Today you should read: Jonah 4
What in the world?! What is Jonah’s problem? God did something awesome through Jonah, and now Jonah is angry. That’s just odd. The last verse of chapter 3 gives the cause of Jonah’s irritation:
“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”—Jonah 3:10 (NASB)
Jonah told God that he knew He would have mercy on Nineveh, and this is why he didn’t want to go to Nineveh in the first place. Jonah didn’t like the idea of these Gentiles experiencing God’s grace and mercy. Also, Jonah didn’t want to be embarrassed and look silly by proclaiming destruction to Nineveh, all the while knowing that God would relent and not destroy them. Now, Jonah would rather die than live with the fact that God had extended mercy to Nineveh, and with the embarrassment of having proclaimed one thing but God doing the opposite. God asked him if he really had a right to be angry, but he had no right.
Jonah exhibits two major character flaws: Jonah had no love for people unlike himself, and he had major pride issues. He couldn’t imagine God’s mercy being given to people outside of the Israelites, as if God should only bless people like him. He had a high view of himself. Plus, he didn’t want to proclaim destruction to everyone, and then be embarrassed when God didn’t bring destruction. That would hurt his pride and make him look bad. This causes me to ask myself some tough questions:
- Who are the people in my life that I have trouble loving?
- Are there people from a different ethnicity, socio-economic background, or culture than me with whom I don’t desire to share the gospel?
- Do I have irritating neighbors, co-workers, classmates that I would rather see experience failure than God’s blessing?
- Do I get frustrated when God blesses certain people when I think they don’t deserve it?
- Am I ashamed to share the truth with people because of what they might think of me afterwards?
After Jonah’s angry episode, he went out of the city and made a shelter for some shade, then sat and watched for what would happen to the city. I get the sense that he was hoping that God would change His mind and destroy Nineveh. Then, God made a plant grow up to provide shade for Jonah, which pleased him. God made the plant wither the next day, though, and sent a scorching east wind, which would be similar to the hot Santa Ana winds in California. Now Jonah is sitting there in misery again, and God asked him if he had a right to be angry about the plant. Jonah thought he had a good reason to be mad, and God used this as a lesson to explain His compassion for souls.
God told Jonah that just as he (Jonah) was compassionate towards the plant that shaded him, He (God) was compassionate towards the 120,000+ people in the city of Nineveh. God was making it known to Jonah that this whole ordeal of a “mission trip” that he has gone through was about rescuing souls; it wasn’t about Jonah at all. Again, this causes me to ask some questions:
- Am I willing to go through any ordeal in order to see lost souls be rescued?
- What tough things in life do I complain about that God might be using to draw another to Himself?
- Is my ministry more about what people think of me, or about making God’s name known to lost souls?
Posted by: Rich Duffield