Summary: This is a message for Junior age campers at an evening vespers service, dealing with Jonah chapter 4 as Jonah waits for God to destroy the wicked city of Nineveh
Jonah chapter 4: The vine-a place to grow
Intro: In our last lesson from Chapter 3 of Jonah, we saw Jonah obediently follow God’s call to go to Nineveh and to preach against all the evil that was going on there. Naturally, we remember that it took a storm and a great fish to get Jonah headed in the right direction, but 3 days in the belly of the fish was enough to convince Jonah that he had better quit running away from God.
Jonah arrived in Nineveh, one of the main cities of the Assyrian empire, and he preached the message God told him to preach against these evil people. “40 more days and Nineveh will be overturned!” This was a simple doom and gloom kind of message: No poem, no joke, no clever introduction, no invitation hymn, no possibility of a glimmer of hope. Just a warning about death and destruction.
But much to Jonah’s surprise, his message struck a chord with the people. They believed what he preached. Even the King of Nineveh believed and called for fasting and sack-cloth on everyone, even the animals. (can you imagine a cow walking around in a burlap sack?) Revival broke out as everyone repented and prayed for God to change his mind and spare their city. Jonah’s crusade in Nineveh was a whopping success! He had better results preaching here than in Jerusalem! This would have been a wonderful ending for the book of Jonah.
But wait, there’s another chapter! And look how chapter 4 begins! “But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.” What?... Angry?... Why? His preaching had worked! The People were converted. Jonah had succeeded in what God had sent him to Nineveh to do.
Ahh, but the problem is that these Ninevites were the wrong kind of people. These heathens had made war against the Jews. They had tortured and killed thousands of Jews. They had taken Jews from their homes and sold them in slavery. The Jews hated these people and wanted their city to be destroyed. And as a loyal and patriotic Jew, Jonah wanted what all the other Jews wanted. “Death to the Ninevites!”
This is like what happened when the Japinese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7th, 1941 and killed nearly 3,000 Americans. The Japinese did this when war had not yet been declared. This was a senseless massacre of peace time Americans on a lazy early Sunday Morning in December on Oahu, Hawaii. Our guns weren’t loaded. We weren’t looking for an enemy to attack us.
This happened again on September 11, 2001 in Washington DC and New York city, when radical Jihadi Muslims hijacked 4 airplanes and killed 3,000 people by slamming the planes, like missles, into the Pentagon, and the Twin Towers of the world Trade Center.
On both occasions, Americans became enraged. Pearl Harbor brought us with full resolve into the Second World War against Japan and Germany. 9/11 caused us to declare war on terrorism and radical Muslim extremism. Many Americans developed strong hatred of these foreign groups from what happened back then.