2nd June 2024

Jonah’s Journey: From Rebellion to Redemption

Passage: Jonah 3:1-4:11
Service Type:

In this story of Jonah, particularly in chapters 3 and 4, Jonah's journey from rebellion to obedience highlights God's boundless grace and mercy, even towards those outside His covenant. Despite witnessing God's grace firsthand, Jonah's crankiness and anger reflect common human reactions to God's unexpected acts of forgiveness. The sermon explores the profound concept of divine mercy, and the struggles Christians face in accepting God's grace for others. It sharpens understanding that the nature of God’s covenantal love often extends beyond deserving boundaries.

Automatically Generated Transcript

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we're in the Book of Jonah again tonight, and the reason why is that we're going to go further. It's largely chapter four that we need to get into, but chapter three is necessary to understand first as well. And in our previous times we've talked about Jonah and him running away from the call of God. And we also then got on to chapter three, verse one. Then the Word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time saying, Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you. And this time, Jonah is going to obey the message and go to Nineveh and cry out to it that it needs to repent of all its sins or God will judge the whole city. Now, it's interesting as we look and see what God says for Jonah to do, to do, that he was tremendously successful and one of the things our previous nights

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have been making clear is this is an episode in the life of Jonah as a prophet when he'd had quite a lot of success earlier being used of God as a prophet and having great movements of repentance occur and you discover that from the book of Kings. So it was very surprising that he didn't want to go and do as God asked on this occasion and that is why he ended up having the journey with the great fish, when it swallowed him and eventually it spat him out on the land. Jonah had God treat him and in that sermon that we've already previously gone through in chapter two, is a record of his cry and his prayer from within the actual fish itself. And God had mercy on him because he was into getting dissolved, I guess, with the hydraulic acid, the ACL that is in the stomach of a fish.

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He was going to become meat in someone else's dinner, maybe perhaps one day, and he cried out to God and God answered his prayer and caused the fish to spit him out on a foreign shore. And just a fact that he didn't just get about into the deep, but rather the fish went and the regurgitated him on to somewhere where he could get up and find his way to continue the journey to Nineveh, that's an amazing act of God's grace. And God, having answered his prayer and been gracious to him, he then goes and cries out to Nineveh. And that's what we read here about him going into the city, Verse 4, and crying out, Yet forty days Nineveh shall be overthrown.

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and the people of Nineveh, they believed God and what is interesting that means they believe the message of the prophet through Jonah that that would happen to them, they believe God and you'll find as a theme all through the scriptures that God's miracles that he does is connected to faith on our part and even for these people who are not Jews, they're not the ones who should receive the blessing of God by any covenants They're not covenanted with Jehovah God. Yet, the message comes from the prophet

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and they just believe God and he blesses them and forgives them. And even the king, he joins in the mass movement and makes his statement as to how they all should go busy if you look and see the king's message is lessoned to and the whole city turns to God. Now where gonna to chapter four And in chapter 4, we have a sort of episode that is after the blessing. And this is a good chapter for us, as Christians,

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who're involved in serving the Lord, to get used to the facts that sometimes we have reactions just as did Jonah. And it's interesting to understand what might have been his reasons for getting cranky. And so if you want to say what did Jim talk about at church tonight, tonight when you go home, he is talking about the reasons we Christians sometimes get cranky! And verse 1 says, It displeaged Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry." Now, I don't know about you, but if you've ever had a success in Christian things where it all went well, and where God blessed... Easily, then you have an exciting time of

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and telling your friends and writing up your newsletter and rejoicing them what happened. But for some strange reason, the blessing that Jonah had, displeased him and made him angry. He's angry at God really, maybe angry at the newspapers for getting into God's blessing. And he prayed to the Lord, so he's telling the Lord off. Now sometimes people would go on Christian missions and if you go on, for example, there's going to be soon that Ascription Union camps that run and Mad Camp, for example. Or if you're involved in going down to the Gold Coast or up to the Sunshine Coast when it's the week for the schools and they have there, the school leavers to be there and to witness. And sometimes,

