Sunday January 19, 2020 By Bob Cote
Sorry, but the audio recording for this message was corrupted. You can however read a truncated version below!
Jonah Series – Part 4
Our text today brings us to Jonah 4:1–5 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. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” 4 Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?” 5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city.
Our series in Jonah brings us to a great theme and a particularly relevant topic – Racism!
In light of this Monday being the day we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. a champion of civil rights for African Americans in this country, who was assassinated on his second floor balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis TN. April 4, 1968 – and not to minimize or diminish the plight of the Black man who was brought to this country in slavery and marginalized throughout the centuries by people who although freed him from his bondage, still treat him as a second class citizen, the problem is still prevalent everywhere today, and not just amongst African Americans!
We live in a culture of bigotry and racism, hatred and wickedness, toward our fellow man! But, I will remind you that every person on this planet, whatever skin color, ideology, or belief, walked off his father Noah’s ark and repopulated the world. Because we can all trace our ancestry back to Shem, Ham, or Japheth! We are all brothers!
Jonah hated the Ninevites for no good reason! In fact, none of us can hate for any good reason! Then why do even Christians hate?
Christians hate because of
I. The un-tempered heart.
Here, I find that Jonah is no different than any other person. We would be wise to take note of this the next time we put someone on a pedestal! I Mean, just because someone looks good from a human perspective doesn’t mean they are impervious to sin. But Jonah is a perfect example of the un-tempered heart. The heart that is not pliable to the word of God.
I mentioned this scripture last week, and I’ll remind you of it again here. Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV says, 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
You see, we all have an un-tempered heart that needs constant attention. Do we think that because we Christians belong to Christ that we are now somehow perfect in heart? Anyone who thinks that must have had their oatmeal spiked this morning! We all have a wicked heart that needs to be tempered by the word of God.
I want to ask you three questions:
A. What kind of person denies another mercy? This is Jonah in a nutshell! He claims he knows that God is merciful, and yet petitions God through manipulation, to deny the Ninevites this very thing. His heart is hardened toward this people.
The second question is…
B. What kind of person seeks ethnic cleansing? You can break it down anyway you like, but Jonah is here bartering for this very thing. His hatred for these gentiles is so strong, that he is seeking their very extermination! Now the world is no stranger to ethnic cleansing. The Armenian Genocide of 1914 – 1924 took the lives of 800,000 to one million Armenian men women and children. The Jewish Holocaust of the early 1940’s claimed the lives of millions of Jews. These are just two of the better known examples.
The third question is…
C. What kind of person takes satisfaction in another’s demise? The fifth verse of our text shows Jonah retreating to the east side of the city to see what would become of the city. This is amazing, because God already said that He relented from the destruction He would bring upon the Ninevites! What Jonah is doing, is trying to manipulate God using his position as a prophet and a Jew to move God to change His mind and destroy the Ninevites. If he knew the mercy of God and that God was a God of forgiveness, and this was the reason he left for Tarshish the first time, how wicked his un-tempered heart was to take satisfaction in the Assyrian’s demise! How so many today are willing to seek the destruction of another and to take satisfaction in it! What kind of people are these?
Well, Look around! They are everywhere. Congress and liberal nutcases that hate the president and anyone who voted for him, and will stop at nothing to remove him. The president who insults, threatens, and denigrates people and can’t seem to act appropriate. People everywhere that will lie, cheat, and perjure themselves to discredit someone else. Neo Nazi groups that are planning to murder people because of their ideologies and/or skin color. Antifa, a hypocritical fascist group that incites riots and resorts to violence everywhere they demonstrate. Good law abiding citizens who are glad that General Soleimani is dead, justifying it because of his committed atrocities. Really? All we need to do is look in the mirror to find an un-tempered heart. I myself, a conservative right-wing, republican, nut job; find myself becoming enraged with what I see happening to my country! And I could easily go off the range and lose it, if it were not for God! You see, I had a dream a few nights ago! That’s right a dream! Our country was in a civil war and I was loading my gun ready to fight! When I woke up abruptly, I wondered who was going to be at the other end of the barrel? You say pastor Bob, you’ve got issues! We all have issues, and they come from an un-tempered heart. Which is why we need…
II. The Heart of God.
And there is only one way I know to get it!
A. Using prayer as the refining fire, that makes us pliable for the Word. When we open the Bible and pray over what we are reading, we allow God to control the outcome, because there is no reason to read the sacred scriptures unless we are willing to let it guide us. So many today read for the sake of reading. I mean we have our daily reading plans, our monthly devotionals, our minute devotionals! We approach God’s word like we’re punching a clock for our shift at work. But the word of God needs to be effectual in our lives. And so this is the work of the Holy Spirit through prayer. Not intercessory prayer, as much as that is needed, but time spent with God asking Him to break our heart for His word. Many Christians say they don’t have time, but the truth is really that we don’t want to give up the things that occupy our time, things unnecessary for the spiritual life but necessary for the carnal life. We need, more than ever, quality time praying over the word of God.
But there is a second part to this. Once we begin to allow the refining fire of prayer to make us pliable, like the iron that is moldable once it has been heated red hot by the fire of the blacksmith, it is…
B. Using the Word of God as an anvil to mold our heart. After praying over the scripture, I am ready to be molded to the shape of His word. His word that speaks to me! That beckons me to walk with Him in unity. The word that trumps every word, truth, ideology, prejudice, thought, or plan of mankind. The word once delivered to the saints of old and still applicable today. The word that conforms us to the likeness of Christ! Ah! There is God’s desire! To make us like His Son Jesus. To reshape an un-tempered heart to the heart of God. And this magnificent process is accomplished when we find ourselves…
C. Using repentance as a hammer to reshape our hard heart and bring it into conformity to God’s standard. We can pray for the refining fire that makes us pliable to the anvil of His word, but we will not have one edge of this hard, un-tempered heart molded to His word unless the hammer of repentance begins its work! Because the reshaping takes many blows of the hammer to reshape this hardened mass of wickedness! We cannot expect the process to be done in one morning or evening, there must be constant attention paid to this process which will take us to our last breath in this world. But going through this process daily brings much fruit in the end.
My brothers and sisters, we cannot continue to live in this present evil system thinking we are impervious to its toxicity! We will be changed by it unless we increase our time in the word of God and prayer! We must be different than the world! We must be better than the world! We must set an example for the world!