Jonah! Jonah! Jonah!
One would think he would have learned his lesson in chapter 3. He had done it. He had been given a second chance, did what God said, and saved a city from destruction. It should have been end of story. But, as it is with humans, it takes a lot for us to actually change. I like to think that we have it in us to turn from our sin, turn from our stupidity, turn from our selfish ways and genuinely turn towards God. Saul/Paul did it. So it must be possible. Jonah, on the other hand; I’m not sure he ever truly learned his lesson:
Jonah 4:1-4 (NLT)
This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the LORD about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, LORD? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, LORD! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
The LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
If I am reading this correctly, which I like to think that I am, Jonah is upset because God gave him a message to deliver to Nineveh. Jonah delivered, and 120,000 people were saved from the wrath of God. And now, Jonah is upset that God isn’t really going to destroy them after all because they turned from their wicked ways and cried out to God to save them. God, being God, listened, and saved them. Got pride?
Then comes the #bazinga question, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
My answer, “Um, uhhh, no? I mean, yes? I mean, well you see, it’s like this God…I…no.”
No Jonah! It is not right for you to be angry about this. You should be thanking God for giving you a second chance, after a free ride to the beach. You should be humbly strutting your stuff around the temple trying not to tell everyone that God spoke to you. You listened, and over 100,000 people were saved from death because of it.
But instead, Jonah was upset because now he looks like an idiot for having run around town telling everyone they were going to die and now they aren’t going to die. He then has the audacity to go outside the city, pouting all the way I am sure, and sit down and waits for God to destroy these people. Got pride?
God takes this opportunity to mess with Jonah a little bit (more proof that God has a sense of humor):
Jonah 4:5-9 (NLT)
Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the LORD God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed.
Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”
“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”
Here’s some shade…sike! Go God! #Bazinga!
Jonah 4:10-11 (NLT)
Then the LORD said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?”
How quickly we forget all that God provides for us, and how quickly we complain when we lose those things. At some point, we start to think that we can provide for ourselves; that we have control over our lives. God points out real quick that it’s not up to Jonah to decide what happens to this city. He can’t even provide shade for himself, and would rather have death than sit in the sun (also provided by God, fyi).
What are you taking for granted? What are you angry at God for, when you should be thanking him?