Summary: Part 5 of 5. God’s grace in the face of Jonah’s anger.
Jonah - part 5
August 16, 2009
As we look at the final chapter of the story of Jonah, we need to remember this is a story about a man who was reluctant to follow God’s plan for him. One thing we tend to forget is that God wasn’t calling a non-believer to do something difficult, but God was calling one of His prophets to do something. A man who knew the voice of God and who had a very intimate relationship with God.
Jonah has always been one of those fun stories for kids to learn about in Sunday school because of all the drama, but this is really an adult story, with an adult message. Most people who are believers in Christ, consider themselves pretty good people. They usually attend worship, give some money, give some time; and you may be thinking “I’m not so bad. To some degree, I’m trying and I care about God’s agenda, as long as it agrees with mine.” So many Christians think this way, yet, that’s not the right way. You see, if we were to look at Jonah, we would consider him a good Christian, too. He heard the voice of God, he did the work of God, he sometimes followed God, and he prayed.
As a quick background, Jonah was called by God to preach to a place called Nineveh, in Assyria. God wanted to give these people a chance to repent and if they did, then God wouldn’t bring destruction upon Nineveh. Jonah’s problem was that the Assyrians were some of the cruelest people in the world. Everyone hated them, and within about 40-50 years, they would destroy the very nation where Jonah lived.
So, Jonah ran, and boarded a ship to the other side of the world. Then God sent a huge supernatural storm to stop Jonah. Jonah finally confessed to the sailors the storm is on account of him and tells them to throw him overboard and the storm will stop. Eventually they throw Jonah overboard, the storm stops, and the nonbelieving sailors become believing sailors in Almighty God. God then sends a huge fish to swallow Jonah and rescue him. Eventually after 3 days the fish barfs Jonah onto dry land and once again, God tells Jonah, go to Nineveh, which Jonah does. Everyone, including the king repents and God has mercy on them and doesn’t destroy them.
So, that’s where we are . . . now let’s get into chapter 4 . . . which starts off with Jonah complaining to God. Listen to how Jonah felt —
1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That 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.
Isn’t this amazing? The very thing Jonah needed in his life when he was sinking and dying was provided by God. God was gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and overflowing in love, who didn’t allow Jonah to die in the sea. Jonah was saved, and then the very God who saved him, saves the Ninevites because they also cry out to God. But Jonah’s angry. Jonah needed grace and God gave it, now God gave grace to someone else, but Jonah was intensely angry and furious at God.
So Jonah says, 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."
4 But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"
Doesn’t Jonah sound like a spoiled 3 year old? Ever been there with a child, let alone sometimes we hear adults complain and complain, when they should be grateful to God?
So, what does Jonah do? You gotta love this guy, because if you don’t love him, you want to beat him. At least our righteous part wants to, our sinful part, identifies with him. So . . .
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.
Do you know what Jonah was doing? He was waiting for God to destroy the city. He didn’t think they would stay good. So, he built himself a shelter and waited for the heavenly nukes to start falling upon Nineveh.
6 Then the LORD God 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. Of course Jonah’s happy, God provided for him!