Sunday, July 29, 2012

What Am I Going To Do With You? 私はあなたと何を関わっていくのでしょうか?

Jonah 4:5-11ヨナ4:5-11
V5   SEEK A QUIET PLACE TO SEE THE WORKS OF GOD 神の業(わざ)を思い見る静かな場所を求める
   This has been done before.  Abraham sat and watched Sodom & Gomorrah burn---from a distance.  Not the same feeling or attitude as he had been concerned for his nephew Lot’s life and for those who still might be righteous.  Here, Jonah sets up camp on the east side of the city—to watch something that will not happen.  He looks for comfort in the destruction of a city and of her people.  He sets up a shelter .

   Others do the same, as in similar situations, those with anxious uneasy consciences have diligently constructed something that appears to be more uncomfortable than the situation itself.  They do this so that they still can complain and still have much to complain about.  Complain: Express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event.  IN fact, there are today, web sites for those who want to complain  (不平を言) (подавать жалобу) (klage) (불평하다). is a one-stop source of consumer information, providing the capability for you to complain online to any organization, including consumers, companies and  governments…and it is free!  Not fair?  Go to the site and find ways to sue them or find satisfaction. So... don't complain and talk about all your problems--80 percent of people don't care; the other 20 percent will think you deserve them.    Mark Twain. 
   Out West, a cowboy was driving down a dirt road, his dog riding in back of the pickup truck, his faithful horse in the trailer behind. He failed to negotiate a curve and had a terrible accident.    Sometime later, a highway patrol officer came on the scene. An animal lover, he saw the horse first. Realizing the serious nature of its injuries, he drew his service revolver and put the animal out of his misery. He walked around the accident and found the dog, also hurt critically. He couldn't bear to hear it whine in pain, so he ended the dog's suffering as well.    Finally he located the cowboy --who suffered multiple fractures--off in the weeds. "Hey, are you okay?" the cop asked. The cowboy took one look at the smoking revolver in the officer's hand and quickly replied, "Never felt better!"
   How many things we find in our day-to-day lives that are really blessings from God, yet we do not thank Him for those things?  Here was a small, very hungry BUG and God was in it! There may be small things in our lives that eat away at what the Lord has provided.  Things like ungratefulness, slander, bitterness, and pride.  It is not seen on the outside but very active from within.  (A small worm destroys a large gourd.)  That which was alive in us begins to die…ever so slowly.  In this case, Jonah was very grateful for the gourd. He put his hope in the wrong item…in the wrong thing.
   God provides so much: Missionary statesman Hudson Taylor  ハドソン·テイラーhad complete trust in God's faithfulness. In his journal he wrote:  Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning... He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all... Depend on it, God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply.
   With all the things God has to deal with, He is still looking after His Prophet.  He sees him sitting in the hot sun.  He knows that he will get sunstroke (日射病).  He will burn. He will grow faint.  God provided a vine to shade him…but sees no change in his behavior.  No heart filled thankfulness in light of what Jonah knew about the character of God, his own heart was unmoved.

   But mankind has had a problem with being thankful.  We might sit down for a meal and start right in eating without thanking the Lord for the food.  Small thing?  I don’t think so.
   所沢からの友人  A number of years ago, a very good friend from Tokorozawa, before he became a Believer found himself on a bike ride with a fellow missionary.  The missionary had been talking to him about Jesus and the Japanese man must have known that during this long bike ride, the missionary would share the Gospel with him.  That sharing came in a very different manner. They had stopped for lunch and they took out their obentos and as small as it was, the missionary said: “Let’s thank God for this!” His prayer was in Japanese and it was in very simple Japanese.  My friend said something like: “Ten no otosama, kono obento o, arigato gozaimasu, amen. 天のおとさま、このおべんとお、ありがとございます、アメん!  My Japanese friend was taken back by that prayer of thanks.  He said, “You are thankful to your God for such a small thing.  Yet I do not have anyone to thank.” A short time later, he opened his heart to Jesus BECAUSE he could thank Him!

  Ephesians 5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. エペソ人への手紙5:20
  1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1テサロニケ5:18

   But here we have a “Man of God” who lost out on a real blessing because he would not be thankful NOR wanted to be thankful.  He remained bitter (苦い).  He wished the very worst to happen to those people.  He was not in any mood to bless them.  He was so ready to curse them.  No tenderness of heart was apparent.  He was lost in his feeling of hurt and anger and he could not see his way clear of it.  He was ‘thankful’ for the possibilities of seeing calamity.  That is not the conduct of a Believer!

