"TOO SOON OLD, TOO LATE WISE!"
Written and preached by David P. Nolte
There is an old saying that bespeaks the tragedy of slow learning. It
says, "We grow too soon old, too late wise." We can probably
identify with that in many ways. There are pains we would not have suffered
if we'd practiced wisdom. There are problems we could have avoided if we'd
had sagacity. There are difficulties we could have averted if we'd had
prudence. But, though it does not have to be so, sometimes we seem only
to learn what the right choices are by making wrong choices. Many people
experience heartache, disappointment, distress, and all manner of suffering
because they go about things the wrong way. Truly, "we grow too soon
old, too late wise." Jonah was such a man. God saw and determined
to do something about the wickedness of Nineveh. He was not willing to
let them remain in and die in their sins. So he called Jonah to go preach
to that city. Keep in mind that the Ninevites were cruel people, enemies
of Israel and Jonah had every human reason for not going there. He reminds
me of Chad, a teenage boy. His parents were going out with friends for
the evening and told him to stay home to finish his history paper. He asked
permission to use the car for awhile. He said he needed to borrow a book
from his friend, Todd. His father told him he had all the books he needed
and his request was denied. He was clearly told again to stay home to do
his paper. Consider the text today and the lessons it contains.
- JONAH KNEW WHAT GOD HAD SAID TO DO:
- God was not ambiguous or cryptic! He said, "Arise, go to Nineveh
the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before
Me." Jonah knew what God had said.
- God has told us, too, what we need to know to live for Him. He has
not spelled out many specifics in which we have a great deal of freedom:
our vocation, our place of residence, etc. But God has instructed us clearly
in His word:
- Micah said to Israel in Micah 6:8 "He has told you,
O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice,
to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?"
- Peter declares that "His divine power has granted to us everything
pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who
called us by His own glory and excellence." 2 Peter 1:3.
- God has told us, specifically, in the Bible, some things that are His
will for us and that are not His will for us; let me just mention, without
comment, some clear declarations of His will and desire:
- Proverbs 6:16-19 "There are six things which the
Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a
lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises
wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters
lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers."
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3 "For this is the will of God,
your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;"
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "in everything give thanks;
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
- 1 Peter 2:13-15 "Submit yourselves for the Lord's
sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the
praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing
right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men."
- 1 Peter 4:19 "Therefore, let those also who suffer
according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator
in doing what is right."
- 2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slow about His promise,
as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any
to perish but for all to come to repentance."
- 1 Timothy 2:3, 4 "This is good and acceptable in
the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come
to the knowledge of the truth."
- May we, through personal and thorough study of the Word, discern and
understand what it is that God is saying to each of us today.
Chad knew what his dad said, but he had plans of his own. He wanted
to drive the car and any pretext, even borrowing a book, worked for him.
So, once the progenitors were out of the house, so was he. Jonah knew what
the Lord said. He knew that the Lord was sending him to Nineveh. He also
knew that Nineveh was not a healthy place for a Jew. Besides, he had never
placed Nineveh on his list of Top 10 sites to vacation. It wasn't on his
itinerary. He was aware of what the Lord said, but had ideas of his own.
- JONAH DECIDED TO DO WHAT HE WANTED TO DO ANYHOW:
- Jonah didn't like God's plan. Hmmmmm Ummmmm! "Jonah rose up to
flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. So he went down to Joppa,
found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down
into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord."
He did what he wanted to do.
- He's not alone in that sort of action:
- Adam and Eve knew what God said about the forbidden fruit, and did
what they wanted anyhow.
- King David knew what God had said about adultery, coveting and murder,
but he wanted his neighbor's wife anyhow.
- Peter knew what Jesus had said about denying Him, but in the pressure
of the moment, Peter denied Jesus three times anyhow.
- Pretty typical response. Many know the Will of God and
- Reject it outright in favor of what they want to do.
- Consider it casually, to do it if they like it or ignore it if they
don't like it.
- May we meet God's will with a spirit of obedience and humility.
Chad disobediently drove the family car, though forbidden to do so.
