Mission Sermons

The Compassion of God in Jonah 4

July 29, 2014, 0 Comments

We’ve just finished up our message series in Jonah and I am always devastated by what I learn in the fourth chapter. Here are my preaching notes on the subject of how we learn to take on God’s heart for the city.

  • Sometimes I struggle with ministry.
  • Not because I don’t love God – because I do.
  • Not because I wish to be disobedient – because I don’t.
  • I struggle because dealing with people is messy.  Especially on a spiritual level.  And, honestly, sometimes people are mean, cynical, and are stubborn in their unbelief. And then, sometimes, I’m the same way; messy, mean, and stubborn.
  • Jonah teaches us that we too often love the stuff we have from God more than the people God puts around us.
  • He had chose a self-imposed exile rather than go on mission. God chose to restore him.
  • Now, in seeing Nineveh repent, Jonah is still waiting for fire to fall from the sky to destroy them. He has missed the heart of God.
  • We must adopt the compassion of God to participate in the mission of God.
  • Our community is open to the spiritual, cynical about church, & bases opinion of God on their finite thinking. It is so very like Nineveh.
  • The test we must face is where our heart lies in respect to the city that surrounds us.


1. Jonah’s Heart — Jonah 4:1

  • Jonah reluctantly preached a one-sentence sermon to people that he did not like.
  • He was angry; with a deep desire for religious validation of the Israelites against their enemies the Assyrians.
  • He was selfish. Jonah wanted personal vindication that when he said the city would be overthrown that it would be judged with God’s fury.
  • “Jonah had a child-sized plan whereas God had a hugely dimensioned destiny.” – Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plan
  • Jonah would fulfill a religious duty in a city but completely miss out on God’s heart for the people.
  • We need to move from — Scorn to Sacrifice
  • Be willing to do whatever it takes to reach them.
  • Look into the heart of God for our guidance.


2. God’s heart — Jonah 4:2

  • God chose to reach the Ninevites despite their sinfulness and Jonah’s reluctance.
  • He sits outside of the city and pitches a temper tantrum in the face of God.
  • Jonah knows this and complains about God’s redeeming nature toward Jonah’s enemies in his own prayer.
  • Heart of God in three facets:
  • Caring = gracious & compassionate
  • Forgiving = slow to anger & abounding in love
  • Redeeming = relents from sending calamity
  • We need to move from — Pity to Compassion
  • Pity reveals an arrogance that simply says it is sad that your life is a mess but I can’t be seen with you. Compassion is desire for redemption in such measure that we are compelled to go and care for those in need of light.
  • Looking at the heart of God leads me to ask: Who would we be if God simply left us to ourselves and stopped running after us?
  • For those in the faith, we would turn into selfish, inwardly-focused. Judgmental, religious hacks.
  • For those outside the faith, they would be left without hope to eternally perish in their sin.
  • God states His own desires clearly in 4:10-11
  • Jonah worried about his temporary comfort under the shade of a plant. God was concerned for the 120,000 souls.
  • Take on the heart of God for the people around us.


Developing a compassion that reflects the heart of God

1. Develop a kingdom mindset — Romans 15:20

  • We need the same ambition of God’s kingdom
  • Evangelize where the gospel is not known.

2. Look with an eternal perspective — Romans 9:3

  • Passionate to give yourself totally to the work.
  • Have an ETERNAL view of people. Temporary ones always lead to frustration over everyday issues.

3. Remember who you are — Romans 5:10

  • We say, “But they are the enemies of God!”
  • Guess what – we are all the enemies of God!

4. Imitate the compassion of Christ — Luke 19:41-42

  • Look at the city as Jesus looked at His.
  • Weep for the people of the city as He did
  • “May God tear out our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh that beat in love for the miserable & guilty.” Bonhoeffer
  • We must adopt the compassion of God to participate in the mission of God.


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