Pity Your City

By Bobby Blakey on August 2, 2015

Jonah 4:1-11


Pity Your City

By Bobby Blakey on August 2, 2015

Jonah 4:1-11

This is a rush transcript.

[00:00:02] The greatest speech I've ever heard in my life was actually in my high school speech class. I don't know if you had this class in high school, but I went to this small little Christian high school. We had 50 kids in high school. And we had this class where we would tell speeches where we would do speeches and we would learn how to do it. And the teacher actually sat in the back of the classroom and everybody faced forward. And one at a time we would go up and share something with the class. And he came to the time that we were gonna give our testimony, speeches, the stories of our salvation.

[00:00:37] And so we were I was actually sitting in the front row and the teacher remembers in the back of the room and the teacher says, let's start our testimony speeches today. Who would like to go first? And the guy to the right of me says loud enough. So students can hear, but the teacher can't. Oh, great. This is where we all make something up. That's what he says tells you about the fine Christian high school that I went to. Right. And the guy on my other side, good friend of mine. He raises his hand. He says, I'd like to go first. And he walks up and he unfolds his paper and he looks at the class and he says, I'd like to tell you the story of a boy named Johnny. Johnny grew up in a Christian home. Johnny went to Sunday school and he had all the answers to the questions. Johnny knew how to act like a perfect Christian.

[00:01:26] And that's the problem. Johnny was just acting. And then he said something that shook the whole room. He said. And I'm Johnny.

[00:01:37] And everybody who knew this guy, they would have thought he was one of the good guys. He was one of the cool guys at the school. Surely he must have been one of the Christians. And he starts to explain to our class how just a couple of nights ago, under the stars with his dad, he had prayed to repent of his sins that he had kept secret from the other kids at school. And then he wanted to now confess publicly and he had turned from those sins to follow Jesus Christ. He says this at our school. Like, I just got saved two days ago. And I'm sitting in the front row and I stand up and I'm just like, standing ovation. Like, Yeah, this is great. This guy just got.

[00:02:17] And I turn around and I realize I'm the only person in the room at Christian High School that's clapping or even happy about it.

[00:02:27] Like everybody else, it's like awkwardly silent and I just kind of like sit back down in my seat, you know, because I'm the only person excited about somebody just getting safe. It was a classic case of missing the point. And I'm thinking to myself, why isn't everybody clapping about this? I was the greatest speech I've ever heard in my life. And I slowly begin to realize over the days that go on at my high school is the reason people aren't clapping is they can't relate to it.

[00:02:56] They don't. They haven't experienced it.

[00:02:59] And I start to realize that at my Christian high school, most of these kids aren't even safe. They haven't experienced the joy of salvation. So they can't get excited when somebody else talks about it.

[00:03:11] And this weird thing started happening at our rinky dink little Christian high school. In fact, it was something that really had a major impression on me as a person is over the next few weeks, people would stand up. Not even in speech class. Now, like one guy stood up in chemistry class, somebody stood up in history and they would announce to the class, hey, I've just also got to let everyone know I, too, was a hypocrite. And I've been wearing a mask at this school and I need to take the mask off and I need to get real with you guys and let you know that I've been in sin. And just recently, did I really put my faith in Jesus Christ in this starts to happen regularly.

[00:03:47] Like every week, it seems like somebody new at the school is getting saved and it started to feel like revival was spreading, like the presence of God was right there at this little high school. In a way that had never been before. And some people, they completely missed what was going on. And other people, they were just celebrating salvation. And now when we come to Jonah, Chapter four, and we've seen a great revival, in fact. Grab your Bible and turn to the book of Jonah. We're at the last chapter where at the conclusion and if you were here last week, what we saw was utterly astounding, that this city of Minova, a city that's wickedness, is noticed by God. He sends a prophet who doesn't even want to go there and warns them that they're going to be judged in 40 days. And from the king all the way down to the animals in this city, they cover themselves with sackcloth. They pour ashes on their heads and they cry out to God in repentance over their sin. Not only are they admitting that they have sinned, they're turning from their sin, throwing themselves on the mercy of God and praying, hoping that maybe God will turn from his judgment, an amazing thing happens in Geneva when the people repent, God relents of the disaster he was going to bring upon the city and they are forgiven for their sins. A revival breaks out in this great city of people.

[00:05:14] And you would think now Chapter four is the standing ovation of the glory of God. Chapter four is when all God's people.

[00:05:23] Surely his prophet. Surely the one who brought the good news of salvation. Actually, all he brought was the bad news that they were going to be judged. Surely that guy would be just praising the Lord. I mean, Jonah four is surely the story of how Jonah began then of a Bible school, and he began to teach the people there all the ways of the Lord. And then Jonah went on a world tour going to all of the pagan nations and proclaiming to them the great thing God had done in the city of Minova and how all people everywhere could turn from their sin and find forgiveness in the gracious and merciful character of God Almighty. That's what you would expect to read in Jonah Chapter four. But what you realize if you're excited about people getting saved, is that Jonah has completely missed the point in the worst possible way. And this is not a happy story of revival. This is a tragedy.

[00:06:15] My friends read Jonah Chapter four with me. Start in verse one. God saves the city. And here's what it says, Jonah. Chapter four, verse one.

[00:06:24] But it displeased Jonah exceedingly. And he was angry.

[00:06:32] And he prayed to the Lord and said, oh, Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful. Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and relenting from disaster.

