-The original reluctant prophet, who became the willing and revived messenger, inexplicably now becomes the angry prophet. Instead of rejoicing in the fact that Nineveh, his nation’s sworn enemy, had come to repentance and faith in the Living God, He becomes displeased and angry (Jonah 4:1). He knew God. In contrast the people, like the sailors and the king and people of Nineveh, did not know the LORD. They thought in terms of “perhaps” the LORD would be gracious and compassionate if they turned to Him (Jonah 1:6; 3:9). Their faith was guess work, but Jonah explains in verse two that he knew from the beginning that “You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and One who relents concerning calamity.” This is a constant and consistent theme in God’s revelation to us in His Scriptures (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, Daniel 9:9, Hosea 2:23, Joel 2:13, Micah 7:19, Nahum 1:3, Matthew 9:13, 36, Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Galatians 2:21, Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9, Hebrews 4:16, James 5:11, 1 Peter 5:10, Revelation 22:21 to name a few). But instead of following the nature of God, Jonah becomes hard headed, unmerciful, ungracious, and wanting to die (Jonah 4:3, 8).
-God asks the question, “Do you have good reason to angry (Jonah 4:4)?” In the text there is no response from the frustrated prophet. Instead, he goes out from the city towards the east and sits there eventually making a shelter for himself in the shade from the sun until he would see what would happen in the city (Jonah 4:5). God “appointed” a plant, just like He had “appointed” a storm and the great fish (Jonah 1:4, 17; 2:10), and it blossomed out to the point of giving Jonah shade and needed comfort from the intense heat of the sun. Jonah was “extremely happy” about this plant that the LORD had provided (Jonah 4:6). But, to teach a point, God now “appointed” a worm when dawn came the next day to attack the plant and make it wither up to nothing (Jonah 4:7). Now, when the sun came up, the LORD made matters more dire when He “appointed” a scorching east wind, which, with the sun beating down as well, made Jonah faint and desperate with all his soul to just pass from this world (Jonah 4:8). A short discourse then ensues. God wisely asks again, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” This time we hear Jonah’s response in the text, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death (Jonah 4:9).” Then the LORD sums up His point in this short prophetic book, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals (Jonah 4:10-11)?” We are left to wonder if Jonah ever came around and accepted God’s wisdom as the narrative now abruptly ends.
-*Application* If we know God and His love, grace, compassion, and mercy, which He has abundantly provided for us, we should never be reluctant to go where He sends or unwilling to be excited over the fact that He sheds His benefits on others, even when they may appear to us to be undeserving and vile. We, like Jonah, can unfortunately develop a “big head” or cockiness with our understanding and knowledge of God and His awesomeness when asked to share, or distribute, it. God is more merciful than we could ever imagine (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9). Be willing to give others a chance to participate in His goodness and be grateful for His sovereign pleasure in averting calamity upon those who turn unto Him and away from their sin. He is the God of a second chance; are we being that gracious?
Verses to Memorize: Jonah 4:2, 11