Sunday, 26 March 2000 00:00

But God...

Jonah 4:5-8 (KJV)

So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind: and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

Churches constantly talk about "closing the back door" which is lingo for "what do we do to keep the people we baptize committed in their walk with Christ?" In our human oriented way of considering salvation we so focus on what we should do, are not doing, or could do better that we fail to realize that God is the one in charge of His children, and He will not fail in His work.

  1. God's people will not always be rock solid...
    You will be hard pressed to find one of God's children in the Bible who at some point in his life did not struggle and fail in his walk with God. How can I know if my walk with Christ is out of kilter? What are some of the signs that I may have wandered away from Christ?
    1. You want judgment more than you want grace...
      Jonah went out to the east side of Nineveh "to see what would become of the city." He wanted to see the Ninvites receive the judgment of God and then report it back home.
      1. The Bible calls these kinds of people "busybodies" (II Thessalonians 3:11).
      2. Anger in the spirit is always a sign of an absence of the Spirit.
    2. Temporal things make you glad, eternal things make you sad...
      Notice, in 4:1 Jonah is "very angry," but in 4:6 Jonah is "exceeding glad." What is the difference? Jonah is angry because of grace, but he is glad because of a gourd. It's not the purposes of heaven that make Jonah glad, it is his possessions on earth.
      1. This "gourd" was a large plant native to the land. In Hebrew it is the kikaion plant. It springs up quickly and grows to the size of a tall man. The trunk is hollow and the leaves are broader than palm tree leaves. This gourd brought relief to Jonah.
      2. This "gourd" was the cause of Jonah's gladness. When a man finds his happiness in possessions rather than people, temporal things rather than eternal things, he's sick.
    3. You'd rather do it your way than God's way...
      "Look Lord," Jonah says, "I'd just rather die than see the Ninevites receive your grace." Simply put, "I don't want to hear what You want, I want what I want; let me have it."
  2. God's people will always become rock solid...
    The two greatest words in the Bible are found in verse 7: "But God... ". God was not going to leave Jonah where he was. We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) and He works perfectly. How does God take His child who has strayed or is in rebellion and turn him around?
    1. God controls every single event in our lives...
      We see in this text that God prepared a worm (v.7) and a vehement east wind (v.8). Until you come to an understanding that not an atom of your universe moves but under the divines, providential control of a sovereign God, you won't see Him at work in you.
    2. God causes us to come to the end of ourselves...
      Jonah says, "Lord, just let me die!" Brokenness always precedes blessing. This principle is taught throughout the Bible. Christianity is a series of breakings that leads to blessing.
    3. God creates in us new desires, in line with His desires...
      He will often do this through the simple teaching of His Word, which is like fresh water (which cleanses), or a hammer (which breaks). If not the Word, then it will be His Work.

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