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or maybe a beach mission that happens over Christmastimes and you join in the I can remember going on beach missions and you got up around six o'clock and you looked like a slave all week long, you had to pay your own money to go and pay for this thing and then you got to go home. And all that you've done is get exhausted and work hard and pay for it yourself and then go home. But they were some of the best times of my life, I gotta tell you, of joy of being in God's things. And I didn't ever feel angry at God at the end of a beach mission And for some silly reason I accepted all the getting up early and doing the hard work and

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paying for it myself, for the privilege it was to be involved in God's things. And Jonah should really have had the same experience. And, in the Old Testament it's the actual prophets who get to be moved to the Spirit, and used to God spiritually. Somewhat analogous to what it is for all of us as Christians in this new covenant time is the time that we're in. But there's no reason for us to get cranky and yet he did and we do sometimes. And he prayed and it's clear from the prayer that he's praying to the Lord to accuse the Lord of the reason why he's cranky.

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Oh Lord, is this not what I said Is this not what I said when I was yet in my own country that is why I made haste to flee to Tarsheesh Remember I said the previous time Tarshish is the opposite direction— You couldn't get further away from Nineveh than Tarshish. For I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Now the reason why he's cranky was not because he was fearful for himself,

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fearful that his mission would be a failure, that would be how I would feel, I think. And every time you go on some Christian mission, you know it's a multifactorial thing as to what happens. When you seek to serve the Lord there's all sorts of other reasons why things can be explained to go for good or for bad, and if you're going to be someone who is, who goes on beach missions or goes off to talk to the teenagers when they're school leavers time, leavings time, what do you call that, you know that you'll have some people you talk to who just say, oh, that's rubbish, I don't believe that. You'll have other parts of what you do in that week which are a failure, and that you take the failures

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along with the successes as well, because you know it's multifactorial and there's some things that you couldn't change. And Christian ministries like that, that, I wouldn't mind guessing at our friends that have gone overseas to Turkey who are now trying to set up and to be missionaries there. Let me get the names right. Heather, who is looking after the six kids, so the others can be busy missioning, they all have to somehow find connections. What if you go somewhere to be a missionary, and you're there for six months, and all the locals shun you, or they think you're weirdos, or you can't speak the language

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to get understood. And someone calls you on the phone and says, how's it going. And you don't want to tell them. You've been there six months and never had any real good conversations got anywhere. There are many missionaries who find themselves in that position. Or like Bethany was prayed for by in the prayer time. She's in East Africa and the particular scenario

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that she has is one where there are There are all sorts of cultural, political, language, economic factors that make it hard to be a missionary and sometimes those factors work against you and so you spend a couple of years and seeing that the mission has gone backwards and in Bethany's case they've had the occasion of when she first went there where there were other missionaries and some of them have finished their term and she's sort of arrived to find some of them all disappearing going back home or other factors coming to bear or the aeroplane was broken down, they couldn't get to fly where they needed to for provisions. All these things happen, it's a multi factorial thing that's out of your control to make it any better and yet you suffer the result and this is what it is to be in Christian ministry and so there are

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reasons why people can sometimes, having been in that opportunity to be serving the Lord, can have a time of really feeling depressed. It's the reason by the way that we pray for our mission, people on mission. Because if we lift them up, then God might give them the sustenance, spiritual sustenance and a sense of support. And it's a marvelous thing when people pray for you, especially if you get a letter, oh, I've had this happen to me

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when I was overseas and you get a letter and someone writes in the letter, I was sitting on the bus and God just told me to send this to you and the envelope was full of Australian notes which at the time that happened for me they were worth more than the American ones. God moved in people. They didn't know why. They didn't know the circumstance on the other end. I went through time where I'd run out of money for food so I existed on cans of some Some of the other students worked it out that I was missing from the mealtime.