   Even today, those people who are ready to curse people and to cut them down is not walking in the Spirit.  When a person finds delight—yes, delight—in bringing people down, there is something wrong in that person’s spirit.  He is bitter.  He is unfair and he is out of step with the kindness of God.  Jonah was such a person.  We cannot be that way. 

V 7 GOD EVEN PROVIDED … FOOD FOR THE WORM! 神は与えた... 虫にさえ食べ物を I love this next section. God sees no change in the heart or attitude in Jonah so what does this loving, caring God do, He shows His concern for the welfare of a worm.  He gives him a feast. “Eat the whole plant!”  “My man, Jonah, does not seem to be thankful, I will provide for the worm.” This does not please Jonah once again.  He becomes angry. (Note that he is generally an angry person. Know anyone like that—ready to bite your head off for the slightest provocation (挑発)? 
V 8  GOD PROVIDED … A STRONG EAST WIND)  神は起こした...強い東風を
Scottish minister Alexander Whyte was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought to himself, "Certainly the preacher won't think of anything for which to thank the Lord on a wretched day like this." Much to his surprise, however, Whyte the Pastor began by praying, "We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this."  Give thanks in ALL things!

   Do we notice a trend here with what God keeps doing?  God is the One who provides.  He provided Jonah a place to work out his issues—the belly of the fish.  He provided the sailors an opportunity to give Him praise.  He provided the people of Nineveh with the message of salvation.  He provided a place for Jonah to sit: He provided shade.  He provided a meal for the worm and we also see that He provided Jonah clean air to see the Glory of God’s Mercy: He provided a strong east wind to clear the skies away. Jonah’s only unoriginal response is ANGER(怒り) … once again. He again wants to die!  Lost his center. Lost his moral compass (道徳的なコンパス). This is anything that serves to guide a person’s decisions based on morals or virtues.

   Once that area of the heart is broken, it is ever so hard to reclaim it once again—certainly not with any human effort.  It takes the Work of God in that heart of stone and we know that it can be done: look where we have been from and now, on this side of the Cross, we have that moral compass.  Jonah needs a compass change—and fast.

   Jonah’s reason to live before was the possibility of seeing God destroy Nineveh.  Once that was gone, his only delight was the vine that gave him shade.  But he cared nothing for the lives of people who lived below him in that once threatened city.  My shade was gone, I wish I would die!
Ben Franklin once said: Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one. 怒りは理由がないわけではないが、めったに良い理由によることではない

   And here is NOT a good reason to be angry. He cared more for the vine than for lives of so many people—even if it were ten righteous people, Jonah did not care.  He was spiritually bankrupted.  God saw it missing in him. V 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.”  

CONCERN FOR THE SMALL THINGS and MISS THE BIG THINGS 小さな事へこだわると大きなことを見逃すThe FACT was that there were people down in that city that needed to know God.  And all Jonah was concerned with at this point was to die because of his petty need of shade.  Don’t you feel sorry for him?  He had an experience of a lifetime—in fact—an experience that almost took his life and now he is faced with sunstroke and he wants to die! But, I feel akin to him.  And maybe you, too.

