Jonah’s Anger and the Lord’s Compassion
4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Jonah 4 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Pity Parties – we’ve all thrown them. We feel sorry for ourselves, we become angry over something; things didn’t go our way. The party is thrown and the lone attendee is ourselves.
After such a tremendous result in Nineveh, Jonah finds himself angry, isolated and fed up. Revealing his initial reluctance in the first place of going to this pagan city, he lets it blast that he knew God would forgive these people if they asked. That’s not what he wanted. He wanted these people destroyed. In his eyes, they were a terrible people group that deserved the wrath of God. Not only had he risked his reputation by going to them, now that they repented, the warnings of what would come upon them wouldn’t happen.
Party of One… under a vine… feeling sorry for himself.
Jonah made 3 moves that often people who are throwing such a shindig do: He became angry. He separated himself from others. He became a spectator.
His anger led to quick impulsive behavior. Anger does that; especially when it concerns things of God and our own perspective of how things are going in our lives. Our impatience often takes the wheel of the ship and we drive it ashore or onto a sandbar. Then we’re really ticked!
Anger destroys not only our steadiness we’re called to maintain but divides relationships – specifically wounding the one that matters the most with our God. As we find ourselves suddenly landlocked in such deep destructive thought, we then separate ourselves. This makes the throwing of the pity party so much easier. Usually, pride plays into this as because things didn’t go our way or the way we expected, these feelings lead to isolation. “Woe is me” is the party favor we embrace and words that are right on the tip of our tongue as we sink deeper into frustration. Our thoughts and words even against God become downright scary. He’s to blame for everything, we think. These thoughts lead toward the killer of our faith – we simply quit. We become a spectator and decide it’s not worth it. All said and good with one exception – we’re miserable. We may think that simply quitting is worth it, but as the Holy Spirit has worked within us, there’s no way to find contentment on the sidelines.
The pathetic story of Jonah, and yes I used the word pathetic, reveals many things. In the 4 chapters, we see a man running from God, running to God, running with God and finally running ahead of Him. It’s a pitiful story because it’s ours. We are Jonah many, many times.
I had a mentor many years ago, Jerry Grubbs, who said (and I wrote it in my bible): The story of Jonah is a cliffhanger. Maybe God is saying “You’ve heard the story – now do something about it. Get on with what I’ve called you to do. Accept the result of your obedience.” Jerry pointedly ended these thoughts, “The rest of the story is our story – we need to write it. So what will you do?”
Indeed. How’s that Pity Party working for you?
Jonah 4 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Jonah 4 exposes a horrendous sin that all of us have been guilty of at one time or another. Judgment.
Jonah loathed Nineveh. Actually, he hated the people of this city. He had decided in his heart and mind they were not worthy of God’s grace. In fact, he would rather die than live to see them receive God’s grace! Who are those people in our lives right now? Who are the people that we have judged as too evil to receive God’s mercy?
It is in these moments when God hears our attitude and asks His question…
The LORD answered, “What right do you have to be angry?”Jonah 4:4 GNB
God listened even though Jonah had no reason to have such a hateful attitude. God showed Jonah mercy when he disobeyed, but in Jonah’s eyes, Nineveh was not worthy of that same mercy. God loves to ask us questions because it reveals our heart. The Holy Spirit does the same thing today.
He listens. He questions. He waits for our repentance. Here is my hot take for the day, and you can disagree with me if you want to. I fully recognize I am a just a flawed man with an opinion. However, from my eyes, this is what I see…
The American Church has become Jonah. We are experts on conviction and hypocrites with action. We love to preach but hate to submit.
We love to talk about the tough questions God poses to us. We sit around sipping our specialty coffees having deep talks about God. We post these insights all over social media and print them on Christian T-Shirts. We love the latest cliches that we can throw out to our friends week after week. But when measuring the spiritual growth and the real maturity taking place in the church today, it seems there are many who are still drinking milk.
Christian maturity is not just about knowledge. In fact, for me personally, I struggle to apply all that God is currently revealing in this stage of my life. For me, entering into a mentorship where I am encouraged and held accountable has made all the difference in the world for my spiritual growth. We need other trusted believers to point out our rough spots and we need to be able to accept that criticism and take it back to Jesus for change!