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That's because I couldn't pay for it. They put cans of food outside my door, but there were people in Australia who prayed and God told them and they sent things and I was staggered. I got letters from US cities where no one knew me and I knew nobody. Why were they writing? Certainly why were they sending me money in the mail? God uses other Christians to help other Christians, but in the occasions where that doesn't happen and sometimes you're in the time when nothing happens and you're wondering what's God going to do, it's a bit like the disciples were in the boat in Lake Galilee and a big storm comes and they get, and it was mentioned by, in our prayer time, about

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the disciples in the boat and just the fact that they woke Jesus up and they said don't care that we're about to perish?" They think the boat's about to be sunk in the storm. And Jesus was happily being asleep. What's the difference is Jesus is trusting God, and he tells them off for not having faith. They were in the safest place that you could be, in a storm. You know what that is, it's in a boat where Jesus is asleep. Jesus, he's in our lives. Jesus, is looking after us.

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And as far as on Earth he had to sleep, he doesn't have to sleep now in glory as he prays for us. He's our chief prayer partner and he knows everything we're going through and you are as safe as those disciples were in the storm. And Jonah, he's discovered the answer to prayer by God getting him vomited out of the... you know, if I were him, I'd be writing up the story of being vomited out of the fish, I'd be putting it on YouTube, or whatever... goodness me, what a story to have!

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And, uh, but no, here he is, being cranky! And um, and I knew that you were gracious God and merciful, slow to anger standing in steadfast love, relenting from disaster. Now, what this really means is that he wasn't cranky that he had to still go to Nineveh, he was cranky because what he feared would happen did happen, that is that God's graciousness would cause them to repent and be forgiven. And he actually had an attitude of being a part

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of the children of God that deserve blessing by being God's children, and the others were not. And he was cranky. I actually heard a poem that someone wrote about how Christians can be cranky, but the reason we get cranky sometimes is for a reverse reason. Why, Lord, why don't you punish those non-Christians for being against you? But instead, God wants to forgive them. And there's a part of us that has a reaction, because we think we're the elect, or we're the ones that God has chosen, and they are not. It was a man called Jonathan Swift who wrote this little poem. We are God's chosen few. All others will be damned. God's mercy on us.

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This is the place in, there's no place in heaven for them. We can't have heaven crammed. I don't think there's any Christians who actually pray that they want heavy crammed with too many non-or avoiding in the door that they don't deserve. or it might be that, we see their sins. In the Christian Church especially in Australia, went to through a time where the people who are good Christians and behave well and dress properly and they didn't get into trouble by getting pregnant before you are married or something like that.

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They were the ones blessed, but when someone else fell out of that, we wanted them to be sufficiently punished by our frowns. we went through our church, I'm talking to the church in Brisbane, through a stage where when people didn't behave properly we sort of shunned them, or we made them feel bad, or we made them have to really, doubly repent before we let them back into being accepted, and that's a sort of the attitude that he's having. Now where this comes to light as in the actual wording, There's a little special wording, especially if you read it in Hebrew.

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We won't do that tonight. But if you read it in Hebrew, there's a little word in there that's a very important word in the Hebrew Old Testament. And you might have heard me speaking it before. It's the word Kesed. You're meant to say that at the start. And this word Kesed is the word that underpins, if you look down at what Jonah says that God is, Kesed is not what I said when I was yet in my own country, why I made haste to flee to Tarshish,

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for I knew that you were a gracious God, now that's a Hanun, I think the word is in Hebrew. That means he's a God who is willing to overlook sin and willing to grant people forgiveness. And merciful or straightforward word merciful. slow to anger is that God doesn't get angry in a hurry. One step wrong, and you're out! That's not God. He's slow to anger. Abounding in steadfast love.

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And this is the word, quesed, this love. Sometimes one of the words in the Old Testament that's very hard to get a consistent translation of so if you've got all the verses uses this word quesd and one will say loving kindness. and another will say goodness, another will just translate love. The word most often used actually is the word kindness. And the idea of God when he sees an opportunity to bless someone and let them off the hook,

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his heart wants to forgive them. That's what this word is getting it, kessid. It's actually used in some particular settings that give even more meaning to it and that particular setting of which I talk is the setting of there being a special covenant. If God makes a covenant and says, you're my people, because I've got this arrangement with you, then he forgives them and forgives them and forgives them,

