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Justice for Just Us?
– Simon Wiesenthal was a Jewish holocaust survivor, and as a very young man he saw his family members tortured and murdered in front of him, at the hands of his enemies, the Nazis.
– He almost died in the concentration camps himself, and was 80lbs when he was rescued.
– While working in the Nazi concentration camp infirmary, a nurse came to him, and led him to a hospital room where there was a man lying there dying, with bandages all over his face and body.
– The man’s death bed confession, he tortured and killed hundreds of Jews, now racked with guilt. His dying wish, to be forgiven.
– Simon could not utter those words, the man begged in pain, Simon left the room in silence.
– Later in his life he petitioned 32 different spiritual leaders to know if he did the right thing.
– Jonah chapter 4 begins after God has shown the Assyrians mercy.
– They have tortured and murdered Jonah’s people for decades. Israel’s bitter enemy!
– Jonah was chosen by God to bring them the word that would lead to their repentance, and ultimately, their forgiveness.
- What would you do? (Read Jonah 4:1-3)
– There is really only 2 responses to this question:
– 1. Justice: “Do to them what they did to the innocent”. Let the father at them with a baseball bat.
– This is the normal human response. All bets are off when it affects you personally. Let them die, and ask for forgiveness later.
– This is Jonah’s mind set. He would rather die than see his evil enemy be saved.
– 2. Mercy: “Forgive them because God forgave us.” Pray for them to find Jesus.
– Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”
– Pretty easy to say. Very hard to do, and mean it.
– Jonah is in crisis, but what’s the big deal? God told you to do something, so do it!
– He looks prideful, angry, and disobedient, but maybe he just wants Justice?
– Doesn’t he have the right to be angry at “evil”?
– Simon SHOULD have said to the Nazi, “I forgive you”. He didn’t have to mean it.
– Show some mercy on a suffering and dying man. Swallow your pride, and do the right thing.
– But, what is a “Nazi” to me? It’s a synonym for evil, a villain in the history books.
– My family wasn’t harmed by them. I didn’t suffer. I wasn’t personally affected.
– Let’s bring this example closer to home. Example: ISIS killing Christians, Bin Laden etc…
– Islamic Extremists are killing innocence, and trying to wipe your people from the face of the earth.
– Raping women, murdering missionaries, chopping off heads with rusty machetes.
– They are in America too! Blowing up sporting events, knocking down towers…
– How does that make you feel?! Assyria is Jonah’s ISIS. His Nazis. His “Bin Laden”.
– Can we identify with Jonah now?
– Proverbs 16:25, There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
– You may feel justified in your feelings of wanting God to destroy them.
– What we believe is “fair” comes from our hearts, the heart of man. The same place our enemy’s evil comes from.
– In verse 2, Jonah describes God in the same words the God used to describe himself:
– Exodus 34:6b-7a, The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
– Do we expect that God would forgive our wickedness, but not be willing to forgive the wickedness of our enemy? (Upon repentance of course!)
– Micah 6:8, (NIV) He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
– We can’t expect justice for just us.
– God wants us to show mercy to others, with humility. Just like He does.
- When is the time for righteous anger? (Read Jonah 4:4-9)
– Jonah is now extremely angry about 2 things:
– God saving his enemy; and God giving him a blessing, then taking that blessing away him.
– It’s not fair! Where is the Justice in this? Is it right for Jonah to be mad about it??
– Calling it “righteous anger” doesn’t give you an excuse to sin. (I’ve heard this excuse lately)
– The thinking is: Jesus lost his temper in the temple, and flipper tables, but for a good reason.
– If Jesus did it, then I can do it. I’m a “Table-flipping Christian”.
– John chapter 2 never uses the word “anger”. Only “zeal” or “passion”. We have understood that to mean anger, but that’s not true.
– Jesus is described as being angry in other scriptures, but never as lashing out in causing harm in anger. Jesus never sinned!!
– Matthew Henry commentary on (John 2:14-17), “Discretion must always guide and govern our zeal, that we do nothing unbecoming ourselves, or mischievous to others.”
– It’s going to be difficult to justify your sin by looking at the example of Jesus.