[00:06:51] Therefore, now. Oh, Lord, please take my life from me. For it is better for me to die than to live. And the Lord said, do you do well to be angry?

[00:07:07] Jonah went out of the city and he sat to the east of the city and he made a booth for himself there. And he sat under it in the shade till he should see what would become of the city. Now, the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah so that it might be a shade over his head to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when Dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant so that it withered. And when the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said It is better for me to die than to live.

[00:07:58] But God said to Jonah, do you do well to be angry for the plant? And he said, Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die. And the Lord said, You pity the plant for what you did, not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in the night and perished in the night. And should not. I pity Minova, that great city in which there are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much Carol. This, my friends, is a description of perhaps the greatest pity party ever thrown in the history of humanity. All right.

[00:08:46] I mean, God has just saved an entire city of people who will no longer be judged. Jonah gets it. He knows who God is, that he's a bounding and steadfast love. Slow to anger and wants to save people, does not want to judge people. And instead, Jonah is angry that God would save the people and go so far as to say, I want to die. This is worse than the temper tantrum that you witnessed on aisle 10 at the grocery store this last week.

[00:09:20] My friends.

[00:09:22] This is extreme form of selfishness. And one of the greatest cases of missing the point that you will ever read about in your entire life. This is the story of God saving people.

[00:09:36] God says to Jonah, Go, I want to reach out to these people in Innova. Jonah goes the opposite direction. So what does God do? He saves everybody on the boat that Jonah gets on. Then Jonah finally goes to the city, what is God do? He saves the people in the city from the judgment that's coming upon the.

[00:09:55] And instead of making this this great story of God's salvation and giving the glory to God, Jonah. But with this book could have been called The God of Steadfast Love.

[00:10:06] That would have been a nice title for this book.

[00:10:09] Could have been called A God Merciful and Gracious. Slow to anger. Could have been the title of this book. But Jonah removes God's name off of this book and puts his name back on it, my friends. I mean, the selfishness here in this passage is intense to the point where I don't know if you've ever had a temper tantrum or had a pity party right where you act like you just want to die because you can't get your own way. That's what the prophet of God is doing here.

[00:10:39] All right.

[00:10:41] So point number one, let's just put it down like this here. Don't throw yourself a pity party, all right? Don't make it about you. Don't get caught up in your own selfish perspective on life like Jonah does here. And God tries to teach Jonah a great lesson. The key question that God asked to Jonah is, do you do well to be angry? Is this right for you to feel this way? Jonah, is this a righteous anger that you are expressing? What are you rightly upset about that these people just got delivered from the judgment that is coming upon them? How could you have a problem with that? Are you right to have a problem with that? Do you do well to be angry? And that's kind of the question that lingers there. There's no answer to it. Jonah doesn't respond. And then we kind of get this object lesson that happens.

[00:11:37] I mean, Jonah basically goes outside the city of Minova, builds a little booth there and sits down to watch the city. You get the idea like he's just waiting to watch the city burn.

[00:11:48] I mean, that's the impression that you get here. Or maybe they will be judged. I'll just sit out here for 40 days and see what happens. Maybe they'll go down like Sodom and Gomorrah. I'll just sit outside of the city far enough away to not get destroyed myself. And I'll just watch and hopefully God will. I mean, that's like what's going on here.

[00:12:06] And so the Lord noticed the key key phrase here in chapter four, look at verse six says Now the Lord God appointed and the first thing he appoints is a plant. Look at verse seven. But when Dawn came up the next day, God appointed. Notice how God is doing everything here. God appointed a worm. Look at verse eight when the sun rose. God appointed a scorching east wind. Just like when Jonah went the wrong way and got hurled a storm at him or God appointed, that this great fish would come and swallow Jonah. God is now going to start manipulating things in his sovereign control here to give Jonah an object lesson of what it's like, how wrong it is for him to be angry at this exact moment. I mean, after studying the book of Jonah, I picture it like some kind of puppet show, like some kind of Japanese anime puppet show where Jonah's walking around like a real person and everything else is animation all around it. And you can see the strings on the storm that comes in. You can see the strings on the great fish. These are all the things that God is using to tell the story all around. Jonah, while Jonah is obliviously missing the point. And so now on the little strings, here comes in this plant that grows up over Jonah and Jonah is like the first environmentalist here in the history of the world.

[00:13:28] I mean, he gets pretty pumped up about this plant. Do you see that here? I mean, Jonah, I mean, notice the phrase here in verse six when God appoints a plant and he made it come up over Jonah. And people are kind of, you know, trying to figure out what kind of plan it was that could grow that fast. And all of these things are castor oil plants is what people throw out. I'm not a horticulturalist, so that doesn't mean anything to me. The word plant works fine for me. There's this plant that come came up over Jonah and to save him from his discomfort. Now, here, this is key here, because in the Hebrew, the word that is translated discomfort here is the same exact word that we saw in chapter three, verse 10.

[00:14:07] Bring your eyeballs back over to chapter three percent where it says, When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster. Do you see that word there? That's the same exact word that that is translated discomfort here. OK, so God relents of the disaster on the people of Minova. And now God is going to take Jonah out of his discomfort by bringing up this plant. So God's kind of doing this interesting object lesson, this parallel. Hey, I took away the judgment from the people of Minova. Hey, I'm going to give you I'm going to take away your heat outside here outside of the city as you wait to watch it burn. And I'm gonna put this nice plant over you. Same exact words there. It's clearly a an idea. There I think that there's a connection between what God does for the new device. And now this this nice plant that God has appointed to give Jonah Shade.