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and they might do all sorts of rotten things and he keeps forgiving them because of his covenant-keeping kindness. It's the same idea of kindness, but particularly in the context of a covenant, and he had that with the children of Israel, ready to forgive them and start them again. Again and again and again all the way down the prophets would have the job of coming and pointing out their sins but God would if they repented, he'd forgive them, and they'd start all over again. The whole Old Testament is a series of the Israeli people always

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doing the wrong thing. A bad King would come and he'd take the people away, and God would forgive him again, or when he had to get rid of that king he'd get another king. That's because God's character is of this crested quality and particularly if there is a covenant. Now we who are Christians are in what is called the new covenants. A new covenant was promised for the children of Israel but we were let in so that the new covenant peoples didn't become just Jews, in fact it became a brand new set of people, both Jews and Gentiles, where the entrance was nothing to do with being cast what's the word? Or, you know, being circumcised. Is nothing to do with being a person who's gone to the temple. The new idea for the people of God for the

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children of Israel, this is for the Israelites, was the only entrance was that you came to Christ and you accepted the free forgiveness in Jesus, and you let His Holy Spirit control you. That was the entrance, it's the Christian gospel and when from the Day of Pentecost that was opened up the Christian Gospel to the Jewish people. Ares and became blessed to get into that covenant. They were Jews already, that would have been acceptable to God under the old covenant if they did all the right things and kept the law and went to the temple etc. but now these same ones had to join the a new group of people who are responding to the Gospel of receiving Christ as saviour and letting him rule their lives and that were both Jews or Gentiles or anything.

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Any person—it doesn't matter a Greek or Calliphampians, the barbarians. You know why they call them barbarians because when they heard their speech it sounded like ba, ba, ba, ba? They call them barbarians. So you didn't have to be educated, Greek-speaking intellectual. You could be a ba, ba, ba person. when you responded to the Gospel. And that Gospel let people into the new covenant but, listen, that got us into a covenant and we actually qualify by being

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in the new covenant, to be under this word, kesed if you wanna speak it in Hebrew. Is the words often translated in the New Testament by word grace, but what it means by grace is the love of God that he will, even if you fail the covenant, He's not going to fail his part, it's Covenant keeping Grace. Not all the theological scholars understand what to do with this word because it means that extra meaning only when it's in the context of a Covenant. But do you know what?

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These people at Ninuevo were in no Covenant. They were not Jews. There was no extra Covenant like the new Covenant, that was for a later time. There was nothing to do of a Covenant. But Jonah knew God's heart from the Kesed of the covenant. And he knew. That's what God is like, even with people who have no covenant to deserve it. And he was annoyed about the whole idea of going to Nineveh because he knew. This is what he says. And Jonah says,

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For I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding, in Kesed, abounding in steadfast love, even though they've got no covenant to say that they should get it. And relenting from disaster. Giving in at the last moment, Jonah says, I knew what you were like, God. And he didn't want them forgiven because he loved his status as a Jewish person and they were, the Jewish people – he was a part of the people of God and they were not, and they had been very awful to the Jewish people and they were very vicious actually in warfare, and whatever, and they were known for all the murders, and things they did – in their own city, Nineveh, was full of crime and murder.

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So Jonah wanted to see justice done, without mercy, and that's his problem. and that's why he was sort of cranky, cranky when people get blessed, and they don't deserve it. You know, if you live a long time in the Christian Church, you keep on noticing how God keeps blessing people when they don't deserve it. If the Baptist Union and all our baptism churches were to do all the right things, we deserved to have a revival. But if one happened, it'd probably be because

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because God was being merciful, and we don't deserve it. Therefore, verse 3, Oh Lord, please take life from me, he's being such a cranky, he's prepared to wanna die. I'll commit suicide. I don't know how, well he's not gonna do it to himself, but he says take my life from me.

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For it's better for me to die than to live. What a crank. And the Lord said, you do well? To be angry?" He's saying to him, do you do well to be angry? And God says that to us sometimes because we don't understand how much he longs for all those heathen people out there to come to him. And when they suffer the consequence of their sins, goodness me, you meet people today so mixed up because of what the world It teaches them about identity and about what's right or wrong or what makes for happy living in terms of behavior sexually. God didn't make his laws because he was taking away our joy.