  NO COMPASSION あわれまないWe are SO concerned for the little things in life and we tend let the big things go. We get concerned for the comfort we can have here and we forget there are people—not even that far away from this Chapel, who do not have the bare necessities of life. We might be concerned for a short time, but time moves us and we move on.  We forget that there are people in need out there and that we can help them.  Friends, what is our duty?  What are we required to do?  Why are we here? Micah 6:8 states three reasons: He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  ミカ68
   Jonah failed on all three counts!  Don’t let that happen to you.  Supreme Court Justice Horace Gray once informed a man who had appeared before him in a lower court and had escaped conviction on a technicality, "I know that you are guilty and you know it, and I wish you to remember that one day you will stand before a better and wiser Judge, and that there you will be dealt with according to justice and not according to law." Later in that man’s life of crime, he was surprised while burgling a house in Antwerp, Belgium.  The thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine-foot wall, dropped down the other side, and found himself in the city prison. Oops: The Book of Blunders, 1980.  That is true justice!
   How can we act justly?  正しく行動する In our homes, be fair—look for ways to be just.  This means just being fair, guided by truth, reason, justice, and fairness.  In the society—support the rights of children.  Be sensitive to the plight of those who are less fortunate than us.  Be fair with our fellow workers.  Treat them with respect that is their due.  Don’t expect justice back.  It would be nice to be treated fairly, but—Jonah was not being fair with is attitude toward the city dwellers.  He wanted them just dead.
  How can we love mercy?  What does mercy look like? 愛の慈悲Years after the death of US President Calvin Coolidge, this story came to light. In the early days of his presidency, Coolidge awoke one morning in his hotel room to find a cat burglar going through his pockets. Coolidge spoke up, asking the burglar not to take his watch chain because it contained an engraved charm he wanted to keep. Coolidge then engaged the thief in quiet conversation and discovered he was a college student who had no money to pay his hotel bill or buy a ticket back to campus. Coolidge counted $32 out of his wallet -- which he had also persuaded the dazed young man to give back! -- declared it to be a loan, and advised the young man to leave the way he had come so as to avoid the Secret Service! (Yes, the loan was paid back.)  Today in the Word, October 8, 1992.  True mercy…not what he justly needed but mercy—something beyond. Because of the resent events in the US,  Billy Graham writes: "My heart aches for America and its deceived people. The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance."
   To Walk humbly with your God!  あなたの神とともに謙虚に歩く
 There was a minister who said he had a wonderful sermon on humility but was waiting for a large crowd before preaching it. If our own heart does not humble us, some one or something will humble you.  The old saying: Be humble or you'll stumble.  George Washington Carver, the scientist who developed hundreds of useful products from the peanut: "When I was young, I said to God, 'God, tell me the mystery of the universe.' But God answered, 'That knowledge is reserved for Me alone.' So I said, 'God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.' Then God said, 'Well, George, that's more nearly your size.' And He told me."  Adapted from Rackham Holt, George Washington Carver.
  It was Socrates who said the unexamined life is not worth living.  Many of us might be so wrapped up on our PC and MACs or iPhones and enjoying the surface areas of life that we might not have time or energy left to engage with God on any level deeper than merely surface.  We are not thinking critically about our own lives and therefore we are unable to think critically or Biblically about our world or our response to it.  We favor knee jerk reactions, but God wants us to respond in agreement with His purposes, not against His purposes.

  God’s message to Jonah is a message for us today.  Who will care for those who cannot speak? V 11 (120,000 INFANTS WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE OF WHICH HAND WAS THEIR RIGHT HAND—NO CARE FOR THEM-NO COMPASSION AT ALL!)  Who will stand up for them? Will you ask the Lord for that kind of compassion?  

   And we come to The END OF STORY—物語の終わりNOT RESPONSE FROM JONAH.  It interests me that we do not hear from Jonah again. Will he run away? Will you? The last few times God spoke to him, he moved away.  Once in disobedience and the next in silent obedience.  His heart seemed unmoved.  His words are cold.

   If there were a fifth Chapter, what would it say?  The romantic in me would suggest that a fellow from the city walked up to him and asked him to teach him about his God.  It seems that Jonah knew ABOUT God very well, (his problem would be living that out!) This man would ask him many questions about what he should do and how he should act.  Jonah would tell him of the need to see that God works everything for His Glory.  That man would verbalize better than Jonah of what that would look like and once again, Jonah would be set back to learn the same things again.  The man would be ever so thankful and shares this new information with his family, with his neighbors, with his block leader, with his mayor and the chapter ends with him talking to the king, whose life would change and be an example of a Godly life.

Or, Jonah would not even talk to the Ninevites.  He would pretend he can’t speak his language and walk away, looking for a shady place and the man would understand that Jonah would not help him.  He turns to another man who happens by.  He is a Hebrew man too but he is willing to teach the man the right way.

Or, Jonah is seen sitting—all by himself—on the side of the cliff and once fallen asleep, rolls off the edge and falls to his death.

   But the truth is, there is no chapter five yet there is more to the story. The repentance of that city last for one generation and they fell back into sin once again.  After years of being at the top of the pile of men spoilers, another government comes in and destroys them and they are no more.  Cycle of life.  Want to break out of that cycle?  God is asking us the same question God proposed to Jonah: What am I going to do with you?