Summary: Jonah knows God, but he is unpracticed in God. This righteous man ends up disappointed with God. How did that come about?
Here we are in chapter four of the book of Jonah, the end of the story, things haven’t turned out the way Jonah expected, have they? He has seen nothing but disappointment. He was told by God to go to a place he didn’t want to go to and deliver a message he didn’t want to deliver to a people who were trying to destroy his people; his plan to take a cruise to Spain was a disaster; God’s plan to save Jonah from drowning wasn’t, orthodox; God has the fish vomit him back on the beach and doesn’t tell him Hisw plan or what to say until he gets to the city of Nineveh – where things went just as he feared, the people repented. It looks like God is going to relent and not destroy the city.
You know, over and over I run into people who at one time in their life, used to go to church; they used to be excited about Jesus Christ… then they woke up one day and realized that they haven’t prayed for so long they can’t remember the last time they even prayed, they are not sure where their bible could be, is it in the living room, the bedroom, the garage?…the truth is they haven’t even thought about God in the last few months. Now it is not that they are against the church, or that they don’t care about God or that they have no faith – there is just no oomph to it. They are disappointment with God. Disappointment, for whatever reason, arrives, and our experience with God fades….
Disappointment with God. I think like Jonah, no one starts out thinking they will end up being disappointed with God. I mean, that’s an oxymoron isn’t it: Disappointment / God? Those two things logically cannot coexist. So one day we wake up and no matter how we look at it, we find that we cannot deny our disappointment with God, and it hits us twice as hard; What has happened is something that can’t happen, God / disappointment. We are bewildered. How did we get here? I’m sure that when Jonah started out as a prophet he thought a life of serving God would be turning people’s lives around, lifting people out of their sorrows, blessing people with the powerful word of God; He was on God’s side, it would be nothing but successful for if God is for us who can be against us?
When we look at Jonah in this chapter we see the great anger of Jonah don’t we? He is not just miffed, he is over the top, he is furious, he is so mad he claims that he could sit down and die. But I think Jonah’s anger is just an expression of what is happening deep within his soul – things have not worked out like he expected they would, Jonah has a in a time of a loss of hope. Things in my life should be this way – but they are this way, how can that be? The anger rises up from within. He is so angry that he doesn’t want to go on.
Now Jonah is not naive, he has been around, he knows his scriptures, he has experienced God first hand. He has been the go to man for God. He’s the one people would come to, to answer questions about God. “Go ask the prophet Jonah, I’m sure he can answer your question about God”. He knows God, he has taught others about God. How did Jonah arrive at such a state of disappointment?
Picking up at verse 5 we see Jonah leaves the city of Nineveh for obvious reasons. First, Jonah hates the Assyrians and detests the city of Nineveh so he is out of there – The best view of the city of Nineveh is in his rearview mirror. Second, Jonah has convinced himself that Nineveh is about to be destroyed, so as a practical matter he gets out of town before the destruction rains down, like Lot and his family fleeing Sodom. So there is verse 5 we see Jonah going a safe distance making a shelter out of whatever he could find, ready for the fireworks to start.
When there is an accident on the side of the road, you are crawling along in traffic, because everyone ahead of you had to take a look, it is very hard not to take a look yourself, isn’t it? Jonah is just like us, he is human, he wants to see shock and awe. But I think there is more to why he sets up outside of town, much more. Jonah could have just left and gone home, but he doesn’t, Jonah needs a sense of closure. He has to see what will happen next. He has seen disappointment after disappointment, maybe now things will go his way…