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He gave his laws because it's the way to experience best the gifts of love and marriage and sex that he's given to us. And when people get in a mess it's... and staggering just the amount of unhappiness is in our society because they've turned away from the standards of God and he longs that he could forgive them and restore them and every now and then you meet a person who is a real liar as a non Christian and God somehow converts them and they become a Christian and then they enjoy the great blessing of walking with the Lord

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because that's God's love, his personality, his character is one that wants to show Keshead even when there's no covenant, but he certainly will do it when there is a covenant. Well, God had to teach that lesson to Jonah, so the next part is what God did was to give him a little bit An example, it's a plant. God appointed a worm. I'm down there in verse... 12, am I? No, verse 7, verse 7. God appointed a worm that attacked the plant.

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Now here, about the plant growing up around him and he's got coverage over his head So, sitting, watching, and then maybe he's up on the hillside somewhere and it's getting hot in the sun. And the plant grows over to give him a little bit of coverage. And then the worm comes and eats the plant and it dies and he gets crankier again because the plant has been bitten by the worm. And then God tells him off,

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You pity the plant for which you didn't do any labour nor did you make it grow, which came into being in the night and perished in the night. Should I not pity Nineveh? See that idea of pitying Nineveh? They don't deserve the pity, but God does. Should I not pity Nineveh, that great city in which there are more than 120,000 people who do not know their right hand from their left? They're spiritually blind like Australia without Christ.

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And this next little bit really got me. It's like a guy, and also much cattle! I'm an animal lover, I have to tell you, and my parents did me the blessing of always having us have pets. There'd always be a dog and a cat, and my older brother got to own the dog and I got to own the cat. And I think I've about had three cats. And one of them we had in Sydney, and then we got shifted to Adelaide and we brought He brought the two, the dog and the cat in their own different kennels down the train to Adelaide

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and they lived with us, but the cat, who was my cat, he disappeared very quickly, I don't know whether he got squished and the main road not too far away or whether he tried to run back to where we used to live in Sydney. Just a small possibility he tried to go, you know, Lassie come home, I did. The other place, I pray, I was a boy. And I prayed for him every night for a year, in case he was still alive and trying to make his way back to where we lived.

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So I got a thing about animals. But I want to say, God does, too. Because he cared about the animals. Much cattle it Nineveh. And when we got our little cat, little kitten, and he lived in our house and he broke his leg falling off the roof, or down the tree, we were trying to take him to the vet, to put, you know, the cast on, but he'd keep licking off the cast or chewing it off, and when he wasn't cured from having a broken leg,

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and the time came where he was to be taken to the vet to be killed, and it was my job to put him in the cage, and take him over to the vet, And I was moved by just a cap. And all over to the distance to the vet, I prayed. And I had tears, I must have looked at stupid sight by the people pulling up next to you at the lights because I was crying. And I prayed to God for the cap. I said, look, let them not do this killing him.

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left them somehow that he wouldn't have to be killed. Anyway, I got him to the vet and took him inside and the vets had him there and he'd been getting better and he was jumping around and he jumped up on her desk and he showed himself as he's only a young cat. And she said, I wouldn't put this cat down if he were mine. And apparently she'd visited the Pet Hospital

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and they have some others more expert Sometimes something happens, you know, how we often get a animal in and it's meant to have a broken leg but then we look and see that it is healed. You never can't explain totally who knows about this cat that she was telling this other person about. So she said, no Jim put him back in the cage. Take him home. He's with us today. Now I think God is like that. He says and also much cattle.

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God didn't want to destroy the city. Not only for the people but what about all the animals that would have perished. He's a God who has this kindness. I think it's one of the signs of you being a Christian. Maybe I'm a bit strict on this. But you love animals. If you're a person that cannot care if animals get hurt, I doubt that you've caught up with the kindness of God. Even more so kindness to people, kindness to children or kindness to people who are without any shelter.

