The Book of Jonah calls us to examine the motivation of our hearts in serving God. Are we truly sold out to God’s sovereign will or trying to push our own agenda? Does our heart mirror the compassionate heart of God – overflowing with mercy and grace; or do we evidence a judgmental spirit? Do we love the world without prejudice and without reservation or do we withhold our love from certain groups?
Jonah struggled with the tension between fulfilling his calling as God’s prophet and remaining loyal to his nationalistic pride and natural sense of fair judgment. He appreciated God’s deliverance in giving him a second chance to carry out his mission, but wanted to dictate the results rather than rejoice in God’s sovereign disposition of mercy.
The Sovereign Disposition Of God’s Mercy And Grace Exposes The Pride And Jealousy Of Judgmental Believers
Jonah 4:2 “I knew that Thou art a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.”
I. (1:1-17) Jonah’s Flight — Running Away from God Never Works – It Only Exposes a Heart that is Opposed to God’s Sovereign Agenda
II. (2:1-10) Jonah’s Fervency — The God of the Second Chance Hears Our Desperate Cries Despite the Depths of Our Distress
III. (3:1-11) Jonah’s Faithfulness — The Preaching of God’s Prophetic Message of Imminent Judgment Can Change Men’s Hearts and Turn Away the Impending Wrath of God
IV. (4:1-11) Jonah’s Failure — Those Who Benefit from God’s Compassion Have No Right to Complain Against the Sovereign Extension of Mercy to Others (No Matter How Undeserving)
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To develop a heart of compassion and mercy for the lost
• To solidify our commitment to God’s sovereign agenda and program for history
• To encourage immediate, unquestioning, complete obedience to God’s unique calling for us
• To take comfort in God’s forgiveness and extension of a second chance to us when we fail
• To increase our confidence in the power of the proclamation of God’s revealed message
• To be able to recognize the evident fruit of repentance
• To become more fervent in our prayer life
David Malick: Yahweh’s merciful works of salvation are expressions of His good character towards all who repent of their rebellion against Him – whether Jew (Jonah) or Gentile (Sailors / Ninevites).
Fairbairn: Finally, we are taught here the salutary lesson, that whenever and wherever God is pleased to manifest of his grace and goodness, it is our part to acknowledge and rejoice in the manifestation.
Ironside: Unquestionably the great theme of this book is the divine sovereignty. The expressions “The Lord prepared” and “God prepared,” frequently repeated, would manifest this. Throughout, however man may plan, and whatever he may attempt, it is God who is over all, and working all things in such away as to bring glory to His own name…
For that it was pride and bigotry that was at the bottom of all his wilfulness and waywardness is clear enough. He knew that God was long-suffering, and that He delighted in mercy. He tells us that in the end. He therefore feared for his prophetic reputation; and his thoughts were so far from those of the Lord that he could not endure that grace should be shown to a Gentile power.
John Piper: If you love Jesus you will have a universal good will toward people everywhere. That’s what Jesus meant when he said “Bless those who curse you.” You can’t bless somebody if you desire their harm. So if you are a follower of Jesus you must desire the good of everyone, no matter what their race or nationality.
Ray Stedman: What a revelation of the knowledge of God and of the character of the God of the Old Testament! From time to time, those who do not believe the Bible—primarily those who are educated beyond their intelligence—say that the God of the Old Testament was a vengeful, wrathful God, a God of black thunderclouds and bolts of lightning, and that he was always killing people off. Well, do you find that here? That is not the kind of God that Jonah knew. He says, “I knew that thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love, and repentest of evil.”
He has sent us men and women to be a sign to this generation. And what is that sign? It is the sign of Jonah, the sign of resurrection, the sign of people who once were dead who have been made alive in Jesus Christ. Isn’t that why the Lord said, “As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:40) Isn’t that the heart of our proclamation, that here is a God who can bring life from death, who can resurrect those who are swallowed up in the belly of a whale or fish—lost, hopeless—but redeemed? And the witnesses to this proclamation are the resurrected lives of those of us who, like Jonah, declare this message in our day.