Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jonah Is Angry! ヨナは怒っている

JONAH 4:1-4
1 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
 4:1 ところがヨナはこれを非常に不快として、激しく怒り、 2 主に祈って言った、「主よ、わたしがなお国におりました時、この事を申したではありませんか。それでこそわたしは、急いでタルシシにのがれようとしたのです。なぜなら、わたしはあなたが恵み深い神、あわれみあり、怒ることおそく、いつくしみ豊かで、災を思いかえされることを、知っていたからです。 3 それで主よ、どうぞ今わたしの命をとってください。わたしにとっては、生きるよりも死ぬ方がましだからです」。 4 主は言われた、「あなたの怒るのは、よいことであろうか」。
   Ever been mad, angry, or deeply dissatisfied with someone? OUR ANGER TOWARD OTHERS 他人に向かう私たちの怒りYour have feelings of dread as they approach you. You see fire! You remember all the ‘deeds’ they had done at your expense. You remember every detail. Maybe some were false details, in that you might have remembered wrongly but you will fight to the death to defend your feelings of anger.  They had hurt you and they were wrong! Their actions or words or intentions damaged your heart and you can’t forgive them for that.  So, you continue in your anger toward them. 

   After they leave your presence, you still feel your heart beating fast. The image of their face still is burning in your mind.  Even when they have been away from your sight for one hour, one month, one year, there is still the anger. You remain angry with them. It might be under the surface now, but if their name comes in up conversation, or runs through your mind, ALL those feelings return and you relive the pain once again.  This time, it might even be a deeper feeling. Left to fester, it hurts you in ways you are not even aware of.  You might even become sick because of the anger.  You become a mess.  Such is anger’s hold and its destructive force on your life. 

    OUR ANGER TOWARD GOD 神に向かう私たちの怒りWhat happens when you are angry with God?  Do you get angry with Him?  You might not agree out loud but I am sure you have been angry with Him.  You are human, right?  Anger and hostility toward the God Head is part of our history of being human.  We were enemies of God and in that state of anger, you were mad at Him.  After you made peace with God, and rather, He made peace with you, those feelings of anger and of being mad at Him still might come up.  Your ways of thinking and His ways of thinking do not always run parallel.  Our feelings of justice and fairness many times, do not fall in line with what we find in reality. People we love get sick. Hurt comes to people we care about.  Sad things happen to children we know. Things don’t seem right! In fact, to you, this seems very wrong, and you become angry.

   Just like Jonah.  Look at Chapter four, verse one.  But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.  Why was he angry? He knew what was going to happen when he took God’s message to the people of Nineveh.  They were going to turn from their evil ways.  God would spare them.  He knew that would happen because he knew the character of God. ヨナは神の性格を知っていた  That is what he tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish in the first place: the enemies of Israel would be forgiven and judgment would be spared.  “But I wanted these people to burn!  I wanted these people to die in their sins!  I did not want them to repent and find forgiveness! They are our enemies and I wanted them to pay for what they had done to Israel! But, NO!  You wanted to forgive them. You wanted to give them a second chance!  You wanted to show them mercy! You wanted to show them that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love…a God who relents from sending calamity!  In short, God, You spoiled my whole life!  I wanted to see them blown away!”

   So, Jonah was angry with his God.  Did he have the right to be angry with God?  That is exactly what God asked, too!

   When bad things happen around us, how do we respond?  We look for the reason it went bad, don’t we?  We look for the cause of the injury or calamity.  The catastrophe or disaster, mishap, or tragedy must have a cause! One of the first words out of our mouths might be: “Why God?”  It is very easy to blame Him for all sorts of things, isn’t it? Too hot? God’s fault.  No room on the train? Blame God. Pain in the legs.  “Why this now, Lord?” Floods in Kyushu? God caused it. See how simple that is?  Problem is, He might not be the cause of any of it.  His allowing things to happen is another matter.  Why did God allow my investments to collapse?  Why the extra rain in Kyushu? Why is God allowing the killings to continue in Syria?  IF He is so gracious and compassionate as Jonah claims Him to be, really, WHY, indeed?

   Interesting verses are found in 2 Chronicles 7:11-16   There was another time when God was telling His Number One pick as King, what was on His heart.  Listen when the Lord appeared to Solomon.
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a temple for sacrifices.
13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among My people, 14 if My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that My Name may be there forever. My eyes and My heart will always be there.

