Jonah believes the Lord, the Sovereign creator of the universe, the I AM, does not understand how he feels and he’s trying to explain. They have differing opinions about a vine.
Jonah 4 10 “”But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.’”
Never once did you stop to think about how this vine got here. You never considered the one who created and provided the vine for you. You simply took my blessings for granted. You love the things I do for you more that you love me.
Jonah 4:11a– “But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty people who cannot tell their right hand from their left and many cattle as well.”
They are materially wealthy, but spiritually poor. They are spiritually ignorant, confused and lost in their sin..
The Book of Jonah starts off with a lot of high drama; running away from God, a storm at sea; sitting in the fish, being vomited on land, a lot of turbulent and unnecessary drama going on in Jonah’s life. But the book ends with an abrupt thud!. The Book ends with an unanswered question. But it’s a question that Jonah and everyone of us has to answer.
Jonah 4:11b “Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
Jesus wants us to become like Him. Unfortunately, most of us are just like Jonah. We try to please the Lord and be obedient to His word because we don’t like storms. We don’t like being thrown into the sea. We don’t like to be inside a fish. But we do love those blessings. We’ll do whatever we have to do to keep those blessings coming.
Immediate, self-gratification often becomes the motivation for our devotion and obedience. Who doesn’t love those name-it-and-claim-it prosperity preachers in those rapidly growing mega churches? We get into the habit of obeying the Lord because of what’s in it for us. We might get away with it if the Lord didn’t keep asking us the same question He asked Jonah. ”Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
Well, yes, Lord. You should be concerned about that great city. I think we, the church, should be concerned about that great city. But does that mean I have to be concerned about that great city? Does “we” mean “me?” Are you implying, Lord that I have to care about the lost as much as you do? (Absolutely!) Can’t I just sit under my comfortable shady vine and let the preacher do it? (I don’t think so.)
The Christian life is not about blessings, it’s about service. The Christian life is all about becoming like Jesus who made Himself a servant. I didn’t call you to bless you, Jonah. I called you so I could use you to make disciples. I called you to be my witness in your great city, in your nation and in the uttermost parts of the earth.
If we become too comfortable under the shade of our vines, too focused on our vines, refusing to answer the question, refusing to even think about the question, the Lord has a way of making all the things we’ve gotten comfortable with dry up and wither away. If we make idols out of our blessings, they will all begin to crumble at our feet.
The Lord is graciously blessing us. But if our close knit[AB1] circle of family and friends becomes our first love, our primary focus and our only concern, if we enjoy being together, but we fail to care about the city around us, the worm will begin to eat all those blessings away. The scorching east wind and the blazing hot sun will burn then all to ashes.
We’re not where the Lord wants us to be and we’re not what the Lord wants us to be until we can honestly give Him the right answer to His question; until we care about the great city of souls around us who are dying in sin, lost and without Jesus; until we can care about them as much as He does; until we are willing to love them as much as He does; until we can share the good news of the Gospel with them that will move them to repentance. The Lord does not want to “bring upon them the destruction He has threatened.” There’s no happy ending to our story and there’s no real progress in our relationship with Jesus until that final question gets answered.
Lord willing, next time we’ll be taking a closer look at Elijah. Please stay in the word with Pastor Buj.