Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Quarreling with God- Jonah

This is one of my sermons from a few weeks back, it is an evensong sermon so shorter than at the morning service. 

Quarreling with God- Jonah 3.10-4.11

Sunday 9th September 2012- Evensong


It is just not fair…(give an example). Jonah felt justified in complaining. I told you so he tells God and so he retreats to a hill and sits there sulking hoping that fire will reign down from heaven and destroy Nineveh.
Jonah is a book with plenty of humour but it rings true doesn’t it?
Jonah’s name means “Faithful Dove” he is neither, faithful or dove like in his desire to see them punished.


“Anger is actually a diagnostic tool, when it erupts in us it means something is wrong. What it fails to do though, is to tell us whether the wrong is outside or inside us. We usually begin by assuming it is outside…” (Pieterson, 1992, 157).
The issue for us is to rightly discern which it is. Jonah is angry with God yet throughout Jonah we hear how God is merciful to him. He could have let him drown, he could have smote him for questioning him and he didn’t have to let the vine grow. Jonah reveals to us a God who is faithful in spite of our unfaithfulness.


Jonah joins a host of others who quarreled with God:
·         Abraham
·         Peter
·         David
·         Moses
·         Job
He is not unique, yet for someone who is appointed as a prophet, he is more reminiscent of a child whining on a long car journey. Kicking the back of the seat, yelling at not having their choice of music or not having the right sticker book…

Surprised by Grace-

In the end Jonah is more than surprised by grace it is scandalous to him. Why should spare these foreigners? They aren’t the people of God, God has no business forgiving them. Is grace limited to Israel?

Incomplete Ending-

Jonah ends without us hearing Jonah’s response, did he repent, did he sulk and starve himself on that hill? Did he carry bitterness with him until his last breath. You are invited into the story, what is your response to God? It just isn’t fair, I have worked hard, I have been good and yet I am still finding life a struggle and my neighbour, you know the one the loud obnoxious one, the one who is always on foreign holidays and gets a new car every couple of years is fit and healthy… people are starving in this world, the rich get richer and we have seen the bankruptcy of our politicians, reporters and bankers. Today is racial justice Sunday and we know that 27 million people are in slavery today…
But Jonah was not crying out for the plight of the Israelites or the poor or the weak but because God didn’t do what he wanted him to do.
God appointed:
·         A fish
·         A vine
·         A worm
·         A prophet?
·         You and me?

Are you right to be angry?-

Let’s not misunderstand this passage, Jonah is not being rebuked for questioning God. Throughout scripture we see people wrestling with God, complaining to him or about peoples situations or circumstances. No, instead he asks Jonah if he is right to be angry. Are we right to be angry? 

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