Salvation Belongs to the Lord: Jonah, Part 4

Brian Mahon - 6/4/2023


Call to worship: Exodus 34:1-9

Text: Jonah 4:1-11


God has relented, and Jonah is exceedingly angry about it. He has nothing good to say about the goodness of God's glory applied to the Ninevites. In fact, he'd rather the Lord take his life than live in a world where God's love envelopes the world. The gentleness of God with Jonah is divine. He asks him to reflect on whether he's doing well in being angry that a city of souls has been spared. While he stews outside the city, God comforts him beyond his ability to comfort himself. His kind sovereignty comes into prominent view. He appoints a plant, then a worm to kill it, then a wind to afflict the prophet, and all to make a point: Jonah's angry over grace removed from him, whereby he's made to experience a wilting wind, but he has no pity for graceless souls standing on the precipice of eternal judgment. Grace removed from him, anger; grace applied to Nineveh, anger. Dreadfully self-centered, he's invited to consider, over against a plant, God's heart for people. It's a final prod to cultivate a gracious, Christ-like heart. Will Jonah do it? What will we do? So the book ends. Salvation belongs to the Lord.

Sermon Outline:

  1. Jonah angry with God. (4:1-3)
  2. God gentle with Jonah. (4:4-11)
  3. A question to expose Jonah. (4:4)
  4. A provision to comfort Jonah. (4:5-6)
  5. An affliction to test Jonah. (4:7-9)
  6. A lesson to change Jonah. (4:10-11)


Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Jonah 4:1-11. Compare with the texts given for our call to worship and intermediate reading above.
  2. Why is Jonah angrily displeased with God? What does his anger reveal about him? Has he made any real progress in sanctification yet? Did he really repent? Does his spiritual condition seem to have cut off his relationship with the Lord? What might that teach us about said relationship? Why did Jonah not want to go to Nineveh at first? What did he know about God? How might Jonah's particular problem be different (or similar) to our own? Do we know that God is weighted to save sinners? Jonah did! So what was his issue, and do we at all share it?
  3. Are there any circumstances under which we'd rather the Lord take our lives than live to see certain souls spared? Do we harbor hatred for anyone that runs that dreadfully? How does God respond to Jonah's anger, mindful of all He's already done for the prophet? What's the gist of the question? What's God really asking him? What does Jonah do in response to the question (4:5)?
  4. What can we learn about God from the fact that, while concerned for so many thousands in the city, He yet (as God) attends to this prophet stewing outside the city? (Oh to know the mind of Him, in this moment, Who, in the person of the Son, will also 'go outside the city gate' with a very different heart---the same He's trying to cultivate in Jonah). What does God give to Jonah, and why? How does God take it away from Jonah, and why? What is Jonah's response to this display of God's sovereignty in his life?
  5. There is a lesson in it also. How does God bring it home to Jonah in 4:10-11? Do we pity anything more than perishing souls? Is Jonah's pity really for the plant? What is Jonah really upset about? What does God confirm for us in this lesser to greater comparison with Jonah's pity? Should not God pity perishing souls that He created, cultivated, and has known from all eternity? Jonah pities the plant because he's lost its comfort, but why does God pity Nineveh? Is it because they provide Him with anything? What does this teach us about the nature of grace? Do we love the truth that salvation belongs to the Lord? And is it melting our hearts for all souls?
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