Jonah – The Revengeful Prophet

Text: Jonah 4:1-11

It is an interesting fact that God had more trouble with the prophet than He did with the people of Nineveh. Jonah, the runaway, rebellious preacher, now exhibited a revengeful spirit. In this chapter we get a glimpse of what really was in his heart. What we see here is what made him flee from the Lord in the first place.

Great Anger (4:1-2)
Jonah wanted to give God a piece of his mind. He had the audacity to say that he warned the Lord that people would get saved if he preached the truth! He had fled from God’s presence to avoid this happening. He did not want those he hated in Heaven with him. He probably worried about what his fellow Israelites would say once the news of the Assyrian revival reached them.

Jonah knew exactly what God was like. He knew that he served a loving, merciful and forgiving God, yet he could not see his own godlessness. He is the typical hypocrite that says that God loves everyone, but they have hatred in their own hearts towards others.

The Pity Party (4:3-4)
Jonah said that he would prefer to die than rejoice over the salvation of the lost. He was laying the blame for his depression on God, but in fact he brought it on himself. Hatred eats into the soul and destroys us from within. Jonah’s reaction was both illogical and blasphemous. All who allow bitterness to corrupt their lives cannot see the stupidity of holding onto it. As far as the prophet was concerned he had every reason to detest the Assyrians. Much of this is nothing more than selfishness and self-pity.

It Won’t Last! (4:5)
Jonah thought that God had got the message, so waited for Him to act upon his advice and destroy the Ninevites. He believed that they would quickly return to their sin as soon as they realised that the judgement was stayed. He got a comfortable ringside seat overlooking the city. He waited, sweated and fumed.

God Loves Me (4:6-8)
God, seeing Jonah’s discomfort, blessed him with the shade of a fast growing plant. Instead of mellowing, the prophet thought that this blessing was confirmation of his own righteousness. To him it was a sign that God really loved him and was about to vindicate him. Such prosperity was proof that he did not need God’s discipline, or so he thought!

God decided to give the blessing to a very hungry maggot! The maggot quickly chewed through the plant, thus bringing the intense heat upon Jonah. Once again he flew into a rage of self-pity. He wanted to die. He could not live without that plant! This scene is both comical and sad, but how often we come out with nonsensical things when we feel that God, others and life has let us down!

I Just Don’t Get It (4:9-11)
The great fish, the gourd, and the worm were meant to be object lessons for Jonah, but he just didn’t get it. God’s word soon becomes meaningless to us when we sink into sin and wallow in self-pity.

Once again God tries to get Jonah to see that he was being foolish and unreasonable. He loved the plant, but hated those who needed the Lord. The story ends without us knowing if Jonah ever came to his senses. Did he die with this bitterness, resentment, and hatred in his soul? We would like to believe that he got right with God just like the Assyrians did.

The whole world is like the great city of Nineveh for us. They need to hear the Gospel and be set free from sin (John 8:32.) Will we get involved with spreading the word of God, or sit on the sidelines waiting for their destruction? Jonah, while he sat on the hilltop, prayed for damnation to be poured out upon the Nineveh, but Jesus hung on another hilltop praying that the floodgates of forgiveness to opened. Whose nature do we manifest?