Jonah 4:1 “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.”
Jonah did what the Lord asked him to do. The Lord is pleased and satisfied, but Jonah is displeased and angry. Obviously, there’s still more work that has to be done in Jonah. The Lord used the fish to work on Jonah’s mind and his will, getting him to think correctly about God and about himself; getting him willing to do what the Lord wants him to do and willing to be what the Lord wants him to be. But in chapter 4, the Lord goes to work on Jonah’s heart.
Jonah 4:2 “He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord is this not what I said when I was still at home? This 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.’”
“I knew…”you are gracious and compassionate. That’s why I’m not dead now. But those people are Ninevites, gentiles, aliens and foreigners to the covenant. I was taught to have nothing to do with the Ninevites. The Ninevites are our enemies. They’re your enemies. I don’t want them to be forgiven. They should burn in hell for worshipping false gods and for all they’ve done to us.
Jonah 4: 3-4 “’Now, O Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ But the Lord replied, ‘Have you any right to be angry?’”
“Have you any right to be angry?” Do you remember when “the word of the Lord came to Jonah a SECOND time?” (Jonah 3:1)
Is there any reason I should give you two chances to repent and not even give them one?
Is there any difference between an unbeliever who worships a false god and a believer who refuses to obey the true God? Is sin any less offensive to me when it’s committed by one of my own children? You didn’t repent, Jonah. They did. They repented as soon as they learned about their sin. You never even apologized. You blamed yourself for the storm, but you never admitted you did anything wrong.
You never asked me to forgive you. Look at all you had to go through before you were willing to listen to me. They turned from their sinful ways immediately; no ship, no storm, no fish. They heard. They repented and they turned to me. Why should I ignore them?
Jonah 4:5 “Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.”
Jonah hasn’t answered the Lord’s question. He’s not talking to God right now. He had a lot to say when he was sinking to the bottom of the sea. He sure had a lot to say when he was inside that fish, didn’t he? But now that he’s safe and things have started to improve, he doesn’t feel like talking any more.
Jonah 4:6 “Then the Lord provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine.”
Wow! What a turn around. First he “was greatly displeased and angry,” but now he’s “very happy.” What did it take turn Jonah from angry to happy? It took a vine to ease his discomfort What can the Lord do to make us happy? Ease our discomfort? Make life more comfortable for us? Bless us Lord and we’ll be happy. O how we love those showers of blessings. What does it take to get us to pray and call on the name of the Lord? Take those blessings away and we’ll start praying again.
Jonah 4: 7-8 “But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose. God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. . He wanted to die, and said, ‘It would be better for me to die than to live,.’”
I’d rather die and be in heaven with you, Lord than have to love and live with those Ninevites here on earth. Well, what do you know? Jonah’s talking again. “In my distress I called to the Lord.” (2:1) Jonah prays when he’s worried and afraid. He prays when he’s angry and he prays when he needs something from God. Is he the only one who does that?
Jonah 4:9a “But God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have any right to be angry about the vine?’”
There’s that question again. The question Jonah conveniently avoided answering the first time. Do you have a right to be angry about the vine or about anything at all? Jonah finally comes up with an answer. Unfortunately, it happens to be the wrong answer.
Jonah 4:9b “’ I do,’ he said. I am angry enough to die.’”
Do we have any rights at all before God? Are we entitled to anything from the Lord? “Who has ever given to God that God should repay him?” (Romans 11:35) The truth is that none of us deserve to receive anything at all from the Lord. The only thing we really deserve from God is hell because of our sin. Whatever the Lord may decide to give us is completely by His grace alone. All of our rights died at Calvary.
“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” (Hebrews 12:4)
Lord willing, we’ll pick it up from here next Tuesday. Thanks for getting into God’s Word with Pastor Buj.