Sunday January 26, 2020 By Bob Cote
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Jonah Series Part 6
Jonah 4:1–2 NKJV
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.
I’d like to key in on the last part of verse two today:
“for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.”
Of everything Jonah experienced, I think the one thing he didn’t count on was that God would act contrary to what he thought was right!
Has this ever been the case with you?
Had you been praying about something or a situation and then been blind sided by what God did?
Well, if you have experienced that, you are in good company, and there’s a good reason for it:
Isaiah says in…
Isaiah 55:8–9 NKJV
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Notice that Isaiah doesn’t say that God’s ways or thoughts are different, but higher!
And this is why God is inconceivable to the human mind and heart.
And so the title of this message today describes this idea.
The Inconceivable God.
I. What we know about God.
He is holy
The term underlying our English “holy” is the same for saint, pure, and sanctify, and their derivatives.
And although you and I may have the terms applied to us at times in the Bible, we are not holy in essence, only God is.
He is omniscient
When God acts, it is with perfect knowledge.
He never has to weigh situations or investigate anything, because He has all the information for all time.
He does not need to look into the future or pear into the past, He is there because time is irrelevant to Him. He created that for us.
He is omnipresent
I can’t imagine being in two places at once, but God is everywhere always.
David says in –
Psalm 139:8 NKJV
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
He can hear everyone’s prayers simultaneously.
He can be with me and a brother in China.
He is in every believer everywhere and involved in their lives.
He is immutable
Dictionary of Theological Terms Immutability of God
The attribute of God whereby He cannot change or be changed in His essence or perfections.
In Himself He is absolutely immutable. In relation to His creatures, He is relatively immutable: He will never deviate or show a “shadow of turning” from His revealed purpose and truth (James 1:17; Mal. 3:6; Isa. 46:10; Ps. 33:11).
We can see God relenting in our text as He sees the repentance of the Ninevites. But, was the repentance of the Ninevites a surprise to God? Clearly not. Because He is omniscient, He already knew the outcome.
So then why, does it say that He relents? I believe it is presented this way throughout Holy Scripture, to demonstrate His overwhelming mercy to us.
Now let’s look at …
II. What we know about ourselves.
We are sinful
We know this is true, but we don’t readily accept it.
And that’s a dead giveaway to our sinful nature!
We are always acting contrary to the nature of Christ who is the very image of the invisible God (Heb. 1:3).
We need to understand this as it has been stated numerous times in the scriptures (Rom 3:10; Rom. 6:23)
We do not know all things or even everything about one thing
But that never stops us from putting our foot in our mouths, or speaking nonsense, or acting like a complete fool!
We pride ourselves on being experts in things we have only a glimpse of.
Experts in science and nature!
Experts on Marriage!
I remember when Michelle and I were to be married, and as practicing Catholics at the time, we were required to attend pre-marital classes of the local diocese. When we got there, I couldn’t quite understand the logic that a man who took a vow of celibacy and had never been married (Catholic priest), was instructing us on how to have a successful marriage?
Experts on how to run the country!
We won’t go there, but Oh how are we going to survive the next year with all these so-called experts on the presidency that they’ve never undertaken?
Yes, we know everything! Not!
We cannot be everywhere
As I said in the previous point, we can’t even be in two places at the same time.
We are limited in spatial ways, and so can never be fully informed at one time.
What Jonah could not see in his hatred, was what the eleventh verse of this chapter speaks of, the 120,000 children and animals, which were scattered about in Nineveh!
Although Jonah had a birds eye view of the city, He could not count those precious innocent children whom He would have mercy upon.
Incidentally, God also considers animals! Something to think about.
Every time I sit at a restaurant and look at a menu, I change my mind about 10 times.
We also change our minds when obeying God.
We decide and undecide and then justify it everytime!
III. What we should do about it.
If Jonah knew the character of God, why would he act contrary to it?
Why do we act contrary to the character of God?
I’m troubled by this, because I can see this very thing playing out all the time.
We know what God is like, because we read it for ourselves in His word.
But we, as James says, are double minded when we see who we are in Christ but walk away forgetting.
I’d like to offer one practical means by which Christians can do, to remedy this:
Psalm 119:105 NKJV
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Clearly the key to walking the right path with God is to be led by His word.
But not just as I suggested last week, bathing in His word daily, but having it ready at all times.
Psalm 119:11 NKJV
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
I saw this past week that Dr. Jack Van Impe passed recently.
Although Dr. Van Impe, was a great champion for the evangelical position of pre-millennialism, and especially the pre-tribulation theory of the rapture of the church, he had problems and was rightly criticized for making bad predictions.
But Dr. Jack was also rightly recognized for his amazing ability to memorize scripture.
Aside from all the inflated claims out there, Dr. Van Impe memorized much of the Bible in categories.
The following is a true story-
Representing the Michigan Sunday School Association in a 3-hour debate with an atheist and a Roman Catholic priest, on Detroit’s radio station WXYZ, Jack quoted over 500 Bible verses in the first two hours of the program. The moderator was so upset at this domination of the debate with unanswerable arguments that he ruled that no more verses could be quoted in the debate. At that announcement, Jack stated that he would have to leave the program, since the purpose of his being there was to present the Bible. With an hour still remaining in the debate, the announcer rescinded his rule and allowed “The Walking Bible” to keep on quoting Scripture.
Personally, I believe there can be no greater weapon in the Christian arsenal than memorized scripture!
In fact, the sixth chapter of Ephesians that tells us to put on the whole armor of God, tells us that the sixth piece of armor is the “Sword of the Spirit” which is the word of God!
I find it amazing that Christians would think that God will use something we are unfamiliar with.
If our mind is weak to the psychological attacks of the devil, we would assume our helmet of salvation needs attention. If we are constantly getting hit with the fiery darts of the enemy, our shield of faith needs to be raised.
So it goes without saying that our sword of the Spirit must be sharp and in the hands of a skilled swordsman.
And scripture in the heart, will guide us to live our lives for Christ, when we are in similar circumstances as Jonah.