Jonah: God suffers anger graciously
Topic: Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet of a Relentless God Passage: Jonah 4:1–4:11
A Recap from Sunday’s Sermon
Preaching Text:Jonah 4:1-11
This final chapter begins with a surprising emotional response from Jonah. Having just seen an entire city repent at his preaching, Jonah is “exceedingly angry.” We all know the experience of a disproportionate emotional response to something. It reveals that more is going on below the surface. In verse 2, Jonah confesses that he fled to Tarshish because he knew God would be merciful to his enemies. God spared Jonah earlier by appointing a great fish. Now he “appoints” three other things to expose the idol in Jonah’s heart so he can make God number 1. The point of the castor oil plant is to expose Jonah’s heart.
God arranges our circumstances so we will make him first in our lives.
Jonah was angry because the situation in Nineveh challenged his idol. Jonah cared more about Israel than about God. He certainly did not have God’s heart for lost people.
On a good note, Jonah’s response this time, instead of fleeing, is to pray (v.2). He is upset, but he brings it to God, who welcomes such honest prayer. He also offers an accurate description of God, picking up God’s own language from Exodus 34:6 and elsewhere. “…you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…” (Jonah 4:2).
Twice in this chapter, Jonah says “it is better to die.” Jesus would agree, although he applies it differently. “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). The Lord wants us to put our idols to death so we can truly live. He will arrange the circumstances of our lives accordingly.
Taking It Home:Discuss the common “idols” in our local community. What claims first place over God?