Summary: Jonah exposes his unforgiving heart in chapter 4 and God challenges him with the question, “What right do you have to be angry?” The question reminds Jonah that God showed him mercy and grace in the belly of whale so he needs to pass on this same gift.

“The Unforgiving Heart”

Jonah pt 4

Opening Illustration: Trying to forgive from Blue Fish TV - Teaching Moments Vol. 1- “A Daughter Killed by a Drunk Driver”.

Thesis: Jonah exposes his unforgiving heart in chapter 4 and God challenges him with the question, “What right do you have to be angry?” The question reminds Jonah that God showed him mercy and grace in the belly of whale so needs to pass on this same gift of forgiveness to the Ninevites.

Scripture Text: Jonah Chapter 4

1But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2He 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. 3Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

4But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”

5Jonah 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. 6Then 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. 7But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8When 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.”

9But 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.”

10But 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. 11But 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?”


Summary of series: In chapter one Jonah ran away from God. In chapter two after running right into a storm of life, Jonah found himself cast into a raging sea and then swallowed by a whale. But in the midst of his whale of an experience Jonah ran back to God. Then God delivered Jonah and then Jonah ran to Nineveh. He obeyed the voice of God and revival ran wild through this great city. In chapter 4 we discover Jonah running from a city in revival and picking up an attitude of anger and un-forgiveness with God because of His mercy and grace.

Historical Background on the Book of Jonah: Following information from THE MINOR PROPHETS “Jonah” by Al Maxey

Jonah is the only "minor prophet" ever to be mentioned by Jesus Christ. He is also the only OT figure that Jesus Himself likens unto Himself (Matthew 12:39-41; 16:4; Luke 11:29-32). Although some contend this book is a fable and that Jonah never actually lived, the biblical evidence is to the contrary. II Kings 14:25 speaks of him as an actual historical figure. So does Jesus Christ. Josephus (an early Jewish historian) also regarded him as historical rather than fictional (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 9, Chapter 10, Sections 1-2). Also, when Paul wrote that Jesus "was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:4), he may well have been alluding, at least in part, to Jonah’s experience.


From II Kings 14:25 we know that Jonah lived during the time of Jeroboam II (793-753 BC). He was sent to Nineveh --- the capital city of Assyria --- to deliver a warning from God that unless they repented they would be destroyed. There are several historical clues which seem to point to a date for this prophecy somewhere in the late 750’s BC --- perhaps around 758 BC:

• During the reign of Adad-nirari III (811-783 BC) there was a swing toward monotheism. However, at his death the nation entered a period of national weakness and even greater moral decay. "During this time, Assyria was engaged in a life and death struggle with the mountain tribes of Urartu, and its associates of Mannai and Madai in the north, who had been able to push their frontier to within less than a hundred miles of Nineveh" (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 7).

• In 756 BC a plague struck the nation, followed by a second plague in 759 BC. In 763 BC there was an eclipse of the sun. These were "events of the type regarded by ancients as evidence of divine judgment, and could have prepared the people to receive Jonah’s message" (The Ryrie Study Bible). "No doubt this depressed state of Assyria contributed much to the readiness of the people to hear Jonah as he began to preach to them" (Homer Hailey).

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