[00:15:05] How nice. Well, that's not all the little puppets that God brings in here, because then he's got a worm on a string here. And the worm, some aggressive, scary worm you don't want to have in your house. It just attacks this plant and it takes the plant down. The plant withered.

[00:15:22] And then all of a sudden this scorching east wind you bring in bring on the scorching east wind. And it's just beating down on the head of Jonah. So now he's really feeling the heat. God provided this like temporary relief from the discomfort, from the disaster, from this heat beating down upon him. God provides this temporary relief and then God takes it away. And it's kind of like, how do you like it, Jonah? I gave those people relief from the judgment I gave you, from the relief, from the heat. You want me to take that relief from their judgment away? You still want me to judge them? Well, how do you like I'm taking this relief from the heat. This plant that you really like that. I mean, look what it says it makes in exceedingly glad. Go back to back to verse six. I think I missed pointing that out the last sentence of verse six. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. You want to talk about wrong priorities? Can I just go off here on environmentalism a little bit? Is anybody mind if I just say something like that? If you ever find yourself more concerned about planet Earth or about plants on planet Earth than other people. Let me just tell you, my friend. You're kind of missing the point. OK? I mean, God has just saved an entire great city of people from the judgment that was coming upon them. And how does Jonah respond?

[00:16:40] Exceedingly displeased. It says in verse one. Then a plant grows up to give him some shade from the sun. And what is Jonah now? Exceedingly glad he's just getting giddy over the plant.

[00:16:54] My friends. All right. I mean, this is tree hugging in its finest form right here. I'm waiting. I've got a front row seat to watch this city burn, to watch the sky fall. And a fire rise up.

[00:17:08] But meanwhile, I love this little plant. Oh, my plant friend. I mean, this is this is messed up priorities, and so God says, let me just remove that plant that you're like Jonah. Now the sun's beaten down on you. How do you like it?

[00:17:23] Say you want me to judge those people. Well, here's just not even really judgment. Here's just an expression. Let me bring this scorching wind in. Let it burn you a little bit. You want to watch some fire? Let me feel like you're on fire for a second here in the heat.

[00:17:36] Jonah. Hey, how do you like it? Is that what you want me to do to those people? There's an object lesson going on. And God brings back the question. Do you do well to be angry and Jonah in his self righteousness? In his just absolute inability to see himself in his own skin, he says before a holy God. Yes, I do well enough to be angry, angry enough to die.

[00:18:09] I mean, have you ever been like in that moment where, you know, you're having a bad attitude and you just go for it? You know what I mean? Like, you just say what you're really thinking, like that most selfish thing that you could say. Right. And, you know, you're across the line and you're just kind of like, watch me cross the line right now. I mean, when I read this chapter, I'm reminded of birthday parties that I had growing up as a kid that I thought were all about me. Birthdays were tough days for me because I actually believe the hype that I should celebrate myself. And I started to think I was a pretty important person.

[00:18:45] And people should give me gifts and they should come to my party. I kind of had that oldies song stuck in my head that I think Jonah originally wrote. It's my party and I'll cry if I want to cry. Anybody know this song? So when you guys dump some, you guys should look it up. You would cry, too, if it happened to you.

[00:19:04] Well, you know, it's my party and that's what's going on here. Yeah, I should even die. Oh, the drama. You know what I mean. I'm Jonah is a drama queen here. The drama queen profit.

[00:19:17] All right. I mean, that's what's going on.

[00:19:20] I remember one birthday party. I had me and my friends and my dad all went to the field by our house to play some football. And all of a sudden I came back from the party. My mom recently retold me this story. I don't know what point she was trying to make, but she said, you came back from the party all by yourself. And I was like, Where's everybody else?

[00:19:38] And I was like, Well, Dad just sent me back while they played football because I was having such a bad attitude at my own party.

[00:19:44] Because apparently the teams didn't get picked the way I like, right? Dropped the touchdown pass or I couldn't cheat or something like that and my team wasn't winning at my party. Can you believe that?

[00:19:53] The injustice. Right. Yeah, I'm right to be angry. Angry enough to die.

[00:20:01] I mean, we're here saying, if you're a Christian person, what you're saying this morning is that judgment was going to come upon you for your sin and through the amazing grace of Jesus Christ, you got delivered once and for all that you will never experience condemnation, that you have a new life. And then we want to go and make somehow the story of our life about us and put our name on the top of that story.

[00:20:28] We don't want to put the name Jesus Christ out there. No, we want to still somehow make it about me. Yes, I'm right to be angry because I'm not getting the way that I want.

[00:20:39] Now, there's a lot of debate about it doesn't tell you the motives of Jonah. What it tells you is that Jonah knew God was going to save and he ran the opposite direction. Now, a lot of people. Why does Jonah want so bad? The these Ninn invites not to be saved. And a lot of people will speculate and they'll conjecture that it has to do with the fact that Minova is going to end up being the capital city of Syria, who is eventually going to be enemies with the Israelite people. In fact, the Assyrians are going to destroy the northern kingdom of Israel later on into the future. And so racism is often the answer that is given here, that Jonah, as one of the Israelites was racist towards the pagan nation or the city of of Nineveh.

[00:21:22] And his people were better than the other people. OK.

