O Church, what are God’s two great purposes that the church is to serve? Are you doing them?
[SW090] 04/28/2013 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2013
“Forty Days of God’s Purpose”
The Bible teaches us that there are two great purposes of God.
He accomplishes His purposes by putting people through trials.
The trials show us what’s in our hearts.
When we see the sin that’s in our hearts,
we either repent AND turn from our sin AND ask Him to change our hearts
or reject what God shows us.
We can learn both great purposes of God through one prophet — Jonah.
He was a prophet in northern Israel, used by the Lord in 2 Kings 14:25-27 —
2Kings 14:25 He [King Jeroboam] restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher. 26 For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, which was very bitter; for there was neither bond nor free, nor was there any helper for Israel. 27 The LORD did not say that He would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, but He saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.
The second Jeroboam committed the same sins as Jeroboam son of Nebat.
But Jonah gave this word of the Lord:
That He saw the affliction of Israel.
The Lord had mercy on them,
and spared them an enemy invasion.
Church, you have been spared many times.
The Lord offered them more opportunities to repent of their sins,
through other prophets He sent.
But after 82 years and 7 months of continued wickedness,
(assuming Jonah prophesied at the beginning of this Jeroboam’s reign)
northern Israel was decimated by Assyria.
Those who didn’t perish in the battle
were sent into exile,
and were scattered across the known world by the Assyrians.
They rejected the warnings of the Lord.
The Lord spoke to watchmen on the walls.
He showed them the sin of the people
and they blew the trumpet of warning.
If they didn’t, the blood of His people was on them.
So we see God wants to save His own people,
and He and His Son, Jesus Christ, want to save the church today.
He makes strong and courageous
the prophets He sends
to proclaim and warn.
Christians must stop sinning,
and that is only through repentance for their personal sin,
and baptism in the Holy Spirit!
Otherwise, they will perish
or be exiled and scattered.
That’s God’s first purpose. Saving His own people — Israel, AND the church. But they must: 1) confess their sin to God and 2) ask Him to forgive them and change their hearts.
God’s second purpose?
We see it by way of the same prophet,
in the Book of Jonah.
He wants to save people who worship everything but Him —
IF THEY REPENT OF THEIR WICKEDNESS
WHEN HE SENDS A PROPHET TO WARN THEM!
Jonah doesn’t want to do what the Lord says,
because the Lord wants him to warn the wicked city of Nineveh
the capital city of Assyria.
The Assyrians are great enemies of Israel.
Why should they be saved from destruction?
Jonah’s reaction to God’s command to warn Nineveh
is like that of James and John, when the Samaritans
wouldn’t let Jesus and them pass through their town.
Like Jonah, they did not have the Lord’s heart YET.
That would happen at Pentecost.
Luke 9:54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, [ and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village.
The Lord wants Jonah to warn Nineveh?
“I want You to call down fire, Lord!”
He tries to run from the Lord.
But when he tries to run,
the Lord provides a storm.
The ship he escapes on is about to to sink.
He’s sleeping below and has no idea.
No one else on board knows the Lord.
They’re calling out to their gods.
But there’s no answer.
They awaken Jonah.
Maybe his God will care about them,
so they won’t perish.
Lots are cast to determine who’s responsible for the storm.
The lot falls to Jonah; he himself does not tell them.
Only when the lot shows it is him
does he confess that he fears the Lord, who created everything,
and that he is fleeing from the presence of the Lord.
He tells them to throw him overboard.
He says the sea will become calm when they do so,
because he’s the cause of the storm.
They try to fight the sea, anyway.
It’s no use; the storm rages even more strongly.
Then they pray to the Lord,
these men who had been praying to their own gods.
Do not let us perish!
And don’t blame us for throwing Jonah into the sea
for You, O Lord, have done as you have pleased!
When they throw Jonah overboard,
the sea suddenly calms,
just as Jonah said.
Many storms come to the world
because the church
disobeys her Lord.
The church tries to flee from the presence of the Lord,
because she doesn’t want to warn unbelievers
that they must repent.
O Church, He’s sending a storm your way.
It is His mercy to you,
and to the unbelieving world.
He’ll save unbelievers who aren’t responsible for the storm
when they turn to Him in the storm
and cry out for Him to save them from their sins.
And they’ll believe in and worship Him
because He will save them!
So Jonah offers himself,
after his sin is discovered.
Jonah’s sin against God was found out.
The Lord provided a storm,
and caused the lot to show Jonah’s sin.
Jonah couldn’t hide any more.
He does the same with His church,
when He brings storms.
He makes sure your sin is found out,
because He wants to save you,
O Church that disobeys Him.
But there’s more — the Lord is not done with Jonah yet.
Jonah is swallowed by a big fish, sent by the Lord.
He’s in darkness in the fish’s stomach
for three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40) —
very possible in the natural.
When you flee from the Lord’s presence, O Church,
because you refuse to warn the wicked to repent
He’ll put you in a dark place, in the belly of the fish.
And then you will cry out.
Many of you are in the fish’s belly even now.
In the darkness, Jonah cries out.
