Summary: This is the 27th of 31 devotions in a series called, 'The Church Called Jonah.' This devotion is about Jonah rebelling against the Lord the second time - this time for a different reason though.
The Second Rebellion
Jonah 4:5: “Jonah had gone 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 had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city…”
No sooner than Jonah has this second conversation with God and is asked by God, “Is it right for you to be angry?” does he hit the road again. We’ve heard the axiom, It’s either my way or the highway.” This seems like the policy of Jonah in this particular story – when things don’t go his way, he hits the highway literally. He leaves Nineveh – the city he preaches against - the city that whole-heartedly repented of their sin. He leaves this city and finds a place to sit down.
Jonah was a man just like us, with rebellion imbibed in his bones. The last time he ran was when the Lord first commissioned Him to go and preach against Nineveh. Here we see him running once again.
Just as running needs a break, so also running away needs a break. That’s exactly what Jonah did – he took a break on the east of the city. We don’t know why he chose to go east of the city and not west. One probability is that he was expecting a Sodom and Gomorrah-like wrath to be poured out on Nineveh and in that case, there would be fire and if there was fire, there would be smoke and perhaps the wind was blowing west. So if he went west, then the smoke would come his way, and no one likes breathing smoke – especially that of a burning city. (That’s just an imaginative probability).
“There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade…”
Jonah seems to be both an adventurous and an industrious man. The first time he rebelled against God, he bought himself a ticket on a ship to Tarshish. Here we see him doing another thing for himself – building a shelter. It seems like Jonah knew how to take care of himself, even if he was on a rebellious journey – much like us The Church as well.
How similar to Jonah we The Church-at-large are. We’ve decided to rebel against God’s call on our lives to take the Gospel to the world and make disciples of all nations and instead, we’ve become so obsessed with our own lives. Nothing matters more to us than our own lives – even though we’re on a dangerous rebellious journey trying to run away from God, despite several ‘second-chances.’ We’ve not only rebelled once and gone on journeys far away from where we were supposed to be serving, but we’ve also built ourselves great shelters where we can relax and enjoy life, just like the rest of the world around.
We’ve forgotten that we were not saved to serve ourselves, but rather to serve the world around us. We’re here as the Body of Christ, to do what He the Head of The Church began to do when He walked the earth. He has given us this amazing mandate – to finish what He started. But we’ve deliberately chosen to rebel against God and become caught up with ourselves and our pleasures.
Jonah built the shelter to shield himself from the sun as he was nowhere near buildings. He had left them all behind to burn with the wrath of God and he was sitting in his self-built shelter. We don’t know what his shelter comprised of, but it was enough for him to relax in its shade. The question that arises in our minds must certainly be, “Why would he stop, build a shelter and sit in its shade?” Let’s read on.
“And waited to see what would happen to the city.”
Now we get to understand the purpose behind the break in his rebellious journey, just outside the city, and the reason behind him building a shelter and sitting in its shade. It wasn’t that he needed a break from his journey. It wasn’t that he was tired or exhausted from the heat of the sun. He had another rather evil desire – one that Abraham and Moses would chide him for had they been around. Jonah wanted to see what would happen to the city.
How similar Jonah was to who we are today. Let there be a tragedy, not only does it get national news coverage but it also gets national viewing, listening, and reading. There’s something sadistic in all of us that seems to want to witness tragedy – not our own tragedy, but that of another person. Let’s not be like Jonah, waiting for the destruction of unbelievers, but rather, let’s get about doing all we can to see them come to Christ – just like we ourselves did one day. We’re here to see their Salvation, not their destruction.