[00:21:27] Now, I could be part of the reality of what's going on. But you've got to see that it goes deeper than that because the reason that the Israelites were often looking down on other nations is because they were God's chosen people of Israel and the other nations were pagan nations who worshiped idols and false gods and had no hope. But they were the righteous nation, the chosen people of God, whereas those other nations were vile and were sinners and should be judged. But not, of course, Israel, because we are God's people say.

[00:22:02] So if you're gonna if you're gonna say it's about racism between the Israelites and then invite's will, really the underlying motivation even underneath that is that the Israelite people couldn't relate to needing to be saved because we were already saved. We're already gods. People were already righteous. Self righteousness is, I believe, what's really at the heart of Jonah here.

[00:22:23] He can't relate to people not being judged because perhaps you've never thought of himself as someone who should be judged.

[00:22:32] And so he can completely miss the point, because he cannot relate to the experience of being a sinner who needs mercy so desperately and cries out for it and receives it from God and is exceedingly glad and rejoices because God is their savior. No one that happens to a group of people. Jonah still wants to watch them burn because he's right and they're not in his eyes.

[00:22:56] So, yes, I'm right to be angry because I'm self right.

[00:23:01] Self-righteousness is the enemy of your soul if you're taking notes. I would write that down when I talk about throwing a pity party. Here's the kind of pity party I'm talking about, a self-righteous party scene where I'm fine. I'm right. And the rest of the world, my neighbors, the people around me, they're wrong. Say. I'm I'm one of the one of the Christian people, one of the Republican people, one of the people that's still about what's good in America. I'm not like those other people who are ruining our nation, see?

[00:23:35] As if you're somehow a higher class American than everybody else.

[00:23:40] Self-righteousness.

[00:23:41] It's a real problem and it was a problem among the Jewish people, I mean, really what we see from Jonah here is what we're ending gonna end up seeing from the Pharisees in the future, a group of people who, when they had the savior Jesus Christ right in front of them, and he's healing people and he's delivering good news to the crowds and he's feeding thousands miraculously, they can't even see it because they're so convinced that they're right. They can't even see God saving people right in front of them. They can't relate to it.

[00:24:10] And the people of Israel, even when God would save them, they would often complain if they didn't get what they wanted. Go back to the book of numbers and we'll see this in the history of the nation of Israel. Go to numbers. Let's start in Chapter 11. Turn there with me. Go back to the beginning of your Bible, the first five books, the law fourth book here, numbers Chapter 11.

[00:24:33] And God has done a great work of salvation. He heard their cries of his people in Egypt and in a mighty and powerful way, he delivers them out of Egypt and he's taking them to this land of promise. But while they're in this wilderness, the people, they often do this thing, they start to complain. They can't celebrate the salvation of the Lord. They can't keep the focus on God and on worshiping him. No, they keep turning the plot in some weird plot twist at the end where it should be this triumphant story of victory. We keep making it a tragedy over and over as we take the focus off of God's salvation and we put it back on ourselves and the people of Israel.

[00:25:15] They do that here in numbers 11. This is beautiful. And the people complaining there in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, because now we're out in the desert and we're walking through this wilderness and it's hot and it's uncomfortable. And when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled and the fire of the Lord. You want it hot and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.

[00:25:36] So the people complain and God actually sends fire to burn them, but they still complain. Look, a verse for you. Here's what they're complaining about. Now, the rabble that was among them have a strong craving, so they still wanted more. Salvation wasn't good enough.

[00:25:55] And the people of Israel also wept again and said, oh, that we had meat to eat.

[00:26:01] We remember look at this menu they start creating here. We remember the fish we ate in Egypt, all the fish, the fish that cost nothing fish for free. Now, this is real. I've never heard anybody complaining about this at my house. The cucumbers, the melons, the leaks. The onions. Oh, the onions and the garlic. I've heard kids complaining about what we're eating at my house. Never the leaks in the onions, though. Oh. But now our strength is dried up and there is nothing at all. But this man to look at this man.

[00:26:35] That God is miraculously providing for them every morning. This manna from heaven.

[00:26:41] I mean, my my dad's a pastor. He's actually going to come preach at our church in a few weeks. And he did a study on Mannah and he tried to figure out what were we compare man to if we put it in our modern life vocabulary of food. And he said when he reads the description of Manna in the Old Testament, maybe it would be pretty much like a Krispy Kreme donut. That's what he could imagine.

[00:27:03] It would be like like just that sweet cake, basically. Like a donut glazed. You know what I'm saying? Thinking about that right now. And they get tired of. It's like God saved us.

[00:27:18] God's delivered you from your sin. And now on some weird epilogs, some weird, like fourth chapter of the story, like the third act was great where you got saved. Praise the Lord. But now the story continues. And you're still trying to make it about you.

[00:27:34] So it's like that's what the people of Israel, they do over and over. They send some spies to look at the promised land and the people in the promised land look mighty. And they're like, oh, no, now we can't get into the promised land. We're going to get locked down. And they begin to doubt the Lord and they begin to complain. Look over in numbers 14. You can see the heading here, the people. Rabbo, you don't trust the Lord God save them out of Egypt. And now they doubt him to bring him into the promised land.

[00:28:00] And then all the congregation raise the loud cry and the people, they wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole conversation said to them, see if this sounds familiar. See if this self-righteous pity party tune sounds the same word that we had died in the land of Egypt or would that we had died in this wilderness?

