Summary: This is the fourth sermon of our "Hitchhiker" series focusing on the Book of Jonah, Chapter 4.
Jonah 4:1-11 NIV
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. 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?" 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. 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. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live." 9 But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die." 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. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
Hitchhiker 4 – Hanging on to Anger
See! I told you so! I knew it… I knew it… I KNEW it! Way back when all of this started I KNEW IT! Why do you think I was going to Tarshish!?! I knew that you would do what you always do! I knew you couldn’t help being…. YOU! Gracious! Compassionate! Slow to anger! Abounding in love! Come ON!
You know what Ninevah deserves! It deserves punishment. It deserves pain. It deserves to be wiped off the face of the earth with all the fury and anger you can muster. Hold nothing back, let it rip. They are horrible. They are evil. There is not a single one of them that has ever done a kind thing in all their lives! Give them what they deserve! Send fire. Send plagues. Send vengeance! But don’t just do…. NOTHING!
But that’s exactly what you are doing. They repent, they change their ways… and there you are… Mr. All Loving… Mr. Compassionate… there you are… to forgive… and pretend like nothing ever happened… like they were completely free from sin when NOTHING could be further from the truth. Now look at them… the entire town is partying. They rejoice! They sing! They dance! They drink and are merry! Where, oh Lord, are the cries of anguish? Where, oh Lord, are the tears of sorrow? They mock your justice Lord! That’s what’s happening here.
And you know what? If that’s how you are going to run things… if that’s how you are going to do things around here… then I don’t want any part of it! I’m done. I am DONE! Just KILL ME NOW! Just end it because I AM DONE!
I guess… you could say… Jonah was a little upset with God. Funny how quickly the mood of the book of Jonah changes from chapter 3 when Jonah is God’s guy… Jonah is out the preaching the word… doing good work… saving lives! Was it all an act? Was Jonah hoping that maybe… just maybe it wouldn’t work? Because, in the midst of the rejoicing and celebrating… in the midst of the joy that God would spare the city, we get this rant from Jonah… and he lets it rip.
I’m not sure what it was like in your house growing up… but one thing you DID NOT DO in my house… was talk back to dad. You would get as far as “Oh yeah!?!” and dad would get out his authority look. His eyes would glare… his lips would purse… his one eyebrow would raise just slightly… and you KNEW you were on very… thin… ice… and you would shrink… [childlike voice] “I am so sorry father!” You just didn’t do it… it was against one of the natural laws… you DO NOT talk back to dad.
In the same way, there is almost some kind of “natural law” being broken in our text today too. So many of us have this ingrained belief that no matter what happens… no matter what God does… you should accept it… you should go with it. You should never… EVER get angry with God… you should never… EVER talk back to God. You just don’t do it. So when Jonah starts ripping into God like this… there is almost room for an audible gasp… because you do NOT talk to God like that!