God is Gracious and Compassionate through his Holy Word

But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee 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.  (Jonah 4:1-2 NIV84)

Do you like your job? Many people don’t for many different reasons: Maybe it’s the lack of pay, the long hours, or the physical toll your job is taking on your body. What if you didn’t like the outcome or the result of your job—that is, what if the problem with your job is the result of what would happen if you did your job correctly? That is the situation in which the Prophet Jonah found himself. He didn’t want to do his job of spreading God’s Word because he knew that if he would, his enemies would be saved.

At the beginning of this book God told Jonah, go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me. Nineveh was the leading city of Assyria—a country north of Israel. Nineveh was a wicked and adulterous place. Jonah and the other Israelites knew Assyria well—they were staunch enemies. God telling Jonah to go and preach to Nineveh would be like God telling an American Pastor today to go and preach in Mecca or to ISIS’s headquarters, wherever that might be.

So it’s no surprise that Jonah didn’t want to go. It’s not that he hated his job—he was a prophet, the Lord gave him the very words to speak to the people on his behalf. What Jonah didn’t like was the outcome of his job. If he were to preach God’s Word to Nineveh, Jonah knew that they would repent and believe in the Lord—and that God would forgive them. And he couldn’t have that—in his mind they weren’t worthy to hear the gospel; they weren’t worthy to be forgiven. So instead of going Northeast by land to Nineveh, Jonah got on a boat and traveled to Tarshish—either north in Asia Minor or west in Spain.

We know what happened next—Jonah was thrown overboard and was swallowed by a large fish. Inside the belly of that fish Jonah repented and was spit up safely on dry ground. In our first lesson yesterday we saw that when Jonah did preach to Nineveh they all repented from their wickedness and turned to the Lord in faith. The verses above follow yesterday’s lesson. Jonah is upset. Why? Because the Word worked on such a wicked people—that they repented and believed and received forgiveness!

We too may think the same thing—we all know people who haven’t lived the best of lives, or those who have rejected the gospel over and over again. We look down upon them and don’t think they are worthy to hear the gospel, to step foot in our church, or to be associated with Christians in anyway. “It’s not fair,” we may be complain to God like the brother of the prodigal son, “I’ve been faithful all my life and have always strived to obey your commands; and this is a wicked person who sins against you again and again—and you are going to forgive him?”

But, we remember that at one point in time we were just like the people of Nineveh, we too were wicked people. We were born that way—as enemies of God and his people, who didn’t do anything right in his sight, who constantly failed to obey his will. So instead of complaining about how gracious and compassionate God is, we rejoice in his grace and mercy—that he didn’t treat us according to our sins. Instead he brought us to faith through the waters of baptism, and sent loved ones into our lives to bring us to worship and SundaySchool and otherwise ensure that we remained in the Word. We rejoice in his love in mercy for saving us and working faith into our hearts so that we receive the salvation that Jesus won for us!

Jonah didn’t want to do his job because he knew that the Word works and he didn’t want them to be saved. We, however, love all people and want everyone to be saved. The Word works—it worked on the people of Nineveh and it worked on you. So we do all we can to share that Word with others—not holding back on the law and freely proclaiming the good news of the gospel. So that people may repent, turning to the Lord and believe.

—Pastor Frey

Church News

Summer Worship:

We are currently in our Summer Schedule: Sunday worship at 8:00am and 10:00am. Monday worship at 6:30pm

Sign-up Sheets:

There are currently a number of sign-up sheets in the narthex for events coming up this summer. Next time you are on the premises, please check them out and sign-up!

  • BowlingAugust 12 from 4-7pm.  At Village Lanes in Little Chute. 
  • VBS —  July 30-Aug 3rd  from 9:00-11:30am  Sign up to volunteer or pick up a registration form to send your kids.  Keep your eyes open on our website and Facebook page for an online registration. 
  • Church Picnic — July 29th at noon at Plamann Park.  Sign-up to volunteer to help set-up, etc.  There is no need to sign-up if you plan on coming.
  • New Pictorial Directory — The dates for taking pictures are set for Tuesday through Saturday, August 14-18 and September 18-22.  There will be sign-up sheets at Church as well as links to sign-up online on our website and Facebook page.