[00:28:26] Oh, if we were only dead.

[00:28:28] Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt? Would it not be better if we were not saved? Would it not be better, Jonah says, for the city to burn. I want to watch it burn.

[00:28:47] Complaining about the salvation of God.

[00:28:49] And before we judge the Israelites, before we judge Jonah, I wonder how many times the story of your life should clearly have the amazing grace of Jesus Christ plastered as the name of the story, as the one who gets all of the glory. And yet you have jerked down the name of Jesus Christ and put your own name back on top.

[00:29:10] It said, I want it to be about me and what I want.

[00:29:14] And that's what the people of Israel do.

[00:29:16] And Jonah should have been praising God that he doesn't judge sinners like that.

[00:29:23] He should be worshiping God, that he would extend mercy to people who are so clearly missing the point, the people who are wicked people like himself. But see, that's what Jonah cannot see, that he's one of those people that needs to be forgiven.

[00:29:40] He should have prayed. Look at numbers 14 versus 18 and 19. Here's the kind of prayer that prophets should be praying. The prayer for revival. The prayer for God to save even more people. You'll notice of similarity to Jonah. Chapter four, verse two. It says, The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression. But he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation. That's a direct quote from Exodus 34, six and seven. That's a description of who God is. And so here's the prayer we play pray based on who God is. Verse 19.

[00:30:17] Please, God, pardon the iniquity of this people, not because of them, but according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people from Egypt until now. God, these people are so sinful. So please forgive them because of your great love, not because of anything to do with these people.

[00:30:41] Now, that's how you pray for a revival right there. That should have been if there is a Jonah four, that should have been what it was all about, praying for more of that. And if you come back next week, we're going to do a whole sermon trying to teach everybody at our church how to pray like that, how to pray for a revival in America if God saved us. We should long to see him save other people. And we should pray accordingly, not twist the story back around to make us the main character somehow.

[00:31:12] And so Moses gives us the example of the right response. Jonah, unfortunately, is the wrong response here when people are delivered from judgment. He does not relate to that. And he still wants to watch them get judged because he thinks that he is right. Go to Luke, Chapter 18 and Jesus tells a story that reminds me of this. You know, I just got to make sure that everybody here sees themself as a sinner who needed to be saved. Are you one of those people? Could somebody else get saved? Can you relate to that? Because I'm concerned about self-righteousness here at our church.

[00:31:59] You know, God's doing something really exciting that I love here at this church is when I go to some of the small groups or when I see some of the worship services, we've got like some good old church people, people who grew up in church since day one. And they've always kind of been churchgoing folk, you know, those kind of people that I'm talking about, seemingly morally right. People on the outside the world would call them good people. And then we've got people sitting right next to them who like having done time in jail, who have done some serious crimes. And they're both standing. They both got their hands up and they're both worship in Jesus right next to each other. And here's what I'm concerned about it. We're going to look at that and we're going to think that's two different people there. We're gonna look at the ex-con. You know, we got some ex cons go into this church as everybody aware of that, OK? It got to people who have done some serious crime that come to this building every single Sunday. Yeah. So if you're not comfortable being around sinners, this church is probably not going to be the place for you. In fact, you're going to have a hard time finding a church that's going to work for you, my friend, because that's where sinners go, is they go to church and they want to get saved. And there is no such thing as good people who grew up going to church.

[00:33:19] There's no such thing as Israelites who were righteous from day one because everyone is born in need of the mercy and grace of God. You were born that way. You are no better than anybody else on this entire planet. And if you ever want to set up a booth outside of the city and watch America burn, then you have forgotten who you are. My friend.

[00:33:49] You become self-righteous. Like this guy that Jesus tell us about in the story of Luke 18, verse nine, a condemnation upon the people of Israel, and that's really how I think the story of Jonah works. It was a story for the people of Israel to look at. And they were supposed to see their own self-righteousness in the character of Jonah. And they miss the point royally.

[00:34:11] And you see in Luke 18, verse nine, he also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and they treated others with contempt. They look down on other people like they were better than the two men went up into the temple to pray.

[00:34:30] One, a Pharisee. Think morally righteous. Think growing up in the synagogue, knowing the truth of God's word. And the other a tax collector. Think one of the worst people in society. A traitor to the Romans. Shifty, evil, ripping people off.

[00:34:47] The Pharisee standing by himself, prayed thus. God, I thank you that I am not like other men.

[00:34:54] Extortion is unjust.

[00:34:57] Adulterers or even like this tax collector. I fast. Twice a week I give ties of all that I get. Here's a man who has the audacity to come into the presence of the Holy God and act like he's got it together and to start to show his good works, his spiritual resum� before God, like God, is going to somehow be impressed with him and what he's done in the holiness department.

[00:35:27] And then the other guy, verse 13, the tax collector standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, God be merciful to me, a sinner. I tell you, this man, the tax collector, the sinner, went down to his house, justified, declared righteous rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself, will be humbled. But the one who humbles himself will be exalted. Everybody here this morning. You've got a choice. You can be self-righteous or you can be declared righteous. Which one do you choose? You got to admit that you are a sinner. You got to cry out for God's mercy. And then he will declare you righteous based on his abundant, steadfast love poured out upon you. He is the star of the story. He's your savior. He's the one who gets the credit.

[00:36:26] Or you can act like you're a pretty good person and you've done some good things and you've got your life together because you come to this church and because you do pretty good stuff with your family during the week and you can think, you know, one person is going home, justify the sinner is going home.

