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The God of Compassion

November 10, 2019

Scripture: Jonah 4:5-11

I. God sends difficulty to make you more compassionate.

A. In the first four verses of Jonah 4 we saw last week that Jonah was angry with God. What exactly is Jonah hoping in verse 5? He is hoping that God will change His mind about forgiving Nineveh. He is hoping that God will destroy these wicked people. So, Jonah builds himself a booth while he waits to see what God will do. But while Jonah waits and watches, God also does something. God makes Jonah joyful by providing a plant that brings him shade, and then God quickly takes that plant away (vs. 6-7).

B. Clearly, God had sent a lot of difficulty Jonah’s way in this book. God sent a violent storm, a large fish and then a plant that grew and quickly died. But was God just being mean to send all this pain to Jonah? No. God was working on Jonah to change him. He was mainly trying to free Jonah from his idols of self-righteousness and his excessive love for his country. If Jonah were to develop a compassion for the people of Nineveh, he would need to have all of that pride and self-righteousness removed from his heart. And that would mean very painful surgery for Jonah.

II. God sends the destruction of your idols to make you more compassionate.

A. It was the idol of a love for country above all else that God was trying to destroy in Jonah by destroying the gourd plant. The plant revealed that God has the power to give life, and God has the power to take life away. God quickly gave Jonah this plant that provided shade. And God quickly caused this plant to wither and die. This plant then was a parable. God had given Israel life. He had brought the nation that Jonah loved into existence. But this nation had wandered far from God into idolatry. So now God was going to judge Israel and take its life away.

B. Jonah is really angry with God (vs. 9). He is confused by God. He thinks that God is totally inconsistent in His actions. One minute God is merciful to people, and the next minute God destroys people. Just like one minute God gave life to a plant and the next minute God destroyed that plant. But it is actually Jonah who is inconsistent. What does Jonah have compassion for? A plant. But who does he not have compassion for? The 120,000 people of Nineveh. God has compassion for all He has made. But God’s greatest compassion is for people.

III. God sends Himself to make you more compassionate.

A. In his conversation with Jonah, God was saying to Him, “I am weeping and grieving over this city of Nineveh with 120,000 people. Why aren’t you? If you are my prophet, why don’t you have my compassion?” But while Jonah did not weep over the city, Jesus, the true prophet did. I want you to notice the difference between Jonah and Jesus. Jonah did not weep for Nineveh. But Jesus wept for Jerusalem. Luke 19:41-42: And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.’” Jesus’ heart is broken for Jerusalem. He knows that the city has rejected Him as their true Messiah. And he knows that as a result judgment from God is coming for Jerusalem. Jesus has compassion. He now lives in you to give you compassion for the people around you.

Will you be compassionate like God? Or will you be hard-hearted toward people?

The book of Jonah
Commentaries on Jonah by Desmond Alexander and Timothy Keller