Summary: This devotion is about God's deliverance to Jonah from the scorching sun in rebellion to God's mercy on the people of Nineveh. This is the 28th of 31 devotions on the book of Jonah.
# 28 - The Divine Deliverance Again
Jonah 4:6: ”And the LORD God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant.”
“Then the Lord God provided a plant that it might come up over Jonah…”
Though Jonah had prepared a shelter for himself, God decided to prepare a plant to cover him. Perhaps the shelter that Jonah had prepared for himself was not good enough to protect him from the heat of the sun, so God miraculously provided a plant to protect him. How kind of the Lord to protect a person who in anger is questioning his act of mercy on the people of Nineveh.
This reminds us of the time when Adam and Eve made coverings for themselves to hide their shame after they rebelled against God’s commandment to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Their covering was not good enough, so the Lord covered them with tunics of skin and clothed them. Here again, we see man’s rebellion and God’s mercy and love at play in the lives of his rebellious children.
What love is this that pardons the sinner and takes care of the rebel as well? Where would we be if had not received the mercy of God despite our sin and the love of God, despite our rebellion?
The Church of today has to a great degree not only rebelled against God’s call to make disciples of all nations, but we’ve gone off on a tangent, living our lives in total rebellion of God, disdaining Him, making a laughing stock of ourselves to the world, and destroying all that He took the pains to build when He sent His Son Jesus into the world to save the world. We’re at the centre of our own lives – not God and we no longer care for the people God cares about. Oh how badly we need the mercy of God for our sin and rebellion. His love and mercy are available to us if only we are willing to repent and get back on track to being and doing what we were saved to – loving God and loving our neighbour.
“That it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery.”
One can imagine how the people of Nineveh perhaps were celebrating God’s goodness and mercy toward them in not sending his wrath on them. Not only must they have been rejoicing in gratitude to God for his mercy on them, but the angels in heaven must also have been rejoicing at the repentance of the entire city. Jesus, while telling the parable of the lost sheep talked about the rejoicing there is in heaven over one sinner who repents, “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” But outside the city, it’s quite a different scene - Jonah, instead of joining them in their rejoicing and celebration is sulking in the sun.
We all know the ill-effects of exposing ourselves to scorching heat – dehydration, fatigue, sun stokes, etc. The shelter that Jonah had prepared for himself was obviously not providing sufficient protection from the scorching heat of the sun, so God provided another means of adequate shade to protect his head – a plant. It seems that Jonah was already experiencing the effects of the scorching heat of the sun, because the verse says, “to deliver him from his misery.”
There’s another kind of misery that the world is being scorched by - not just today, but since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, and that’s the misery of sin. Sin has tarnished the heart and mind of man to such an extent that it has affected life in every possible way. We The Church know the answer to this age-old problem of sin is Jesus. We need to do all we can to share this good news of Salvation with whoever, whenever, wherever, and however possible.
God has once again provided a ‘shade’ from the scorching misery of sin by making the helmet of Salvation available to all who will believe. No wonder Apostle Paul, while talking about the armour of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, used the picture of the Helmet to refer to Salvation. It’s this Salvation that renews our minds and a constant faith in it that keeps us on track as well.
Sadly, not only do the minds of those in the world need to be renewed but even the minds of us in The Church need to be renewed as well – we need to repent (have a change of mind) and turn back to God and His calling on our lives. We’ve forgotten the calling of God on our lives, forgotten our identity in Christ and our purpose for living as well, and are living self-centered lives, caring nothing about the perishing world around us. Our attitude to the world around is no different than Jonah’s attitude to the people of Nineveh.