[00:36:44] And when Jonah sees God save a city of sinners, he can not relate. My friends.

[00:36:52] So we're going to get into here is a tale of two pities. Go back to Jonah, Chapter four. Go back to Jonah, Chapter four. And we've got a here at the end. Two different kinds of pity that we see. Two different kinds of compassion.

[00:37:08] One on the heart of Jonah and one on the heart of God and everybody here this morning. You've got one of these pities in your heart when you walked in here today. And this is what God says now. God. He asks Jonah the question, do you will do well to be angry? And then he brought in his plant and his worm and his scorching hot winds. And he asked the question again. And Jonah said, yeah, I'm right to be angry. And now God gives his commentary on the events in the last two verses of the book of Jonah.

[00:37:40] And the Lord said, you pity the plant for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow. You had nothing to do with this plant. It came into being in the night. And it perished in the night. And really, we made the point that if you're more concerned about the planet than the people on the planet, you've got completely wrong priorities.

[00:37:59] Well, really, the reason that Jonah pitted the plant was was not because of his love for all things horticultural. It was because the plant gave him one shade. It was his own self benefit.

[00:38:14] It was self-pity is what it was. It was all about him.

[00:38:19] But then God says this here's the kind of pity I've got in contrast to you, Jonah, and should not I pity Minova, that great city in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left. And also much cattle. Hey, you want to pity a plant out here while you wait for the city to burn? Well, here's how I want to work. Here's the kind of compassion that I have on my heart. I pity the people of the city of Knin of that's what God says. Now, there's some debate about what this phrase, more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who don't know their right hand from their left. It's an idiom here in the Hebrew language. And so there's some thought about what could this mean, that one of the ways you could take it is that the city of Noonamah has a population. If you drove into the city of nine of other green sign by the freeway would say population one hundred and twenty thousand in the idiom they don't know their right hand from their left hand is basically these people are so lost in their sin they don't even really know what they're doing. Now, personally, I have a little bit of a hard time buying that interpretation because God is going to judge these people at the beginning of the book for their sins. So I think they do know what they're doing and they will be responsible for God. So the other way you can read this phrase is that it's one hundred and twenty thousand persons who don't know their right hand from their left. It could be talking about small children who literally in a physical kind of sense, could not tell you which way is right and which way is left. Some of us have these kids living in our houses because they're not that advanced yet. And if it's that many kids who can't even make their own real moral decisions, really, they their parents are wicked people and they're just going along with it. They wouldn't even know better to go and turn around and do the opposite thing, see? Then you get estimates of the city being much larger, maybe a population of somewhere around six hundred thousand people. I've read about estimates like that. So those are the two possible ways to take that phrase.

[00:40:23] But either way, what God is saying here is that I have compassion on the people of this city, not on some plant. In fact, my compassion extends it. And I really think this is an argument for why I would think it's the kids that God's talking about. I mean, I'm even compassionate not just on the wicked people of the city of Noonamah, but the kids who can't even make their own choices and even the animals who go along with whatever they're masters with, whatever the people of the city are doing.

[00:40:48] So if I'm going to judge this city, I'm going to judge children and animals who can't even make their own decisions about what they want to do. That's what you're asking me to do. Jonah.

[00:40:59] The point being, you're going to have pity about things that affect you personally. I'm going to have pity for people who are 100 percent against me in their wickedness. But when they turn to me, I will be gracious and merciful to them, self pity or pity for other people. See, do we really have compassion for the people around us, for the souls of people we know in this life? Do we feel for them? The word pity here could also be translated to spare that we would not want to see people get judged, that we would want no one we know to be damned, but that we would want all to be saved. That's the idea of the pity here.

[00:41:39] Go over just a few books to the left to Joel. Chapter two. We looked at the Book of Joel earlier in our series on Jonah and look at Joel. Chapter two.

[00:41:49] And it describes God as gracious and merciful and Joel to 13 and 14 and talks about how he's going to turn and relent. And so there's this call this time, instead of the city of Minova, it's a call among the people of Israel that they would get sorry about their sin and just jumped to verse 17. Here is what it says between the vestibule and the altar. Let the priest says the spokesperson between the people and God, the ministers of the Lord. Let them weep and say, spare your people. Oh, Lord, make not your heritage or approach a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, among all the other nations, whereas their God. So here's a cry for the nation of Israel, asking God to spare them. To pity them, to have compassion upon them. Please don't judge us. God.

[00:42:41] That's the idea here, that God has a kind of compassion. When he sees sinner's.

[00:42:49] God's desire is not to set up a booth and watch the sinners burn when God sees people who are actively sinning against him. His desire is to see them turn from their sin and to save every single one of them. Aren't you glad we've got a God like that? I hope you admit that you need a God like that. See?

[00:43:12] And that everyone, you know, needs a God like that.

[00:43:17] And I want to suggest to you that when God looks at the city of Minova, he sees that city, this wicked foreign city from the people of Israel's perspective, wicked from God's own perspective.

[00:43:30] He sees it maybe a little bit differently than you see Huntington Beach.

[00:43:35] A little bit differently, I mean, just insert the name of the city that you live in. Into your brain right now. Picture your city driving down the streets, Los Alamitos, Westminster, Garden Grove, Fountain Valley, Long Beach, Irvine, Orange, wherever you're coming from here this morning.