He took precaution, though. He had to be sure to put in enough gas so his
parents wouldn't notice. He would work fast on his paper when he got home.
He thought, "No one will be the wiser!" To his horror, on the
way to Todd's house he got a flat-tire! He had never changed a tire in
his life! Now he was not only going to have to change it, but have it fixed
and still get home, cleaned up and working before his folks got home. He
figured out how to jack the car up, and began working on the lug-nuts.
They seemed frozen in place. The harder he worked, the tighter they seemed
to be. He worked for about half an hour trying to loosen the nuts and finally
gave up. He walked to a gas station, exhausted, frustrated and in big trouble.
Jonah found out the hard way, too, that doing it his way instead of God's
way leads to trouble.
- JONAH SUFFERED THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS CHOICE:
- By his own admission he was the culprit. When he was tossed out of
the ship God had a pre-arranged accommodation for him. He'd rather been
in jail, I am sure, but the Halibut Hilton was where reservations had been
made. Jonah chose his way, God chose the consequences.
- Sin always has its consequences and always pays its wages.
- Wrecked relationships.
- Destroyed reputations.
- Needless suffering and pain.
- Squandered opportunities, resources and energies.
- Loss of innocence.
- A mountain of guilt, shame, and remorse to climb.
- Separation from God in this life and the life to come.
- The problem today is that people buy into the philosophy:
- "It can't happen to me!"
- "What does God know?"
- "This is the '90s and the old morality is out of style!"
- "I've gotten away with it so far, and I'll keep getting away with
it." It is as the Bible says, "Because the sentence against an
evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of
men among them are given fully to do evil." Ecclesiastes 8:11.
- There is always a consequence; if not in this life, in the life to
Chad was about to meet his consequence. When he got to the service station
it was after 10:00 p.m. The attendant drove him back to the stranded car
to take care of the tire. He seemed to have no trouble at all getting the
tire off. Chad couldn't believe it. Why couldn't he get them off? Why had
they been on so tight? He asked the attendant how he had managed to get
them off so quickly. The attendant asked, "Which way were you turning
them?" Chad thought it was a stupid question. Of course any one knows
it's "righty-tighty and lefty-loosey!" The attendant said, "Not
with lug-nuts. On this side of the car the threads are reversed. You have
to turn them clockwise to loosen them!" What a dope Chad thought he
had been. And he was right. Not only had he turned the lug-nuts the wrong
way, but he had gone the wrong way in defying his parents' instructions.
So had Jonah gone the wrong way in disobeying God. God said, "Go to
Nineveh!" Jonah went to Joppa to get a ship to Tarshish. He chose
his own way, the wrong way.
- JONAH EXPERIENCED FORGIVENESS:
- Having come to his senses, he cried out to God and God heard him. True,
he began his new life as a pile of ambergris on the beach, but God gave
him another chance.
- No change in God's plans; it was still, "Go to Nineveh!"
But God had not written him off. It was a new beginning for the rebellious
- With God there is always grace, there is always mercy, there is always
forgiveness if, like Jonah, we come to our senses and cry out to Him in
humble repentance. God will never save us in our sins, but will always
save us from them.
- He waits to deliver us from sins power and penalty and to bestow upon
us yet another chance to serve Him as He called us to do in the first place.
When Chad got home, he was of course disciplined. But the day came when
he got to drive the car again -- with permission. His parents didn't disown
or discard him for his wrong. Maybe, like Chad, you've done it your own
way though you knew it wasn't God's way. Perhaps you've been turning the
wrench the wrong way. You can't get free from your predicament. Stop doing
it your way, and do it God's way. Forgive instead of get even; walk in
truth instead of in deceit; keep the flesh in check instead of pandering
to its lusts; repent of, renounce, and repudiate sin instead of excusing
and indulging it. The world is going its own way; the wrong way. You can
choose the world's way or you can choose God's way, the Jesus way. It's
your choice; you are free to decide. God calls you to go Christ's way.
Don't grow too soon old and too late wise. Choose Christ, choose life.
Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks, Youth
Specialties, El Cajon, Ca., Wayne Rice.
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