– Is it right for Jonah to be angry with Assyria? Probably. They have hurt him greatly.
– “Pray for those who persecute you.” Pray that God will heal their hearts.
– Forgive them. This allows God to heal your heart.
– Matthew 6:14-15, If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
– Forgiving and forgetting are NOT the same thing. You don’t have to let someone hurt you again.
– God is “slow to get angry.” Or in other words, He is patient.
– Ezekiel 33:11, As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness.
– When God showed Jonah mercy from the elements with the plant, Jonah was comforted and thankful. When God removed that blessing, Jonah was mad enough to die.
– This is the lesson God is trying to teach him. “This is how it feels to be shown no mercy.”
– James Alexander Thom said, “Too often we seek justice for just us.”
- How will this story end? (Read Jonah 4:10-11)
– The Book of Jonah is open-ended: (Like a choose-your-own-adventure book)
– Will Jonah accept the truth from God, or spend the rest of his life mad and bitter?
– Will his pain and suffering destroy his faith, or bring forth spiritual fruit?
– Will his life stop at “feeling sorry for himself”, or will he overcome this trauma?
– It seems like no one champions a cause unless it has affected them directly.
– Examples: I have PKD. So does my dad and both my brothers. I’ve never cared about organ donation until now that my brother needs a kidney to save his life. Now it is real to ME.
– Ricardo Lockett – Because of a horrific injury that ended his career, he is launching his foundation to support spinal cord injury research, exactly a year after his injury. Seattle Science Foundation.
– “After you break your neck, and after you are that close to death, your life changes, and the things that really mean a lot to you become more visual.” – Ricardo Lockett
– M.A.D.D. – “Mothers Against Drunk Driving” was founded in 1980, by Candace Lightner after her 13 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run. The driver had just recently been arrested for drunk driving before this incident occurred. There is at least one MADD office in every state in the US, and in every providence in Canada. Drunk driving has been reduced by half since the founding of MADD.
– Maybe that kind of pain, although tragic, can move us to help and protect others, and in the process, bring us the healing we so desperately need?
– Helping someone else go through what you endured can help you heal from the tragedy.
– If Jonah recognized his own depravity, maybe he could have seen his role in helping the Assyrians heal from theirs.
– Zachariah 7:9, (NIV) This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’
– Your pain and suffering can make you stronger, if you will endure it for the sake of The Kingdom.
– Example: Physical therapy. Painful stretching, and manipulating joints to break up scar tissue, but if you don’t do it, you won’t heal right, and may be permanently disabled.
– Be willing to push through the “good pain” so you can be set free from your injury.
– “The more you sweat during peace time, the less you will bleed during war time.”
– The more good pain you embrace, the less bad pain you will have to endure.
– In verse 11, the Lord says Nineveh is full of “people living in spiritual darkness”.
– The literal translation is, “they don’t know their right hand from their left”.
– This implies that the people of Nineveh don’t understand the extent of their wickedness.
– By contrast, Jonah DOES know what he is doing is wrong. He is living in willful rebellion.
– Justified in man’s eyes does not equal righteousness in God’s eyes.
– The Book of Jonah leads us to one unanswered question: What are we going to do about this?
– Will we have the mind of Christ, like in 2 Peter chapter 3, “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” ?
– If God desires mercy for all people, then what is our role in providing it? Jonah had a message, that would lead to mercy, he had to deliver, whether he liked it or not.
– The question is really rhetorical. We know what the right answer is.
– Our hearts need to be regenerated!
– Ezekiel 36:26, And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.
– Ephesians 2:4-5, But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead.
– Screws fall out all the time. The world is an imperfect place!
– We are lied to constantly, in order to manipulate us, using our own fears and insecurities. Everyone says that everyone else is a lair.
– The stress, like a low grade fever, burns us up. It distracts us from what is really true.
– Jesus is the only truth source!
– People out there need Jesus. Your message will bring them closer to forgiveness, even if you don’t like them, and don’t think they deserve it.
– We have to let Jesus provide real justice, and mercy how he sees fit.
– His goal is clear, that none should perish… not even you!
– I think I can understand the prophet Jonah a little better now. We probably have more in common with him then we thought.
– prayer –