[00:43:52] How do you think about those people and all those houses that you drive by all of the time? How do you think about those people cutting you off and always getting in your way? It's like everybody thinks they get to drive on the roads around here. That's your commute. Why is everybody in your way right? The people that are always, you know, checking out at the stores all around you constantly.

[00:44:13] How do you see these people? Matthew, Chapter nine. And when when God puts on flesh and he dwells among us, we get a glimpse not just into who God is in all of his glory, but we get a glimpse here into how God sees. I hope you've got to see God as a gracious and merciful God who's delivered you from your sin. But now I want you to see what God sees and hear in Matthew Chapter nine, we get through the perspective of Jesus Christ.

[00:44:46] And he and Jesus.

[00:44:48] It says here in Matthew, nine thirty five Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages. Here's how Jesus saw the cities of Israel teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, healing every disease and every affliction. I mean, you just going around preaching.

[00:45:02] He's healing all of these people who are having physical problems. And when he saw the crowds, when the people come out of their dwelling places and he gets a good look at those people, he had compassion for them.

[00:45:17] Put a group of people in front of God, become man Jesus Christ. And when he sees people, his natural gut reaction to the crowd is he pities them. He wants to spare them. He feels the pain of their sinful lost condition in his own bowels. That's literally the idea of this word.

[00:45:39] Like, I didn't see that they're lost and it becomes my pain.

[00:45:45] And I feel it in a personal way. And so it says when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. And then he said to his disciples, wow, look at all these people that need to be saved. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers, the people that are really spreading salvation and the laborers are so few.

[00:46:07] Therefore, pray earnestly. Get down on your knees with fervency and ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out more laborers into his harvest.

[00:46:17] Look at all the souls that still need to be saved in your city. And let your heart break for their lost condition. And pray that God will flood the streets of that city with more people who will spread words like gospel and repentance and faith so that everyone in your city would know the way of salvation. Do you think everyone in the city that you live in knows how to be saved right now, this morning?

[00:46:44] Do you think they've all heard the gospel message and had the opportunity to respond in repentance and faith, and if the answer to that is no? Does your heart break for those people?

[00:46:58] I mean, can you honestly say that the skin and bones that's all around you that you're seeing through that to see people as souls? My friends.

[00:47:10] People are not bodies. People have bodies. People are souls. And someday their body will die and it will grow in the ground and that soul will live forever for all of eternity consciously. It will be aware of what's going on. For all of eternity in either a place of judgment and fire or a place of glory and light.

[00:47:35] That's the true condition of every single person that lives in the house next door to you or down the street, or that you're both reaching for the same box of macaroni and cheese together, every single one of those people is a soul who will stand before a holy God. And I got to ask you this morning, do you care?

[00:47:57] Do you even care? About those people. Because Jonah didn't care. Jonah did not love.

[00:48:08] And therefore, he was a bad representation of God to the point where God has to teach his own prophet. So you pity this, but I pity Minova, the great city God. I'm sure when he looks down at the people that are sitting there at Chick Fillet with you, as you get ready to dip into your own personal sauce that you have selected, and you're kind of already frustrated that that guy didn't give you more sauce. And he said my pleasure. But I don't think he really meant it because he just seemed like he was obligor obligated to give me stuff and he didn't even get my order right. And then all of a sudden, you realize one day that that guy is not a food delivery service or a box that you speak to in the drive thru. That is a soul you're thinking about. And you're upset with that person because they didn't give you your order the way that you wanted, and you don't even stop to consider that that person is going to spend eternity in one of two possible destinations. So you and I, we are so superficial in the way that we see other people.

[00:49:17] We put them in categories based on how many tattoos they have in the color of their skin and the size and their weight. And underneath all of that, they look exactly the same as you do, a sinful soul that needs a merciful God.

[00:49:33] And you've got to start learning how to see people like Jesus sees them. He sees the crowd differently than you and I do. I'm tired of people in Huntington Beach talking about how sketchy everyone is down at the U.S. Open of surfing. Have you heard about this?

[00:49:51] I mean, people on Facebook all week long, I've tried to plug in, I want to be so badly a local in Huntington Beach, but I've only lived here for one year. I'm still like a tourist, basically. I don't even have a beach cruiser bike yet. That's how little street cred I have around here. Right. But I'm trying and I'm paying attention to what everybody's saying on the Huntington Beach messenger boards. And they're like, oh, the crowds at at the U.S. Open of surfing. I can't wait till we get our city back. All these snobby Huntington Beach people like who are those people? Go. I went down to the U.S. Open of surfing. Seemed like pretty normal. People to me seemed like a I mean, people like, wow, so scandalous down there this week. I'm like, have you been down there any week?

[00:50:32] I mean, it's scandalous down there all of the time. What do you do? Well, what's the difference between this week? Just more scandal? Well, you got more people down there. Yeah, that's how it works. I mean, what city are you going to move to if you want to get away from the sketchy people you know?

[00:50:49] You'll ruin it. I can't.

[00:50:55] I'm kind of starting to learn to love the sinners here in Huntington Beach.

[00:51:02] And I think if God saw the people at the U.S. Open of surfing, he would see them much differently. You wouldn't be making comments about how much clothing they're wearing or by how disrespectful they are about how all the young people these days know he'd be seeing them as souls that need deliverance from their sin.

[00:51:20] Before they die. Every single one of.