   Did you hear that?  Those long periods of time with no rain, the swarms of locusts, the plague among His people?  It was His Hand that brought them. Once Man understands what THAT REALLY MEANS, our hearts would be in the right place! We stop being so self-centered and see that the World does not revolve around me and my situation or around my concerns and problems. When He calls for these things to happen, it is for a purpose: we are to look to Him and call on Him because His eyes will be open and His ears will be attentive to the prayers offered from our hearts (verse 15).

   Being at peace with God was not something Jonah experienced very much—esp in this short book.  He seemed to always have a chip on his shoulder and some bitterness in his heart.  There was a time—back in the belly of the fish—when he was more open to change—more open to a certain joy—but that was gone by the time he gets to Nineveh for he was all business as usual.  No middle ground at all.  He was either on and off. Cold or hot.  Angry or obedient.  And yet—even in his obedience, he is angry.  Verse 3 is desperate yet very much in character with Jonah’s understanding of God’s ways.

   Even when Jonah KNOWS about God’s character (knowing that He is compassionate 神が憐み深いことを知っている, that He is loving 神が愛すること, that He is slow to anger 神が怒るのに遅いことを), Jonah did not want to believe that such would be the case.  He was really hoping God would respond like he would—humanly.  He was displeased that his enemies were not dashed on the streets.  He wanted Nineveh and her people to be destroyed!  So much like many today…so much like us…we want God’s judgment on the sinners but not on ourselves

   DEALING WITH ANGER 怒りに対処するAnd here we have the situation within each of us.  When things don’t go the way we want them to go, we become disheartened.  We get gloomy.  We enter a dark place within our lives.  We take our eyes off the true Character of God and look at things in an unhealthy way.  What was Jonah’s problem?  He did not want God to be God.  In chapter one, he was willing to tell total strangers that he was running away from God—and he would tell them that they had to throw him overboard and that the Lord his God will spare their lives because the problem was with him— not with the sailors in the ship—not with the people of Nineveh!

      It was better to die—for the Lord to take away his life.  Why?  He was a traitor!  Better that I die NOW so that my fellow Hebrews would not see who the fool was that caused God to bless their enemies!  He was guilty of helping his enemies.  He was abetting[支援] them. He was giving them comfort.

   I think I am not alone when I say that we are not good at dealing with anger.  When Paul writes in Eph 4:26, “In your anger, do not sin” we really don’t know how to do that.  “Don’t be anxious” Phil 4:6-7 is an obstruct.  Even when the memory of the verse “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom 8:31) comes to mind, we can imagine some force that can.  What we need, my friends, what we really need is an experience inside a fish for three days but unlike Jonah, we need to remember what we learnt after we are out. 

   I can believe that some of us here today have felt that we have been set aside for a season—maybe not inside a fish—but set aside in any case.  God had been dealing with us and He has been trying to show us His character of knowing that He is compassionate, knowing that He is loving, knowing that He is slow to anger and we resist itfor some reason.  We got use to the feeling of being down. We got use to the feeling…and in some situations, we are glad we are down!  We are not worthy of feeling good about ourselves.  We are not worth enough to feel pleasure.  We become content with the feelings of being all alone—against the world of our Ninevites.  And we would almost say to Him: “Why don’t I just die.” なぜただ私は死ぬだけではないのか?

   That is the world of so many in the Ministry.  We talk about the facts of the Gospel, that God loves our friends, that He has a plan for their lives…yet we are unhappy that God does not do things in our ministry the way we want Him to do them…in the timing of the way we feel it should be done.  And in that struggle, we become angry with God.  In the words of Philip Yancey, we become disappointed with God. And I would suggest, God is use to that and He is ready to act.  His ear is still toward us. His heart is ready to deal with us. We need to come to that place—once again, to agree He is compassionate, loving, slow to anger and He loves us still!  This is His Good pleasure.  His will for the ministry.  His Good and perfect gift from on high.  His best for us because, He—like with Jonah—loves us too.  Not any more than He did yesterday and not more than He will tomorrow.   
   A number of years ago, when I lived on the East Coast, I remember hearing a Christian leader close his radio program with the following: Walk with the King today and be a blessing. THAT is where we need to be.  Walking well in the Light will bring us to our knees and in direct conflict with the World System but in the center of God's will for us.  There is no reason to be angry at God. His heart and His intentions are for His Glory.  Walk with Him and see the truth of that kind of life.

  Next week: God’s Calling on your life.