah have responded to the Repentance of condemned sinful men resulting in God’s gracious forgiveness?
He Should have responded EXACTLY AS he did over the STUPID VINE!!!
When the Vine was healthy, he was rejoicing with Great Joy and when it was Sick and shriveled up, he was “Concerned” or “had pity” or was “troubled”
Oh the things that we celebrate
and the things we grieve over are often SO SO OUT of ORDER with God’s Economy of things and the things that REALLY matter
This was not some people making empty promises and some sort of death row religious
Experience … 3:10 says God Saw … which means Perceived … how they “turned from their evil ways” … they had been transformed by understanding the wickedness and believing God was their only hope, repenting and it was visible by their action.
But Jonah valued a VINE … but not a Living Soul, that was created in the Image of God …
So Then, a final question
This is really the pivotal question for us as we view this event.
That’s the message we need to learn.
God loved these people. God’s Revelation of judgment was an invitation to repent and they accepted it.
Our problem is when we fret or second guess repentance.
When we do that, we don’t understand the worth of a soul.
We worry about so many trivial things. We worry about things that are symptoms and care not about the cancer underneath.
We are busy trying to take care of external, cosmetic problems, and annoying habits, when there is a death causing cancer underneath that is 100% curable.
We fail to see that these things that we don’t like are 100% transformable by the power of the Holy Spirit gained by faith in Jesus Christ.
But are we busy keeping our vines healthy with 1000s of souls around us whither and are dying destined for hell.
God said “you are concerned about a vine that you did nothing to create, instead of Celebrating the salvation of 120,000 people, created in God’s image, awakened to God by YOUR Preaching” …
What is the worth of a soul? Well what did it cost to Redeem it?
If you can measure the COST for Christ …
Philippians 2 says, he emptied himself …
1) what is the worth of giving up his rights as Lord of Heaven?
2) what is the worth of setting aside the wealth of Heaven for the poverty of the manger?
3) what is the worth of exchanging His rights as the Son of God to become a servant to every sinner?
4) what is the cost of being a God who measures the Universe with his hands to being limited to a human body?
5) what is the price paid to be “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5)
6) what is the price for Christ? “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is slient so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away … he was cut off from the land of the living … (Isaiah 53:7-8)
7) what is the price? He was beaten 39 times with a torture devise called a “cat of nine tales”, when his beard was plucked out, he was mocked, spat upon, and made to carry his cross through the streets of Jerusalem up Calvary’s hill.
8) What is the price? Look to the nails in his hands and feet, the spear to his side?
9) what is the price? See the crown of thorns on his head, hear him as he gasps for breath as his arms are stretched wide lungs unable to breath, see him as his heart bursts while taking all our sin on him and his Father is turned away.
10)What is the cost for the Father who watches his son go through all of this and chooses to allow it and does not retaliate and instead offers all who receive him salvation, inclusion in the family of God, Inheritance immeasurable and life everlasting.
That My friends is the Worth of a Soul
And yet … there is rejoicing in all of Heaven when ONE sinner repents
In Luke 15 Jesus says that if a Shepherd lost one sheep, he would seek it out and there great rejoicing and so Jesus says would be more rejoicing in Heaven over the ONE sinner who repents than the 99 who didn’t need to repent.
He says if a lady lost an expensive coin, she would turn the house upside down to find it and then celebrate its return and so he says In the same way … there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over ONE SINNER who repents
And he says that if a man had one son who was wayward and went off in a rebellious manner, but he returned … the Father would welcome him back and celebrate his return. And when others didn’t understand … The Father said We HAD to Celebrate and be Glad, because … (he) was DEAD and is Alive again; he was LOST and is found
Will you have a list of who is worthy?
Or will you celebrate every soul who is called by God and received THEM Gladly
How should we respond to the repentant sinner?
Look at what Jonah did, and DO THE OPPOSITE!
When God reveals his plan and calls you to Go to the shadow of the gates of Hell …
Tell the Great message that we are sinners, and judgment is already pronounced but forgiveness is available …
Proclaim that God is able to forgive the greatest of sinners and redeem the one most lost and the price has ALREADY Been PAID!
And when God does his GREATEST MIRACLE and saves a soul, turns one back from the road to hell, and onto the pathway to life … Rejoice, Celebrate, Welcome them to the family, Lead them in the way everlasting
David Berkowitz, was known as the Son of Sam. According to his own confession, he was a Satanist and in a cult of killing. In 1978 he was sentenced to 25 years to life for each of his victims as a Serial Killer in New York City.
In 1987, David Berkowitz was reading Psalm 34:6 in a Gideon New Testament. It says “This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.”
David Berkowitz opened his heart to Jesus Christ and his testimony is that God forgave and saved him from his sins. In 2002 with a pending first Parole hearing … he wrote New York Governor Pataki and asked for the hearing to be canceled saying “in all honesty, I believe I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have, with God’s help, long ago come to terms with my situation and I have accepted my punishment.” He has not attended any of his parole hearings saying he doesn’t deserve it. In 2006 He received a letter from the mother of one of his victims saying that she had forgiven him. You can go to www.sonofhope.com to hear his prison journals about the power of God to forgive.
Can we celebrate that? Can a serial killer come to Christ and enjoy eternity?
In speaking of this passage in Jonah Dr. W.A. Criswell said
“Wherever men are who will turn, there God’s presence is to save, to convert, to heal, to forgive, to make well again. Any men, any people, anywhere, anytime, that’s God.”
In 1854 Fredrick W. Faber, an Anglican Minister, wrote words to a hymn that has been set to several tunes.
/There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in His justice,
Which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
Are more felt than up in Heaven;
There is no place where earth’s failings
Have such kindly judgment given.
There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Savior;
There is healing in His blood.
There is grace enough for thousands
Of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations
In that upper home of bliss.
For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrows of the Head.
’Tis not all we owe to Jesus;
It is something more than all;
Greater good because of evil,
Larger mercy through the fall.
Souls of men! why will ye scatter
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts! why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?
It is God: His love looks mighty,
But is mightier than it seems;
’Tis our Father: and His fondness
Goes far out beyond our dreams.
But we make His love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we magnify His strictness
With a zeal He will not own.
Was there ever kinder shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Savior who would have us
Come and gather at His feet?
Oh dear one …
If God can save anyone, he can save you
If he can save YOU, then he can save Anyone
Are you here today and have never responded in faith to his love?
I have sobering news for you today. On your own, you are destined to be separated from God forever in a place the Bible calls Hell … but I also have Great news for you … it does not have to be
The Penalty for sin is always shed blood
But Jesus Christ has paid the penalty on that cross, and it was for that reason that he was born, lived and gave himself to die
But if you today, will realize your sin, repent, which means to turn away from it, and turn to him as Lord, he will receive you
His love is perfect, and full, and it is big enough for you
Will you Receive him today?
Those of you who already are in Christ … will you tell someone? Will you rejoice as they respond?
Will you celebrate with all of Heaven