[00:51:27] You've got to start to see your city and to pity it, to feel compassion for your fellow American, you want to rant about abortion.

[00:51:36] You want to go off on Planned Parenthood. You want to just talk about how despicable same sex marriages in our nation. Well, why don't you build your booth and watch America burn.

[00:51:47] Or you can see it as God sees it. See?

[00:51:51] And your heart can break for people and you can realize there, but but for the grace of God, there go I, I would be caught up in all of it, just like everybody else says. If God has an open my eyes to see as God opened your eyes, to see your sin for who you are, his grace for who he is. And if you've really seen that, how could you put your name back on the top of the book?

[00:52:19] How could you not want everyone else to see what you've seen about the grace of God?

[00:52:23] And you'll start to see other people from his purr specked live. I had this really cool thing that happened to me about a year ago this month. A bunch of people from my art church that planted us, they got together and they gave me this really awesome gift, Lasik eye surgery. I don't know if anybody else has had this as a mind blowing experience. But I've always been a I come from a from a family of thick glasses kind of people, you know, strong prescriptions. Right. And at some point, I wanted to stop getting made fun of. So I started stab in my eyes with contact lenses. And this was a daily routine in my life. And then all of a sudden one day the people graciously got together and they offered me something I probably never would have thought about, even getting for myself. They said, we want you to have Lasik eye surgery.

[00:53:15] And so I got to go for one hundred percent free paying, absolutely no money, I go through all the pre ops and then I'm going to get my eyes fixed so I never have to wear glasses or contact lenses again. And so you you go into this room and there's like this blurry doctor in front of you. Any shakes your hand and you're in this, like, kind of interesting looking room and they put you down on this table and this lady comes up to me and one of the nurses there and she's got a teddy bear in her hand and she says, Do you want this teddy bear?

[00:53:47] And I can't see clearly. And I'm like, is this some kind of weird test of my manhood? Like, what's going on?

[00:53:54] Like, no, I don't want a teddy bear. I mean, how is this a trick question, you know? And I lay down on this thing and all of a sudden they put a lot of pressure on my eye to keep it open. And this laser comes up and it starts to burn off the outer layer of my eyeball. And I can smell the smoke of my eyeball burning and my hands are reaching for the teddy bear. Where is it? I need it right now.

[00:54:27] Right.

[00:54:28] And in this amazing thing happens, I get up from this from this little bed that they laid me down on. And I look at the doctor and we shake hands again and I can see him clearly. Now, it's not like I was blind and now I see it's like I was nearsighted and now I can see it's a miracle.

[00:54:49] And I wonder how many Christians here this morning are nearsighted.

[00:54:54] And your view of salvation when it's about you? It's very clear. But people that are a little bit away from you. It gets very blurry.

[00:55:04] And you can't see that they're the same as you. They were lost in sin just like you were. And they need to get to live or they need to get saved by God, just like you did.

[00:55:17] And I wonder if you completely walk by all these people all of the time and you can only see this little area around yourself of you and your family.

[00:55:28] And everybody else, it's just a blur to you. And I hope that God will open your eyes and he's given me some moments, this Jehovah's Witness lady came to my house and she was she.

[00:55:41] She was telling me that Jesus was not God.

[00:55:44] Can you believe the. She said Jesus was created by God, and then he did the rest of the creating and she told me the Trinity was a lie, that it wasn't in the Bible.

[00:55:56] And I read to her, Matthew, 28, where it says that we're supposed to baptize DISCIPLE'S in the name singular tense in the one name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And I'm like, how does that make sense? And you could tell there was this book in this lady's eyes that I had her, that she knew what I was saying from the scripture was right.

[00:56:18] And she looks at me and she says, You can't teach me anything about the Bible. That's what she says to self-righteous. And it's not because of me. But I was able to see in that minute that there was just a bunch of old frustrated skin and bones hanging on the soul of this woman. And I was able to see her for who she really was, a lost sinner. And you know what I saw? I saw myself see. I was able to have compassion on her when she was yelling at me at my own front door about something that was true.

[00:56:57] And when she saw that instead of coming back at her and arguing with her, I took a step back and I started to treat her like a person, like a soul. The whole dynamic changed. If you see people would look at somebody today and put in your head, that's a soul right there, a soul that needs to be saved by God. Get past the skin. Don't look at the size of the bones.

[00:57:23] See them as a soul like God would see them and have that pity that God would have.

[00:57:29] Point number two, did we give you point number two yet? Let's give it to you. Point number two, you need to see other people with compassion, see other people with compassion. I hope that you will not make it about yourself like Jonah did, but that you will see that God wants to save many people. People in your city. Let me pray. God, I thank you so much that you would teach us a valuable lesson here this morning.

[00:57:56] God, that even after you have done a great story of salvation and a mighty work of grace and mercy for which you should get all the glory for your amazing grace God.

[00:58:08] That we would still be so proud. And so selfish that we would want to take the story of salvation and make it about Scott. Help us to see the error of Jonas ways. Help us to see that it's not about us throwing our own pit pity party and focusing on ourselves. God help us to have the same pity that you had a compassion. When we see the crowd, when we're standing in line at the grocery store, at the gas station. Now, let us see all the people around us says souls, let us heart that our hearts break for them.

[00:58:45] God, let us let us identify ourselves as sinners and identify with everyone around us who's so lost in their sin.

[00:58:54] Give us that compassion that you have.

[00:58:56] We pray this in Jesus name in that.


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