He doesn’t repent, though.
He just says He remembers the Lord.
And He gives thanks in advance to the Lord,
for bringing his life up from the pit.
He says he’ll do what the Lord commanded Him to do.
But his heart is not in it.
The church cries out in that dark place,
and you say you remember the Lord’s faithfulness
and give thanks in advance for His deliverance,
and promise to obey Him.
But your heart is not in it, O Church!
So, He will deliver you when you cry out, O Church,
and will command you again to preach repentance from sin,
warning wicked people that judgment is coming.
In Nineveh’s case, judgment will come in 40 days.
Now we will see God’s purpose in those 40 days.
Jonah still hates Nineveh.
just like some Christians hate their enemies,
and do not pray for them.
Jonah quickly forgets the Lord saved him, too,
when he disobeyed the Lord.
O Christian, you forget that He saved you
out of your wickedness.
But he tramps through the huge city,
obeying the Lord,
though his heart is not in it.
“Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”
That’s all he says.
But Nineveh repents, to the max!!!
The people believe in God!
ALL of Nineveh fasts and puts on sackcloth.
The king even orders their livestock to be put on a fast
and to be covered with sackcloth.
Here are the king of Nineveh’s words:
Jonah 3:8 “But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. 9 “ Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.”
And when God sees their repentance from their wicked ways,
He relents concerning the calamity
which He declared He would bring upon them —
the one the disobedient Jonah finally warned them about.
That’s His second purpose —
to bring the whole world to repentance,
so they are saved.
If they will repent,
He will spare them.
But northern Israel, 82 years and 7 months later?
They did not repent for their personal sins,
and either perished or were dragged into exile.
If you do not repent,
you will either perish,
or be dragged into exile!
Repent first of your own wickedness,
your own rebellion against the Lord.
And then repent for not warning others to repent of THEIR sins.
What did Jesus say to the Jewish leaders who refused to repent?
Luke 11:32 “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”
The Jewish leaders
did not repent at His preaching.
O Church! Listen!
Repent for “avoiding” the issue of sin,
and refusing to warn the wicked.
If you do not repent, O Christian, O Church,
the men of Nineveh will stand up against you
along with this generation,
and condemn you.
How do I know Jonah’s heart is not in it,
when he finally obeys God and warns the wicked?
Jonah is not happy that Nineveh repented.
He rebukes the Lord in prayer.
He says he knew the Lord would spare Nineveh.
That’s why he ran in the first place.
He didn’t WANT the Lord to forgive them.
He prays, confessing what God IS —
slow to anger,
abundant in lovingkindness,
who relents concerning calamity.
But Jonah still does not see his heart.
He does not see that he is NOT those things.
He’d rather die than see Nineveh spared.
The Lord asks him if he has good reason to be angry,
to show Jonah his heart.
But Jonah doesn’t see it.
Jonah goes to sulk and to watch,
still hoping Nineveh will be destroyed,
like Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Lord gives him one day’s comfort via a plant for shade,
and Jonah is very happy.
Jonah seeks Jonah’s happiness
while he hopes for the destruction of hundreds of thousands at Nineveh.
But then the Lord removes his happiness,
with a plant-withering worm.
Jonah loses his shade,
and the Lord sends a scorching wind.
Jonah is angrier than ever —
so angry he could just die!
The Lord won’t let Christians seek their own happiness
while those around them are destroyed
because they halfheartedly warn the wicked to repent of their sin.
He’ll remove your protection, O Church,
and send a scorching wind,
so you cry out to Him.
Jonah again pleaded with God to die.
He didn’t want Nineveh saved,
and now he had lost his comfort.
He did not have good reason to be angry.
God saved Jonah when Jonah repented.
Why shouldn’t God save WHOSOEVER WILL believe in His Son,
if they repent and turn from their sin?
The Lord said to Jonah,
You enjoyed the plant.
You loved it.
You didn’t work for it or cause it to grow.
It came up overnight and perished overnight.
The Lord created the people of Nineveh.
He caused them to grow.
He created the animals there.
Therefore, He has compassion on them.
He will save them because they repent of their sin.
The Lord says to Jonah,
You want them to perish, Jonah.
You don’t understand My purposes.
You don’t have My heart.
O Church, here is God’s conclusion about you, based on your actions:
YOU MUST want those who are wicked to die in their wickedness.
You MUST want to run and hide from God’s purpose — their salvation.
You MUST want to see them destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah.
Because you do nothing to call the perishing to repentance for their personal sin.
And so He brings storms to you, O Church,
And worms that wither your comfort,
and scorching east winds.
I pray the Holy Spirit causes this word to be a scorching east wind that robs you of your comfort, O Church.
So you might see your own hearts,
and repent of your own personal sin against God,
and your disobedience in refusing to call the wicked
to repent and turn from their sins.
you MUST be about the Father’s business,
warning the wicked of destruction,
so they repent and believe in Jesus Christ,
who is their Savior!!!
Turn from your rebellion, O Church,
and the Lord will forgive you.
Ask Him to change your hearts,
and He will do it in a moment of time!