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I reckon a part of us being a Christian that you can't walk by someone who's needy and got no money and they're hungry. without being moved for their condition because that's what God is like and God is telling Jonah, you shouldn't be cranky about them being forgiven because if you were like me, you wouldn't want to miss the opportunity if they repent to forgive them and it says in the scriptures that God decided not to carry out what he promised. There are a lot of mysteries in these stories, you know, because God is the God who knows everything and he has all power. And he will have known about their future repentance, but he still watched to see them repent before he forgave them.

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And in one of the previous nights about Jonah one of the things I wanted I just wanted to point out was the very nature of the gospel is God being willing to step down to communicate with us to make the difference we can understand. It happened in the Garden of Eden, where it says God came walking in the Garden of Eden and he says Adam, where are you? Adam is hiding behind the plant. Well, God knows where he is, but he said, where are you? What is it?... Father, Son or Holy Spirit because there are three persons in our one God, and it's actually probably the Son, though I can't prove this. but this is an occasion for the pre-incarnate Christ coming, walking through the garden.

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And I take the scriptures literally that God did come walking in the garden, but he doesn't necessarily have to have legs because he's the pre-incarnate Christ Christ who can appear as he did when he appeared to Abraham and he appeared like a human person who visited. He disappeared in a lot of smoke from the fire so he stopped permanently, got legs. But God came walking, I can't prove this, I think that's Christ's pre-incarnation in the garden of Eden. And coming in as if he's walking to see where Adam is,

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God makes up the difference between his Eternality and his All-Knowledge and his omniscience, his omnipotence and our very limited humanity to reach out to us on our terms. That actually is what is in the Gospel when God's eternal Son took on humanity that he might be a gift to humanity, the God-Man and that we could look on him, and so the writers of Jesus, like in the book of Hebrews, talk about in these last days God has spoken to us through his Son, the very coming of him into the World, of him in his stepping down, as Philippians talks about, and his condescension to take on humanity

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is that his love is of the style that he reaches out to bridge the gap. The eternal God didn't just stay in heaven and be mysterious and we insist on us somehow worshipping Him unknown. He stepped down and became Jesus, the eternal Son that he might reveal. And so, the New Testament talks about the great revelation that is in Jesus. The greatest of all revelations is Jesus Himself, Because he's God in the flesh is while we celebrate Christmas is what the gospel is all about when you see this one who stepped down and took on

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humanity and then realized that the part of his purpose was that he might then qualify to be a successful humanity to go and pay for humanity sins on the cross when God punished him for our sins he couldn't be punished for our sins while he was just God but he took on humanity he bridged the gap which is why the one verse that talks about who is the mediator between heaven and earth between God and man. There is one mediator between God and man. What's the next word you probably know it? The man Christ Jesus. The man. because he saw the gap and came to fill that gap, to reach out to you and to me that we might find him a savior, and that's the nature of God. And our friend here, Jonah, and we don't get critical of him because I think we get our

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of crankiness at times as well. But he had to learn about this Kes-ed, even when undeserved, because there's no covenant. But that's what God's character is like. It's what the gospel exemplifies. It's a marvelous little book. Do you know the Book of Jonah is only one double page, two sides. More depending on how your Bible is printed, whether it gets to the front and back of one page,

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whether it's, like my Bible's got one page here and one page there. It's one of the smaller books in the Bible, but it's a book about the cassette of God, this loving kindness that lies behind the whole of the Gospel. It's a fantastic book. And it's the reason why we need to ask God to help us have his character and drop our crankies and not be a person that's letting... sometimes, you know, I've heard people say, that when you have salvation come to your life

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because you don't get the completion of that until you get to heaven and are made perfect. But we often have the sort of vestiges, the remains of our sinful side, and that remains of your sinful side being jealous, being a person who's annoyed because you didn't get the promotion. But god understands those things Because we are to be like God And if there's a covenant, well, that's good

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If there's no Covenant God's character is still the same that's my message tonight Let's pray Heavenly father. I thank you for the little book of Jonah and I thank you for the lessons of the man who good? swallowed by a big fish a A man who prayed and prayed for your grace, really. He prayed for your help. And you answered, and got him vomited out, restored him to his mission, and then he was cranky because the mission was successful. What a silly thing. Save us from the crankies. Whatever they might be for us, in our context. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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